How to Draw Mouths

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Learn how to draw mouths in different positions and perspectives.

For the first two mouths, I also show you a step by step shading process.
There is no shading for the later examples, because it would be basically just the same.

You can jump to the 3/4 view or the profile view by clicking on these links. Otherwise we start learning how to draw mouths with the front view.

How to Draw Mouths: Front View - Closed

Start your mouth drawing with a simple, straight line in the middle, and a long, flat curve above and below it.
You can just guess the size, but since I'm in the habit of measuring the proportions of everything, I added them in red to the picture.

Add the small U-shape into the middle of the upper lip.
The size of this can vary with different people.

Now replace the straight middle line with more natural, curved lines.
Place a curve into the center, and let the lines that connect it with the mouth's corners also bend a little.

Clean up your lines.
You can do this by using an eraser to remove sketchy strokes at the sides, and by carefully redrawing the mouth's outline with a bit more pressure.
Take note that the curve of the lower lip is much flatter at the corners of the mouth than it is in the middle.

With that, your outline of the mouth is finished.
Now let's add a few details and shading.

The lips are covered with many small folds. At the inside, where the lips meet, the folds are generally a bit stronger and longer than at the outer edges.
Draw all folds very faint. In case you make them too strong, move your eraser gently over them until they are a bit paler. Only the folds in the very middle should be drawn with straight lines. Let all other folds curve towards the sides a little.

Now take your pencil and shade a light Grey shadow around the edges of the lips.

Darken this shadow where the lips meet each other and at the bottom of the lower lip. I also extended the light Grey areas in this step, to shrink the white spaces a bit more.
The folds should still be visible below your shading. In case they disappeared entirely, you may redraw them with a bit more pressure.

How to Draw Mouths: Front View - Opened

Start out by sketching in the upper and lower lip. Each lip can be drawn like a round arch with a few special features. The upper lip has these two bulges in the middle, of course. The lower lip should be a bit thicker, because you can also see a bit of its moist inner part. That's why there is a line running through the middle of it.
Let both lips become narrower towards the mouth's corners.

The visibility of teeth depends a lot on the positioning of the lips.
In this case, you can see a bit of the incisors at the top, four teeth at the bottom, and also the tips of the lower canine teeth beside them.

When I open my mouth widely, I automatically lift up my tongue a bit. Probably the purpose of this reflex is to prevent bugs from flying into the throat. Either way, draw in the tongue bulging up highly in the oral cavity. The tip can be hidden behind the teeth, but in my case I lifted it just slightly above them.

Once the tongue is drawn, our mouth outline is complete and we can move on to shading.

I recommend that you shade the inner parts of the mouth first.
Shade the darkest value below the tongue's tip and in the back of the throat. Also shade a very light Grey on the teeth, but leave a few highlights entirely white.
The tongue itself should be darkest in the back and at the bottom, and become gradually brighter towards the front, the brightest spot being the highlights on the tip.

Before we start shading the lips, we have to draw all the small folds on them. You want the folds to be faint, but also strong enough to still be visible below the shading. The thick folds on the lower lip, for example, where too strong and I erased them in a later step.

Now you can start to shade the lips.
Draw a light Grey shadow around their edges.
On the lower lip I made this shadow a bit darker at the inner side towards the corners of the mouth.

Shade a darker shadow along the bottom of the upper lip and especially the lower lip. Here you can also fix the folds. If they are too strong, you can erase them a bit, and in case they were too light and you can't see them enough, redraw them with a bit more pressure.

How to Draw Mouths: O-Mouth and Kiss-Mouth

When the letter O is pronounced or you are making a kiss-mouth, the lips are being pressed towards the middle, which makes them appear thicker.
Even at the mouth's corners in the left example, they meet in a broad line.

The mouth has a circular shape in these cases.
You can imagine a circle running around the mouth. It would fit pretty well.

How to Draw Mouths: 3/4-View - Closed

Here we start drawing the mouth with the line between the lips.

In the 3/4 view, one corner of the mouth is more in the foreground than the other. That's why the line towards the mouth's corner has to be longer on one side and shorter on the other. The curve in the middle is reaching a bit above the line in the back, because the lip's middle part is in front of the lip's side there.

Draw the upper line for the lip, including the bulges in the middle.

Make the lower lip a bit thicker than the upper one.
Since we are seeing it from a side angle, the curve should be flatter at the beginning, and become stronger towards the right side. The lowest point of this curve also has to lie a bit to the right.

Make a small change to the line where upper lip and lower lip are meeting on the right. Seen from the side angle, the lower lip is overlapping the corner of the upper lip slightly. So let the division line between them bulge up a little.

How to Draw Mouths: 3/4-View - Opened

An opened mouth in 3/4 view is perhaps the most difficult combination of position and perspective. Above, you can see my first rough sketch, and although it is very crude, it captures the essential shape.

Now let's get this a bit cleaner in the next steps.

The middle of the lip is shifted towards the right. At the left, the lip starts very thin at the mouth's corner and thickens slowly as it goes upwards.
On the other corner of the mouth we can see the inner part of the lip, too. That's why there is an additional line, as pointed out by the arrow.
This line doesn't touch the corner where the other lines meet, but just transitions into the inner cheek. 

We can also see an inner part of the lower lip, but we can see it across its entirety from the left to the right. At the end, the inner line also transitions into the cheek.

Draw in the teeth where they become visible in the middle.
At the top you can see a bit of the two incisors, at the bottom four teeth in the middle, and also the tiny peaks of the lower canine teeth at their sides.

Outline the tongue as it is lying in the oral cavity.
In my case, the tongue is lifted up pretty high. The small fold of the tip becomes visible a bit above the teeth.

This is just the clean version of the previous step.
I erased the fuzzy edges of my lines and redrew them where necessary.
The incisors looked a bit too large to me, and so I made them a bit thinner, which made room for small parts of the teeth beside them.

How to Draw Mouths: Profile - Closed

Start drawing the mouth in profile with a curve that comes down from the nose (or where the nose would be). This is not the lip yet, but the small part between lips and nose.
Then draw the actually lip with a curve that goes inwards, and another small curve behind it going to the corner of the mouth.
In a full profile portrait, the mouth's corner would line up with the beginning of the eye above it.

Add the lower lip now.
Let its line start from the middle of the upper lip's first bulge.

Outline the outer borders of the lips and let the lines meet at the mouth's corner. In my case, the lips are pretty thin.

And here I just cleaned up the rather sketchy lines from the previous picture.
Voila! A closed mouth in profile.

How to Draw Mouths: Profile - Opened

This is an opened mouth where simply the jaw was lowered a bit, without any additional stretching of the lips. That's why you see no teeth here.
Draw the beginning identical to the closed mouth, but elongate the lines towards the mouth's corners and make them straight.

Then simply outline the outer borders of the lips, and your opened profile view is finished already.

So that was my whole lesson how to draw mouths.
I recommend you also practice drawing your own mouth with the help of a mirror. It can be a small mirror you hold in your hand, or a big mirror in front of you. In my opinion, drawing from nature is always the best exercise.

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