How to

How to Paint a Nose (Portrait Painting Tips) with Charts for Mixing Colors

Painting a portrait can be daunting, especially when you approach it as a whole. But what if you break it down into smaller parts? In this article, we will focus on how to paint a nose and explore the process of capturing this particular feature in a portrait. By understanding the techniques involved, you’ll be able to approach portrait painting in a more manageable way.

Reference Image for Nose Painting

For this tutorial, I have used a self-portrait painting by Rembrandt as a reference. Take a look at the image below to see the painting we will deconstruct and study. Following along will help you grasp important principles in portrait painting.

diagram focusing on the nose of Rembrandt portrait

Beginner’s Guide: How to Paint a Nose

Before mixing any colors, start by sketching out the nose you plan to paint. This preliminary sketch gives you an idea of the shape and placement on the canvas. Don’t worry about perfection at this stage, as you can make adjustments throughout the painting process.

painting sketch outline of a nose
Creating a basic painting sketch to start your nose painting

Mixing Your First Three Color Values

To ensure a strong sense of light and dark in your painting, begin with three main values: dark, medium, and light. Starting with these values sets the foundation for the overall lighting. Notice that these values are placed adjacent to each other. This creates a convergence of light and dark values, where all three values meet in one area.

painting first two spots of skin tone colors on a nose
How to paint a nose by applying first color spots

To create these light, medium, and dark values, it is crucial to prioritize value when mixing colors. Refer to the color chart below to guide you in mixing the desired nose colors.

color mixing chart diagram showing how to mix skin tone colors
How to paint a nose color mixing guide

Paying Attention to Edges

Edges play a significant role in any painting, especially in portrait painting. They allow us to depict subtle details and nuances. At this stage of the painting, it is essential to be mindful of the edges. Softer edges indicate similar values, while sharper edges create contrast.

artist's hand painting a nose with paintbrush
Painting a nose with attention to creating edges

The image below provides an overview of the different edges present at this stage. By understanding edge variations, you can enhance the realism and depth of your painting.

diagram of how to identify hard edges, as well as softer edges
Diagram of how to identify hard edges and softer edges

Arranging Color Spots

The arrangement of color spots within your painting significantly impacts the final result. As the painter Charles Hawthorne said, “Let color make form, do not make form and color it.” In other words, prioritize mixing colors and values accurately, rather than focusing solely on creating a nose. By paying attention to the color spots you see, the overall portrait will naturally fall into place.

using a palette knife to work on a nose painting
Three-quarters of a nose in process

Creating Volume for Realism

To achieve a sense of volume in your painting, consider the role of edges. Softer edges can push an area further back, while sharper edges bring it forward. In the case of a nose, ensure that the lower right side has a soft edge blending into the background shadow, while the left lower side has a sharper edge where the light highlight is. These contrasting edges contribute to a convincing sense of space.

nose skin tones color mixing diagram
Using a palette knife to create edges in nose painting

Moving Beyond the Nose

While this tutorial focuses on painting a nose, it’s essential to view the nose as part of the entire face, rather than a separate entity. Aim for cohesion in your portrait by seamlessly transitioning from the nose to other facial features. By continuing the painting directly from where you completed the nose, you establish a strong color relationship between different areas. This approach ensures that your painting appears cohesive and harmonious.

three-quarters of a painting of a nose
Starting to work on the eye area just beyond the nose

Expanding Your Color Range

As you progress beyond the nose, you will create a full portrait painting. Remember, the colors you choose are influenced by the adjacent colors. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain a seamless transition from one area to another. Take a look at the color chart below to see the mixtures involved in this stage of the painting.

How to Paint a Nose (Portrait Painting Tips) with Charts for Mixing Colors
How to mix additional colors for painting noses

Practice and Experiment

Now that you’ve learned the fundamentals of painting a nose, I encourage you to practice with bite-sized portrait painting studies. You can use a mirror to paint your own nose or choose a master painting as a reference. Google Arts and Culture offer high-resolution reference paintings that are perfect for creating studies. Embrace experimentation, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn!

Have you tried painting a nose? Share your experiences and challenges in the comments below.

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Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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