How to

How to Sketch Lips and Teeth Better

Drawing a smile can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to sketching lips and teeth. Even drawing teeth that resemble those of a specific person can be a whole different level of difficulty. But fear not, because in this tutorial, I will show you how you can sketch lips and teeth better and more accurately with some simple observations.

Familiarize Yourself with the Teeth You Will Sketch

Before we delve into the sketching process, it’s helpful to know the names of the teeth we’ll be referring to. Let’s quickly review them together. The four teeth in the middle of your upper mouth are called incisors, as are the four teeth directly below them. You also have two canines on top and two smaller canines on the bottom. After the canines, there are eight premolars, and the remaining teeth are molars. Here’s a labeled diagram of the teeth for reference.

how to sketch lips and teeth reference
Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

It’s important to note that teeth vary significantly from person to person. Having a reference photo when drawing the teeth of a specific individual, especially for beginners, is highly recommended. For our sketching practice, we will use the following reference photo. Eventually, you can try drawing teeth and mouths in a variety of expressions.

Materials Used for This Drawing

For this demonstration, I used a 2B pencil and some drawing paper. Since this will be a basic sketch of teeth, the materials are also basic. You can use whatever pencil and paper you have on hand. If you want to turn this sketch into a more realistic drawing, you can incorporate a few more pencils to achieve a wider range of values.

How to Sketch Lips and Teeth Video Tutorial

If you prefer a visual guide, you can watch the video tutorial below. Watch it once all the way through to get a sense of the overall process, and then watch it again, drawing along with me, pausing when needed.

Sketching the Top Six Front Teeth

Let’s begin by drawing a line to represent the lower edge of the top lip. To ensure that the top teeth are positioned correctly in relation to the top lip, place a horizontal guideline that indicates the distance between the top lip and the gumline. Look at the reference photo to get a sense of this distance.

Start by sketching the two front teeth, also known as incisors. Pay attention to the length and angle of each tooth’s edges, comparing them to the reference. Ensure that the shape of each tooth matches the reference as closely as possible.

Next, sketch the two smaller teeth beside the front teeth, as they are also incisors. Observe how the tops of the first incisors reach up to the horizontal guideline, while the smaller incisors don’t come up as far.

Moving on, we have the canines, which are longer teeth than the previous ones. They should align with the bigger incisors and reach the same level as them. Pay attention to the spacing between each tooth above and below the gumline.

Sketching the Bottom Six Front Teeth

Now, let’s sketch the smaller teeth at the bottom, which are also incisors. Unlike the top teeth, we won’t be using a guideline for the gumline since it is mostly hidden under the lower lip. However, small triangle shapes indicate the portions of the gumline that are visible above the lip.

Continue by drawing the other two bottom incisors, making sure to align them properly with the top teeth. If needed, make adjustments early on to avoid sketching too many teeth incorrectly.

Moving on to the bottom canines, note that they should be shorter than the top canines. The curve of the bottom lip serves as a guide, reminding you to make the bottom canines shorter. Furthermore, these teeth do not align perfectly with the upper canines, as they are closer to the center of the mouth under the smaller incisors.

Sketching the Left Side of the Mouth

Before we proceed with more teeth, let’s define the tip along the lower edge of the top lip.

Beyond the canines, the next teeth are the premolars. Begin by sketching the two premolars on the top left side. Keep in mind that these teeth appear smaller as they recede into the background.

When drawing the premolars on the bottom, consider how the lower lip connects to the corner of the mouth. Since the bottom of the top teeth is close to the lower lip, there isn’t much space to draw the lower premolars. Just indicate them with a few lines.

Lastly, connect the upper lip and lower lip at the corner of the mouth, ensuring that there is enough space for the tissue that joins the lips together.

Sketching the Right Side of the Mouth

On the reference photo, you can see ridges above the gumline. Sketch curved lines above each tooth, following the contour of the teeth. If any lines are hidden behind the top lip, estimate where the arch would naturally come down if the lip weren’t in the way.

Sketch the premolars on this corner similarly to the previous ones, considering that there is less room to draw the teeth as the top and bottom lips converge at the corner. Also, keep in mind that these corner teeth should appear smaller than the front teeth since they are farther back in the mouth.

