The Beginner’s Guide To Drawing Realistic Mouths

Each facial highlight on every subject has its uniqueness. Seizing the unique character traits in your subject is the key to drawing a vivid portrait. There are many tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way that I hope you can employ when drawing mouths.

Lip edges

Not every smile is the same, and it’s easy to get in the routine of merely drawing the perfect “smiley face smile”. When drawing mouths, the small features that you may miss often prove to be the most powerful in capturing your subject’s personality and character. This includes the lip edges.

Ensure you pay attention to which way the corners of your subject turn and accurately portray it in your image. The small subtleties like the corners’ angle or depth can make the most significant difference in expressing your subject’s likeness.


The philtrum is the section of your face that links your upper lip to your nose.

Each person’s philtrum is unique in its shape, length, and depth. Capitalizing on each individual’s unique aspect will allow you to capture yet another vital character trait in your subject. When drawing the philtrum, ensure you take the opportunity to show the contour and depth of your subject’s mouth.

Blending in the Lip Corners

One of the biggest things to know about drawing lips is to create soft edges where they transform into, so in the end, your mouth doesn’t look like the art in a coloring book with dark outlines around the outside edges of the lips.

You can add contour and depth by making a clear separation between the lower and upper lip with a clean edge to value. This separation is one of the most prominent concepts to grasp. Creating the soft edges will allow your drawing to flow flawlessly between the skin tones of the face and the lips’ pigment.

Separating gums and lips

When your subject has a smile showing the gums and teeth, separating the gums from the lips can have a huge impact on your drawings’ finished realistic look.

Just as we add depth on any part of the portrait, we will start with a clean edge to value to shade and detail the gum away from the upper lip, showing that the gums are set back on a different plane, the lips.

So, separating the lip and gum dimensions will allow you to add more depth and a 3D, lifelike feel to your photograph.

Teeth Corners

You need to show sharp separations between your subject’s teeth without drawing ‘scary teeth.’ By filling in the darker corners of the mouth first-the gums, we can see the subtle value changes between them without outlining each tooth.

These detailed value changes between the teeth, instead of a clear, dark pencil line, will keep your subject from having dark gaps separating each tooth. When you are sketching teeth, it is one more place that you can show the dimension, contour, and shape of your subject’s face.

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