Female Proportions for Drawing

I used photos from SenshiStock to illustrate this post. Specifically, I used Sailor Sakky Walking Stock, because it was a neutral pose.

Back when I started drawing, I was taught proportion using the “heads” method. This is because we tend to think heads are larger than they are, so this method using the head as the basis of measurement and keeps them from getting huge. (Says the girl who draws lots of HUGE heads.)

The “Heads Method”


In the “Heads Method” The average female figure is 7 heads or 7.5 heads tall. The .5 head accommodates the length of the foot. Some people go with eight heads, which gives you a longer leaner figure. Fashion illustration often uses nine heads with the extra head usually put into the length of the legs.

The width of the shoulders is usually 2 to 2.5 heads. The hips at their widest point measure 2 heads and the waist usually measures 1 to 1.5 heads.

Now, let me be clear: No one in the real world has perfect proportions, but these numbers can act as guides for when you’re working on a figure.

But wait, you’re thinking, your paper dolls have HUGE heads. How do I manage that?

Ratios, baby. Ratios.

I actually prefer to think in ratios. I find it easier than thinking in heads.

The “Ratio Method”


In the “ratio” method, the body is broken into parts and they are measured based on the size of other parts.

For example, the distance from the top of the head to the waist is one third. The distance between the waist and the knees is another third. The distance between the knees and the bottom of the feet is another third. This creates an elongated figure who is nine heads tall.

For a “seven” heads figure, the distance between the top of the head and the crotch is the same as the distance from the waist to the bottom of the foot. (Blue lines above.)

But if you want to ignore the head completely, because you, like me, want to draw people with huge heads, than you can measure from the neck to the crotch is the same distance as from the crotch to the bottom of the foot. (Yellow Lines Above.)

On the left above is part of the B&B series. As you can see, she had the same distance from the top of her neck to her crotch as she does to the buttom of her foot. In short, she is proportional, ignoring her huge head.

On the right is Monica of the Marisole Monday & Friends Family. Monica is NOT proportional. I wanted to show that NOT ALL my paper dolls have proper proportions.

However, the more I draw, the more I find I like things better when I do pay attention to my ratios.

Questions? Comments? Let me know. 😀

Related Posts... Maybe

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.