Any tips for paint­ing a close-up of a crea­ture’s open mouth?

ImagineFX - - Imaginenation Artist Q&A -

Derek Smith, Eng­land

Al­li­son replies

First, ask your­self what kind of crea­ture are you paint­ing? Every­thing comes back to form and func­tion. In this in­stance I have apex preda­tors with high bite forces on the brain: some­thing wrapped in mus­cle, with thick jaws and a big, bone-crunching gape, but with a bit of an un­der­bite and pro­trud­ing chin for a slightly slicker pro­file. I start with a quick pro­file sketch and then, once I’m sat­is­fied with a di­rec­tion, work this into a three-quar­ter per­spec­tive view to bet­ter dis­play the mouth.

I opt for big chunky gums and en­vi­sion the roots of the teeth go deep into the skull. Once I set­tle on a tooth ar­range­ment I tackle the tongue, and chose to have it whip­ping out to help give the head a more dy­namic sense of move­ment. I also in­tro­duce a re­laxed lip line to re­in­force a mouth that’s slightly clos­ing as it turns, as op­posed to one that’s stretched taut dur­ing max­i­mum gape. Fi­nally, I add spec­u­lar re­flec­tion and strings of saliva, the di­rec­tion of which also re­in­forces the head turn and adds to the beast’s mo­men­tum.

There’s more to the in­ter­nal struc­ture of the mouth than teeth and tongue. All of it will help bring char­ac­ter to your de­sign.

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