The 5 Principles of Cuteness: Perfecting Amigurumi Creatures
Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult to create facial expressions on your handmade amigurumi creatures? It can be very frustrating to make something super cute and then not be able to get the face to look how you want it. In this excerpt from my book Beastly Crochet, I will demonstrate how just the tiniest changes can create a huge range of facial expressions in your amigurumi creatures, and help you understand how to achieve your own version of maximum cuteness!
Principle #1: Neat-o Is Sweet-o
While there are exceptions to every rule, a face that has been neatly done will look better than one that has been slapped together quickly. Moving a detail of the face just a fraction of an inch can change the expression. It’s best to go slowly, making sure things are placed purposefully and your stitches are neat.
Principle #2: Size Up the Situation
The size and proportions of your creature’s facial features greatly affect its personality. For example, because I was trying to play up the alluring qualities of the Bride of Mark, I gave her rather large lips. When I was working on Little Joe’s face I purposely made his eyes small so that your attention would be drawn to his toothy grin. On the Lil’ Vampire Hat, I made the eyes large to look like they could see right down into your soul . . . but in a cute way. Disproportionately large heads, big eyes, and little bodies will make your creatures appear more childlike and cute.
The proportion of the pupils to the eye whites is very important. Notice how in Figure 2 the pupils are relatively large (compared to Figure 1) and cause the eyes to look dreamy. In Figure 3, the pupils are relatively small and cause the eyes to look scared or surprised.
Principle #3: Everything Has Its Place
The placement of the features—the amount of space between the eyes, as well as how high or low they are placed on the face—is just as important as their size and proportion.
Notice how in Figure 5, the eyes are wide set and placed low on the face compared to Figure 4. This gives the face a more childlike appearance. Compare this to Figure 6, where the eyes are close together and placed higher up.
Placing the pupils on the eye whites can be tricky. In Figure 8, the pupils are centered within the eye whites—like the creature is looking at you. However, if you are placing wide-set eyes on a face that has a curve to it, you should consider moving the pupils slightly inward, so that they still appear to look forward.
For example, on the top face in Figure 7, (show above) the pupils are moved toward the center of the face, whereas on the bottom face each pupil is centered within the eye white. The top face appears to look right at you; the eyes in the bottom face seem unfocused. Be very careful when attaching the pupils. If one pupil is slightly off center, it will look as though your creature cannot focus its eyes (see Figure 10). If you move both pupils in the same direction, it will appear as though your creature is looking in that direction. In Figure 9, both pupils are moved slightly left of center, and it appears as though the eyes are looking to their right.
Principle #4: Keep Your Lid On!
Eyelids are another easy way to give your creature extra personality. Notice how in Figure 11, the eyelids make the face look a little more relaxed. (Compare this to Figures 1, 4, or 8). In Figure 12, the outer corners of the eyelids are sloped slightly downward. This makes the creature look sad, or if it had a smiling mouth, it would look kind of dopey. In Figure 13, the inner corners of the eyelids are sloped slightly downward. This makes the eyes look angry; if it had a smile, it would look impish and up to no good.
Adding the under-eyelids narrows the eyes further and amplifies the expression. In Figure 14, the eyes are barely open, making the face look tired or even annoyed. The eyes in Figure 15 look even sadder than the eyes in Figure 12. Likewise, the eyes in Figure 16 look angrier than the eyes in Figure 13. Adding a smiling mouth would make the eyes in Figure 16 look downright sinister. Adding eyebrows that echo the lines of the eyelids can also aid in achieving the desired facial expression.
Principle #5: That Friend in the Mirror Can Help You
Whenever I’m having trouble creating a specific facial expression, I look in the mirror and make the expression myself. I look at how my eyelids move, how much iris is exposed, where my pupils are in relation to my eye whites, etc. This silly technique has helped me give my little creatures their big personalities.