Learning how to draw a nose is often overlooked simply because we focus on the other facial features. And yet, it's part of the overall picture that defines your character. Luckily, since it doesn't do much in terms of giving emotional responses, a nose drawing can be an easy illustration to do.
In society, piercings are a way to change the aesthetics appearance of a nose. In other areas, a nose can be used in a more intimately fashion. For example, 'puppy love' is the idea of pressing a nose to another nose and is something we do to show intimate affection.
A nose comes in many different shapes and sizes. Caucasian noses are more defined and are seen as 'big' or 'high' whereas Asian noses are more flat and round. These differences are one of the few ways that we can define a character.
While there are many variations of a nose when it comes to drawing it in any illustration, the idea of a nose being present is essential to making your character look correct. This is especially true when your character is facing a certain direction. Follow along as we learn how to draw a nose with these concepts in mind.
Start figuring out how to draw a nose by creating a bulge in the face. You can start with creating a trapezoid bulge as that's the general shape of the nose. Basically, it'll look like a door wedge that's standing upright when you begin drawing noses.
The hardest part about the nose is probably trying to figure out how to draw the nostrils. Most beginners simply draw two black dots to indicate where the nostrils are. However, an alternative to getting this correct is to draw angular cubes or spheres beside the main base of the nose.
With these shapes drawn in, you need to really look at how the light hits the geometric shapes. In essence, anything that sticks out will guarantee that the light will hit it and will create a lighter color than the rest of the nose. Another part to draw in is the philtrum, which is the bit connecting the nose and the mouth.
Once you have this basic outline done, create a new layer underneath it. You will then fill in the layer with a flat neutral tone and then start to do some simple shading. The biggest area would be the part underneath the nose as that is where light usually can't hit.
The next step is to use the smudge tool. Place the smudge tool on a low brush setting. This will allow you to smooth out the squared planes. Of course, you need to use the smudge brush in a specific fashion instead of just smudging in random directions.
The round nostrils must be smudged in a round manner while the bridge can be smudged on a vertical manner. Once you think that all the smudging is done, switch back to the brush tool and block in the major areas with a lighter color to make it stand out.
The challenge here is to separate the tone from the nose bridge with the rest of the face. There will be slight differences but having the nose bridge 10% lighter than the rest of the face is good enough to bring the nose out. You can also use this difference to bring out the nostrils.
On the underside, use a color that's darker than the skin to draw in the philtrum. By now, all the major areas should be shaded in and the initial lines from the gesture sketch has been smudged or blended into the entire drawing. The next step is to smoothen out the entire nose.
Up to this point, the chalk brush tip are great for drawing in the nose topography. However, it still creates jagged lines that makes it hard for the nose to have a smooth shape. To fix this, switch over to a round brush tip with blurry edge.
Using the eyedropper tool, sample the colors around the nose and then use the round brush to gently smoothen out the nose with that color. This will softly get rid of the jagged edges while creating a nice gradient of color around the nose bridge.
Repeat this process to nostrils but on a much smaller level. This is because you do not want to cover the edges of the nostrils as it links into the face. You just need enough pressure to blend in the colors linking the nostrils to the tip of the nose.
For the underside, use a darker tone and softly blend in the topography to create the columella. This part of the nose should be done using a lighter color than the philtrum. It is only when all the soft gradients are done that you can switch back to the chalk brush tip to define the nasal passage opening.
In this final step of learning how to draw a nose, you will use the dodge and burn brushes. The purpose of these tools is to enhance additional lights and shadows without destroying the textures drawn so far. Before that, try lightening the entire drawing with a global contrasting filter option.
Then, with the burn tool, you will deepen the colors of the nostrils. You do not want to make it pure black as that will look unnatural. After that, add in a cast shadow underneath the nose to signify the direction of the light source. You can do this directly on the drawing or on a separate layer.
On the other side of the coin, enhancing lighted areas are equally important. To do that, switch to the dodge tool to brighten where you think the light hits the nose the most. Ideally, you want to lighten up the tip of the nose. You may also combine the dodge tool with a chalk brush tip to draw in a simple rim light emphasizing the outline of the nose bridge a little.
While still using the dodge tool, swap back to a larger round brush tip. Now you want to blend in the colors of the cheeks to the nose side walls. If the dodge tool is bringing out too much color, consider using the regular brush tool instead.
Finally, take a few minutes to look at all the subtle color variations of the face and how it relates back to the nose. Are the right tonal colors indicative of facial topography? Just a few subtle changes to color will change the height of the nose.
From here on out, practice learning how to draw the nose using different light source directions. Also, take some time to study the noses of people from different ethic backgrounds and gender to find subtle differences as you use the skills you learned here to portray these differences.