Portrait Drawing for the Ultimate Beginner: The Nose

Updated on January 23, 2017

After drawing the eyes, the nose will be next. The basic shapes of the nose mostly include triangles, rectangles, and circles. At first glance, the nose may seem to be pretty difficult to draw. I’m here to tell you that it’s quite the opposite. The following images are just a few examples of different nose shapes.

The first nose is more rounded at the tip and the wings (i.e., the nostril area) with a narrow bridge. The second nose is more angular with flared nostrils and a flat bridge. The last nose is downturned and the nostrils are not visible.

Anatomy of the Nose
Anatomy of the Nose

Take a moment to study and examine the nose before proceeding with the next portion of the lesson.

Below are two examples of how to draw the front of the nose. The first example is a round-shaped nose and the second example is more of a pointy, angular-shaped nose:

Round Nose

Steps

  1. Start with a vertical line: this is used as a guide in drawing even sides. At the top of the line draw an inverted triangle like in the example. Draw a vertical rectangle protruding from the triangle. Attach long triangles (i.e., isosceles) onto each side of the rectangle. Connect the triangles below the rectangle creating a very small inverted triangle—this will be the septum.
  2. Next, draw a circle at the bottom of the rectangle and attach semi-circles (or half circles) on each side of the circle.
  3. Erase the center guideline and the additional lines shown in the example. ‘Flesh out’ or round the edges of the bridge.
  4. Begin lightly erasing the areas within the bridge of the nose. Do not erase completely. Draw in the nostrils. The nostrils should be black (#1 on the grayscale).
  5. Color in the entire nose using the value scale as your guide. Use darker shades on the sides of the bridge and a lighter shade in the center.
  6. Start developing more tones of light and dark and blend using your tortillion. The tip of the nose should resemble a sphere.

Angular Nose

Steps

  1. Follow the same rules in Step A as in the previous drawing lesson.
  2. Next, draw an inverted triangle at the bottom of the rectangle shown in the example above.
  3. Erase the center guideline and the additional lines shown in the example. ‘Flesh out’ or round the edges of the nose.
  4. Begin lightly erasing the areas within the bridge of the nose. Do not erase completely. Draw in the nostrils as well. The nostrils should be black.
  5. Color in the entire nose using the value scale as your guide. Use darker shades on the sides of the bridge and a lighter shade in the center.
  6. Start developing more tones of light & dark and blend using your tortillion. You can add your own unique detail to the nose if you like. As you can observe, I made the cartilage at the tip more visible. You can make your nose flat at the tip if you like. It is completely up to you!

Side of Nose

Steps

When drawing the side of the nose, like the eye, the angle changes. You can only see one nostril.

  1. Begin drawing a narrow, tilted rectangle. Next, attach an isosceles triangle to the rectangle as shown above. Draw a full circle at the tip & a semi-circle attached to that circle.
  2. Next, erase the vertical line of the triangle and the rectangle lines inside the circle. ‘Flesh out’ or round the edges of the nose.
  3. Begin lightly erasing the areas within the lines except for the semi-circle with your kneaded eraser. Draw in the nostril.
  4. Color or shade in the nose.
  5. Blend, blend, blend! Develop tones until you get the look you desire. Remember the more you blend, the more realistic your images look. Lift tones with your kneaded eraser to create highlights.

3/4 View of Nose

Steps

When drawing the ¾ view of the nose, keep in mind the lesson about perspective & foreshortening. This step will take a little more time & patience than the others. Let’s get started!

The first step is optional.

  1. Draw a rectangular box. This box will be your guide. You have the option of drawing the box using a 'point of interest' (refer to the previous lesson). At the very top of the box draw an inverted trapezoid. The trapezoid is going to be drawn at an angle. From there, draw a long rectangle that’s a little wider at the bottom. Attach an isosceles triangle to the rectangle. Now draw a circle at the front tip of the rectangle & one on the side overlapping.
  2. The next step is to erase all the guidelines and the lines within the circles. You will notice a partial circle peaking from the other side. This is the other nostril.
  3. Draw a small elipse/oval between the two conjoining circles--this indicates the nostril. The dotted line is just a guideline to determine the center of the nose. The dotted line is optional.
  4. Erase the top of the trapezoid along with the following lines shown in the example.
  5. Round the edges of the nose.
  6. Erase the remaining lines inside the rounded edges.
  7. Start shading in the nose. Shade in the nostril using #1 on the gray scale.
  8. Blend & build tones. Continue until you achieve a smooth look.

Key Points to Remember

  • Unlike the eyes, the nose is comprised of various shapes: circles, triangles, and rectangles.
  • The shape of the nose that you want to draw will depend on the shapes you will need to use.
  • The rules of perspective drawing also apply to the ¾ view of the nose: the more your shapes overlap, the further the angle of the nose and face.
  • Have patience.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself and have fun!
  • Keep practicing!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • Kalilah L profile image
        Author

        Kalilah L 3 years ago from Michigan

        Hi Coffee Lover. Yes, you're right-it did take quite a bit of time & practice to learn how to draw the nose. I definitely wouldn't call it perfect. There was a time when I had no idea how to draw a nose, but you just have to keep practicing & the shading part is not hard at all. That's the fun part! You can use just about anything to blend & shade: your finger, a q-tip, tissue, or a tortillion. Just follow along with the steps & you'll get it. All you need to know is how to draw basic shapes & put 'em all together. Most importantly, have fun!

      • profile image

        Coffee Lover 3 years ago

        I bet it took you a lot of work and practice to draw a perfect nose and good shading.I know its hard drawing a nose and shading it perfect it takes A lot of practice and skill to draw and shade a nose perfect.I don't really know if i could draw like you!!

      • Kalilah L profile image
        Author

        Kalilah L 4 years ago from Michigan

        Anytime, and thanks for commenting. I totally agree with you on that issue. I realized that it just takes a LOT of practice because there are so many different & unique nose shapes to consider. Just keep going & you'll get it. I hope these lessons will help. Just remember that all it takes is knowledge of basic shapes.

      • WiccanSage profile image

        Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

        Great tips; noses are still the hardest part of the face for me. I'm great with eyes and lips and I can even get wrinkles and cheek shading good, but if I am going to have a difficult time it's going to be the nose. I've had to learn that it takes a much more lighter, more subtle touch than other features. Thanks for the advice.

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