This woman is not acting.
She is truly terrified!
Extreme fear is notoriously hard to depict, both for animators and actors.
Unlike the other cardinal expressions, good reference material for the face of terror (the level of fear I’m discussing here) is scarce. There are few candid photographs that clearly show a very frightened person.
The reason for the lack of photographic reference is obvious – situations which are dire enough to solicit terror are fortunately rare, and rarer still are photographers who are detached enough to take useful photos. It’s far easier to find terrific pictures of anger, sadness, joy, and even surprise. The movies, usually a reliable source of reference material, are not particularly useful in this case, as even good actors rarely achieve a convincing configuration, as shown below.
Many of these images are now available in high-resolution format, and they represent the best reference material I’ve ever found for the details of a person in terror. Below I compare some of the excellent faces from Nightmares Fear Factory with examples from other sources which provide little in the way of good information. Additionally, in user tests, the Fear Factory faces get the highest scores for recognition of any images I've tested.
The bottom line is – you have to be really, really scared to look the way these folks do, and we know the face of terror when we see it.
at 96%, from 50 viewers, for her expression of fear -- that's as good as it gets.
The clearest expression of fear is on the face of the man second from left.
department researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
To improve the fear readability with Dash, I created an oblique slant for the upper margin of his eyeball, and altered his mask to suggest oblique eyebrows. I also opened his mouth much wider, and widened it sideways. As a result, Dash's fear score improved from 62% to 88%, a dramatic difference.
At a later time, I'll talk about posing the face of someone who's merely worried, as opposed to scared out of their wits.