‘Anatomy of Facial Expressions’ – Review

Anatomy of Facial Expressions is a new book from Uldis Zarins. You might remember I reviewed his first book, Anatomy for Sculptors, back in 2014. I have since used Anatomy for Sculptors more than any other anatomy book I own because, above all other books, it’s a visual reference guide. Everything is clearly explained with photographs and illustrations, so there is no need to read through a lot of text to get the information you’re looking for.

Anatomy of Facial Expressions follows the same format and the production value has even improved. The photographs are clearer, the illustrations are better, and the addition of CG models, split screens, and overlays take out all the guess-work one often experiences when studying anatomy book illustrations.

I worked for two years as a Facial Animator at EA. During that time I studied Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System (FACS), read Gary Faigin’s The Artist’s Guide to Facial Expression several times and referenced it daily, and studied facial anatomy from a half dozen anatomy books. In my opinion, Anatomy of Facial Expression, is the best facial anatomy resource there is.


This book outlines every muscle and bone of significance to an artist. You will come away with an understanding of what each bone and muscle does, and how it moves. You will understand which muscles are involved in each of the major facial expressions, and how they contribute to the shapes we identify with those expressions as they contract. You will understand how facial anatomy varies with age, sex, and ethnicity. You will understand which muscles contribute to eye movement (something I’ve never seen before in another facial anatomy book). A nice added bonus is the addition of subcutaneous fat to the illustrations (pictured above in yellow) This is a major influence on the shapes and forms of the face, and is often overlooked in facial anatomy resources. The wealth of illustrations (many showing angles I’ve never seen before) and the use of CG overlays will make your understanding of the subject matter crystal clear. Those of you that have also studied FACS will like that every illustration and photo in the book lists the designated FACS codes for quick reference.

Take a sneak peak through the book via this video by ParkaBlogs:

If you buy this book, I don’t personally see the need for any other resource on the subject. The aforementioned book by Faigin would compliment it nicely, but it’s not technically necessary considering how thorough this book is. As with anything, you get what you pay for, and the price tag on this volume might scare a few people away. Let me assure you that it’s worth the $100 price tag.

How to Win a Copy

We’ll be giving away three copies to our readers, one on each of our social media channels (FacebookTwitter, and Instagram) You don’t have to follow us on all three, but you’ll up your chances threefold if you do. Keep your eyes on our social feeds for our announcement. You’ll need to share our giveaway post when it arrives. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide. Good luck! 🙂


UPDATE (October 23rd, 2017): Twitter give away is live today! Winner announced end of day (10 pm PST). Follow us and share this post:

UPDATE (October 16th, 2017): Instagram give away is live today! Winner announcedat midnight. Details here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BaUCb4cjVnI

UPDATE (October 9th, 2017): Twitter give away is live today! Winner announced end of day. Follow us and share this post: