Artist Q&A

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents - Noah Wal­dock, Aus­tralia

Ad­vice on paint­ing old faces, footprints, shat­ter­ing mir­rors, at­mos­phere and much more.

Tom Fos­ter replies

While there are no­tice­able dif­fer­ences be­tween male and fe­male fa­cial anatomy, the ag­ing process is much the same and the re­sul­tant fa­cial types are no more dif­fer­ent than in youth. The main dif­fer­ence tends to be the stor­age of fat.

Fe­male faces store pro­por­tion­ately greater lev­els of fat, re­sult­ing in rounder forms, as op­posed to the male, in which mus­cle is more vis­i­ble, lead­ing to greater an­gu­lar­ity. As time goes on, grav­ity takes its toll on these de­posits of fat and they travel to the lover half of the face, just as the skin that binds them loosens and does the same. This places a greater em­pha­sis on the fur­rows around the mouth, and the mi­gra­tion of cheek fat south­wards will of­ten leave the fat stor­age un­der the eyes iso­lated in pro­nounced bags.

Don’t think of these fur­rows and bags as lines, but rather the bor­ders of three­d­i­men­sional shapes. Us­ing these shapes to de­fine ar­eas of light and shade helps me cre­ate anatomy that looks more phys­i­cally real than merely draw­ing laugh­ter lines and crow’s feet on to an oth­er­wise youth­ful face. It also helps me keep the face char­ac­ter­ful, rather than mired in de­tail that serves only to drown the viewer in the mes­sage that “this per­son is old.” If I can do this con­vinc­ingly, my char­ac­ter’s age will be an as­set to their ex­pres­sive­ness, rather than an im­ped­i­ment.

Age doesn’t have to be de­hu­man­is­ing and ugli­fy­ing. Well-rounded anatom­i­cal forms can make an older char­ac­ter sprightly and play­ful.

I gather more than one ref­er­ence photo (of dif­fer­ent peo­ple), when at­tempt­ing dif­fi­cult fa­cial anatomy. This en­ables me to iso­late the com­mon­al­i­ties in ex­pres­sion, anatomy and age­ing process from de­tails that are spe­cific to an in­di­vid­ual. I can then ap­ply these traits to my char­ac­ter.

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