Monday, March 14, 2016

Modeling the Mouth in Plasteline, a Structural Analysis with Instructor Dan Thompson


by Michela Mansuino
Level Three student

Let's start with the muzzle, which is a platform for the mouth. The muzzle starts at the tear duct, called the infraorbital furrow. It descends upon the associated substructures, the cheek pad fat, the masseter muscle (a muscle that runs through the rear part of the cheek from the temporal bone to the lower jaw on each side and closes the jaw in chewing), then down and over the submental triangle at the bottom, below the chin. 

These drawings illustrate the artistic form of the muzzle.



Modeling the muzzle was attaching a thin strip of clay in a sling-like manner.





Once the muzzle sling was in place, we turned to a giant mouth Dan had modeled for us.  The toothpicks indicate the direction of the planes.

Notice the nodes, they are sizeable. They have a quality that point upwards, and give the face a pleasant look.




 

To make the mouth on our planar head, we started with the nodes. We attached them first, like two buttons, halfway between the bottom of the chin and the top of the philtrum, (the vertical groove between the base of the nose and the border of the upper lip). Then we dug out the sulcus for depth.


Here is how mine started, with the nodes and tubercles in place. And that dip is the beginning of the sulcus, which I then dug out much deeper.


Next, we dug deeply right next to the nodes, to create the corners of the mouth.


Here is a profile of it.


Here is a detail of it. I didn't like mine, I thought I should have made the wings of the lips much thicker.


Dan's was beautiful.  He always makes his aesthetically pleasing.


The most striking concept was that of the "Y" making the "shield" shape in the center of the upper lip.  Dan drew this out for us in de-coded form. When you think of the structure in this way, you leave out lines around the apex of the upper lip, and you model the form, whether in clay or in paint.



Under the sulcus, we added the mentalis muscle, like a large button in the center, under the bottom lip, and the tubercles, marking the width of the ramus in front.  Let's take another look at Dan's giant mouth.


Painting a mouth will never be the same again.  Now we have a sound concept working from the live model. Dan was very persuasive when he said that first you had to have the center of the mouth marked, then the wings and pillows of the form would be worked out in perspective from there. Great advice, now to put it in practice.


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