Hi there! Last time we tried to make a human figure and end up with something that looked kinda wonky. It’s ok, we didn’t take into account the proportions of the human body, so it was bound to happen. Let’s review the rules of basic human body proportions.
A normal person’s height is equal to 7 and 1/2 times the size of the head. This is what the old masters in Greece and later, in the Rennaissance, found to be the “average” proportion. It is called “Canon” and it means basics. For comic-book purposes, the artist uses a different proportion for heroic and villainous characters, to make the pop out immediately. The normal heroic proportion is 8 times the size of the head. A normal person’s width is 2 and 1/2 times the size of their head, and the heroic proportion is 3 times the size of their head.
The height it is taken from the top of the head to the plant of the feet. The width it is taken from shoulder to shoulder (and does not count the ears).
You’ll see that in both figures the proportion match specific parts of the body. Take your time learning this because it will be a time saver later when you draw your characters.
Why do we have different proportions? It is a tool that helps us when drawing a character to differentiate the heroes/protagonists from normal people.
As noted before, proportions between a normal person and a heroic one change, and so do from male to female, and from young to old. The younger you go, the bigger the head and smaller the head/height ratio, and women have thinner frames than men (usually), so the width remains the same whether she is normal or heroic.
You can also play with proportions to achieve different looks. A Hulk-like character will have, for example, a wider frame (4-5 heads) while maintaining the 8 head height.
Human body proportions, beyond the basics:
If you want to learn more about proportions, and anatomy in general, I recommend getting yourself a copy of this book. Andrew Loomis is the go-to reference for drawing human anatomy, and it is used as a basic guideline by mangakas and American comic book artists alike.
Next article I will tackle the differences between drawing men and drawing women. In the meanwhile, get practicing those proportions. It will also help you to analyze your favorite artists, see how they use these proportions to achieve different looks for different characters.
Are you ready to practice on the human body proportions?
Then I got a printable sheet for you. This PDF includes 4 different pages. The first two pages are to practice the normal body proportions, and you get the lines, with the body underneath to trace it if you want or use it as a guide, and the next page is just the lines. The following 2 pages are the same but to practice your heroic human proportions.
Sized in US letter page (8 x 11.5) for easy printing.
Download your Human Body Proportions Practice Sheet!