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How To Draw Lips In 5 Easy Steps (With Images!)

Lips are one of the many features of the face that any artist interested in creating realistic portraits or new characters should master.

When drawing a portrait, lips play a big role, for they can add a lot of emotion to the person you’re drawing.

In this article, I’ll show you how to draw lips by using basic shapes and lines. Everything is done step-by-step, and every step is illustrated, so it’s easier to follow!

lip drawing with clean lines
Let’s draw some lips!

Positioning The Lips On The Head

Let’s start by correctly positioning the lips on the head so we can draw those lips confidently!

I’ll also cover how to draw a head base quickly, so keep reading.

If you already have a base or prefer to draw on a blank canvas, scroll down to the step-by-step tutorial on drawing lips.

Step 1 – Find A Good Portrait Reference

Finding and using good reference photos is good when learning to draw any subject. This way, you always have a visual reference and won’t miss any detail.

Drawing human anatomy and portraits is quite challenging due to their complexity. So, one thing you can do is draw on top of your reference photos!

Lower their opacity and find simple shapes and lines that build the whole face, head, or body part.

photo reference of a portrait for drawing
Get a good portrait reference, preferably looking straight at the camera!

But where can you find good portrait references?

Many websites with good images can help you with your drawing studies, such as Pinterest or Unsplash.

You can also look at our List Of The Best Portrait Reference Photo Websites and choose those!

Another option is to take photos of yourself or ask for help from a friend. This way, you’ll get the exact portrait you need.

Once you find a reference you like, lower its opacity and then create a new layer on top, or print it out and grab your pencil.

Now follow along, and let’s find the basic shapes for the head!

Step 2 – Draw The Base Shapes For The Head

Start by drawing a circle for the upper area of the head.

photo reference with a circle drawn on top
Start by drawing a circle for the head.

Then, find the circle’s center with a horizontal and vertical line.

circle with a cross on top of a portrait photo reference
Add a vertical and horizontal line to find the center of the circle.

For the lower part of the head, continue the vertical line until it reaches the chin.

drawing the head base shape photo to position the lips later
Now keep going with the vertical line to find the chin.

Draw a small, horizontal line for the chin and then two slanted lines on each side of the head.

building a base head shape from a photo reference
Slanted lines on the sides of the head, and add a line on the chin!

Once that’s done, connect everything.

head base drawing on top of a photo reference
Connect everything to have a solid head base to draw your lips on!

This is just one example of how you can easily and quickly draw the structure of the head.

If other shapes and lines make more sense, draw those instead!

Step 3 – Find The Eye, And Nose Lines

Looking at the lines we have at the moment, you can see that both the eyebrow and chin lines are already drawn.

Let’s add a few more guidelines: one for the eyes and another for the nose.

base head drawing with guidelines for the eyes and nose
Add guidelines for the eyes and nose

Step 4 – Draw The Mouth Line

All we are missing now is the guideline for the mouth.

Roughly measure the distance between the eyes and the nose. The distance between the nose and the mouth will be the same!

adding a mouth guideline to the head base shape
Add a guideline for the mouth

If you notice, the area between the eyes and the chin is divided into equal parts for each feature of the face.

the head base is split into equal parts from the eyes to the chin
3 equal parts from the eyes to the chin

This is a good trick to remember where everything goes in the face!

The head structure is finished, and we know where to draw the mouth.

simple head with a basic lip drawing
Now we know where to draw the mouth! Let’s go over how to do it step by step now.

Don’t worry about drawing the ears perfectly now.

In the next steps, we’re drawing the lips step-by-step very simply.

And, if you want to draw the head in more detail, follow along with our How To Draw The Head Tutorial.

Drawing The Lips In The Frontal View

The head structure is done, so you know where you can draw the lips of your portrait or character.

Let’s start our tutorial on how to draw the lips step by step with simple shapes!

Step 1 – Draw A Horizontal Line For The Mouth

Let’s start by drawing a slightly curved line for the middle of the lips.

a simple horizontal line for a mouth
Let’s start with the basics for the mouth drawing!

