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How To Draw A Smile, Mouth, Lips

How To Draw A Smile, Mouth, Lips

A video that demonstrates how to draw a smile in about five minutes. Short, concise and to the point.

Part 1- I will start this drawing by taking a second to look at my reference photograph on the left. I try to see the mouth as one big shape first and I try to match that shape as best as I can to start. Next, I break the mouth in to three smaller shapes. I notice that the top lip looks like a flattened McDonalds Arch and the bottom lip looks similar to a crescent moon shape. The area in between is more complex but that is ok since I can create that shape by noticing the nuances of upper and lower lip.

Part 2- Take a second to notice that the lower lip is slightly fuller than the top lip. This is true for every person. Once I am somewhat satisfied with the upper and lower lip, I start to notice the space between the lips. That space is divided between the upper teeth and the negative space below the teeth. Please notice that when a person smiles, the bottom lip comes up and blocks the lower set of teeth. Many people make the mistake of drawing the upper and lower teeth in a smile. While drawing the teeth, I am very careful about not pressing too hard. Notice that there are NO dark tones, separating the teeth, only light to medium ones. The front of our face is rounded and the formations of the upper and lower sets of teeth are in a horseshoe shape. When drawing a person from the front, notice that as the teeth go further back towards the throat, they become more foreshortened. Also, as the teeth go back towards the throat, they are blocked more in a smile by the lips and are more shadowed. Be careful because this can easily be overdone. The color of the teeth are not white, they are bone colored, which is a cool off white.

It is a conscious choice for me to start this drawing with color pencil. I use color pencil because the fine tip of the color pencil gives me a lot of accuracy, and also because, color pencils can be mixed with oil paint. You will see me mix color pencil with oil paint in step four.


Part 3- At this point I am satisfied with the placement of all of my shapes. Once that task is accomplished, I focus on building tones and colors. In other words, my focus to this point has been to get all of the pieces of the puzzle in to the right place and now, I can have fun by mixing colors and matching tones. I try to also notice the qualities of the edges of shapes. For instance, there is a fuzzy, unclear edge between the upper lip and the gums above the teeth. It is there but it is hard to see. In contrast, there is a solid, distinct edge between the upper teeth and the darker area of negative space, below the teeth.

Color pencil is a great medium for a contemporary artist to learn. I greatly value the accuracy and detail work that can be achieved with color pencils. The flaws to this medium is that color pencil cannot be layered as well as paint, since it doesn't fully dry. Its biggest strength is also a big weakness. The fine tip of the color pencil, covers surfaces at an extremely slow rate. Both weaknesses can be fixed however. I found that if you dip a paintbrush in a painting medium called Liquin and start to paint, the color pencils essentially pick up the properties of oil paint. In the next step, I will use liquin and mix it with both the oil paint atop of the color pencil.


Part 4- Now I am painting with Liquin and oil paint over the color pencil. They are very compatible with each other and are essentially made with the same materials. The pigment of the color pencil is bound with wax; and wax has been used in parts of many painting mediums throughout the history of oil painting.

Oil paint is considered a traditional medium but many of its artistic capabilities have not yet been matched by other, newer mediums. Oil paint gives to the ability to work opaque, transparently and translucently. Today, I am using the combination of the oil paint and the liquin to soften my color pencil drawing below. I am using small soft paintbrushes and they pick up some of the color that was left below. The