Portrait art tutorial - how to draw the nose, step-by-step drawing lesson.

Drawing the Nose

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In this illustration, I am attempting to show the angle of the nose from 3/4 view.

Notice the purple line that goes down the center of the face. Since this is a three-quarters view portrait (instead of full-on) the nose is also at a three-quarters view, and therefore, at an angle.

The red lined areas (yeah, real flattering, I know) show how much of the nose is on the left side of this line. The nose "sticks out," is not straight up and down. The blue-lined areas to show the nostril area on the other side of the this straight line. This is to show you that when the face is at an angle (three-quarters view, or whatever) you have to have the nose at an angle too.

The green line shows that the edge of the nostril is approx. aligned straight down from the edge of the inside of the eye. (The eye lines up with the nostril this way from the front view too.) The orange line shows how the edge of the nostril lines up in the middle of the mouth. Some people have narrower noses (or mouths) but for the most part, they will line up similarly.

As you will notice, the girl in the drawing does not have an extremely wide or large nose - and yet it does have some definite width to it. A common newbie mistake is to make the nostrils and width of the nose way too narrow. Take special care to get the width of the nose correct.

ProfileProfile, nose

A quick overview of the nose in profile: The original drawing is on the left (click to see larger view). I had a lot of fun messing up the illustration on the right!

Notice the purple nose. (Yes, yes, exceedingly flattering, once again!) This shows how far the nose sticks out from the plane of the face. Don't be afraid to make the nose stick out. It doesn't have to be huge, but if you make it too flat, it will not look believable. There will always be variations in nose size, but I have seen too many "newbies" be timid with the nose, so this is another area to pay special attention to.

Alignment of nose

Another important thing to remember: be sure to observe the length of the nose. (As illustrated with the two purple lines above.) Compare the length of the nose with the width of the nose from the side (as illustrated by the red lines). The length isn't that much more than the width!

Not all faces will have the same proportions, of course. But I've noticed that some portrait artists make the nose waaaay too long. Or, they'll make it too short. Take great care when drawing the length of the nose.

The nose, step-by-stepThe nose, step-by-step:

  • First, sketch out the outline of the nose. You don't have to draw a dark line down both sides of the nose. Usually one side is more shadowed than the other.
  • Start to add a little shading to the side of the nose that is in shadow, and the bottom of the nose. Define the nostrils. Shade the nostril that is in shadow a little bit, but not as much as the rest of that side of the nose. The nostril sticks out a little bit, and gets more light on it.
  • Finish shading the nose. Suggest, through gentle shading, the "roundness" of the center (bulb) of the nose, and the roundness of the nostrils.

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