How to Draw Lips Using Charcoal for Students and Art Teachers | Easy High School Art Lesson

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Hello, artists and art teachers! Welcome back to our creative space. Today, I’m thrilled to introduce an engaging high school art lesson focusing on how to draw lips using charcoal. This tutorial is tailored for both students and fellow educators, offering an accessible approach to mastering this skill.

Having successfully implemented this lesson with my students, I’m here to share not just the step-by-step process but also the effective strategies that have worked wonders in my classroom. I’ll provide insights into what clicked seamlessly and highlight adjustments made based on valuable teaching experiences.

As we delve into this tutorial, I’ll offer a glimpse into the world of drawing lips in charcoal. We’ll explore the intricate balance between softness and definition, unravel the play of light and shadow, and master the subtle curves that breathe life into lips.

By following the outlined steps, you and your students can create compositions seamlessly blending marker and colored pencil techniques with the expressive medium of charcoal. Together, let’s ensure your lip drawings captivate with realism and become the focal points of your artistic endeavors. Ready to unlock the secrets of drawing lips in charcoal and infuse your artwork with a new level of creativity? Let’s go!

What is Charcoal? 

Before we venture further into how to draw lips using charcoal, let’s take a closer look at this versatile tool and understand why it holds a special place in every artist’s toolkit.

Charcoal 101: An Overview

Charcoal is a special drawing tool made from heated willow or vine twigs. It’s not your regular pencil or pen; think of it as a versatile and adaptable tool for drawing. Artists love it because it lets them create various strokes, from strong to subtle.

Charcoal is great for drawing because it’s soft, a bit smudgy, and perfect for capturing the delicate beauty of lips. In this beginner-friendly lesson, I’ll guide you through the entire process, from making your first sketch to adding shadows and highlights that make your lips come alive.

Types of Charcoal:

  • Vine Charcoal: It’s softer and lighter, ideal for initial sketches. It’s easy to modify, making it great for figuring out basic shapes.
  • Compressed Charcoal: Slightly denser and darker, this type is excellent for creating depth and achieving darker values. While we mainly use vine charcoal, the compressed kind can be handy for shadows and details.

Why Charcoal?

  • Bold Strokes: Charcoal encourages strong strokes, so you can focus on capturing the feeling rather than being overly precise.
  • Tonal Variety: Charcoal can create different tones, from subtle shadows to strong contrasts, bringing life to your drawings.
  • Easy Blending: Whether you use your fingers or tools, charcoal is easy to blend. This is crucial for achieving smooth transitions in your drawings.

A Note of Caution: While charcoal is fantastic for its expressive qualities, it can be a bit unruly. It’s known to be messy, and its bold nature can pose challenges, especially for beginners. However, a bit of mess is all part of the artistic journey!

Want to dig deeper into charcoal and its different types? Take a peek at my blog post where I share tips on picking the perfect charcoal for your artwork!

Now equipped with a deeper understanding of charcoal, let’s re-enter the world of how to draw lips using charcoal!

Steps on How to Draw Lips Using Charcoal

Step 1: Draw the Outline of Lips with a Light Pencil Sketch

how to draw lips using charcoal

Let’s kick off the process of drawing captivating lips on paper. Grab a number two pencil. The key here is to keep your lines light, avoiding bold strokes for now. Focus on capturing the natural grace and subtlety of real lips.

For beginners, the challenge often lies in getting the proportions right or resisting the urge to use heavy strokes. Tip: save slightly deeper lines for the darkest areas of the lips. Art teachers, guide your students to treat the pencil as a gentle tool, encouraging a light and easy touch. Using reference images can be beneficial to understand lip anatomy.

For students, picture your pencil as a tool for precision, keeping your touch light. Concentrate on the overall shape of the lips, how they sit on the face, and the emotions they convey. With this approach, you’re on your way to creating realistic and expressive lips on paper.

Step 2: Use a Bigger Tool to Establish the Shadow Shapes

Moving on to Step 2 – defining those shadow shapes. Transition from the light pencil to a slightly larger charcoal tool, preferably willow charcoal for a softer touch. The goal here is to bring depth to the lips, focusing on broader shadow areas before diving into details.

A common challenge is the inclination to tackle intricate details too early. Resist that urge. Concentrate on the bigger picture, emphasizing larger shadowy sections first. For art teachers, stress the significance of this foundational step, likening it to building a strong base. Encourage students to grasp the interplay of light and shadow on the lips, injecting life into their drawings.

Tip for students: While crafting shadows, keep your focus on the broader shapes, leaving finer details for later. The forgiving nature of charcoal allows for adjustments. In this step, you’re laying the groundwork for depth. With charcoal in hand, take your time, and let the shadows unfold naturally, gradually building dimension in your artwork.

Step 3: Using the Eraser as a Tool to Highlight

Now, let’s add some wonder to your lip drawing with Step 3 – highlighting. Surprisingly, we’ll use an eraser for this. Not to fix mistakes but as a drawing tool. Gently pull out the highlights, paying attention to the shadows you’ve created. Remember, no outlining of the lips or teeth at this stage.

Students might find the idea of using an eraser for art a bit strange, but it’s as crucial as charcoal for creating highlights and refining details. Teachers, highlight the eraser’s role as an artistic tool, not just for corrections. Encourage students to focus on shapes and forms, thinking about light and shadow to bring the lips to life. For practical tips, think of the eraser as a tool to add light, revealing highlights and putting those finishing touches on your artwork.

Step 4: Adding Details of the Lips

Now in Step 5, it’s time to give your lip drawing those final touches. Use a blending tool, like your fingers or brushes, to make the shadows and highlights blend seamlessly. This step adds a polished and realistic texture to your work.

A challenge here is getting a smooth blend without losing the details you’ve worked on. Think of it as putting those last strokes on a painting to make everything look well put together.

For art teachers, tell your students to understand the importance of refining. Encourage them to try different blending tools and techniques, reminding them to be gentle so that the details they added in earlier steps stay intact.

For students: Take your time in this step, refining and smoothing transitions gradually. Experiment with blending tools to see what suits your style. Remember, the aim is to achieve a smooth and realistic finish.

Drawing realistic lips with charcoal is a rewarding experience that requires patience and attention to detail. Remember to start with a light sketch, focus on the big shadow shapes, use the eraser intentionally, and add details gradually. As you practice and gain confidence, you’ll discover the incredible depth and expression that charcoal can bring to your art. So, grab your materials, reference images, and dive into the world of charcoal lip drawings. Happy creating!

How to draw lips in charcoal: lesson inclusions

You can find this complete “Drawing Lips in Charcoal” lesson with reference images, slideshow, video demonstrations, practice worksheets, handouts, rubrics and more in my resource shop!

What’s included?  In this complete resource you get:

✅An editable 11-slide Canva slideshow with step-by-step guidance

✅ A video demonstration showing each step of the art lesson

✅8 Practice Worksheets with 2 Worksheets including guide marks

✅An instructional handout with QR code students can scan to see videos and slideshow

✅Teachers Instructions

✅A rubric for easy grading

Ready to continue your creative adventure? 🎨


Ready for more? Check out these other awesome bundles on charcoal drawing!

Investing in your artistic journey is an investment in yourself. This lesson is designed to empower you with knowledge, boost your confidence, and enhance your creative expression.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to refine your skills and create captivating artworks that stand out. Hop on this artistic adventure today!

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