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How to Draw a Nose – Step by Step

October 3, 201238 Comments

Assignment: Draw the Nose

Take a picture of your own nose or find some good photos online (get some with clear light and shadows). Follow my step-by-step lesson to complete the drawing. Rewatch the lesson to review all the anatomical details. Those take a few times to understand. Draw the nose from multiple angles and post your work for feedback in the facebook group.


Before we start, I recommend you watch my previous video where I cover the anatomy of the nose. Have you watched it? Good! Let’s get right to it!

The Lay-In

I’ll start my layin with the perspective of the major planes. I want to define the perimeters of these planes first and make sure the width to height relationship is correct. Then, I’ll define the bottom plane, starting with a rhythm between the nostrils, and the bottom plane of the ball. Get a rhythm in there to separate the top plane from the side planes and connect the nose to the forehead and eye socket by indicating the glabella and brow ridge.

drawing the shape of the nose

The anatomical nuances are subtle and the plane changes, especially around the bridge, are really soft. But, I still want to lightly map in the connections between the bones and cartilage pieces because it will help me place the subtle halftones later. Staying light here is very important.

Her nose points down and so the septum will extend further down than the wings.

The septum and wings curl in and so the nostril shape is not just a simple oval, more of a comma. On the other side you don’t see the inside of the septum, so the shape of the nostril will be defined by the wing and by the front plane.

When the light is coming from the top (in this case its top left) most of the bottom will be in shadow. Mapping in the shape of the shadow along the wings and ball is a key element. Notice the little square shape. That’s the minor plane which defines the side of the front of the nose, giving it some thickness.
Nose Drawing Showing Minor Plane


I’ll add the cast shadow from the nose and group the entire mass into one shadow value. Even though I see variations of value within the shadow, like the reflection under the nostril, those light values are still part of the shadow family. If you isolate these values you’ll see that the reflection in the shadow is much darker than the halftones in the light.

To complete the two value drawing I’ll add the shadow on the inside of the eye socket to define the edge of the nose and glabella.

There is a dark halftone above the nostril that is awfully close to being a shadow. In this case It’s up to the artist to decide. You can push it to be part of the shadows or keep it part of the halftones. Personally, I don’t want to accentuate this hook shape and so I’ll define that plane change later with the halftones.

two values for drawing the nose

adding dark accents to nose drawing

Full Value / Dark Accents

In this drawing there aren’t too many dark accent, so this step will be quick. The deep holes of the nostrils receive no direct light and very little reflected light, so they will be very dark. Then as the septum and wings curl under, there will be some dark in those creases.

After adding the dark accents, the rest of the shadows appear too light, so I’ll go through one more time and darken a little further. I want to do this before the halftone phase, to open up a larger value range for my halftones.

Halftones and Highlights

When drawing the halftones of the minor planes I want to make sure that I don’t lose the big picture – the values of the major planes. The light is coming from the top. So, the bottom plane will be in shadow, the top plane will be the lightest and the side planes in halftone. The halftone on the left will be a little bit lighter than the halftone on the right, since the light source is more on the left side of the picture.

halftones of the major and minor planes of the nose

drawing the nose with halftones and highlights
The ball of the nose will usually have darker halftones because of the redness of the blood under the skin. This makes the highlight more prominent on the ball, but it’s important not to overdo it. You don’t want the highlight to look like a snowflake on the nose. So, pay attention to the edges of the highlight and give the edges some variety. Maybe a sharp at the bottom and soft at the top. There’s many ways of designing it, the important thing is that you give it some thought.

The top of the ball goes into halftone and the highlight disappears. At the connection of the ball to the bridge another highlight begins and continues up to the glabella where it fades out really soft. And get some more halftones on the side.

Clean Up Edges and Shapes

I’ll go through the drawing one more time and do some cleanup work and define things a little better. This stage is about details. I look very closely at every part of the drawing.

draw nose

Giveaway Winner – Stacy J. Rogers

Excited to move on? Great! Learn how to draw lips in the next lesson.

Filed in: Portrait / HeadVideos

Comments (38)

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  1. Ryan says:

    What hardness of pencils are you using?

    • Charcoal pencil – Conte 1710 B

      • Jose Diaz says:

        This is a great video ,I would like to learn
        More .

      • Vivian_duh says:

        I have a question can you use a 2h and a shading pencil?

        • L.K says:

          I don’t know if it is a bit late to reply to you but of course you can use regular pencils. Tools will not make you a master but the usage of the techniques will. Use just a regular 2B or HB pencil and you should get the results. Only things that arevital is an open mind, relaxation, making mistakes and continuing. Above all of course you should practice the B A S I C S like Proko himself would tell you. Draw your circles, lines, boxes and what not, but only with the proper movements of the arm. You should not constrict your arm in any way and should have the liberty of movements.

  2. Chris says:

    I wanted to take a minute and say thank you for making these videos. I have been taking art classes for a couple of years now, with an emphasis on the human figure, but as always, it has taken time for certain things to click. Watching your videos, your anatomical structure as well as step-by-step instructions have helped me to reevaluate and reexamine many of my approaches that have led to less than stellar results. So thank you for taking the time to make these videos and inspire others to do better.

  3. Susan B. says:

    dotto what chris said. excellent videos. thanks again.

  4. Carmen Agreda says:

    Thank you Mr Proko excellent tutorial 🙂

  5. Congrats to Stacy J. Rogers, you won the nose drawing!

  6. Tagmoj says:

    Thank you Mr Proko, your drawing is creative.

  7. J Turner says:

    That’s Kristin Kreuk’s nose, isnt it? A fine sample of a nose, indeed!

  8. Your videos are very helpful to me, except for one thing. You move through them so rapidly that it is hard for me to follow you even with repeated viewings. The text is very helpful. I certainly plan to keep watching!

  9. dale says:

    Just came aboard….luv the instructions

  10. Vagner says:

    Amazing man. The best nose tutorial that I ever seen.

  11. venus says:

    hi. its good but ….

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  23. rebecca says:

    Hi, this video is great but i just wanted to ask for beginners what portrait section should i start with? Thanks

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