How to draw a smile

The facial expression of the model has a very important impact on the sketch and the design you present. At the same time, most fashion illustrators opt-in for a neutral face of their models. Why? Maybe just because it seems hard to draw smiles and to draw a closed mouth is the easier, more familiar way to go.
In this tutorial, I will show you my technique on how to draw a smile. The steps are easy to follow and beginner-friendly. You will be able to apply the technique right away and add precious variety to your drawings. So without further ago, grab your pencils and let’s start!

Time, Tools and Difficulty:

Time to complete the tutorial: 5min
Tools you’ll need: drawing paper, a pencil, and an eraser
Difficulty level: 4/10

How to draw a smile in 7 steps:

Step 1: Preparation

We need a good base to start. Sketch the head and the face – everything except for the smile. Make sure all the other facial features are well-proportioned and symmetrical.

You may want to leave the eyes just a little bit smaller than usual because when we smile we tend slightly to close our eyes, so that their vertical line is visually reduced.

Drawing eyes step by step tutorial for beginners

Step 2: Guidelines

Pull the head Centerline from the nose to the chin. Mark the middle- this is the mouth Centerline.
Draw the lines that go straight down from the eye’s center. They are indicating where the smile ends.

Sometimes your model will be drawn looking at direction other than straight forward. That’s why you want to start the guidelines from the center of the eye, not the center of the pupil.

Step 3: Endpoints

Mark with a dash the halfway distance from the mouth Centerline to the nose. It’s the upper lip.
Mark with a smaller dash the halfway distance from the upper lip to the nose.

Draw eyes in fashion design sketches

Step 4: Smile outlines

Continue the upper lip line to the guidelines. Don’t curve it, keep it straight.
Make a line underneath the mouth Centerline that is down the same space as from the upper lip to mouth Centerline.

Draw a smile tutorial

Step 5: Lip corners

Cut the upper lip line in 4 parts and lengthen the lines as shown.
Make the ends of the upper lip line slightly curved upwards without going out of the boundaries.

Step 6: Mind the gap

Join all the parts and be careful with the upper lip. You have to leave a tiny gap in the place where you marked the initial dash.

Step 7:  Clean up

Erase all the guidelines and smooth the curves of the smile. You can add a delicate wrinkle detail in the upper lip’s end if you want to.

Drawing different facial expressions can really help with more interesting fashion sketches. I hope that my tutorial on how to draw a smile inspired you to get creative with your models! For more facial expressions that will provide diversity to your models check “How to draw sexy lips” tutorial that will guide you to draw seducing slightly open lips or my online course How To Draw Faces where you will also learn how to draw models of different ethnicities. Happy drawing and keep smiling!

Did you enjoy this tutorial? If so, go click at the button bellow and enhance your skills further with my full online course on ‘How to Draw Faces‘!


  1. Can you make a very specific article about drawing wrinkles and folds because I saw your Friday Tip and I have been using it for a while but I wish I had something with more specific steps.
    I love your website and I love to look at it!

  2. [quote name=”I Draw Fashion”][quote name=”Jua”]Which colours are you using? :)[/quote]
    Hello Jua,
    I use copic markers and sometimes I add the details using prismacolor color pencils :-)[/quote]
    Thank you so much,Teya! :)

  3. That’s it! Now I’ll have some diversity of face expresions. 8) 8) :lol: I was kinda geting tired of the slosed mouths… Very helpful tutorial

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