Muscular Anatomy of the Face

There are quite a few anatomy resources on the web, but not a lot that combine clear illustrations with pictures of the muscles in action. With the help of a patient model and a fine illustrator, I hope this resource helps clarify how the face can make so many expressions.

You will also find a link to my Craniometric Landmarks web app which is a part of my online forensic sculpture class.


The Zygomaticus (some anatomists divide it into major and minor components) originates on our zygomatic arch and inserts into the outer margin of the Orbicularis oris. The muscle draws the corner of our lips back, laterally, and to a lesser degree upwards. We use this muscle when we smile. When contracted, it compresses the cheek tissue along its length and can give people apple cheeks when they smile.

Anatomical Drawing by Daniel Maidman. Courtesy of the artist.
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