How to paint a nose? Creating realistic shadows on the nose and nostrils to give shape to the centre of the human face is not easy. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to paint a nose in watercolor with just a few shades of color. On that basis, you can add the eyes, mouth and ears to paint a full portrait.
First, we establish what equipment and tones you need to paint your nose before we discuss the process step by step.
Nose Painting in Watercolor: List of Materials
- Winsor & Newton Permanent Sap Green Watercolor
- Winsor & Newton Cadmium Red Watercolor
- Winsor & Newton Ultramarine Blue Watercolor
- HB Pencil
- Medium and fine watercolour brush
- Watercolor paper
Step 1: Create your sketch
If you want to learn how to paint a nose, a precise sketch is crucial. In this way you avoid mistakes in perspective and establish the basis for realistically looking details. A decent sketch gives you the confidence to paint the necessary shapes and colours in the right places.
A detailed sketch ensures that you can work on the colour fields in the same way as when painting by numbers.
Application: In our example, we have limited ourselves to a minimalist sketch because we do not have a specific motif to reference.
If you have a model, you can use fine pencil lines to draw in the contours that you won’t be able to see when the watercolours are on top.
Step 2: The first layer of paint
Think about which color families you want to paint in different areas of the nose. Prepare the colours and start painting. Usually the lightest tones of the colour family are applied in the background, which will later only occasionally shine through on the surface of the painting, as the darker tones lie above them.
If you don’t want to take the risk that the watery paint will run into the white areas of your motif, you can also apply some masking liquid before the first coat of paint. After you have painted the entire nose, you can remove the dried liquid to expose the white areas.
Application: We only need a few colours for our nose.
We start with an cadmium red mixed with different amounts of water. The undercoat is applied using a wash with a lot of water.
Step 3: Learn how to paint a nose: Layering paint
Watercolour means a lot of paint layering. Lay the individual colours on top of each other in increasing intensity in order to work out details and set highlights.
Application: For the next layers, mix cadmium red with sap green to create a reddish brown. This can be applied to the cheek area that is not facing the light.
The nostrils are perfectly matched with a mixture of cadmium red, sap green and ultramarine. The result is a dark, intense brown.
The darkest colours of the respective colour families will be used at the end and are only placed on very small spots.
Step 4: Utilize washes to dissolve contours
If you want to learn how to paint a more realistic looking nose, you should learn how to apply washes. In watercolor painting, this is a layer of paint with a lot of water and little pigment, which is painted over already dried areas of paint to bring them back to life.
The slight repainting weakens the edges and unifies the colored areas.
Application: Use the same two to three color mixtures that you have already prepared.
Just reduce the amount of water you add to the mixture to increase intensity and create darker tones.
Step 5: Paint and finalize your nose
If you have softened the contours in step 4, but also if you decided not to apply the wash, let all paints dry completely.
Afterwards you can paint the remaining highlights of the nose. If the underlying color is already dry, your color choices can be better adjusted to what the picture will look like later.