Judging by the many works of art titled The Kiss, kissing must be a source of constant wonder and artistic inspiration. From the Rodin sculpture to the Munch paintings - yes, the same Edvard Munch that gave us The Scream; from film, television and stage works bearing that title to 'The Kiss' as a book title, we can safely say that kisses abound. There's even the band called Kiss, and food: coffee kisses and, in the US, a type of chocolate. Some artworks depicting kisses are suggestive, like the Klimt and Rodin works, while others are as innocent as a child planting a kiss on their beloved pet or favourite toy. And then, there are chef's kisses, kisses of betrayal and the kiss of death; the casual cheek-kiss greeting often practised in France, Italy and the like, and the French kiss - the style of open-mouth kissing that generally signals romance is sure to ensue. By the way, the same artist painting The Scream and The Kiss seems an odd juxtaposition, doesn't it? Just as discussing the technical skill required to draw a kiss seems to rob such passionate meetings of lips of their spontaneity... But we can talk about technique passionately, can't we? That seems a fair compromise.
No Matter What Kiss
Let's face it: no matter what type of kiss you want to draw, you will bring at least one set of lips into contact with something; not necessarily another set of lips. Indeed, there are so many different types of kisses we could hardly detail them all so let's make a list of different kisses and then, talk about three broad categories. How many different kisses can you think of? We came up with:
- the chef's kiss: one set of lips to fingertips
- the hand kiss, as seen in (Korean boy band) BTS's music video for their song, Butter
- you might also imagine papal ring kissing or gentlemanly kisses on a dame's hand
- the baby kiss: baby's drooly, open-mouthed landings; no puckering involved
- the toddler kiss: when toddlers kiss each other - a veritable 'cute' overload!
- the parent kiss: bussing baby's head or cheek
- the air kiss: lips pucker but stop short of making contact on cheeks
- the social kiss: a peck on either or both cheeks; in some countries, three kisses - right cheek, left cheek and back to the right is the norm
- the lip kiss: a peck on the lips; passionate intertwining excluded. Practitioners of this type of kiss usually stand face to face; however, nothing but the lips touch
- the full-throated kiss: this is the one that Rodin so brilliantly executed... in stone, of all the media he could have chosen!
Note that, while toddlers kissing is generally so sweet you could call it Kawaii drawing, these types of kisses are most often categorised as humans kissing, not artwork purposely meant to be cute. Clearly, as mentioned in this article's introduction, there are other kisses but we're focused on lip action and how to draw said action convincingly. Now, let's sort these many types of kisses into three categories and talk about the challenges of drawing each one. And, also, how to deliver credible kisses with just a pencil and a sketchpad.
The Friendly Kiss
Air kisses and social kisses headline this group. These types of kisses are usually done in social settings and, in many ways, mirror each other in their execution - both the drawing and the actual act of kissing in these ways. For both types, two people stand relatively close together and face to face. There will likely be a slight smile on both faces and a sheen of excitement glossing their eyes. Both kissers' sincerity is reflected in them leaning toward each other, most likely with a slight head tilt indicating which cheek they're aiming for. Whether you're drawing air kisses or cheek kisses, you have to incorporate all of these elements to make your drawing credible. Fortunately, you may conceive it as one subject facing the viewer, with the other's back turned. That way, you won't have to draw two faces or sort out who will lean which way. Also, you have the added advantage of assigning one social kisser the head tilt while the other treats us to a smile. Imagine the figure whose back is turned doing the head tilt and leaning in for their kiss. That way, they too can lend expression to your drawing even though we can't see their face. This method simplifies drawing these types of kisses because you only need to sketch one face and neither of the figures is touching. It's a great category of kiss for beginner artists to practise their drawing skills. If you were looking for ideas of things to draw, this type of kissing would work well for you.
You'll note we started about halfway down our list of kisses. We skipped over all the hand-kissing and, for baby-kissing, see the segment below. Hand kisses are of the friendly variety - seldom does anyone execute such a kiss with malevolent intent. However, because they do not involve another set of lips, they are actually in a class by themselves. They are a bit more challenging to draw because they involve also sketching a hand; reportedly one of the hardest body parts to draw. For a credibly executed chef's kiss, you have to depict the hand upturned and bunched up, with all of the fingertips together. Depending on which perspective you're drawing from - head-on, 45 degrees or in profile, just managing a lifelike hand would be a feat - let alone making contact with puckered lips and a sublime facial expression. Hand kissing is slightly easier to draw because the lips make contact with the back of the hand, thus, the focus on fingers is less. You could even forego fingers, sketching a closeup of lips on the hand.
The Cute Kiss
Baby kisses, parents kissing their babies and toddlers kissing each other present yet another level of complexity to the burgeoning artist. The first order of business here is knowing how to draw a baby. Even if you wanted to skip the chubby cheeks and wide-eyed innocence - maybe just drawing the outline or suggestion of a baby, we've now arrived at the land of drawing intertwined figures. Most artists drawing this type of scene would focus on the baby rather than the person doing the kissing. After all, it's the baby that wows, adults aren't nearly as evocative of such primal emotions. Still, you have to capture some sort of deep feeling on the part of the adult doing the kissing, whether your drawing means to show new parents meeting their baby for the first time or grandparents revelling in just-bestowed toddler kisses. Toddler kisses! For this type of drawing, you really have to have drawing babies down pat. Not just proportionately but capturing the wild élan that two-year-olds typically launch themselves through their day with. Lucky for you, kids that age generally haven't mastered puckering so drawing them with slightly parted lips, or even just their smiling little rosebud mouths should be enough to sketch a credible kissing baby. Equally fortunately, because drawing babies is such a challenge, we've written a whole article on how to do it.
The Passionate Kiss
Passionate Kisses - whether Lucinda Williams' or Mary Chapin Carpenter's version, are what artists imagine when thinking about drawing a kiss. That's great because Ms Carpenter's official video includes almost all the kinds of kisses we talk about in this article. Intertwined figures and locked eyes, lips slightly parted and hands... where would you draw the hands of a couple passionately kissing? Some artists like to draw at least one figure's hands holding the other's face; that could make drawing a kiss easier because the hand could cover up some of the harder-to-draw details of a kissing face. Especially if you draw the scene from a two-point perspective rather than both figures in profile. There are many ways to draw two people kissing but, to make things easy, we'll focus on two people kissing in profile. Our perspective is eye level; we're exactly as tall as the two who are kissing. First, draw two slightly overlapping vertical ovals; this step should result in something that looks like the infinity symbol - a laying-down 8. Next, from the point where the ovals meet, draw a line downward, followed by two arcs, one pointing left and the other, right. Your sketch should now look like a pair of glasses atop a nose, with a moustache underneath. To help keep the faces proportionate, draw four gently curved vertical lines across both ovals, starting slightly lower on the left oval and ending a bit higher on the right one, leaving the top 1/3 of the ovals blank. The first such line marks the place eyebrows, the next one, the eyes; the third one positions the nose's underside and, the fourth, the mouth. You'll also draw a vertical guide line in each oval. For the left one, it should be closer to the left edge and the right, more in the middle. Those will position the ears. Using those ear lines as a reference point, you may draw each kisser's neck, and then, finish your sketch by filling the top 1/3 of each head with hair - whichever style you prefer. Once you erase (or delete) your sketch lines, you will be left with the person on the left in full profile while the one on the right has their features hidden behind the face of the person they're kissing. Care to give it a try? After a couple of attempts, we found that drawing people kissing is easier than drawing Groot...
The platform that connects tutors and students