How do I il­lus­trate an ag­ing fan­tasy crea­ture?

Marie Obrien, US

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Your Questions Answered... -

An­swer Brynn replies

Show­ing age in your imag­i­nary crea­tures is a great way to in­cor­po­rate story and be­liev­abil­ity into your de­sign. In or­der to paint an ag­ing fan­tasy crea­ture, we must think about how real-life an­i­mals and or­gan­isms show their age.

To get started, I’ll con­cept a crea­ture’s bust. I’m not too wor­ried about age just yet, but I know that I’m de­pict­ing an adult rather than a ju­ve­nile so I make sure its eyes aren’t too big and that it’s fea­tures aren’t too soft.

When we think about age, we think about ex­pe­ri­ence. The idea is that this crea­ture has lived long enough to go through a lot of dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences, good and bad. We can utilise vis­ual cues like scar­ring and wrin­kles to in­di­cate past bat­tles, fa­cial move­ment over time and sun dam­age. Dis­coloured fur and skin can in­di­cate more sun dam­age and over­all cell dam­age. If you’ve ever met an older dog, you’ll know the tell-tale grey fur that shows up on most dogs’ faces. Grey­ing out one of the eyes could also show that the crea­ture has started to go blind. Bro­ken or worn-down teeth and horns can also in­di­cate a long life. You can also in­di­cate age with pos­ture.

Aged crea­tures will al­ways look more in­ter­est­ing than clean or new-look­ing crea­tures, so try to in­cor­po­rate a lived-in look into your de­sign work.

Keep the lines and wrin­kles ran­dom – it will feel more nat­u­ral this way. Paint­ing in your tex­tures in­di­vid­u­ally will help, as will asym­met­ri­cal fea­tures. Adding in ir­reg­u­lar shapes like long whiskers, dis­coloured skin and a hunched pos­ture can help sell the idea that this crea­ture is old.

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