Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 4 – Crying

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In this series of lessons, we’re going to be introducing various ways to make your characters’ expressions look more attractive and “manga”-like!

This time, we’re going to be focusing on crying, and seeing how characters look when their feelings overflow and become tears. This time we’ll be focusing on sad tears, but remember, crying doesn’t always have to be a sad thing – there are times when we cry frustrated, angry or happy tears. So learning how to draw a crying character is very useful for expressing lots of different emotions.

Let’s learn how to draw these expressions in our work!

Crying face

When spirits are down, the eyes, eyebrows and mouth go down at the corners too. The level of sadness can be shown by the amount of tension in the mouth and in-between the eyebrows. Some other common features of crying faces are the tears welling in the corners of the eyes, and the tear track coming down the cheek.

Front view

Point 1

When the mouth is pulled tightly closed, it shows that the character is holding back, or trying to control their emotions, so when used in a crying expression we can show that the character is trying hard to hold back the tears but their emotions are just too strong.

Point 2

The downwards tilted eyebrows, the downcast eyes and the tear track on the face all help contribute to the character’s sad expression.


3/4 view

Side view

Low view

High view


Practical techniques

Bringing all the features in to the centre of the face, and having the character really scrunch up their face is another way to show that a character is really suffering yet trying to control themselves. This works with angry expressions too – strong emotions often lead to the face being “drawn in” to the middle like this.

We want lots of tension in the eyebrows and eyes, and having the character bite their lip or grit their teeth is another great way to show the intensity of their expression. Especially when tears are overflowing, this suggests the character is trying with all their might to hold back the tears, and yet they are coming out anyway.

Point 1

We usually see eyebrows sloping downwards at the outer corner in sad, tearful expressions, but by bringing the eyebrows up, and having the outer corners raised, we can create a different kind of crying expression. This makes the character look like they are crying out of frustration or maybe anger.


There we have it! I hope these explanations and reference images will prove helpful to you in your work! Crying and tearful expressions come up in manga and anime a lot, so we’re sure you can put them to good use in your artwork. Good luck!


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Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 3 – sadness

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Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 5 – Gentle smile