Drawing 30 Expressions for Crispin and Dr. Loboto from Psychonauts

As my artistic endeavors continue, I often find myself failing to improve because I’m too “afraid” to practice things I’m not particularly good at.  Of course, that’s exactly what I should be focusing on if I want to get better, and one area in which I need a helping hand is facial expressions.  I found this sheet of 30 expressions on Deviant Art, which seemed like the perfect method in which to force myself to practice faces I would have otherwise avoided or simply not thought about.

I decided to focus on drawing expressions for two Psychonauts characters (yes, I’m still a bit obsessed with that game right now), Crispin and Dr. Loboto.  Because I’m better with a pencil than a drawing tablet, I printed out two copies of the blank expression sheet and started practicing a handful of expressions at a time in my sketchpad, starting from the top left, with both characters being worked on simultaneously.

At first, each face took forever, but as time went by, I started drawing faces faster and faster, and I started to gain a better understanding of how to form different expressions.  It’s really just a combination of changing the position of the eyebrows, eyelids, and adjustments to the mouth.  Should the eyebrows be high or low?  Should the eyes be wide open or half closed?  And then there’s plenty of things you can do with the mouth.  This probably sounds rather obvious, but it was helpful in making expressions feel just a bit less complex.

Despite my increase in speed, however, I’m not entirely sure whether or not my faces actually got any better as I progressed through the 30 expressions.  The only thing I might have improved upon with Crispin was the shape of his chin (or lack thereof; he’s an odd character to draw).  But in general, it’s really hard for me to make him look good.  In Loboto’s case, I think he might have turned out better in general, but he’s still a bit weird to draw correctly, as well, especially considering his wide mouth and his lack of regular eyes.  His face also seems to be devoid of a proper chin.  Psychonauts characters just have an odd design, I guess.

Crispin, Dr. Loboto’s snarky elevator operator

I’m also not sure if some expressions even match the description.  Some of them felt like repeats, so I wasn’t sure what to do differently, and others just missed the mark entirely because I didn’t quite know what I was doing!

There are a few faces I do like, at least.  For Crispin, shocked, WTF, fear, and bored turned out pretty decent, with drunk actually being my favorite, surprisingly enough!  He’s actually kind of adorable in that one.  (Even so, what the heck is a drunk face anyway?)  As for Loboto, favorites include irritated, WTF, triumph, and flirty, with silly being my top favorite.  So while Crispin’s best faces are a bit more evenly distributed, Loboto’s best faces can be found in the first half.  So I guess my Loboto doodles only went downhill after that.

Dr. Loboto, the brain-stealing dentist

Once I was finished, I scanned in the completed sheets and transferred them back to the original file (or else the text would be black and white).  I also decided to color my top choices, drunk Crispin and silly Loboto.  This was certainly good practice, but I’m not sure if I improved quite as much as I would have liked.  That just means I have to keep drawing and pushing myself outside my artistic comfort zone!

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