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Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists Paperback – June 1, 2005

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Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists + Facial Expressions Babies to Teens: A Visual Reference for Artists + The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark Simon owns A&S Animation, a cel animation house, and Animatics & Storyboards, the largest storyboard house in the south. His previous books include Facial Expressions and Storyboards: Motion in Art. He lives in Orlando, Florida.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill; 1st edition (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823016714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823016716
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.7 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years and have been a professional artist for over 25 years. My background includes live action and animation production, print, writing and teaching.

I currently own three companies located in Orlando, Florida, home of Disney World, one of his clients. Animatics & Storyboards, Inc., is a company which provides storyboards, illustrations, cartoons and comic book illustration to the entertainment and print industries. We are now the largest storyboard supplier in the Southern United States having provided support on over 2,000 productions, ranging from feature films to television series, live action, animation, commercials, industrials, books, magazines, newspapers and more. Our clients include Disney, Universal, Viacom, Sony, HBO, Nickelodeon, Steven Speilberg, Fox, USA Networks, ABC, AT&T, Yamaha, NASA, The American Cancer Society and many, many others.

I also co-founded with my producer wife, Jeanne. We help people to develop, package and pitch their TV concepts.

My other company is A&S Animation, Inc., an animation consultation, development and production house. We specialize in character animation. A&S Animation, Inc. has produced animated shorts which have won over 40 international awards. We also animated Disney s iconic character, Tinker Bell, for the hugely successful Disney Cruise Line.

The series of animated shorts, Timmy s Lessons In Nature, which I developed (along with Travis Blaise and Jeanne Simon), directed and produced, recently won Grand Prize in Nickelodeon s and Animation Magazine s first-ever Nicktoons Film Festival.

I am also the author of three entertainment industry texts. Producing Independent 2D Character Animation showcases every step of production of an independent hand-drawn animation. This book features the production of one of our popular Timmy s Lessons In Nature shorts. The text also contains research necessary for any animator and includes invaluable interviews with industry greats.

My text Storyboards: Motion In Art, is used around the world to train storyboard artists.

Facial Expressions is a photo reference guide for artists of all disciplines.

Each month you may also see my articles in Animation Magazine and on Animation World Network (

Prior to storyboarding and producing animation, I was an art director in live-action film and TV in Los Angeles, CA and Orlando, FL. While in Los Angeles, I designed many feature films, music videos and commercials. I then became the second art director at the new Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, FL in 1989.

I have also done Second Unit directing for Nickelodeon and on Steven Speilberg s seaQuest DSV as well as working as a Special Effects Supervisor for NBC and Fox networks.

I teach at the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School ( located at Universal Studios, and previously at the University of Central Florida. I currently lecture around the world at major conferences, conventions and schools.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 85 people found the following review helpful By GameMaker VINE VOICE on June 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has it's uses. It is organized by the age of the model, and varies from 20 to 83, both male and female. The pictures are clear and usable, and I was pleased that they were large enough to work with. Note that these are head-shots only. Then at the end of the book, there is a brief section on "sequential poses" which basically gives you some still frames in transitions between for example a happy and sad face. There is also a few pages on models speaking the phonemes if you need to do morphing.

The problem that I have with this book though is that, like others mentioned, WAY too many of the expressions are these really outrageous over-the-top kinds of things. I guess you could best describe them as "silly". If you are doing some type of animated cartoon or something, these might actually be real useful. But for any other use they are not nearly as much help as they could be.

For comparison's sake, I also have "The Artist's Complete Guide To Facial Expression" which I feel is a little more useful. It is organized by expression, and contains a lot of discussion about each one. The weakness of that book though is that it doesn't have near as much reference material (i.e. pictures) as this book, but at least the ones it does have are in general more useful.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Antkowiak on May 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Capturing a person's expression is often the key to a successful illustration. Sometimes you have to translate your own features from a reflection and apply them to the face you're drawing. This book alleviates a lot of guesswork and opens up scores of options with the variety of kinds of faces included, the range of distrortion the models allow, and the multitude of angles from which we see the faces. What's great about the collection is it isn't just faces, it's the other details that can sometimes present challenges, from hairstyles to types of shirts and collars, to a specific section devoted to various hats and headgear. All these seemingly obvious things are necessary to include at one time or another, and can present challenges to an artist. Just a sliver of the possible interpretations are included in the book as well, as several artists have contributed sketches based on the actual photos you see. Caricatures, animal characters, sculptures, it goes on and on.

I see this as one of the few staple books for any artist to keep on their shelf, that covers a broad ground within a single volume.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "extreme_dig_cm" on July 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is currently the best and most cost-effective photo reference for heads, features, faces, expressions, angles, and different ethnicities, genders, and ages available today *in-print*. A great price & above-average quality- it's pretty easily worth getting. See also his 2nd book: Babies to Teens.

Some ideas for next edition- mainly my own preferences: more younger models- less older; white pages with white backgrounds- instead of grey pages with black backgrounds; get rid of the skull sections; get rid of the 'art inspired by' amateur art; get rid of the sequential expressions section; expand the kissing section- younger models please; and give us more of the model on pages 234-235! :)

Some of the criticisms here by others really amaze me(!). This is the *only* book of its kind available today- there's simply no competition. Sure, other photo references exist, but none with this specific content. Where else can we find so many expressions, ethnicities, and extreme angles of view? This is a tremendous help in learning to draw heads from memory. Combine this with some of the better how-to-draw type books, and it's hard to find a better value these days. Photo-reference books can sometimes be expensive!

It's unfortunate but true: some of the *greatest* photo reference books ever created seemed to quickly go out of print. Sometimes they popped back into print; sometimes they didn't. The Illustrator's Figure Reference Manual series is a great example of this, as is the Elte Shuppan Pose File series (currently a 9-volume series). Awareness seems key to their survival.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By C. Wajda on June 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After leafing through this once it arrived, it became clear that for me this book was essentially useless, and I put it up for sale the next week.

Here's what made the book unusable for me:

The bulk of these expressions seem insincere and overly-exaggerated. These are not actors, but everyday people grimacing and mugging in front of a camera. There are not many 'real' emotions here, but mostly cartoony rubberface contortions, done by people who are not trained in subtlety conveying everyday emotion in front of a camera or audience. Some people may want this kind of thing, but I have a hard time seeing how these could be truly useful to any artist for real-world work.

The art 'examples' of how to interpret these images (also largely done by amateurs) serve absolutely no purpose and are quite distracting, as they are given more weight than the source art itself (!).

Worst of all, a bulk of the photos are badly lit, and poor adjustments were made for subjects with darker complexions. I was amazed many of the subjects were not lit to highlight what the book is supposed to be all about, facial expressions (?!). Often the strongest light source was situated on the top rear of the head -- yielding many completely flat photos.

Many of the best-lit facial poses stare directly into the camera (!). It's very rare that an artist ever needs to break 'the 4th wall' for their work, so these are also all a waste.

The author and his staff definitely put a lot of work into this book -- it's got a lot of different models and it's almost an inch thick -- but I need to be honest and say it really is a whole lot of nothing. At the end of the day, the best source for reference is a mirror by your table (like Disney animators do), or a quick camera phone pic of friend, to give you the emotion you need.
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