Draw a line connecting the top lip to the bottom at the corner of the mouth, paying attention to the spacing between the gumline and the lower edge of the top lip. Compare the length of the surrounding teeth to make any necessary adjustments.

Sketching the Lips Around the Teeth

The lips play a crucial role in enhancing the appearance of the teeth. When drawing someone smiling, the lips naturally accompany the teeth. Just as teeth contribute to the likeness of an individual, so do the lips. Let’s start by sketching the outline of the top lip.

Next, sketch the outline of the bottom lip, which is generally thicker than the top lip. Compare the thickness of the lips to the size of the teeth, using the reference photo as a guide. Making these comparisons throughout the drawing process helps ensure correct proportions.

Shading the Inside of the Mouth

Now that we have completed the mouth’s outline, let’s add a touch of shading, starting with the inside of the mouth. Use a sharp pencil and apply dark pencil marks to fill in the negative space created by the shape of the teeth. Be careful not to shade over the edges of the teeth, as that would distort their shape.

Outline the gumline to establish more form when shading the gums. Be mindful not to change the shape of the individual teeth while doing this. Remember to trace the gumline for the bottom teeth as well.

Begin shading the corner of the mouth, focusing on where the top and bottom lip meet. Trace over your outlines and add some tones.

Shading the Upper Gums

Next, start shading the upper portion of the gums above the curved ridges sketched earlier. Keep your pencil tones between these ridges and the top lip. This area of the gums should have a slightly darker value than the gums closer to the teeth.

Lightly shade the portion of the gums just above the teeth. By incorporating darker tones above this area and adding light values and the outlined gumline, you create dimensionality and prevent the gums from appearing flat.

Don’t forget to shade under the top lip. Apply a thin line of shading just beneath the lip, as the underside of the lip casts a shadow on the gums when light shines on it. The shadow’s thickness depends on the angle of the light.

Shading the Lower Gums

Although the bottom gums are less visible than the top ones, they should not be neglected. Shade the triangular patches of visible gum between the bottom teeth, ensuring that the middle of each triangular section is lighter than the gumline. This contrast gives the gums more form.

Underline the top line of the bottom lip to define its edge for shading later.

Shading the Teeth

Now that the gums are shaded, let’s move on to shading the teeth starting from the corners of the mouth. Remember that these teeth recede into the background, so they require slightly more shading than the front teeth. Be careful not to darken the teeth too much; they should still appear white compared to the gums.

Shade the rest of the teeth using a light touch. Use lighter values than those applied to the corner teeth. A little shading along the edges of each tooth helps create a three-dimensional appearance.

Shading the Lips

Now it’s time to add some preliminary shading to the top lip. Leave a rim of reflected light along the bottom edge and concentrate more shading at the corners than in the middle. This contributes to the illusion of a curved surface.

Build up additional values on the top lip, preserving the reflected light along the bottom edge. This technique enhances the lip’s appearance of curvature.

For the bottom lip, follow a similar process as the top lip. Begin with a base layer of tones, leaving reflected light along the top edge of the lip. The bottom lip usually has a more pronounced highlight in the middle compared to the top lip.

Add darker values at the corners of the bottom lip. Use curved strokes to shape the surface and ensure consistency between the values of the top and bottom lips.

You can use a kneaded eraser to lift some additional highlights. Keep in mind that if you were drawing the lips from a different angle, the amount and positioning of the highlights would vary.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully sketched lips and teeth.

How to Improve Your Observational Sketching of Teeth and Lips

This tutorial provides a basic starting point to help you improve your accuracy through observation. The more you practice, the better your accuracy will become.

To enhance your skills, I recommend sketching pictures of mouths showing different expressions such as smiles, laughter, or anger. Alternatively, you can practice sketching various subjects regularly to sharpen your observational skills. When you periodically return to sketching teeth and lips, you’ll notice significant improvement.

If you prefer a more guaranteed method for accurately drawing teeth and lips, you can try using a grid. Regardless of the techniques you employ, regular practice is key. Keep at it, and soon you’ll be able to effortlessly sketch lips and teeth.

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

Related Articles

Back to top button