How To Draw An Open Mouth

A common problem that pops up when it comes to drawing the human mouth is the way in which we depict it when it’s drawn wide open!

We tend to fall into this assumption that the jaw simply dislocates itself from the rest of the skull and drops down in order to open the mouth. But of course, that’s impossible!

The jaw doesn’t detach itself like a giant anaconda, nor does it extend its bone structure or stretch itself downward. That’s just not physically plausible!

Sounds obvious once you think about it right? But if that’s the case, how does the jaw allow the mouth to open and shut?

Rather than extending downward, the jaw actually rotates in much the same way as a door rotates open and shut on a set of hinges. The ‘hinges’ of the jaw are attached at either side of the skull, just behind the cheek bone, at the midway point of the side of the head.

When we open our mouths, the jaw swings downward, pivoting off of those hinge joints.

Intuitively we kinda already know this. It makes a lot of sense, when you begin to consider what physically has to happen for out mouth to open and close.

The problem is that we might not illustrate that happening it an accurate way.

When drawing the mouth in an open position – especially when your characters are yelling or screaming, it’s important to remember to draw the mouth in a way that shows how the jaw is rotating downward and essentially pulling the chin back.

The face will show some extension as the mouth opens, but it’s really about capturing the angle accurately, as the bottom of the mouth is pulled slightly backward, under and behind the top of the mouth.

If you’re able to pull that off, your screaming, yelling, wide open mouthed characters will appear much more convincing.

Something that helps me to ensure I’m staying conscious of the jaw’s rotational mechanism as I draw the open mouths of my characters is so keep in mind the underlying skull structure.

If I can consider the components that work together in order to actually allow the mouth to open it becomes much easier to depict it happening in the right way.

Those components being of course, the top of the skull and the jaw bone. There’s really only two parts to the mechanic at play so it’s fairly easy to get your head around the functionality of it all. The trick is remembering that when it comes to drawing the mouth in an open state.

In the illustrated example above, you can see how the jaw of the top skull rotates downward in order to swing the mouth open. It looks correct because the function of the jaw, as the mouth opens has been depicted correctly.

The bottom skull diagram however shows us an example of the common mistake many of us fall into when it comes to drawing the open mouth. You can see how, rather the rotating, the jaw has been stretched downward and extended instead, to create the mouth opening.

It simply doesn’t look right. It’s not super obvious, but we can tell something is definitely off about it. And it’s because the way the mouth is illustrated as being open here – is physically impossible.

I hope this quick little tip helps you draw the mouths of your characters more accurately. A lot of what goes into drawing a character convincingly has to do with considering their physical functionality, and how the different parts of the body move in order to achieve particular positions or actions.

In the upcoming ‘Character Creator Course – How Create Female Characters’, we’ll be delving even deeper into to this topic, and taking a look at how the bone structure of skull, and muscles of the mouth work in unison to create a wide range of facial expressions for your Female Comic Book Characters.

If you’d like to stay up to date on ‘Character Creator Course – How Create Female Characters’, just be sure to Subscribe to the How To Draw Comics . Net E-mail list and we can keep in touch.

I’ll have some more updates coming your way on the Character Creator Course real soon – but for now, I hope you got some value out of this neat nugget of knowledge.


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