top of page
  • Writer's picturePatricia Ochudlo

The Beginner's Guide To Drawing Realistic Lips (in 4 simple steps!)

have you ever wondered how some artists seem to pull off drawing a perfect realistic pencil sketch portrait in as little as 5 minutes?

and yet here you are just trying to figure out shading and light and perspectives..

and wondering how and where to begin!?

I know how overwhelming it can seem when you see everyone's amazing skills thinking your drawings look like actual crap.

but don't worry - because I got you!

my beginners guide is designed to help you master realistic portraiture & drawing human faces..

by focusing on ONE facial feature in each post.

and today it's all about ..


lips are the second most prominent feature of the face.

they have been romanticized, we (talking to my girls reading this 🙆🏼‍♀️) draw attention to them by putting on bright lipstick..

they are sensual and luscious, they are expressive and just overall.. super super pretty!

so do you want to learn how to express these characteristics through your art?

let me simplify the process of drawing lips for you in this simple 4 step tutorial!


look at a picture of lips (use google or look at your lips in the mirror) and start off with analyzing the characteristics of lips.

everything becomes a lot easier when you focus on getting a basic understanding of the object you’re drawing BEFORE actually drawing it!

for example you might want to look at the proportions of the upper and lower lip, the dominant shapes and lines, etc...

really pay attention to what you think is the most dominant here and keep it in mind when starting with you sketch.


so now that you deepened your understanding of the anatomy lips it's time to grab your pencil:

let’s start with a rough sketch!

we will keep it as basic and simple possible as in the beginning;

working in very loose, light lines.

the way i personally like to start is with this very simplified sort of „construct“:

two equal sized circles (for the upper lip) & an oval shape (for the lower lip)

(see in the picture below!)

this will help us shape the contour of the lip later on.

next we will proceed with drawing the contour of the upper and lower lip as well as the line separating the two.


create the outlines of the upper lip by drawing a line similar to the cupid’s bow:

think of it like a "wavy" line that connects the two circles you drew earlier.

then create the lower lips’ outlines by drawing a curved line following along the bottom of the oval shape.

for the line in the middle:

a common mistake people make is drawing a very straight line - when in fact it’s more of a „wavy-shape".

so once again: make it "wavy" :D

now that we've drawn the contours of the lips we can erase the guidelines drawn at the beginning and move on to...


start shading the lips by darkening the very center, bottom, sides and (very lightly) the top of the lips.

keep in mind that the upper lip - as it's shaded from the light - is usually darker in tone while the lower lip catches the light.

also add the lip wrinkles - try and hold your pencil in an approximately 75 degree angle;

and veeeeery lightly move it from middle to the bottom/top of the lip (depends which one you’re working on) following a slightly curved line.

but pay attention not to just draw harsh lines!

this would only make the drawing look super unrealistic + the lips would appear very dry.

so just veeeery smooth lines here!

make sure to apply the least pressure to the pencil when it’s in the middle area of each lip, as these areas are usually the lightest.

(and as i mentioned earlier: don't forget that the lower lip is - for the most part - lighter than the upper one)

and for the final step.. keep shading and blending until you’re satisfied!

i hope you liked this tutorial and found it helpful!

if you did, share it with a friend who could benefit from it :)

or show me when you try this out, i'd love to see your recreations!

just send me a dm on Instagram @itsparticia (I'll feature you in my story)

with love & gratitude,

(or should i say *mwah* ?)


p.s. download the free PDF sheet of this tutorial HERE


bottom of page