Facial expression recognition (FER) requires better descriptors to represent the face patterns as the facial region changes due to the movement of the face muscles during an expression. In this paper, a method of concatenating spatial pyramid Zernike moments based shape features and Law's texture features is proposed to uniquely capture the macro and micro details of each facial expression. The proposed method employs multilayer perceptron and radial basis function feed forward artificial neural networks for recognizing the facial expressions. The suitability of the features in recognizing the expressions is explored across the datasets independent of the subjects or persons. The experiments conducted on JAFFE and KDEF datasets demonstrate that the concatenated feature vectors are capable of representing the facial expressions with better accuracy and least errors. The radial basis function based classifier delivers a performance with an average recognition accuracy of 95.86% and 88.87% on the JAFFE and KDEF datasets respectively for subject dependent FER. © 2013 IEEE.