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Lee High School

Essential Question:

How can animations create other realities that inspire, motivate, and evoke human emotion?

Storyboard Illustrator

Wanda Moreno-Aguilar

Senior Capstone

P. Foote

March 30, 2017

Wanda Moreno-Aguilar
Moreno-Aguilar 1

P. Foote

Senior Capstone

March 30, 2017

Mysterious Faces

All humans face responsibilities in life and some people make it obvious that it can be

stressful. Others, walk around and never seem to frown. It is not difficult to identify features that

inflict a persons mood, it is in the human nature to try to understand one another, a habit adopted

since childhood. As a person gets older it becomes instinctive to notice and they can either ignore

it or help out. Yet, some such as illustrators, dedicate their life to just understanding the human

nature and incorporating into their work of art. Altogether, Illustrators can create animations

that evoke human emotion through facial animations, nonverbal communication, and


Everyone knows a flushed face typically indicates embarrassment, whether its spilling

coffee outside a coffee shop or answering incorrectly. A flushed face is universally recognizable,

and there are much more used through facial animations. The primary facial expressions are

separated into categories such as sadness, anger, fear, and happiness (CS 790 Independent

Research). There are more that fit into the universal expressions because they are similar in

features. For example, sadness and agony. Both are hard to impersonate and it is rarely voluntary

because trauma usually plays a role and evokes the tears. In other cases, physical pain has to be

involved to make a person cry. In order to recognize sadness and agony, a character has raised

cheeks, the corner of their lips are pulled down, and the upper eyelids are dropped (Varghese,

Siby, and Chhaya Shukla). At first, it may sound easy to accomplish, but sitting down and

practicing gets difficult: anyone can end up looking angry instead of sad.
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On the other side, anger is the complete opposite of sadness. It can be easily mimicked

and the first sign is a thinning of lips. It is recognized as the area around the eyes tighten up,

eyebrows lowered, and glaring eyes (Cabral). According to Laporte (2017), an art professor at

Aquinas college, he believes facial expressions are the most powerful images observed. He

adds pain, joy, and confusion are also expressed through ones face. Indeed, these are more facial

expressions but in the end, it is still more likely to recognize fear.

Fear is also categorized with surprise. It has been studied more than any other emotion

and it carries temporary expressions. People recognize it with tensed lower eyelids, lips stretched

horizontally, and eyes staring straight ahead (Varghese, Siby, and Chhaya Shukla). As a final

point, it was previously stated that happiness is also universal. This common emotion can be

faked or be sincere. It has been observed to have the lips curved upwards, higher eyebrows, and

eyes are wide open (Cabral). As a result of being able to identify common expressions, animators

use it to their advantage, understanding it is the most powerful mechanism for conveying

emotion (Albers, Danielle., edited by Sajika Gallege). In addition, Illustrators take advantage of

non-verbal communications which can be reflected mainly in gestures and other components.

The idea of gestures and eye movements may seem irrelevant at a moment a story is

being described, but in the world of animation incorporating nonverbal communication captures

an audience. The difficulty in that is having the patience to work alongside technology that has

not yet been perfected. Graphic designers, in particular, must use tools that are not designed to

comply with other programs, which are the programs that can add the special effects or other

necessary items to a scene. Moreover, programs or tools are designed with different purposes

creating a bigger challenge (Gratch, Jonathan, Jeff Rickel, Justine Cassell, Eric Petajan, and

Norman Badler). The attempt of connecting verbal and nonverbal communication is strongly
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intertwined on the meaning of the conversation. If that is not precise, the meaning behind the

interaction will be diminished. Equally important, timing has to be considered when unfolding a

character's conversation. It must be of quality work and accurate in order to have the authentic

feel, this can then allow people to connect to something similar in memory (Gratch 60). Above

that, graphic designers typically are people with some skills to illustrations, but when an

illustrator works as a graphic designer, their advantage is using their design and coding it the way

it suits an idea.

According to Vanderhoff (2017), an art director/brand manager at Wizard, with personal

experience, digital illustrators do have the distinct advantage over graphic designers that have no

illustration background, and if a digital illustrator understands the fundamentals and aesthetics of

2D design, they can function quite well as a graphic designer once they understand that role.

