Tips On Pencil Portrait Drawing – Muscular Forms That Build The Smile

A smile is the result of happiness. It lifts and widens the lower face and the raised cheeks will often crease the skin just below the eyes creating the so-called crow’s feet.

To understand the makings of a smile in its numerous manifestations we must first grasp the underlying anatomy.

Below we list the three important muscles that add to a smile:

* The Zygomaticus Major – is the major muscle of happiness. This elongated muscle originates at the front area of the Zygomatic Arch (cheek bone) and inserts into the node.

When the zygomaticus major contracts it bulges and lifts the cheek while further deepening the Nasolabial Furrow or smile-line.

* The Malaris – rests on top of the zygomaticus major and is a extended, ribbon-like deep-seated muscle. It starts at the temple and inserts into and forms the lower part of the nasolabial furrow.

The malaris is the cheek muscle. It heaves up the cheek in an outward and backwards bearing making it bulge and giving it the puffed cheek look.

* The Buccinator – quadrilateral muscle forms the cheek cushion. It starts on the back, inside of the jaw and attaches to the nodes of the mouth.

When smiling the buccinator shrinks thus pulling at the nodes and broaden the mouth.

As the mouth is extended and heaved by both the zygomaticus major and buccinator the lips are stretched and flattened. So is the chin. The philtrum is reduced and the nostrils flare slightly.

Below are still other minor muscles that add to the smile:

1. The Risorius – is a curious muscle because not each person has one. Some people only have a risorius on one side of the face. Others have a large, extensive triangular shaped one.

The Risorius originates in the fatty tissue of the Masseter (whose action is used largely for chewing) and inserts into the node of the mouth.

The risorius delicately draws the node backwards and up. Its effect is generally observed in gentle smiles.

2. Incisivus Labii Superioris and Inferioris Superioris – The superioris does the heaving. These thing, band-like muscles start just above the incisor tooth region and also attach to the node.

When fully contracted, a puckering up of the lips (a kiss) is produced.

3. The Levator Labii Superioris is a thin, quadrilateral muscle whose effect on the smile is to some extent limited.

However, the higher part of this muscle contributes to the volume of the cheek and the nasolabial furrow.

Over the three major muscles goes the most complex of all the facial muscles, the Orbicularis Oris which operates throughout a large range of movements and expressions.

During a smile the lower eyelids are also pressed upward. This is the result of a secondary action where the Orbicularis Oculi (the muscle of the eye socket) contracts.

The nasolabial furrow is deepened as it is simultaneously drawn and pressed upwards and outwards. It is best to understate the sharp fold of the nasolabial furrow otherwise the smile will degenerate into a grimace.

As the node of the mouth is pulled out and upwards the skin is gathered into delicate vertical ridges.

The interstice of the mouth curves upward, broadening and flattening the lips while reducing the philtrum. The nostrils of the nose also extend as they are heaved outwards.

The upper portion of the smile-line is created by a slender, 3-part muscle called the Levator Labii Superioris Alaeque Nasi. This is the muscle that produces wrinkles in the nose during sniffing.

The elements of this muscle are the furrow portion which attaches to the upper part of the nasolabial furrow; the alar portion which inserts under and behind the wing of the nose (Alae Nasi); and the lip part which attaches continuously into the ridge just above the upper lip and to the philtrum.

When drawing the smile-line be careful not to over-do it. A delicate suggestion is all that is needed. Otherwise your lovely smile will quickly degenerate into a sneer.

With this we have enumerated and discussed the most relevant muscles that are involved in the smile. This should put you on the accurate path for recognizing the anatomy of the smile.

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Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and practiced sketching teacher. See his work at pencil portrait.

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