The mouth is one of the most important features of the human face. In almost every portrait, the mouth plays a crucial role in expressing the emotions of the subject. After you have studied the proportions of the face and the shape of the lips, you should now learn how to draw a mouth that looks realistic.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to draw a mouth step-by-step and bring it to life using the proper shading.
- HB Pencil
- 2B Pencil
- Kneaded Eraser
- Blending Stump, cotton swab or brush for blending
- Drawing paper
The step-by-step tutorial on how to draw a mouth
Draw the lips according to your reference. A vertical centre line and several guidelines running along the horizontal axis can help you keep the correct proportions. Depending on the angle of your lips, you may also need to pay attention to the curvature of the lips along the dental arch if you want to draw a realistic looking mouth.
If you need help with this, our lip drawing tutorial is perfect for you.
Connect the chosen dots of the corners of the mouth, the cupid’s bow and the lower lip border. Make sure that you only apply minimal pressure on the pencil, as these are only guidelines that should not be visible later.
Next, you should look at the shading of the mouth. From which point does the light hit the lips and where do shadows appear? Usually the corners of the mouth and the area where the upper and lower lips meet are the darkest.
A small outline around the lip can help to maintain this lighter area to indicate the outer curvature of the mouth.
Once you have drawn the first layer of shading, you can start blending it a little. A blending stump, a cotton swab or – as in our case – a soft bristle brush is perfect for this.
Among these three tools, the effect is strongest with the cotton swab and weakest with the brush. Therefore, the brush is the most accurate way to determine the softness of your contours, but it also takes more time.
Now use your 2B pencil to increase the contrast of the shading. Remember where the darkest parts of the motif are and then gradually increase their shading. A slight shading around the mouth will accentuate the light border that is left free. It is at this point that the “outer curvature” of the lips changes to an “inner curvature” of the skin towards the face.
Sharpen the pencil once so that you can draw the details of the mouth in the next step. It is important to draw the central fold of the mouth, the emphasis on the corners of the mouth and the surface structure of the lips.
In order to harmonize the individual strokes a little with the rest of the mouth, you should blend them a bit with the blending stump or the brush. You can also use the kneaded eraser to draw fine highlights in the areas of the mouth where light is reflected.