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How to Draw Caricatures: Noses

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

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This series of “How to Draw Caricatures” tutorials are a just a small taste of a larger and much more in-depth book I wrote called The Mad Art of Caricature! The book is 175 full-color pages, lavishly illustrated and contains greatly expanded explanations of the concepts presented in these tutorials, as well and a great deal of additional material on caricaturing other facial features, posture, hands, expression and more, techniques on drawing from live models, doing caricature for freeplace illustration and for MAD Magazine. This is a must have book for anyone interested in caricature, cartooning or humorous illustration. You can order it online here.

Part Five: Drawing Noses

In this next (and long delayed) installment of my “How to Draw Caricatures” series of tutorials we will examine the ever popular and often abused nose.

I think the most common feature that gets exaggerated in a caricature is the nose. Many people actually think the definition of caricature is a drawing with a big nose. What is it about the nose that makes it such a ripe target for exaggeration, so often picked on (pardon the pun) that even the layman notices? Simply put, the nose is the most obnoxious of features. It sits in the very center of the face. It is a very vertical feature when compared to the horizontal nature of the eyes and mouth. It sticks out radically from the plane of the face, much more in relief than any of the other features. It’s so prominent that it’s all too often used as a de-facto way to “exaggerate” the face. The fact is that the nose is like any other feature… its perceived relationship with the other features determines the extent and direction of the exaggeration. Many people have small, button noses that need to be made smaller by way of exaggeration. In some cases the end of the nose may rest close in between the eyes, and in others it’s very far way down the face. Some people have big, honking schnozzes that need to be stretched. In short, despite its prominence the nose is no different that the other features… it must be exaggerated and drawn in the manner the feature itself calls for.

The Anatomy of a Nose

Anatomy of a Nose

The nose is a combination of bone and cartilage made up of various parts that while unique in appearance and relationship in the individual nonetheless, as in any feature, are the same in all people. Starting from the top, the area between the eyebrows is called the glabella. The area directly between the eyes is the root or bridge. The area extending from the root down towards the end of the nose is called the lateral surfaces. The end or “ball” of the nose is called the apex. The two “wings” of the nose, the areas that define the outside of the bottom of the nose and the outside of the nostrils are called the ala. The septum is the area that connects the apex to the face and separates the two nostrils, which are the cavities that open into the interior of the nose and the nasal passages. The alar furrow is the crease made by the separation of the ala and the cheek muscles. The nose “grows” out of the brow, and is connected at the top of the feature by the brow ridge and at the bottom, to the lips/mouth by the philtrum and the nasolabial furrow. The upper part of the nose, including the brow, glabella and root is bone… the “root” or bridge protrudes from the brow of the skull and then ends about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down the nose itself. After that the nose is all cartilage and soft tissue. Because cartilage continues to grow throughout your life, your nose continues to grow and will alter shape as you age (ears are the same way). That is why many older people have larger noses, and why drawing a larger nose on someone makes them look older in the drawing.

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