How to Draw the Perfect Smile

June 27, 2011

Drawing Faces, Shading

Have you ever tried drawing a portrait of someone smiling and then finding to your horror that as you drew the smiling mouth the subject of your picture transformed into a toothy monster. In this post I’d like to address this problem and make it less daunting for you. Again, this comes down to shading and knowing where and where not to shade.

Step 1: Basic Sketch

First off you need to have the basic sketch and outline of the face you’ll be drawing making sure that everything is in proportion and in it’s place.

Step 2: Smile Creases

This next step will cover drawing the creases that are formed on the side of the mouth when someone smiles. This is done by defining the shape through shading. Lightly outline where the creases are and define the areas that are most highlighted and the areas that are in the deepest shadow. Softly shade from the lighter hues and make your way down to the darker ones. Remember  you are creating the shape through shading instead of using hard lines.

Step 3: Shading the lips

Keep in mind the direction of the light and shade the lips accordingly. Start with the lightershades and build your way up to the darker ones. Use the corner of your eraser to put highlights on the lips.



Tip: Depending on the size of your picture and the level of detail you want your picture to have, you may or may not want to draw the little creases on the lips. Drawing too many lines can turn your radiant smile into a wrinkled old prune. My advice is keep it simple and focus on shading only the areas that stand out the most.

Step 4: Drawing the Teeth

Once you have shaded the lips erase any marks or smudges that have been created in the process of shading the mouth. Next lightly draw the outline of the gums and the bottom of the top row of teeth.

TIP: To make this picture convincing it’s crucial that you do not draw the lines that separate the teeth.

Lightly shade the gums and the teeth that are near the edge of the mouth and that are slightly more covered by the lips. Darkly shade the area below the top row of teeth and the corners of the mouth. After shading the teeth take an eraser to clean any areas that might have smudged over onto the teeth and you are done!

These are steps that I use and that I have found useful when drawing smiles. If you have any advice or other methods of drawing mouths please feel free to drop a comment below. And again it all comes down to practice so if you’ve found this helpful you can use it in the next picture you draw.

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