Drawing Noses and Other Facial Features in 5 Simple Steps From Professional Artists

Drawing noses can be one of the most difficult parts of sketching faces for many artists. After all, if you get it wrong, it’s difficult to get a true likeness of the person you’re painting or drawing.

However, if you get it right, you’ll not only see an improvement in your portrait art – you’ll be all set to draw just about any nose you can think of!

Luckily, here at Pencil Kings, we only deal in getting it right.

So here鈥檚 how you can get better at drawing noses (and the rest of the face) in 5 super-simple steps!

To start with, you鈥檒l need:

  • A mirror that’s placed nearby so you can study your own face
  • Pencil, paper, pens, graphic tablet 鈥 basically anything you like draw with!



1. Placing And Drawing Noses in Proportion

In our previous articles聽on drawing facial features, you learned how to get the basic head shape right before working out where the eyes and ears should sit.

Now, we鈥檙e going to show you how to draw a nose. Follow these steps to help you work out where the nose should be placed on the face.

This method works well for both male and female noses,聽so get your pencils sharpened and let’s get started!

Here鈥檚 How You Can Do It:

To get started with drawing noses, first draw a guideline to help you work out where the bottom of the nose should be.

Tip: The bottom of the nose is approximately two thirds down from the hairline.

If you need a refresher course on the proportions of the face, take a look at our previous articles聽or Sycra Yasin鈥檚 tutorial series on Face Drawing Proportions.

Now, to get the width of the nose right, you need to work on the basis that it鈥檚 roughly the same width as one eye for a male face.

To work out聽this measurement, simply draw two vertical lines down from the edges of one eye. You can then use this measurement for working out the width of the nose.

What about female eyes? The same rule applies, but all you need to do is make the width of the nose a little smaller.

Did you know the same thing applies to some male and female cat noses? Not only is this true, it鈥檚 also a good enough excuse for a gratuitous cat pic! You鈥檙e welcome.


Gratuitous cat pic, courtesy of Tomi Tapio

2. Drawing Realistic Noses

Once you鈥檝e worked out where the nose should be on the face,聽you’ll no doubt want to know how you can get it to look realistic.

For聽a good introduction to drawing noses realistically, check out this clip from our instructor, Sycra Yasin.

It鈥檚 about eight minutes long and it鈥檒l make a lifetime鈥檚 worth of difference to your portrait drawing skills:

3. Drawing Noses as聽Simple Shapes

It鈥檚 best to keep things simple when learning how to draw a nose, so let鈥檚 break it down into simple shapes for you. You might also want to check聽out the Reilly method for learning how to draw a nose, how to draw a mouth, or just about any other area of human anatomy!

Here鈥檚 what you need to know:

The nose can be broken down (not literally!) into four parts 鈥 the bridge, the septum, the ball and the nostrils. It鈥檚 easiest to treat the nose as a series of flat planes viewed from different angles. Note how the septum (where your nose joins your face) echoes the philtrum (the small indent between the bottom of your nose and your lips).

In this exercise, you鈥檒l be drawing the ball of the nose as a circle.聽But,聽remember this is actually a 3D sphere in reality. When drawing noses from underneath, remember the nose sits above the curved surface of your upper lip. Why is it a curved surface? Because your teeth are underneath!

Always remember to include the flat plane where the bridge of the nose meets the brow. We hope this is all making sense so far! When drawing noses, it鈥檚 also a good idea to look at the surface direction of this facial feature. There鈥檚 no need to draw any lines for where the sides of the nose meet the cheek, but understanding which way the surface flows will certainly come in handy when you鈥檙e adding shading.


When adding the flat plane at the top of the nose (where the bridge meets your eyebrows), draw some faint聽shading lines to indicate this. We hope this blog post gives you lots of helpful information聽about drawing noses.

Remember, people鈥檚 noses come in all shapes and sizes, but the same rules apply and you can use these for drawing male or female noses. If you want to know more about drawing different nose shapes, check out Sycra鈥檚 awesome video course聽here.


4. Placing The Mouth On The聽Face

Now you鈥檝e mastered the art of drawing noses, it’s time to add聽some more features to the face. When placing the mouth, there are聽two popular options to choose from:

These are:

You can measure halfway from the bottom of the nose to the chin and place your mouth here. Placing the mouth here or slightly above the halfway point usually works well for female faces. Alternatively, you can split this same section (from nose to chin) into thirds, and then place the mouth one third of the way down. This is the option Sycra usually uses for male faces.

Where should the edges of the mouth be?

Simply draw some pupils in the middle of the eyes and draw straight lines down from here. You should find the edges of the mouth are roughly in line with these.

Here are these lines drawn on a real face聽to give you a clearer idea:Want to see how placing the mouth works in other views of the face?

It鈥檚 over to Sycra:


5. Finishing Off With The Eyebrows, Hair and Cheekbones

Once you鈥檝e got all the other features placed, it鈥檚 time to finish this face off by adding eyebrows and hair. The good news is that placing the eyebrows is super-easy! All you have to do is follow the lines of the eye sockets you sketched in earlier like in this example:

Remember, some people have bushy eyebrows, some have thin eyebrows and some people even have them tattooed on!

Either way, they all follow the top line of the eye socket, so put them here and you can鈥檛 go too far wrong.Finally, let鈥檚 get to the cheekbones. Some people鈥檚 cheekbones are more prominent than others (just think R Patz, ladies!), but they usually tend to fall in line with the tragus (that鈥檚 the flap in your ear that joins to the rest of the face).


This illustration聽should help you see what we mean:

By this stage, you should now be able to draw the head with realistic-looking features. Don鈥檛 be afraid to practice, practice and 鈥 you guessed it 鈥 practice some more until it all becomes familiar.

Why not have fun experimenting with different hairstyles or drawing noses of different shapes and sizes? For further reading, check out this blog post on how to draw a nose.

Above all, have fun and let us know how you鈥檙e getting on in the box below 鈥 remember, message boards don鈥檛 bite!

See you soon for more lessons on how to draw the rest of the human body!

3 Responses to “Drawing Noses and Other Facial Features in 5 Simple Steps From Professional Artists”

  1. Roy dessin

    Great article, a lot of beginners forget the sphere of the noze. So this part of portrait is flat on their draws or they have more difficulties to draw a face portrait. I just discovered your website and there”s pretty good advice. Thank you for your work.

    • Chris at PencilKings

      Hi Roy and thanks so much for your feedback – it really means a lot to us. I’m really glad you enjoyed this article. Like you say, it’s easy to forget about the sphere of the nose when starting out, and it’s amazing how picking up techniques like these (and Reilly rhythms etc) can really help transform someone’s portrait drawings. Glad you like the site too – hope you enjoy our new series on Still Life painting this week (April 15th) 馃檪

  2. Dennis Sweatt

    Fantastic! Shared on Twitter and How To Draw Comics group, on Facebook.


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