Facial expressions, elf characters, twisted metal, undead designs and more!
Michael Jaramillo, US
Humans interpret different facial configurations as specific messages. For example, when the levator anguli oris (caninus muscle) contracts, raising the upper lip and making the fangs visible, it’s sending a message of anger. When the corrugator supercilii contracts, it raises the inner parts of the brows to express sadness.
This applies to every human face, including a skull-like face. The main difference is how the skin over the muscles and bones of the head react to these complex muscular movements. When there’s little or no fat under the skin, the bones become more visible, as do the muscles and tendons. The eyes appear sunken and the veins more prominent. The expression wrinkles are still there, but they’re smaller and not as deep.
I’d advise studying the expressive values of the face’s anatomy, either using online sources or reference books. This will enable you to paint the expressions accurately. If you also analyse photos of thin and/or older people then you’ll gain an understanding of how different skins react to certain expressions, and which bones and muscles are the most prominent. Do this and your task will become much easier.
Painting expressions on a skull-like face is easy if you know the shape of the skull and which muscles are responsible for specific expressions. First sketch the head with a neutral gaze, then add a suitable expression.