Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 8 – Troubled

In this series, we’re looking at a range of different anime expressions, and learning how to use and draw them in our own work! Today’s expression is a troubled or worried one. In Japanese, we call this “komaru”, and it covers all situations when someone has been put in a difficult spot, and isn’t sure what to do. They might be faced with a difficult decision, or maybe they’ve been put in an awkward or embarrassing situation. “Komaru” covers all of these different emotions!

Let’s look at how to draw this troubled or awkward expression in our work!

How to draw a troubled expression

When an anime character is having trouble with something, we see their eyebrows and mouth form a distinctive shape. The eyebrows will often raise, and we’ll see a small frown, or a crooked shape for the mouth. We sometimes also see the mouth forming a kind of awkward forced smile, as the character struggles to hide their emotions or process the information they’re receiving.

Front view

Making the eyebrows uneven, and having the character’s eyes look slightly upwards gives the impression they are struggling to grasp the information or situation they’re being faced with, and really thinking it through.


Looking at the shape of the mouth, we can almost hear the character saying “hmm…” as they face a situation they weren’t expecting.

3/4 view

Side view

Low view

High view

Practical techniques

Point 1

Having the eyebrows at different angles, and also maybe having one eye more narrowed than the other, can help to create an awkward expression.

Point 2

From the mouth, we can see that the character is a bit taken aback or freaked out by something.

For expressions like this, it’s important to use the shape of the mouth and angle of the eyebrows carefully, to really make a nuanced expression, and tell the audience how the character is feeling.

Here we can see that even though the mouth is smiling, the rest of the face is telling a different story. The upward slanted worried eyebrows, and the sweatdrops on the face and brow tell us that the character is only smiling to be polite.

We hope this article has been useful to you in your study of different expressions! Use this article as a reference when drawing worried or awkward expressions in your own work. Good luck with your studies!

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Top tips for drawing expressions! Part 9 – Hate & Disgust