Drawing Tutorial: Lips (Digital Painting)

Classic Red, Melanie Tassone
Classic Red, Melanie Tassone

The reference image was found on Google images.

Alright, by looking at this drawing, you may think there was a long process that underwent in order to produce something like this. NOPE. Here’s how I did it:

*the following steps vary depending on what Adobe Photoshop program you have. I use Adobe Photoshop CS4.

I am using my Wacom Bamboo Create tablet to draw. These are as cheap as $45 these days. FYI.

First, I opened Adobe Photoshop and created a “new” file, which will give you a white blank background. I added a new layer in the “layers” panel off to the right. Keeping track of your layers and what is on them is important in this process! You can rename them by double-clicking the layer. After I added a new layer, I quickly sketched out the outline of the lips. I typically use standard black for this part and keep the brush size fairly small.

Add another layer. Next I choose the color I want to make the lips, in this case, red. I used the color palette option at the bottom left of the screen. With a bigger sized brush, I paint the entirety of the upper and lower lips.

Add another layer, and choose a darker shade of the color you just used (you can do this by dragging your color down on the color picker). Add this color to the corners of the mouth, to the inside of the upper lip, and to the outside (bottom) of the lower lip. Click on the “filter” tab and go to “blur” and then down to “Gaussian blur.” Gaussian blur blurs the color on top of the red on your last layer. This gives its natural, realistic appearance. I call this my secret technique. You’ll have to adjust the Gaussian blur appropriately.

Add another layer. Choose a lighter shade of red that you used in the first layer. Add this color to the middle of each lip because that is where the most light hits naturally. Again, use the Gaussian blur filter to blend it all together. Feel free to use the smudge tool as well to add your own details into the mixture of the reds.

Detail time: Add yet another layer. The whitest highlights, as bright as they may be, are not truly white. For the most pronounced highlights, use a small brush and bring the opacity, which is located on the top bar of the screen, to about 80%. Zoom up close so you can see what you’re doing! After you are done doing that, put a slight Gaussian blur on it, so it does not look like the whites are just sitting on top of the lips.

Add another layer. Fore the smaller details, use a red-orange color. These details are mostly surrounding the highlights and are also located next to the corners of the mouth. Take opacity down to about 50% and once you are finished use a slight Gaussian blur.

Add another layer, I left the teeth completely white with a light shade of red framing the front teeth (using a Gaussian blur, of course). Fill in the inside of the mouth completely black. It contrasts nicely against the red.

And that’s it!

Hope this helps, and happy drawing!

Melanie Tassone

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