Let's discuss how to create a realistic mouth by learning how to draw lips and teeth.

Learning how to draw lips is a challenge for most portrait artists.

John Singer Sargent said, A portrait is a painting in which there is something wrong with the mouth.

I had always thought that the most difficult part of a portrait would have been the eyes.

But when I started drawing and painting portraits, I soon realized that because the mouth was so expressive, drawing lips was much harder than it appeared.

There are at least 12 muscles that are involved in the shaping of the mouth, probably more. The complexity and number of expressions that the mouth is capable of producing is really amazing.

The mouth shape of a cartoon mouth is created with heavy lines. This is also true for comic and coloring book characters.

So it's no wonder that when someone produces their first portrait, it will most likely have a mouth that appears to be pasted on to the face, and looks cartoonish. Really, the only time the lips might appear to be outlined is when they are done so with a lip-liner.

So, while learning how to draw lips, remember to create them by blending in the values of lights and darks.

How to Draw lips and Teeth

I'll go through some of the important points of how to draw lips and other parts of the mouth.

  • When putting down your initial marks, do so with a light touch, just dark enough to see. If you get too dark you can always tap the lines out a little with a kneaded eraser.

  • The darkest part of the mouth is in the corners. Even if the photo reference doesn't show this, make sure your drawing does.

  • The brightest highlights on the mouth will be on the lower lip.

  • Reflected light will be on the upper lip, just above where the two lips are touching on a closed mouth. Again, you should add this element even if you don't see it in your reference.

  • The upper lip is darker than the lower lip. The reason is that the lower lip sticks out farther than the upper lip, and things that are closer to the observer will have lighter values.

  • Highlights are what give lips the illusion of being moist.
  • Draw only what you see, not what you "think" a mouth should look like. Don't put in more details than you need to create a believable mouth.

  • The teeth should never be as white as the paper, except, in some cases, on the highlights.

  • The back teeth should be shaded darker than the front teeth since they are receding into the mouth.

  • And finally, the spaces between the teeth should be created by shading, rather than drawing them in with lines.

Are you up for the challenge?

Jump right in and start drawing mouths...lots of them!

Before you know it, you'll know how to draw lips and teeth with a new found confidence that will allow you to draw a believable portrait without fear and apprehension.

Home> How to Draw the Face> How to Draw the Lips

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