We are going to cheat again, as we did for the hair lesson, for teeth. When starting out, the temptation is to draw every tooth in any given smile, but even though that may be technically correct, the end result is an unpleasing to look at image of rows of teeth in a smile. In this instance cheating is necessary. Below I have rendered every tooth in the smile.


And it’s okay, but something doesn’t feel quite right about it. How do I fix it? By combining teeth together, by only implying the tooth shapes using the shape of the bottom line created by the top teeth and the gums that peek down past the lip. Below is an example of what I mean:


Why does this work better?

I believe the reason this is easier to look at is because we are trained as people not to stare at someone’s mouth, as if doing so would be considered rude or impolite. By rendering each tooth, you as the artist are drawing attention to an area that we socially are trying to avoid looking at. As a result of being forced to consider how well you drew the teeth, the viewer feels sort of uncomfortable.

I may be wrong, but that is my theory. We create a shorthand for teeth in our minds and the glimpse that we give ourselves is enough.



Take note that as the teeth get further back into the mouth (the sides of the mouth) I start to render the teeth more distinctly, as those teeth move into shadow.


The only time I would consider rendering teeth more  is if those teeth are a very specific and different aspect to their face. I would not merge the top two teeth of someone with an obvious gap in their teeth, for instance.

Below I have drawn the teeth of a child. There was no avoiding the fact that his baby teeth created larger gaps that could not be ignored. The end result, in isolation, is a little grotesque, even though the kid himself is super cute.


So your assignment for this lesson is to either draw your teeth or find a picture of someone else’s mouth to draw, then share it with the group.



1Draw your teeth or find teeth to draw online
2Share it with the Facebook group