How do I illustrate an aging fantasy creature?
Marie Obrien, US
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.