Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 7 – Shocked

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

This time, we’re going to be focusing on creating a shocked expression. We might need to draw surprised characters in all different situations – when something unexpected, exciting or pleasing happens, but in today’s lesson, we’re going to be focusing on a more negative kind of surprise, when a character sees something scary or upsetting. With Halloween coming up, we should have lots of chances to use this shocked expression!

Let’s learn how to draw it now!

Drawing a shocked or surprised expression

When a character is surprised, we see their eyebrows raise, and their eyes and mouth open wide. Along with the facial expression, we see the body react too – so we need to make sure to use that to our advantage to strengthen the expression. Adding some “manpu” comic symbols like sweat drips can be really effective too.

Front view

Point 1

The mouth and eyes are wide open with shock

Point 2

Even just a single sweat drop can really add to the expression

3/4 view

Side view

Low view

High view

Practical techniques


These “surprise” marks, and exclamation marks are other manpu (comic symbols) that can really add to the shocked expression. We also see the little sweat mark here, so there’s no mistaking this character’s feelings!


Of course showing more of the whites of a character’s eye helps to show the widening of the eyes, and drawing in the pupils as very small black dots is the usual way we would draw shocked eyes. But another technique is actually drawing in the pupils in white! Can you see how this really emphasises the shock?

There we have it! I hope these explanations and reference images will prove helpful to you in your work! Shocked and surprised 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 8 – Troubled