CONTOUR LINE OF UPPER LIP
The area below the nose is always marked with three strong divisions, like folds in a curtain. The folds are draped over the curving, forward-tilted form of the upper ¡aw beneath. The "curtain" ends where it joins the cheeks, a border often marked by a crease. The three folds line up exactly with the three parts of the base of the nose and the three sections of the upper lip; this is due to the common origin of all these forms in three tiny subdivisions in the embryo.
A. Almost invisible on a younger face, the curved border between cheek and upper lip deepens as we age. The line—which also marks an important change in plane—is called the nasolabial fold. It always
CONTOUR LINE OF UPPER LIP
starts alongside the nose wing and ends just opposite the mouth corner.
B. With strong light from the left, this section of upper lip will always be in shadow—look for slight tonal change where it meets the cheek.
C. Groove down middle of lip, called the filtrum, gets wider as it descends. Note that outer edges of groove line up with peaks in upper lip, and center lines up with the dip.
As we age, the lips and their surroundings change. The line of the fiftrum (E), concave in profile in a younger face, loses its curve and conforms more closely to the form of the skull beneath. It becomes either straight or slightly bowed outward, as here. The indentation below the lips may also be flattened out (F). The lips themselves thin and become less shapely.
The upper lip is more complex than the lower. Its three sections, linked to the three planes of the skin above, are reflected in both the stretched M-shaped upper outline and the M-line between the lips—the peaks of the M are where the sections join.
Schematic version of planes of upper lip: keystone-shaped central part and two arching wings. Keystone projects more forward than the rest and drops down farther; there's an indentation in lower lip to receive it (A). Its inner planes are usually not well defined. The triangular wings are curved from top to bottom and side to side.
Skin curls upward just above lip line, leaving a "white edge" along the border of the lip. The border of the entire upper lip is usually distinct. The lower lip is only well defined in center, not so along outside. The borders of the upper lip are typically shaped like the legs of a radically stretched M—the Cupid's bow. Upper edge is a more angular version, the lower edge less. Almost every lip, even those that seem straight across, contains elements of the bow. In drawing the lips, artists usually start with the line between the lips and work outward. This is perhaps the heaviest line in the face.
The three parts of the upper lip. The central notch is like a continuation of the groove above; the peaks to either side are in line with the ridges along the edge of the filtrum. The upper lip is usually darker than the lower, as it faces away from the usual above light direction. Here it's clear how the lip faces more downward in the near corner (B), then turns more upright, and lightens, toward the middle (C). A shadow is cast on the lower lip.
There are two major forms of the lower lip, each shaped like an egg with a bit of a tail. The slight groove between is where the notch of the upper lip sits. Upper portion of the lip is usually light in value; the lower portion moves into shadow with an egglike edge.
The lower lip is an extension of a shelf that comes out from the chin (D). The shelf is hollowed-out in the middle and rounded at the ends; it's shaped like a half a bowl with a dent in the center. At (E), the change is only a color difference, not a plane change. For that reason artists often break the outline at this point when drawing lower lip.
A. The upper lip begins halfway between the nose tip and back of nose wing.
B. The upper lip is one of the few concave curves on the body.
C. The upper lip usually overhangs lower, reflecting the overhanging upper teeth. The upper lip faces downward, usually catching a lot of shadow.
D. The shape of the upper lip in profile is exactly half of the Cupid's bow: one dip, one peak, and one long slope to the corner.
E. Sharp undercut below middle of lower lip with the outer edge only vaguely defined.
Descending from nose each form steps back:
G. Upper lip
H. Lower lip
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