What is Expression Sheet in a JRPG Game?

Hello Guys, well, last thing i was doing about my project was drawing the “Third” Main Character, you will understand better when the project get more advanced and I post more about my game. 🙂 And i just have one thing to say “Drawing hands is a #$%# #$%#$%#$”. And if you desire to see more tutorials by me here, I will TRY post a tutorial every Sunday and Wednesday. Design Tutorial I don’t pretend to do because I’m not good enough for this, BUT I will try to suggest some inspirations and good links if you want to “learn” or to “get inspired” for drawing or paint or designing your project.

Before I start to “talk” about Sprites…

Today I will “talk” about something important if you desire to do a game with dialogs, more commonly in a JRPG or Japanese Games in General. Even if you are doing a game with RPGMaker or something like that you will probabily need if you looks for originality is a “Expression Sheet” or also known as “Character Settei (キャラクター設定)”.

Well What is that?

That is simple, like the name say it is a set of expressions portrayed.

Example of an Expression being used in a Dialog.
Example of an Expression being used in a Dialog.

When you are designing a “important” character, this character could need a set of expressions drawn. Like if he will smile, could be usefull a “Smile Drawn” of him, if he is ashamed, would be nice show a portrait of him with a pink cheek. It is nice to portrait each kind of situations for your character.

When you start a “Character Design” for your game, is good start to think in his/her expressions for all kind of situations, but a common question is “How many Expressions I will need?”. That will really depends from “How much deep do you want to develop the dialogs between your characters?”.

Deeper, more expressions will be better. That is a really nice approach to make your characters showing their feelings. But it also consumes time.

Some expressions are: Normal, Happy, Sad, Pleased, Angry, Confused, Tired, Shocked/Surprised, Irritated, WTF?!, Triumph, Fear, Bereft, Flirty, Serious, Silly, Hollow/Blank, Incredulous, Confident, Fierce, Despondent/Pouty, Drunk, Rage, Sarcastic, Disgusted, Ill/Nauseous.

“But wait, I will need to draw every expressions that you mentioned?”

NO! Of course not, but it is “good” to draw at least some the most importants (the words in bold) 🙂

I will show you some example to understand better and maybe see some different approaches in Characters Expressions.


Above is a set of 6 Expressions from Yukiko, a character from Persona, it is really a nice example of a “easy-way” to do expressions. It is “easy” because the character don’t change his pose, is just the same pose for every expressions, they just change the face and sometimes the “clothes”.

And if you are looking for a easier way you can just use the face portrait to “express the expressions” without change the character’s pose, that is the fastest way, but not the more appropriate, it just look a little “poor” way to express your character’s feelings.

The most common way and not so easy, and not so hard, just ideal in my opinion is just show the face like a portrait changing the pose for each expression like the expression sheet bellow:




See? Well enought of Expression Sheet. 🙂

Like i said before not only JRPG have expression sheet, but when you start to work on a character design you maybe will need to work on a “Expression Sheet” to try figure out your own character.

Even Doom have a expression sheet. 🙂


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