To know how long the mouth should be, a good trick is to use the center of the eyes as a guideline.

Returning to your drawing reference, draw a vertical line starting at the center of the eyes until it reaches the mouth line. Draw one on each side of the face.

image showing how wide a mouth should be according to the eye position
From the center of the eyes, draw a line straight down!

The distance between these two lines is how wide the mouth can be.

And the corners of the lips can be drawn on top of the vertical guidelines.

image showing how a wide a mouth should be according to the eyes
This is how wide the mouth should be in general!

Step 2 – Draw Two Circles For The Upper Lip

Find the center of the line you drew with a small vertical line.

Add a vertical line to find the center.

Then draw two circles, one on each side of that line.

two circles for the upper lip drawing
Add two circles, one on each side.

These circles can be as big or as small as you want. They can even be oval shapes instead of perfect circles.

It all depends on how big you want the top lip to be.

This means their lips will differ depending on the person you’re drawing. So it’s good to experiment with different shapes and sizes and have fun!

Step 3 – Draw One Oval Shape For The Lower Lip

For the bottom lip, draw an oval shape below the middle line.

shapes for a basic mouth
Oval shape for the bottom part of the mouth!

Again how long and how tall is totally up to you. Some people have plump bottom lips, while others have thinner lips.

Some lips can be very wide, while others are the opposite.

To create some contrast, draw the top and bottom lips with different proportions!

Step 4 – Outline The Upper And Lower Lip

We have all the shapes we need, so now it’s time to outline the shape of the lips.

Starting for the center, outline the circle, creating a wavy line connecting to the mouth’s corner on the right side.

adding a wave to the upper lip drawing
Add a wavy line on top, all the way to the corner of the mouth

Now do the same on the left side.

a simple mouth base, with upper line lines
Repeat on the left side!

The top lip is done!

For the lower lip, draw a curved line, starting from one corner of the mouth and ending on the other.

This line should outline the oval shape you drew before.

lips base drawing with upper and lower lip lines
Outline the lower lip now.

With that done, the lips outline is finished!

This is only a sketch, so you don’t have to worry about how perfect the lips look.

However, it’s a good time to experiment and draw different pairs of lips of different sizes and shapes.

Step 5 – Clean Your Sketch

Now that the lips sketch is finished, it’s time to review them with clean, new lines.

If you’re drawing traditionally, you can use a different pencil for this step. An HB pencil does the job well, for example.

You can draw lines and add some shading to the lips with it!

On the other hand, if you’re drawing digitally, choose another brush, create a new layer on top of your sketch, and redraw your lines.

lip drawing with clean lines
Clean everything up!

In this last step of our tutorial, you can decide on any final touches.

If you want to draw realistic lips, adding some lip wrinkles, shadows, and highlights will help.

You can leave them very simple and even omit some lines for a more cartoony style!

two mouth drawings, one more complex, and another very simple
Add details or keep it super simple, up to you!

Now that you’re finished with this step-by-step tutorial, it’s time to have some fun with your lips studies.

Experiment With Different Shapes For Your Lips Drawings

Now that you know how to draw lips, it’s time to add some variety to them!

People are different, and so are their lips. Make sure you draw the most important features but try different shapes.

For example, the top lip can have an ‘M’ shape instead of a wave. You can draw them very round instead, with minor details.

two drawings of different styles of lips, side by side
Experiment with shapes and styles!

Play with the lips sizes. Make sure your lips vary in proportion to make them more interesting. Draw a thick upper lip paired with a thinner bottom lip.

Try the opposite as well!

two lip drawings with different proportions
Play around with proportions for the lips!

You have all you need to know in this lips drawing tutorial. So now it’s time to play with the shapes and have some fun!

And, if you’re feeling confident, add other facial features to the face and finish your portrait or character.

After all, lips are just one of many essential features of drawing the face!

Take a look at our complete guide on How To Draw The Face Step By Step.

And if you’re looking for a complete guide on drawing the entire human body, check out our Complete Figure Drawing Course here (at a discount!).


Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!

Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!

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