Any tips for painting a close-up of a creature’s open mouth?
Derek Smith, England
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.