Hello fellow artists! It’s been quite some time since my last tutorial on RapidFireArt. Apologies for the long hiatus. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be posting regularly in the upcoming months. If you’re interested in more ‘how to’ articles, make sure to follow me on Facebook or RFA.
In today’s tutorial, I’ll be guiding you through the process of drawing a smile with teeth using only a pencil. For beginners, drawing teeth can be challenging. The initial attempts may end up looking crooked, dark, or downright creepy. If you’ve been avoiding toothy smiles, this tutorial is perfect for you!
To follow along, gather the following materials:
- Blending Stump (with a fine tip)
- 0.5mm HB and 4B Ain lead
- 6B Derwent Graphic Pencil
- Canson Sketch Paper (I’m trying out this adorable travel-sized sketch pad, which is different from my usual Canson Bristol Paper. Blending on this sketch paper is a bit trickier, resulting in some tiny blotches. So, expect to spend a little extra time erasing.)
Step 1: Sketch the Basic Shape
Begin by sketching a hammock-shaped outline with a vertical line down the center. Add two diagonal lines on each side and two curves about a third or quarter of the way up, depending on the desired positioning of the top and bottom sets of teeth.
Step 2: Draw the Lips
Follow the outer lines to draw the lips.
Step 3: Illustrate the Teeth
Using HB lead, draw the two front teeth and work your way out, alternating between sides to maintain consistent sizing for each tooth. Apply the same technique to the bottom teeth. Avoid drawing dark outlines; instead, keep the lines subtle for easier erasing. Resist the urge to make both sides mirror images of each other. Realistic teeth have unique shapes and alignments, so allow for slight differences.
Step 4: Erase Guidelines
Erase all the lines from Step 1. Ensure that everything looks good before moving on. Correcting flaws becomes challenging after Step 5.
Step 5: Shade and Blend
Now it’s time to shade everything except the teeth. Start by using a 4B lead to add tone to the lips and gums. Make the inner areas of the top and bottom lips darker to differentiate them from the gums and teeth. Highlight the gum area directly above each tooth and darken the spaces in between. With a 6B pencil, darken the corners of the mouth, gradually lightening as you move toward the center to depict the tongue.
Next, blend everything using a blending stump.
Step 6: Shade Each Tooth and Blend
Shade each tooth one at a time using an HB pencil. Leave certain areas highlighted to give the teeth shape and a glossy appearance. Using HB lead prevents excessive dark shading. Finally, use a clean blending stump to soften any harsh lines, taking care to stay within the tooth boundaries.
UPDATE: If you’re encountering any difficulties, please watch the video version of this tutorial, where I provide additional step-by-step details on drawing a smile.
Step 7: Final Touchups
Use a kneaded eraser to create a fine point and gently dab away highlights to make them more prominent. Observe how I made the top set of teeth slightly brighter than the lower set to emphasize their forward placement. You can achieve the opposite effect by lightening the lower set. However, the positioning of each tooth in Step 3 limits this adjustment.
For crisp edges, use a 0.5mm 4B lead to define the outlines of each tooth. While blending around the teeth, be mindful of maintaining those clean edges. Stay within the lines!
If you enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw a smile with teeth, please share it with your friends!
More lip tutorials:
Drawing lips from the front
Drawing lips from the 3/4 view
Drawing lips from the side