Face, FACS & Beyond 1001

This course will introduce you to the science and theory of facial expressions.

Course Schedule
07.09.2020 - 03.11.2020
Melinda Ozel
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Decode the face to create believable characters and performances


This course is all about the science and theory of facial expressions. Using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) as a tool, we will cover fundamentals of facial movement and anatomy. We will then dive into combined expression shapes and basic emotions. In the last portion of the course, we will apply our new knowledge of the fundamentals to enhance expressivity, convey complex emotions, and craft character personality.


Course Details

  • Type: Online
  • Level: Foundation
  • Duration: 8 weeks
  • Lessons: 8
  • Format: Pre-recorded videos and weekly live sessions
  • Live Classes: Tuesdays, 18:00 BST
  • Assignments: Weekly & 1 final
  • Tools: n/a
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Course Access Time: Lifetime

Understand the fundamentals in facial movement and anatomy

Lessons in this course

  • 01. What is the Facial Action Coding System, and why do we use it?

    Here you will learn what FACS is, how it’s used, and why it’s so important to learn. We will end the lesson with an intro to the most basic FACS shapes and what they look like.
  • 02. Upper Face, Part I - The Eyebrows

    In this lesson, we will explore the various eyebrow movements and expression combinations. You will learn about skin movement and wrinkle patterns associated with each brow movement, as well as how differences in brow shapes and facial features can affect expression perception.
  • 03. Upper Face, Part II - The Eyes

    Here we will cover basic eye actions and combination expressions. We will go over eye shapes and examine how they affect the look of eye-based expressions. We will also touch on the emotional and communicative meaning of different eye combinations.
  • 04. Middle Face - The Nose & Surrounding Areas

    In Lesson 4, we will focus on the movements of the nose and upper lip area. We will go into detail on how these two movements interact with other actions in the eyes, eyebrows, and lower face. We will also discuss how the expressions in the middle face play roles in communicating disgust, laughter, and pain.
  • 05. Lower Face, Part I - The Mouth and Below

    The lower face is the most complicated and least understood region of the face. In this two-part lesson, we will go over the various movements of the lower face.
  • 06. Lower Face, Part II - The Mouth and Below

    Here we will go over the second half of the lower face section. Because many of the lower face expressions look similar, we will spend extra time in this section reviewing the subtle differences between each pose.
  • 07. Holistic Expressions and Emotions

    Now that we have covered each section of the face and the principles of basic expressions, we will explore the interactions of the upper, middle, and lower face. We will elaborate on the various combinations as well as seeing how each section of the face works together to convey the basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, disgust, and contempt.
  • 08. Facial Features and Complex Emotions

    In this last lesson, we will explore the perceptual impact of individual differences in facial features and understand how these perceptions can be leveraged in character creation. We will wrap up with a more in-depth consideration of different emotions.

Tutor: Melinda Ozel

Expression Scientist

Melinda Ozel is a facial expression expert formally trained and certified in the Facial Action Coding System. Melinda has applied her knowledge of the face in a diverse set of industries from marketing and technology to science and art. Melinda is passionate about integrating concepts from cross-disciplinary fields. She is dedicated to researching and learning as much as she can to advance her expertise and share her findings.

This course is now full.

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