Eyebrows are an integral part of facial animation and should be treated as such. They heighten and enhance the eyes, telegraphing your character's emotions. Since the brows frame your eyes, it becomes easy to read the eyes from a distance. An animator should be aware of and take advantage of this. There are several important things to remember when working with eyebrows:
1)Have clear, defined shapes that flow from one brow to another. Brow shapes should ENHANCE the eyes and never distract from them. Use strong simple shapes. Treat the brows as a connected, rhythmic wave instead of breaking them up into two separate shapes.
2)Treating the brows as frames for the eyes really helps to sell a character's emotion. Similarly, using the angle of the brows can also help direct the viewer where to look.
3)Show a character's change of thought or precede a move by having the brows move first. This is advantageous because it helps with anticipation and shows that the character is thinking. The other advantage is that you won't lose the face change while the character is moving.
4)Think of the flexibility and malleability of the face! Your animation will have an organic quality if you involve the brows during a blink or an eye shift. You don't always have to have a big shape change on the brows but even a tiny amount of movement combined with the eyes can go a long way in adding that extra layer of subtlety in your shot.
5)Don't overanimate!! Make your character's thoughts and intentions clear and readable by using only the necessary amount of brow shapes. Overanimating the brows can lead to the audience being confused about your character's thought process which may, in turn, compromise the clarity of your shot. You can often get a lot of mileage by working within one brow shape.
6)Analyze great acting. Study your favorite actor's performance to learn how they incorporate their brows into their craft. You will often be surprised at how little you have to move the brows to sell a performance. Again, this goes back to finding and sticking to as few browshapes as needed. Make sure it feels natural and keep things simple!
Guest Blogger Chris Chua