This tutorial explains how to drawing anime and manga style lips in different variations from different views (front, three quarter and side). It focuses on female lips but some examples can also be used for drawing male lips.
It is very common for mouths in anime and manga to be drawn without lips but some styles (usually the more realistic ones) do show lips. Lips are also often drawn in close up scenes of anime and manga even in the styles where they are otherwise not shown.
Before you draw lips in the anime style it’s important to understand the shape of real lips. To do this we can draw a slightly open mouth in a fairly relaxed state. This way the shape of both the top and bottom lip is visible but not overly stretched or distorted.
In a relaxed state the top lip resembles a flatted “M” shape. The bottom lip is often drawn with one smooth upside down curve but if you study the lips carefully (this can vary from person to person) the bottom lip tends to actually be two very light curves at the lower half that join to form one bigger curve.The upper part of the bottom lip are two curves that go from the outer part of the lips down towards the middle as shown in the above example.
Draw anime or manga style lips in the following order:
- Draw the outline of the overall shape of the lips
- Draw the inner shape of the lips
- Draw the inside of the mouth (if the mouth is open)
- Apply color to your lip drawing if needed
Again lips vary from person to person and style to style but the above example is a good basis to go on.
Drawing Anime & Manga Style Lips
Just like real lips anime and manga style lips come in different shapes and sizes. There are also various degrees of complexity and realism depending on the style and the artists preference.
In the above illustration you can see the progression from more realistic examples to more stylized ones. Generally the more simplistic the style the more of the various parts of the lips are only hinted at or left out all together.
You can experiment with different degrees of complexity and see what works for the style you are going for.
You can see that in some examples the color is what defines the shape of the lips instead of the outline. You can also see that in the last few example the “M” shape of the upper lip is not shown at all. This is particularly common in the more simplified anime styles where a character is wearing lipstick.
One interesting trick with using color to define the lips is that not having an outline can also makes the lips appear softer.
When you know you are going to color the lips but are drawing in a more simplistic style draw some light guidelines for the overall shape of the mouth. You can erase/remove them later if needed.
Drawing Anime & Manga Style Lips in 3/4 View
In a 3/4 view draw the side of the lips that is closer to the viewer longer then the side that is farther away. There are two reason as to why you want to do this. One is that the farther side of the lips curves away from the viewer making it seem “shorter”. The second reason is perspective.
For a better understanding of perspective drawing you may want to see:
The inner part of the lips is inset and therefore should be drawn farther back than the outer part when drawing lips in 3/4 view.
Coloring lips in 3/4 view is the same as the front view so you can just refer to that part of the tutorial.
Drawing Anime & Manga Lips From the Side
Drawing anime lips is side view is fairly simple. You can think of drawing lips in side view as only drawing half the lips in front view that are horizontally slightly squeezed.
You can see in the above example how with some tweaks you can use the front view of the lips to get the side view.
You don’t need to draw out all of the steps shown in the above example. They are there so that you can get a better understanding of how to get the side view of the lips based on the front view and what needs to be tweaked. You can simply draw the final example of the side view right away while using the front view as a reference.
One other thing to be aware of when drawing is that the top lip will usually stick out slightly more than the bottom lip.
Drawing Anime & Manga Lips With an Open Mouth
Drawing lips on an open mouth gets a little more complicated. A good general rule is that the wider the mouth opens the thinner the lips will appear as they are stretched out more and more. As the lips are stretched out their overall shape will become less defined.
Front View Open Mouth
For the front view of an open mouth start by drawing the inside shape of the mouth with two curves (one for the top lip and one for the bottom). After add a s flatted “V” shape to the top lip and just a hint of two downward curves near the center of the bottom lip.
Keep in mind that details may be omitted depending on how wide the mouth is open and the style.
When coloring or shading an open mouth be aware that the inside of the mouth will almost always be darker than the lips.
3/4 View Open Mouth
For the 3/4 view remember that the lips curve around the mouth. You can think of each lip as a sort of half-circle shape.
Just like in the closed mouth 3/4 example the side of the mouth that is closer to the viewer will appear wider than the farther away side.
When drawing the outer part of the lips remember that just like in the closed mouth example the inner part of the mouth is indented and so the outer part will stick out more.
Side View Open Mouth
For the side view you can again use the same trick as for the closed mouth side view example (drawing a narrower half a mouth from the front view with some tweaks).
Please again note that you don’t need to draw out all the steps every time you draw the side view of a mouth. It’s meant more for practice and to help you get the correct proportions.
Drawing Anime Lips on the Head
As you can see in the above example you can still maintain the anime look even when drawing lips on your character. Draw the lips fairly small compared to the rest of the facial features.
Lips can take many irregular shapes depending on what the character you are drawing is doing. It’s hard to cover too many examples in one tutorial but these should give you a good idea of how to draw anime lips in some common views.
For more examples of drawing anime mouths you can also see: