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There’s no way around it: Drawing faces is hard. And while the eyes and mouth are notoriously difficult to perfect, the nose serves as the focal point of the face—so it’s essential to get it right. If the nose shape or placement isn’t correct, the entire face will just look a bit off.
To confidently draw noses, you must understand basic nose shapes and proportions. Below, we explore how to draw noses for every type of character or portrait you may illustrate, from human to animal.
How to Draw Noses
Depending on the character you’re drawing, you could illustrate a nose in a simple manner, with a single line, or in a more realistic style, with complex contours and shading. Below, learn the basics of drawing all types of noses step by step. (Interested in learning how to draw animal noses instead of human noses? Don’t worry—we’ll cover that, too.)
Drawing realistic noses starts with an understanding of the anatomy of the nose. A nose consists of three main parts: the bridge, the bulb (or tip), and the nostrils. Getting familiar with these three shapes will help you draw realistic noses from different angles, as well as manipulate those shapes to illustrate different types and sizes of noses.
To draw a realistic nose, start with a general wedge shape. With that wedge as the foundation, build out the bridge, bulb, and nostrils.
- Bridge: The bridge is the long, bony plane of the nose. Varying the size and shape of the bridge of the nose can be an effective way to change the overall look of the nose.
- Bulb: The bulb or tip of the nose is generally round or oval shaped. However, a bulb that’s too round can often look cartoony—so it’s often better to start with a soft diamond shape, which will help you achieve a more organic and realistic nose.
- Nostrils: The nostrils include both the hole that serves as the beginning of the nasal passage and the skin that surrounds that space. For a realistic nostril, try drawing a bean shape rather than a circle.
While male and female noses can vary widely, a male nose generally has shaper lines and a more angular shape. To draw a man’s nose, start with a general wedge as discussed in the previous section. From there, adjust the lines and angles of the bridge and bulb of the nose to achieve a more masuline shape. For example, you may choose to lift the bridge up for a hooked nose effect. Or, instead of a curved bulb, try creating a more square shape.
To achieve a more feminine nose, on the other hand, swap out any sharp angles for gentle, sloping curves. When learning how to draw women’s noses, also keep in mind that female noses are typically a bit smaller than men’s noses.
While there are exceptions to the guidelines between male and female noses—for example, there are certainly women with angular noses and men with soft, petite noses—these tips can provide a good starting point for drawing men and women characters.
Bring Your Faces to Life
Learn How to Draw: Features of the Face
Interested in drawing cartoon noses? The first step to drawing cartoon noses is understanding how to draw realistic noses. Then, by removing detail, you can learn how to draw cartoon noses that still look anatomically correct on your characters’ faces.
Generally, a nose consists of three main elements: the bridge of the nose, which is made up of bone; the tip or ball of the nose, which is made up of cartilage; and the wings of the nostrils. To achieve a cartoon style, you use the same elements, but incorporate less detail or more exaggerated shapes—or both.
For example, you could simplify the three elements of the nose into a singular C shape. Or, you could draw a large, round nose tip with tiny nostrils. Playing around with different sizes and shapes—pointy, round, small, and large—can dramatically change your character’s overall look.
Want to learn how to draw animal noses instead of human noses? We’ll start with a common and fun-to-illustrate pet: the dog.
Generally, a dog’s nose is shaped like a triangle with rounded corners. However, if you want to learn how to draw dog noses more realistically, start with a soft anchor shape. Then, above that, add a shape that looks like a whale’s tail or the top of a mushroom, with each end curving down to form the nostrils. Finally, add a vertical line down the middle of the bottom half of the nose.
The next step of drawing dog noses is shading and adding detail. To shade the nose, start with the darkest area: the nostrils. From there, the nose may take on many different looks—monochromatic, spotted, or speckled.
While similar to dog noses, cat noses tend to be smaller and a bit simpler. Depending on your drawing style, a cat nose may look like a soft triangle or a sharp letter T. Like a dog nose, a cat nose generally also includes a vertical line down the middle, as well as two comma-shaped nostrils.
When you’re ready to shade or color the nose, keep in mind that the color of a cat’s nose is directly related to the color of it’s fur. Black cats generally have black noses, orange cats have orange noses, and multicolored cats may have speckled noses.
Keep Your Characters Looking Sharp
Whether you’re drawing animals or humans, learning how to draw noses is a critical skill for getting those illustrations right. With an accurate nose, you’ll have a perfect template for composing the rest of the face.
Noses Are Just the Beginning
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