Drawing vector portraits Part 3: The Nose

In the previous post, I’ve explained how to properly draw the eye. Further, I will explain how to draw the nose easily from scratch and with not too much strain.

Difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate

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Completion time: 30 min – 1 hour

Tools: Adobe Illustrator

So let’s begin.We will start working on these pencil sketches I made.


First, you must understand that the nose is the facial element that stands out the most, so it is important it is done properly. The failed results are quite funny, so instead of being disappointed, you might even get a laugh from it. Here are the basic elements that define to nose. I’ve put them in different colors for you to understand it better.

Please notice the shape and position to one another. The nose bulb (red) is the element that stands out the most and can be seen from any position.

The nostrils (green) are oval-shaped and are a bit higher than the nose bulb.

The duct under the nose (yellow) has a curvy shape and it’s done with a soft line, only suggested. If you use thicker lines, your subject will look like he’s cold.

The “smiling line” is very important, since it will affect the expression of your subject. For women, it is very subtle and only needs a soft shading, but for men and old persons, this line is stronger, since the skin loses its elasticity in time and it’s not that stretched over the facial muscles anymore.


Notice in the image below how the nose is profiled, this will help you understand better its shape and remotely enable you to do a proper shading. Also keep in mind its position and how much it stands out. (in part 1 you’ll find more details).


This step is decisive and will have the greatest impact upon your final result. So here’s what you should keep in mind.

The main shadows are from the nose bridge and the shadow under the nose, from the bulb. Along these, there are a few subtle shades that make it complete. In the image below I’ve marked with light blue the strong shades and with green the light shades.

The red areas are critical and do not need to be outlined, else it would look flat. The area under the nose is most visible from profile and has a very light shading or not at all; the smile line is not right near the nostril, there is a small gap there, which needs a light shading. Just look at different people around you and notice the differences.

The light blue area from the nose bridge very rarely needs to have a light suggestion of shade, since the light is strongest there.

Turning into vector

After you’ve established the proportions, this part is easy, since all you have to do is trace the sketch. Either use a graphic tablet or use Pen Tool and trace with mouse.

Here’s my outcome. Please observe the placing of the shades, intermediary shades and lights. I’ve also added the eye from the previous post, you can download it from there.

The source file for this tutorial is available for download in the link below. Play around with the sketches or use your own pictures.

Either way, I guarantee it will be fun!

  Nose tutorial (1.4 MiB, 1,469 hits)

Next post we will be drawing the lips, so stick around!

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6 Comments Drawing vector portraits Part 3: The Nose

  1. squareart May 12, 2010 at 23:24

    Great little drawing tutorial, will definitely go back and check out the previous ones!

  2. Pharmacy technician resume May 27, 2010 at 14:37

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  3. Clippingimages Aug 8, 2010 at 07:47

    Nice piece of work indeed..thanks for sharing man…really a cool work..

  4. Tehila Feb 8, 2011 at 00:16

    Thank you for this tutorial. I’m just starting out in Illustrator and it’s very useful. Couldn’t find the link to the source file download though. Blessings!


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