Playing with the Facial Features
Deviating from the standard features of the face can help define a character's personality. For example, a broken nose can hint that the face has been in a few battles. A thick forehead hanging over the eyes indicates roughness and a limited IQ. Thin lips can be a visual cue to a cold, dispassionate character. Oddly, big ears are not read as a sign of heightened perception, but rather as an indication of overall dopiness.
Eyes are often imbued with the intelligence of a character. Large eyes depict a sense of wonder and curiosity. Characters with large eyes look somewhat naïve. On the other hand, small eyes convey a sense of cunning and shrewdness. Characters with small, shifty eyes can often be somewhat dangerous.
Of course, in cartooning, there are several ways to draw the eyes. Cartoon eyes vary from balloonlike orbs to small dots on a face. Sometimes the “dot eye” is accompanied by a curved line that seems to indicate either the outer edge of the eyeball or the eye socket. And, of course, don't forget the antiquated pupil-less ovals made popular by Little Orphan Annie.
There are several ways to draw cartoon eyes.
Before you decide on one way of drawing eyes over another, draw the eyes on a generic head. See how many emotions you can display without help from the other features such as the mouth or eyebrows. Choosing a limited style isn't necessarily “bad,” but you will need to be aware of those limitations when drawing emotions through the character.
Did you know that a herbivore's eyes are spaced widely apart — usually on either side of its head — whereas a carnivore's eyes are close together, allowing it to focus on its prey? Distorting the spacing between your character's eyes can lend a similar air of passiveness or aggression.
Surprisingly, the nose is almost as expressive as the eyes. A nose can be long and sharp, denoting a shrewd, calculating individual. A sharp nose is, after all, somewhat threatening and gives the face a somewhat unfriendly look. Alternately, a rounded, soft nose is more gentle and casual.
The length of the nose, too, can indicate something about your character's personality. A long nose on a face makes the face look more serious. It deepens any other serious features. Conversely, a short nose tends to give the face an air of innocence.
Chins and Jaw Lines
The chin is much like the nose. A long and pointed chin tends to be unfriendly. A short, rounded chin is much more gentle. Of course, a chiseled, blunt chin — with or without a cleft — belongs on an adventurous, handsome man.