26 February 2000


YouCanDraw.com's Insiders Communique


In this issue:

1) Feature by Feature Mini-series: the teeth
2) YCD Update

1) The Teeth

Zooming in on the Teeth. In the last two Feature-by-Feature Mini Series you
took a closer look at the upper and lower lips respectively. What would
finish off this mini-section within a mini-section better than a quick
glance at the teeth?

What teeth to draw?

I've seen caricaturist's go in to a great deal of detail on teeth, and I've
seen people do nothing more than an outlined minimalist version. Which to do? Whichever works best for your style and whichever suits your subject. (Gee Jeff, that really helps.)

Both can work. The question that came up for me when I was starting out was
WHICH teeth though. It's pretty obvious if you look, but like a lot of
beginners, I was going after the "big look", the "overall likeness" of the
whole face. Of course the overall Likeness is made of lots of little
likenesses. Again it was a matter of slowing down long enough to see what
was right under my nose. Literally.

Three pairs of teeth

When drawing caricatures there's three pair of teeth I think you need to
worry about: The central incisors, the lateral incisors and the canines.

When people are talking about their "two front teeth", they're talking about
the "central incisors" in the upper jaw. (You have a pair of incisors in both
your upper and lower jaws.) Rabbits have great central incisors and beavers
are of course the incisor world champions. In fact if a beaver doesn't shave down his teeth by constantly chewing on wood they'd grow some 18 inches in a
year. Talk about choppers! Monty Python did a great sketch years ago
lampooning famous historical people whose teeth would grow much the same way
Pinnochio's nose would grow, getting longer and longer in each scene. (I
thought it was pretty comical.)

Hollywood and Teeth

Incidentally, when a movie director tries to make a character grimy, or
loose looking, beat up or down and out, it's the central incisor that's
first to go. Paint your own front tooth black and you'll instantly drop two
notches on the social ladder. (Fact: in some societies, black teeth are a
sign of royalty.) The Jolly Roger and his Pirate compadres get a glinting
silver central incisor.

The second pair of teeth moving out from the incisors are the "lateral
incisors". "Lateral" meaning to the side of the course - to the sides of the
"two front teeth". There's not a whole lot to be said about the quaint and
quiet lateral incisor except their ordinariness only helps glorify the most
dangerous tooth in the mouth: the tooth all African Savannah wildebeests,
and wart hogs, wallabies and pretty much anything that moves dreads: the
canine teeth of a lion...or a jackal, or a cheetah, or a hyena, or a
wolverine, (except wolverines and wallabies don't live in Africa, not that
I'm aware of).

Lions and Tigers and Bears

The canines are so awesome Zoologists have given them their own taxonomic
grouping named after this one tooth: the Canines - The great meat eaters.
Dentists and anatomists call this pair of teeth the "Cuspids". Born on the
cusp, cut by the cusp; cusp means sharp and they are. Even your own kitty
cat has killer canines. As an aside 3 out of 5 cat bites serious enough
to be seen in the ER, need to be surgically drained (cat teeth are so sharp
they "inject" bacteria deep into the tissue where these little bugs find a
perfect home: warm, moist and a dark.)

The Kimodo Dragon's bite is so filthy and bacteria filled, it just bites
it's prey once and waits: the consequent overwhelming infection kills the
animal in 2-3 days. (I saw that on the Discovery Channel.) Human bites are
notoriously dirty - so think again before you want to "sock someone in the
mouth". Dracula, Saber-tooth Tigers, and Hippopotamuses are all literally
"armed to the teeth" so to speak. But I'm getting a little off track here.


The central incisors, the lateral incisors, and the canines (cuspids) -
those three pair of teeth pretty much covers all the teeth you have to worry
about when drawing. (Those three pair are reflected in the lower jaw as well
- just not so dramatically.) Fangs, choppers, the pearly whites, three pairs
of teeth on top, three on the bottom. And in most drawings all you have to
worry about is the upper three pair. (that's only six out of thirty-six -
yes you have thirty-six teeth total.)

For more in-depth info on teeth see:


and the attached pictures.

2) I'll be uploading the first section on shadows Monday. (It's shaping
up nicely.) And remember, never look a gift horse in the mouth! Until next time, keep on drawing.