That being said, it makes it evident that understanding art and being able to perform it helps in

the long run. Now being able to illustrate might seem easy to a natural born artist, but putting

together a scheme that people can assimilate and accommodate to their memory, is the one point

to provoke emotions in animations or create new experiences for viewers (Khan Academy). Not

only is developing the environment to a scene important, the posture of a character can reveal the

truth in a message that has no words. The type of postures can be slouching, bowing, hands in

pockets, constantly turning and much more (Tidwell, Charles, and Dean Emeritus). Altogether,

being able to detect, understand, and have the skills for nonverbal communication will allow for

deeper knowledge of other aspects, that must be additionally incorporated to animations such as


All films have a scene, whether it is interesting or boring, no character is walking around

in a white screen, unless that is what the filmmaker is going for. Well constructed animations are
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always accompanied with a particular perception. There are many different types of perceptions.

Types of perceptions can range from the visual perception to the viewers experience.

Filmmakers are responsible for what is shown in a scene and cutting through scenes can engage

the viewer. When a scene contains relevant information to a plot, an audience automatically

begins to develop a story, leading to predictions of the outcome, that's until the filmmaker

incorporates a plot twist: engaging the audience even more (Brunick, Kaitlin L., and James E.


Regarding visual perception, visual is the ability to see and interpret an environment,

while perception lets an audience take in the environment. Together, it prompts a great outcome

to a persons emotions. In fact, there is more to visual perception, it consists of visual memory,

visual discrimination, and visual closure, all concepts that interact in recognizing objects via

memory when looked at (Vision Therapy). By far, it is clear animators take into consideration a

lot of psychological aspects when creating their animations (Brunick, Kaitlin L., and James E.

Cutting). In particular, lighting can be used to control the depth of objects in scenes, causing

illusions and special effects, which can give the surreal sense of an interaction, but it can also

alter its interpretation of an object or person (Albers, Danielle., edited by Sajika Gallege). Above

that, the views experience can also impact the emotions that are triggered when watching an

animation. If a viewer has experienced a similar situation within a scene, and the animation

reconstructs that event precisely, it tremendously impacts the viewer because they were able to

connect a memory with a scene. Some viewers, especially elders, have more experience and

likely to gravitate towards animations that others may not find pleasure in. In certain cases,

animations that require background knowledge beforehand can also cause confusion,

misunderstanding, and different emotions. Overall, sometimes it is not the animators poor film it
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can be the audience, another reason why films have a system called Motion Picture Association

of America (MPAA), that rates movies but definitely not mandatory by law (Rialto Cinemas).

After conducting intense research and interviewing professionals, it is interesting that

expressions, gestures, skills of an illustrator, smaller components, nonverbal communication, and

perception play a huge role for animators to create animations that evoke human emotion.

Regardless of what style a creator has and the theme a film carries, all aspects come together and

evident in five-star animations. Altogether, it is clear that animations are time-consuming, but

they really leave an impact on the viewer, when the film is well thought out.

Works Cited

Albers, Danielle., edited by Sajika Gallege. Perception in Film and Animation The

University of Wisconsin Madison , Apr. 2011,

~dalbers/perception/film.html. Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.

Brunick, Kaitlin L., and James E. Cutting. "Coloring the Animated World: Exploring Human

Color Perception and Preference through the Animated Film." Cognitive Media Theory,
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2012, pp. 1-14, . Accessed 4 Apr.


Cabral, Carlos G. Facial Expressions and Animation , Envatotuts+, 24 Sept. 2013,

changes-in-the-face--vector-16278. Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.

CS 790 Independent Research. "Project Deidre (||)." Modeling Six Universal Emotions,

CS 790 Independent Research., Bruce Land, 1996,

tions.html. Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.

Gratch, Jonathan, Jeff Rickel, Justine Cassell, Eric Petajan, and Norman Badler.

Creating Interactive Virtual Humans: Some Assembly Required. Workshop

Report, Aug. 2002, pp. 54-61 ,

ieee-is02-workshop.pdf. Accessed 30 Mar. 2017.

Khan Academy. Voice Over. Schemas, assimilation, and accommodation| Processing

the Environment | MCAT| Khan Academy. Youtube, 21 Sept. 2005. Accessed 9 Apr. 2017.

Laporte, Christopher. Capstone Project. Received by the author, Apr. 2017.

Rialto Cinemas. What Determines a Movie's Rating? Rialto Cinemas | Frequently Asked

Questions. Rialto Cinemas, 2017. Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.

Tidwell, Charles, and Dean Emeritus. "Non-Verbal Communication Modes ." Andrews

University , Accessed 4 Apr.

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Vanderhoff, Jason. Capstone Project. Received by the author, Apr. 2017.

Varghese, Siby, and Chhaya Shukla, Facial Expression Presentation., Linkedln Corporation ,

2014, Accessed 12 Apr.


Vision Therapy. Advertisement. Advanced Vision Therapy Center, Advanced Vision , Jan. 2017,

binocular_vision_assessment/visual_perception/. Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.