Cartoon Nose Formulas
Drawing naturalistic noses is almost as complicated as drawing naturalistic eyes. HOWEVER drawing cartoon noses isn’t nearly as hard. You can actually get away with a lot less understanding of actual noses and still be able to draw convincing cartoon noses.
In this lesson I’ll talk about general cartoon noses. Which really can be just about any shape.
I’ll also give you a “catch all” nose base formula that can be adjusted to make just about any kind of simple naturalistic looking nose. Finally, I’ll go into Freddy Moore, Bruce Timm and Takahiro Kimura anime nose formulas. We’ll see what makes those type of formulas tick.
General Cartoon Noses
Let’s talk about general cartoon noses. As I stated above, cartoon noses can be just about any shape. Simple cartoon noses are tough to mess up.
All you need is the spirit of experimentation and you can come up with all kinds of noses. The only thing is deciding whether you like what you drew. If you do, then great, you’ve got a nose. If you don’t then try again and again, and again, until you get what you want. It’s up to you.
To help you get started, here are some suggestions:
Simple Nose Formula
If you want to draw a cartoon nose that looks a bit more natural, there’s a formula I stumbled into that has really worked well for me over the years. Long before I understood drawing noses, I used this formula to make it seem like I knew what I was doing.
I still use it to this day, only I now apply much more structure on top of it to achieve the kind of noses I want to draw. Here’s what the nose formula looks like:
Below I’ll explain what the reasoning behind the formula is. I’m not doing a step by step because, this nose shape is essentially a modified cube. If you don’t know how to do this yet, you need to go back and practice your forms:
- The nose can be broken down into a modified box. However, the most important addition is to add a wedge at the bottom, in the shape I drew it above.
- This wedge best simplifies the complex area of the underside of the nose, which tends to stick out a bit. It’s not completely flat underneath.
- As you can see in the profile, it also moves back at an angle. Noses tend to this this and this simplification reinforces it from the start.
- As you can see from all the views, from the tip of the nose to the back, there’s a slight slant down. In most noses, you can see it’s underside. The center of the underside is further down than nostrils.
- Although the nose is simplified into a box, the sides are not perpendicular but rather flare out.
This is not absolutely true for all noses everywhere. There is a lot of variety in noses. However, this is a good starting point, and you can make adjustments based on the type of know you’re drawing using this formula.
Once you know how to construct the formula, this is how you use it to create noses. Say you have this:
It’s merely a matter of selecting a few of the lines to imply the rest of the nose. You don’t want to draw every line. Just enough. This comes with practice and trail and error.
You can use quite a bit of detail, like the drawing above or you can try simplifying even more like the drawing below.
You can even leave some of the construction you used to make a nose as part of your final look. It makes the nose more graphic and less realistic.
I started with this formula because it really helped me most. I had tried drawing noses other ways and they never seemed to look right.
From this point on, we’ll analyze other noses, formulas, and looks. I’ve found, at the very least, that the nose formula above helps me create the look of the noses I’ll be talking about below. Although the Freddy Moore Nose, has it’s own formula. So let’s get take a look…
Freddy Moore Nose
Here we are again with Freddy Moore. However, I’m not so sure that his way of drawing noses has become universally accepted in animation as many of this other techniques.
That said, many artists use it to great effect.
Alright so, here’s the Freddy Moore nose formula:
That’s it? Yup. It’s just a modified ball, or egg shape. Simple right?
In practice, you can do this with it:
And if you change just the bridge of the nose, you can vary it up a bit:
However, the tricky thing about this kind of nose is it’s lack of structure. Where do you but the nostrils? Where’s the tip of the nose?
You may want to break up the structure of this nose just a little to give you something a bit more solid to guide your final lines with. Like this:
The above is pretty much a variation of my won nose formula breakdown. Still, even without my breakdown, this nose formula has been used by many artists for years. It may be more helpful to you than my formula. Give is a try.
Here’s two quick turn around of the nose to use. This is only two types of the many ways you can use the nose formula. The one on the left is heavily based on Disney’s Little Mermaid. While the one on the right is far more cartoony. Don’t assume they’re the only way to draw this kind of nose:
Alright, now you know what I know about the Freddy Moore nose. Let’s examine other types of nose designs.
Bruce Timm Nose
Male Bruce Timm Noses vary tremendously. However, there are two nose types he seems to turn to most, the “Kirby nose,” and a hook nose. Some of his hero character’s noses are heavily influenced by Silver Age comic artists like Jack Kirby. I say this only because Bruce Timm himself has mentioned it in an interview he did in Modern Masters Volume 3: Bruce Timm.
For the most part, I can say, if you use my nose formula, you should be able to produce the variety of nose types he tends to draw:
Female Bruce Timm noses vary far less. Most of the time, he uses one type of nose for almost all his women.
This type of nose has some influence from noses drawn by Dan Decarlo, who was arguably the best Archie comics artist, who drew in the “Archie Style.” Bruce Timm also mentions this is the same interview I sited above.
Here’s a Bruce Timm female nose. I show you how you can use my formula and the Freddy Moore formula as a base for drawing it:
Here’s a male and female head turn around. Again, these are just one of many ways you can approach this style:
Takahiro Kimura Anime Nose
One of the reasons I chose to highlight Takahiro Kimura’s anime style instead of any other is because I happen to like the way he sometimes draws noses. He tends to draw men’s noses in such a way that you can often see the formula they’re made of.
Meanwhile his women’s noses are often so simple the sometimes he simple draws the bridge of the nose leaves it at that…and it works. The Male noses tend to explain themselves pretty well:
It’s the female noses that are tricky. They’re so simple looking that you could argue there isn’t any structure there at all. You’d be half right. I’ve seen him draw noses that simply don’t really work and it’s obvious he was just putting a line down. However, in animation, everyone has to be able to have all the characters look the same no matter who draws it. This means that even simple nose designs like Takahiro Kimura’s have to have some structure:
That’s one approach you can take when drawing noses.
Below I created a turnaround you can use for both males and females. Again, this turn around is not a definitive version on drawing in this style, it’s just one way to go.:
I while back, I made a video about drawing my favorite nose drawing formula. I’m posting the link below:
That’s what I’ve got to say about noses. I hope it’s helpful. Time to move on.
I can’t help you if you don’t ask.
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