One of the hardest things, when drawing or painting lips, is to avoid having those lips look flat, or look too feminine when you’re drawing men or children. Today I’m giving you tips that will apply to any medium you choose to work in!

#1 – When rendering realistic lips, you don’t want a heavy outline. A heavy outline will always look like a woman wearing dark lipstick. When painting or drawing children or men, you normally will only want the lips a few shades darker than the skin around them. In the video below it only took me TWO minutes to change my masculine lips to a woman’s mouth. It is that easy and that fast to overdo your edges! Work slow when drawing those edges so that you don’t blink and realize you’ve overdone them.

#2 – It’s always easier to darken something up than to go too dark and have to try and get it light again later. Start lighter than you think you need to go.

#3 – The center line where the lips meet will be your darkest value. That line is NOT STRAIGHT! Cartoons have straight lines, people have ridges and curves. Pay close attention to your model here.

#4 – The creases in the lips are not random straight lines, again pay close attention to your model. These are generally going to curve slightly all angled away from the center of the lips.

#5 – The upper lip will almost always be darker than the bottom lip. This is because on most people that upper lip is turned down, casting it in shadow. Your light source can change this though, so again, pay close attention to your specific model or reference photo.


#6 – You will normally have a bit of a highlight on the skin above the upper lip and a shadow under the bottom lip.  Missing these highlights and shadows will make your lips look totally flat against the skin, so watch out for that!


The thirty-minute real time version of this tutorial is available over on Patreon now for subscribers 😀