How to draw a nose with pencil

How to draw a nose. Examples

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Think in values when you ask yourself how to draw a nose. Dark versus light. As in any other part of my portraits I start where the darkest areas are. Note that this is my personal preference. There’s other ways to draw and sketch noses. I like to keep it simple and only stick to the pencil. That means no blending sticks and no eraser.

So what is the darkest area. There is no rule to that actually. It depends how the light hits the subject and from what angle the light source hits the subject

Nostrils, nose drawing

How to draw a nose
How to draw a nose, Nostrils

Most common though is that the nostrils are the darkest area of the nose. And that’s where I start when I draw the nose. With the darkest value defined at first, it’s easier to define the brighter values

Each nostrils has a unique shape. There’s almost always reflected light hitting some of the inner part of the tissue of the nostrils. That reflected light makes the nostrils not only a completely dark value spot. This is important. If it’s drawn as a dark spot only it may look flat. I cross hatch or simply just press hard with my pencil when drawing the form of the nostrils.

Lower cartilage, nose drawing

How to draw a nose
How to draw a nose, lower cartilage

With the nostrils are done I can measure the size of the lower cartilage. There’s most often a darker value where the cartilage meets the cheek. This line or value defines the width of the nose. I mark that line carefully by measuring as much as possible. Now I draw the value of the cartilage along it’s form. Just small thin lines along each other is enough to define the subtle value. If there’s any darker values I might cross hatch that area.

The cartilage most commonly has a lighter value of the part close to the nose tip due to its protruding and round form. The area that meets the cheek are most commonly darker in value.

This value shift is exactly what makes it look like a round shape or form. That’s why it’s very important to pay attention to each value since it describes form of the subject.

Nose tip, nose drawing

How to draw a nose
How to draw a nose, nose tip

Imagine the nose tip as a round sphere that connects with the cartilage. A sphere will be exposed to light in various ways. It will have various values as the light falls upon the subject. If you have drawn a ball think of it as the same. Most likely the darkest values are underneath the nose tip and near the nostrils.

The top of the tip or and the bridge of the nose is most commonly exposed to most light and due to that will have the lightest value.

Where the tip connects with the cartilage there might be a subtle value change towards darker.

I draw the shape of the tip with lines along the form. One line at a time, slowly and accurate. And slowly the form start to show.

Be aware that it’s different from subjec to subject and how the light shines upon it. That’s why one has to analyze every model or subject that you draw.

Upper cartilage, nose drawing

How to draw a nose
How to draw a nose, upper cartilage

The upper cartilage is the last thing I draw on the nose. Most often I draw it with single lines from the top of the nose bridge and down towards the cheek. It’s a final step that does not require much measuring, but it will define the hole sense of the form of the nose.

A final word would be that before I start drawing the nose I’ll have the eyes done. From the eyes I measure where the nostrils are, the lower cartilage and the bottom of the tip of the nose.

Always remember to measure as much as possible. That gives the most true size to the reference you paint from.

Links to previous content

For more information about how I build up my portrait step by step follow this link:

Fore more information about how I mix my colors follow this link:

To see a previous oil portrait painting for comparison follow his link:

Links to the materials and brands I use

Paint from Winsor & Newton artist color:

Bristle brushes from Rosemary and Co

Ampersand boards from:

My Easel is from Edge Pro Gear

Nylon brushes from Trekell