So, Both birdfolk and gryphons have a head structure, similar to that of birds of prey, i.e: forward facing eyes. Sure, the color of the plumage and the beak-type can vary, but one problem is still present.

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While gryphon and birdfolk character often express anger, I don't want them to look grumpy all the time. Would it be good for comedy? Sure, but I hate fun.

Dragon from angery to smiley

As you can see, dragons have flexible skin and possibly extra muscles underneath, that could be contracted or relaxed, allowing for the creation of complex "facial" expressions. Avians, on the other hand, have a rigid beak.

How could I give gryphons and birdfolk facial expression without removing the beak or turning them into horrifying monsters?

Great Potoo

Keep in mind, ^THIS^ is the price of failure.


The eyebrows and surrounding plumage can have movement sufficient to convey emotions. Also, allowing for even some very slight flexibility at each side of the mouth would allow smiles and frowns.

Additionally, some kind of crest on top of the head, or ruff around the neck, can go a long way towards showing the emotional state of the feathered bird-being.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Exactly what I was thinking! Also, don't forget angle of head; tilted back slightly for laughter, forward slightly for annoyance (think 'looking down one's nose'), sideways for confusion... Just because their expressions aren't human doesn't mean they can't be expressive! $\endgroup$ – Matthew Mar 16 at 14:50

I'd say tilt the head and add visible eyebrows. A good example is the shoebill stork, from the front while looking down, it looks like it's angry or bothered.

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while with the head up or from the sides, it looks goof, happy or just "normal".

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Just like tilting the head usually indicates doubt or confusion, you can play around with your griphon, making use of its natural head shape and neck movement. move the head feathers (harpy eagles and secretary birds are good examples, plus the disposition of the feathers is already used by birds to display emotions) and add eyebrows (if you've seen a human lacking them, you know how much emotion they can carry) and you can make it able to express many emotions, even without lips. (plus just look at parakeets for extra ideas, at least to me they always seem to be smiling)


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