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Paint a realistic nose

The nose is one of the most difficult elements of portrait painting, but Katarina Sokalova has some advice to make life easier...

Despite the great variety of forms, all noses have a common structure defined by the anatomy of bones and muscles. In general there are two types of human noses: thin and thick. The proportions of all noses are roughly the same and this should be taken into consideration while you’re painting. Thin noses, which are usually typical of Europeans, can have many different forms depending on the bridge, tip and nostrils. The bridge is the part that is between the top and tip of the nose and can be straight, concave or convex.
Begin any sketches with the basic proportions (height, length, width) then define the inclination and position of the nose with respect to perspective. After sketching the main outline you need to check the nose’s proportions, perspective and form and make any corrections to these before moving on. That done, you can start work on the details.
The nose depends on the individual characteristics. Because the bones are usually visible in most noses, one of the most characteristic-defining properties of the nose is a small hump; this, along with the tip, defines the overall form of the nose. The bridge of the nose determines the form of the tip, which can be straight, turned up or pointing down. As for the nostrils, they can be long or short, narrow or wide.
A common mistake is to make it so the bases of the edges of the nose are set too low in relation to the tip, resulting in the corner of the nose ending up in the wrong place.
Remember that when you’re drawing a nose you should pay close attention to each separate part of it, and be sure that each of the individual elements obeys the overall form.

From issue 19.

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