Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fundamentals of Cuteness 101

What are the basics behind a cute face? Those answers—and more—on this week's Fundamentals of Cuteness 101. Please save all questions until the end of class.

Here is a typical smiley face, consisting of a head, two eyes and a mouth:

Rather cute, but it could be cuter... Try increasing the distance between the eyes, then raise the mouth:


Babies are cute. They also have large foreheads. Maximize the Cuteness Factor by moving facial features to the bottom of the head:

Another cute technique—popularized by recent Japanese mascots—is to place the facial features at the top of the head:

Finally, big eyes convey innocence, which is crucial to Cute-Facedness. But beware of overly-large eyes that can lead to Bug-Eyedness:

And there you have it, class. Cuteness, deconstructed.

Extra-credit question: If five cute faces were combined into one, would the total Cuteness Factor then be multiplied by a factor of five? Let us observe:


Dear heavens, what have I created? Time to call the exterminator again. That's the end of this week's Fundamentals of Cuteness 101!

~ Professor Woo

UPDATE - Oct 3, 2011:

Watch the return of the cute-a-pillar here.


  1. Haha - that is the cutest cute-a-pillar ever! I often experiment with eye distance and mouth placement too - very interesting.

    Well done - love your creations!!!

  2. CUTE-A-PILLAR HAHAHAHAHA You are a genius!

  3. excuse me sir, what would you say is the probability of cuteness evolving into off-the-scale-lol-ness?

  4. I adore it! Wicked clever...and oh so cute!

  5. No wonder I grew up reading Japanese Manga full of faces with big eyes (half of their face)!

  6. No fair! A cute-a-pillar's big eyes are already bug eyes! Definite cute-vantage.

  7. i was laughing until the very last photo... which i won't lie, made me yell out loud :X scary!! step on it! step on it!

  8. I would have given the same lesson myself!!! Well done Professor Woo!!

    - TR who is not working on anything cute at the moment or next week

  9. oh howie!!! you are the master dude of cute!

  10. I think some of the cuteness X5 factor may be lost on the legs protruding from the chins and back of the heads of numbers 2-5... That's where the creepy comes in!

  11. Too many eyes looking at me. But thank you for the lesson in cutifying faces..... I almost wrote nutifying... But that's a whole other post eh?

  12. All very cute! Don't quite get the '101' thing that appears a lot lately, its not a UK thing?

    ** Kate **

  13. I love the lesson on cuteness! The caterpillar is charming. :)

  14. A cute-a-pillar, hahaha, where you got it all :-)

    But professor Who, your lessons don't aply on everyone, I still prefere the first one, but don't worry, I don't represent the most of the people.

    And if centipedes do exist, why there shouldn't be centifaces. your's still very young as you can see, wait till he grows another 95 faces ...

  15. PaisleyJade: As you know from your experiments, it's amazing how a few small adjustments can change the entire expression! Recreating Charlie Brown or Hello Kitty is especially tricky because they're drawn with (and recognized by) a few simple lines. Thanks! All is calm when you're the first to comment :D

    raeonix: hehe I also thought I was smart when I made the cute-a-pillar, but then it bit my finger and ate a human-sized hole through my garage door!

    Strickbombe: Thank you for saving your question till the end of class. As you can see from the formula on the chalkboard, the probability of cuteness evolving into off-the-scale-lol-ness is clearly 38.4539 % (more or less). Good question!

    June: Thanks! May you have a cute-a-pillar sighting in the near future :D But keep the car engine running if you do ;)

    woolhug: haha Yes, manga eyes are famously large. Can you imagine the size of the contact lenses? You could eat breakfast off them :D

    Viola: Cute-a-pillars use their cute-vantage to distract their prey! Then they wrap themselves around their victims and devour them with all five mouths. Horrific!

    youngmi: Yes, I tried to step on it but it spat venom (?) at me! Thankfully, I dodged the poison before running away. The venom made the grass catch fire!

    TADA's Revolution: You have a Doctorate in Cute Studies, I'm sure! And you've always got something delightful brewing in your imagination, even during your short breaks :)

    taffyyarn: Should I put "master dude of cute" on my business cards? :D That would be pompous! Then again, I AM a professor of Cute Studies at a small uncredited community college, right? haha

    Ramona: haha Cute-a-pillars do have cute butts, though it's a nauseating scene whenever it performs any bodily function with it's hind end, bleh!!

    Amethyst: In the future, kids won't be piercing themselves with metal jewelry. They'll be taking cues from the cute-a-pillar and piercing insect legs onto their chins. I should know because I'm a professor and I wear a tweed jacket with elbow patches...

    Mel Makes Pretty: Ten eyes blinking at once is a spine-chilling sight, you're right *shudder* Yes, nutifying faces is a whole other post and probably a whole other blog haha

    Kate: 101 is just the course number for my beginner's class :) I tried to teach a 200-level class but the faculty board said I'm not qualified. Suffice it to say, the cute-a-pillar will be paying them a visit soon.

    La MaƱosa: I'm glad you enjoyed the lesson! If you think the cute-a-pillar is charming, it might not bite you. No guarantees though ;)

    ShirleyGreeny: It's good you like the classic smiley face! Cuteness is mostly subjective anyway :) I've never seen a fully mature cute-a-pillar before. 95 faces?! The horror... Just one of those creatures could wipe out an entire village!

  16. It's an incredible lesson Professor Woo!
    And I love your cute-a-pilar ♥

  17. Hello ! I just found your blog and I fell in love with it !
    I come from France so I'm sorry if my English isn't the best...

