When it comes to painting realistic parts of anatomy the process is usually the same. First, study lips from real life through the use of either reference photos or a live model, and try to understand their shape.
This is important: you can't paint anything realistically without understanding it, so if you aren’t confident about your ability to depict realistic lips then perhaps some life-painting sessions are in order.
Other than that, just try to be subtle when painting the wrinkles of the lips.
Use soft brushes, and don't forget where the light is coming from. If you use a Photoshop scatter brush to create a noise texture in a low opacity Multiply and Soft Light mode layer, then you can achieve a more natural look for the skin.
About making them look sexy… well, normally, big and moist lips are sexy. Furthermore, a slightly open mouth is sexier than a closed or a wide-open one. But the true key of painting sexy lips (or any other sexy thing for that matter) is to reflect in your painting what you like about them. Think about how they make you feel, and try to paint in that mood. If you manage to put a dash of your own passion into your painting then you'll have won half the battle.
Artists' secret: Dye the lips red
Warm colours are sexy. To make lips more desirable and intense I sometimes paint over the lips with red in a low opacity Soft Light layer and then apply Gaussian Blur.
Words: Paco Rico Torres
Paco is a freelance illustrator living in Spain who’s painted for several card games, magazines, books and role- playing games. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX issue 78.
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