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In anime, you’ll probably have noticed that there are countless different ways to draw the nose. Many anime noses look very simple, so you might think that this is an area you can skip in your studies – “just a simple dot or line around the middle of the face is fine, right??” But no, that’s not the case!
As with many areas of anime and manga, the more simple something looks, the more thought we need to put into getting the shape and placement right. There’s something very refined about the way things are simplified in anime, and we need to get this right for the audience to believe that the simple dot we’ve drawn really is a nose!
So how can we make our anime noses believable?
This all starts with understanding how the nose is shaped, and what parts of the nose are to become those little lines and dots that make up an anime nose.
Here is a nose divided up into easy-to-understand areas. We have the bridge of the nose in red, the lateral nasal cartilage in blue, the nasal septal cartilage in green, and the alar cartilage in orange.
Here we have the bridge, the ridge and the tip of the nose.
Finally, we have the wings of the nose and the nostrils.
Now let’s see how this translates to the anime world!
First, we draw in our eyes, with about one eye’s width between them. Then we can draw in an anatomically accurate nose in this area between the eyes.
Using this nose as a guide, we can study what areas of the real nose that anime noses are based on!
We’ll start off with more detail, and keep simplifying down to the most simple form of anime nose.
Here we’ve taken most of the defining points from the outline of the nose, and left them in as lines. We still have the whole ridge and bridge of the nose, the tip, and the nostrils.
Next, we’ve taken away some of the details, leaving just a line to represent the side of the ridge of the nose, and two lines for the nostrils.
Finally, we have just the tip of the nose. When we see just a “dot” for a nose in anime, this is the area of the nose we’re trying to recreate! We need to make sure to leave enough distance between the dot and the eyes, so we have room for the rest of the character’s nose (even if we aren’t drawing it in).
Now that we’ve studied what parts of the nose make up which of the “simplified” anime styles, let’s see how we can transfer this onto a less realistic, more anime style face!
For more cartoony anime styles, the nose needs to be much smaller, but crucially the actual anatomy and parts of the nose remain the same.
Here I’ve drawn a miniature nose, along with a simplified graft over the top of it, which will form the guide that is going to tell us where we can draw in lines to make a natural anime nose.
And below, you will see all of the different ways we can use this shape to draw anime noses that look convincing to our audience!
Even when the nose is just a tiny dot, because we’ve used correct anatomy to place this dot, anyone looking at our art will recognise this as a nose.
Can you see how each of the faces has a different feel to it too? The nose can also be used to make characters more cute or more refined, depending on the amount of lines used. In general, the more lines used, the more grown-up or refined the character will look, and the fewer lines, the more childlike and cute they will look.
Of course you don’t need to draw in the whole nose every time, but at first it will help to sketch in the rough shape of a whole nose before deciding which parts to use for your final anime nose! Understanding about the shape of the nose, helps to not only make the nose itself look more real, but it also helps with the placement of the other features on the face.
Make sure to get plenty of practice drawing all different noses, and refer back to our diagrams of the different areas of the nose whenever you get stuck!