    Wonderful job ! :) Thanks for making me laught in front of all those pictures.

    A new fan,


  18. Dear Professor Woo,
    Thank you so much for this lesson in cuteness! I am now wondering if I can make cute baby monkeys following your woocuteness theorem.

  19. This was a great simple write up on cuteness! It is so true how facial features can alter the cuteness factor. My personal favorite face to use on my creations is the eyes and mouth near the bottom of the head.

  20. I think it's exactly what this article is about...
    I've learned a lot from it!

  21. Eek - I'm now going to have nightmares about creepy crawleys with amigurumi faces lurking under my bed! That's just cute gone very bad...

  22. Christelle: Thank you for attending class! Were you blowing bubblegum in the back row though? *tsk tsk* :)

    Nadine: Hooray for finding the blog, and I hope you stick around :) Merci beaucoup!

    Louise: If anyone can make cute baby monkeys out of glass, it is you! :) Thanks for showing up in class too. But were you sharing gum with Christelle? Sit up front next time! ;)

    arixystix: I also prefer placing the eyes & mouth near the bottom of the face. I hope you share an online showcase of your cute creations soon!

    Shusha: Thank you for the link to the superior article on "The Elements of Cute Character Design" by Sasha Preuss! That article is so well-written and so well-illustrated, I've decided to hang up my tweed jacket & attend Professor-Summer School!

    Jessica: If you have visions of a cute-a-pillar under your bed, I do hope it is only a dream! Last summer in Idaho, a family of four narrowly escaped being gobbled up after the youngest found a cute-a-pillar hiding under the bed. *phew!*

  23. What a great tute on Rules of Cuteness!!! Howie, are you familiar with the site:

    You will be subjected to thousands of fotos of cuteness in animals! Here is the tag to their "rules of cuteness":

    You may get a kick out of this!


  24. this is unreal, so great LOL :)

  25. I never knew there were so many different cutenesses! Thanks for teaching. :-)

  26. awww, that is some cuteness... I think I'm going to try out the big baby-forehead thing :)
    <3 clare

  27. ecuadoriana: Thanks for the link to Cute Overload :) My niece and sister used to visit that site and they'd erupt in "awwwwww"s! For me, I still haven't seen a cuter dog than Dick De Bartolo's neighbour's dog.

    Feanor crafts: Yes, I wish the cute-a-pillar was unreal too! Unfortunately, I saw it rummaging around the backyard shed the other day :(

    die kleene: I'm glad you liked the lesson! My online degree in teaching is finally paying off!

    Sparrow's Nest: Good luck with the Big Baby Foreheads :) By the way: if you stitch a Big Baby Head atop a grown man's body, it quickly becomes terrifying. That'll be discussed in my future Fundamentals of Terror 101 course (if that picky school board approves it)!

  28. I've just discovered your blog and love what you have made with these cute heads!!

  29. THANK YOU! Everytime Im making amis my boyfriend keeps asking why on earth I put the eyes so far apart and everything so low on the head(like Baby Head over there). I will show him this so he will believe I am not making up cuteness facts. So there.
    Hehehe, that caterpillar is a monster of cuteness.

  30. Wow, professor Woo, what an interesting course! and I like the idea of making caterpillar using those faces :)

  31. Kate: Subject 101 is standard course numbering in American universities for the foundational class in a given subject. Classes are generally assigned a three digit number with the first digit signifying what year the student is expected to take it. 500 level and up are post graduate classes.

  32. Aquarius: I'm always happy to hear from a new visitor, thank you! I hope you stick around for more nuttiness :)

    lauracruz: After you showed your boyfriend this blog post about cute faces, did you then say to him: "In your face!" haha

    zuperdzigh: You're such a good student, praising the professor like that! Thank you! *gold star sticker* :D

    Rhoadan: Thanks for your superior explanation of standard course numbering! What, are you trying to muscle in on my professor job? Let's talk privately in the teacher's lounge!!

  33. Thanks Howie for the cuteness lesson! I laughed when I saw your cute-a-pilar. I love your blog! :o)

  34. Hi Howie

    Thank you for the lesson. I would like to link to the post by using the cute-a pillar photo at my danish crochet blog. Would that be OK?


  35. you forgot the blushing cheeks! :D

  36. That is just so so cute~

  37. Mausica: Thanks for liking my lesson! May a dangerous cute-a-pillar never cross your path ;)

    Lyn Newhouse: Cute but deadly, beware! ;)

    Fru. Ekelund: I'd be honoured if you linked to this post on your blog, thank you!

    leesasaur: You're right, blushing cheeks DO add to the cuteness levels! Hey, pass me your notes for the final test, k? ;)

    Anonymous: Thanks so so much ;)

  38. my cute creations are now begging me not to de-construct them ... esp this wee lass ....
    thanks howie !

  39. I found you blog via the CLF flamies thingy (which I went to after seeing the link on the Crochet Dude's blog) ... I love the stuff on your blog - so I am now a follower of yours too!

    yes ... 5 cute faces made into a cute-a-pillar is definitely 5 to the power of 5 in cuteness ...
    (and how can anyone find a caterpillar scary? - unless they are a vegetable! LOL)

    hmmm - if you made it in pink it would be an even cuter pillar ;-)

    btw ... just wondering ... when a cute-a-pillar pupates does it then emerge from the cocoon as a Beautyfly?

  40. Howie... I just discovered you, through Helen Shine's blog, and i LOVE your cuteness scale. Very, very clever, and so perfect. Very impressive!


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