How to Draw a Nose

Basics of How to Draw a Nose

By Alina Bradford

Leonardo da vinci, Head of a Warrior ('The Red Head')
Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of a Warrior (‘The Red Head’)

Everybody has problems with drawing the nose, in the beginning. Go to any art class during face drawing week and you’ll hear the usual, “The nose is hard!”

And have you ever noticed how many cartoon characters don’t have noses?

The basics of drawing a nose really aren’t that hard, though, and that’s what we’re going to look at today.

Drawing Nose Shape

Nose Drawings
Sketches of nose shapes.

Have you ever really looked at a nose? It has bends, bumps, crooks, and eaves. The first step to drawing a nose properly is noticing theshape and characteristics that make it original. The sample below illustrates different, basic nose shapes in profile. Notice how the tips of the nose can curve up, curve down, get extra round, or go straight, like in the sketches to the right.
When drawing a nose in profile, the curves are everything. When drawing it head-on, the nostril shape and size, edges, and proportion to the rest of the face is more important.

The Nose in Relation to the Face

Proportions of a male head by Andrew Loomis.

Nose proportion is very important to drawing a nose realistically. As you can see from the example sketch, the nostrils generally end halfway underneath the eye. This will vary from person to person, so remember to use your pencil to line up the nostrils on your subject with the eye and record what you see.

The top of the nose curves down from the eyebrows in one, unified arch. These are usually not hard lines, but soft shadows defining the edge of the arch.

The length of the nose can vary from face to face. Remember to measure with your pencil to get the right length on your drawing.


Nose Sketches by Andrew Loomis.

Nostrils are a much overlooked part of the nose. They are not simple black holes on the nose, but separate, definite shapes with their own shading. Many nostrils look like elongated commas, while others look like ovals. Some have sharp edges, others are more rounded. Make sure to draw the shape accurately, and then shade it. The edges are usually darker that the inner area.

Also, remember that nostrils are not just holes in the face. They are more like slits in the flaps of your nose. The skin of your nose curves into the nostrils. The profile curve of the nose will flow into the shape of the nostril.

How to Draw a Simple Nose Step-by-Step

how to draw a simple nose
How to draw a simple nose step-by-step

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