Gimme a smile! Do you feel the muscles of your face pull your features up and out? OK, now frown. Now your face muscles are pulling your features down and in. Facial anatomy can be complicated, but for us who simply want to understand how to carve expressions, it’s enough to think of facial muscles as belonging to two groups, those that draw outward or upward and those that draw downward or inward. One set of muscles, then, is expansive and the other set contractive in their effects. When the expression is happy, the expansive muscles are doing their work. When the expression is unhappy, the contractive muscles are doing theirs.
Of the expansive group of muscles, two pull from the cheekbones where they originate. A third is attached to the upper and lower jaw. All three muscles are attached to the skin of the corners of the mouth and lips. They stretch the lips over the teeth. Also, as they contract, they increase the fullness of the cheeks and put pressure on the lower lids. Also, the chin becomes more prominent, as the bone underneath the skin shows more because the skin over it is stretched tighter. The cheerful expression is due to the stretching of the muscles of the mouth, chin, nose and forehead as they are pulled from the midline outward and upward. This produces the expanding effect upon the form of the face.
Expanded Face, Upward Pull
CONTRACTIVE: UNHAPPY, SAD, ANGRY
The contractive muscles act opposite to that of the first group. The brows are contracted and the corners of the mouth and lower lip are pulled down. Specific muscles of the eye and mouth contract the lids and the lips. Other muscles contract the nostrils and wrinkle the nose. With this group the direction of the action is downward or inward, producing a tightening effect. Contracted Face, Downward Pull
Anger, fear, sadness expressed through contraction of the features:
So, when we wish to carve a happy face, we expand the features outward and upward. When we wish to carve sadness or anger, we contract the features, bringing them inward and downward.
DIDJAKNOW? All through your body the muscles are inserted in bone, but in your face there are muscles inserted in skin, which makes the face capable of expression.