Anatomy 101, Part Two: Differences in Proportions


Okay class – settle in. We’re up for another session of anatomy class, so pay attention. You may just learn something.

In our previous drawing proportions tutorial, I told you all about the structural differences between males and females when you’re attempting to draw correct proportions.In this lesson, we’re going to look at the differences in the human body as it progressively ages.

We know a small child isn’t built to the same proportions as a grown man or woman – so for accuracy’s sake, we’re going to learn about the specific ratios for each age groups. Using the charts provided by Andrew Loomis in his book, Figure Drawing: For All It’s Worth, we can quickly see the difference from a toddler to a grown man and all of the stages in between.

Proportions between adults and children

Now, remember this. It’s on the quiz. Check out the following differences:

  • Adult = 8 heads tall, with a head size of 9 inches
  • 15 year old = 7 1/2 heads tall with a head size of 9 inches
  • 10 year old = 7 heads tall with a head size of 7 1/2 inches
  • 5 years old = 6 heads tall with a head size of 7 inches
  • 3 years old = 5 heads tall with a head size of 6 1/2 inches
  • 1 year old = 4 heads tall with a head size of 6 inches

According to the chart above, there’s a gradual increase of about 3 inches in head size from toddler to an adult. As a body grows with age, you can also see that the legs actually extend at about twice the rate of the torso. These heights are all general, but you can still use them as a guide to draw people in somewhat proper visual proportion.

Here’s your homework. You’re lucky it was a short class this time…

  1. Do some freehand sketches to visually feel the difference between drawing a child’s proportions and an adult’s proportions. Remember the number of head units needed for each.
  2. Try an front, side and back set of views – basically, a character turnaround.
  3. You have to remember to modify the look of the young child to resemble one (they’re pudgy, wide eyed, and have a lack of muscular definition.) Otherwise you will end up drawing what looks like a dwarf/little person.

It’s a basic lesson, but an important one. If you were paying attention, you should now understand the concept of proportions and have a better grasp of creating believable characters through the use of varying sizes and shapes and body types – regardless of how realistic or cartoony your character may be.

Class dismissed.

Oh, and the next time I feel a spit ball hit the back of my head, you’re going to take a visit to Principal Wilkins office.
Andrés ‘ Drezz ‘ Rodriguez is the author of the neo-noir Online Graphic Novel El Cuervo. He provides WA readers with periodic articles (like this one) to help improve their comic skillz so they can pay their bills. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @DrezzRodriguez

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