Skip to content ↓

Uncanny Valley by Anika H. '26

im gonna make you shit your pants

Uncanny valley is a phenomenon where an eerie and unsettling feeling arises when looking at something human-like. This is why humanoid robots, zombies, corpses, and occasionally anthropomorphic animals may sometimes feel a little creepy. On a graph of human likeness to attraction/repulsion, uncanny valley refers to the sharp dip. There are several theories about why we evolved this way. Some people think it helped us identify the diseased and dead while others think it implies the existence of a predator that mimicked humans to get closer to us. Whatever the case, this topic hasn’t been explored much with scientific rigor and simply remains at best a collection of observations.

uncanny valley graph

a graphical representation

What I’ve noticed is that uncanny valley happens when there is a mismatch between human and nonhuman features. The nonhuman movement of an android and its human-like features or a humanoid creature with abnormally long arms and legs will both appear creepy. So as any self respecting artist would do, I sought to exploit this behavior. As they say, it’s now a feature, not a bug.

This is part 2 of using my art powers for chaos.

So how do you give someone the heebie jeebies with your art? Starting off faithful to the human likeness, simply change its proportions ever so slightly. This includes lengthening facial features or shortening the distance between them, and increasing or decreasing the depth of folds with increased or decreased shading of the shadows.

uncanny valley tutorial

a small example/tutorial

Make it smile! Smiles become unsettling when they seem insincere. While an angry or fearful expression appears scary, a smile in a different context from what we are used to can really screw with our brain’s perception of emotion. Therefore, I picked the happiest people I know to model for my drawings: the bloggers! Here are a few examples of the poor souls who sacrificed their dignity for my creative exploitations.

Andi '25

Andi ’25

Kayode '27

Kayode ’27


Kano '25

Kano ’25

Allison '27

Allison ’27

Petey '13

Petey ’13