Drawing and Painting Dog Noses

Dog nose paintings by Zann

When I first started drawing dogs, noses were easy.

BAM! Triangle. Job done.

But eventually that wasn’t enough detail for me. So then what?

Maybe a 3D triangle? A couple nostril dots? Getting reeeally detailed with a fancy line up the middle?

Still pretty simple.

It was when I started shading these drawings in that things got…. complicated.

What’s really going on here?

A dog’s nose is an olfactory powerhouse built to maximize the amount of surface area exposed to the air. All the better to smell you with, my dear.

But how do we translate that convoluted surface into a drawing?

Let’s break it down:

Dog noses aren’t really triangles with holes in them, they’re a series of folds.

When I draw or paint them, I find it easier to think of them in their entirety, and keep in mind how that weird side flap (called the Alar Fold) curves around and connects back to the fuzzy snout part, so that I don’t get lost.

From the front, the dog’s nostrils aren’t circles, either. The fold continues inward, creating a kind of checkmark shape, or a kidney.

So our nosey triangle is really more like this shape:

Alar’s fold curves into the nostril, flaring out farther than the base of the nose pad below. There are sometimes more wrinkles and folds, depending on the dog, but this basic shape repeats itself across all ages and breeds!

Keeping these things in mind, you should be able to get a much more accurate drawing of your dog’s nose, whether you’re working from photos or out of your head.

Or for more of my work, visit the Pet Portrait Gallery or the Dog Portrait Gallery.

You can see more into the dog-painting process on Facebook, or by subscribing to my newsletter below.

Thanks for stopping by, and all the best with your dogs & art.


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