Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thoughts On Drawing Different Ages (part two)

A few more things I find useful to keep in mind when you're trying to draw characters at different ages.

Babies have a very distinctive profile, particularly the way their nose turns up and the way the upper lip sticks out and up. The reason our noses stick up this way when we're born is so we can breastfeed and still breathe (or so I read somewhere). So these two qualities tend to give any character a more youthful quality, and are helpful features to emphasize when you're drawing people and you want them to look young.

As we all know, full lips and an upturned nose are considered classic beautiful attributes on women. I assume it's because (in our minds) those things equate youthfulness. It seems to me that many people (especially females) retain the upturned nose and full lips well into their teens and even into their twenties, thirties and beyond, depending on the genetics of the person.

There seems to be some debate about whether our noses and ears continue to grow as we age. Read both opinions for yourself here and here.

The overall consensus seems to be that, yes, our noses and ears (which are cartilage) keep growing our whole lives (unlike bones, which stop at some point).

So drawing larger ears and noses definitely make a character look older.

Also, gravity begins to have an effect on our noses as well. At some point, the upturned nose begins to droop downward and the upturned cute nose disappears, replaced by the lower hanging, larger nose of an adult or older person.

Another thing that happens as we age is that our lips pull inward and lose their plumpness. They don't jut out so far anymore. If anything, the opposite happens, and the line of our mouth becomes more concave...

...particularly as we lose teeth and there's nothing to push them outwards anymore. And we lose that baby fat that made our cheeks so chubby. We can begin to look gaunt, with our cheeks sucking in instead of expanding out like they did when we were younger. They can sink in so far that you can see the cheekbones and other planes of the skull underneath.

All images from corbis.com


Dapoon said...

Excellent stuff Mark! Now I understand how Mr. Incredible looked so young in the beginning of the movie, and middle aged in the rest.

Dapoon said...

And of course Carl and Ellie from UP. :)

Jeff Overturf said...

Gravity is a harsh and bitter mistress to us all. Great stuff, Mark.

Martin said...

"As we all know, full lips and an upturned nose are considered classic beautiful attributes on women."

I can't really say I knew the upturned nose thing. I've always preferred noses that point down, and disliked the hey-I-can-look-into-your-nostrils look.

Gabriel said...

I had to draw an obese child once. When I drew the neck bigger, it made the character look older. I seemed to come to the conclusions that a) children's fat deposits in different places than in adults, b) the width of the neck in relation to the head is a useful tool to manipulate the age of a drawn character.

mark kennedy said...

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Dapoon - yes, all this stuff is used well by animated movies...there's still a lot of "tricks" I'm sure I don't know yet.

Jeff - true. So sad. Wish we could move to the moon....thanks for the comment!

Martin - well, there's personal preference, of course....but as I said, the upturned nose has a sound evolutionary purpose...so it naturally looks "young" to us. At least to me....thanks for the comment!

Gabriel - yes, true in my experience too....also the subject of my next post on aging! Stay tuned.