Now that we know what we already know we can start to learn more about the body and its proportions.
Look at another person (either in real life or in a magazine). Look at how tall they are, how long their body is, how long their arms are, how long their legs are.
If you know anything about horses you have probably heard of a horse being measured buy how many hands tall they are. Artists use a similar measurement when measuring people. You can measure a person using their head (unlike horse measuring “a head” is not a specific height, it is the height of that individual’s head). You can “eye it” (use your eye to estimate how many heads tall) or you can use your pencil and thumb like a ruler to figure out how many heads tall and wide a person is.
Look at your person again (if you are in the room with someone else it will be better if you actually walk over to them and a piece of paper or pencil to measure their head then how many heads tall they are.) Also measure how many heads wide they are at different points. How many heads wide are they at the shoulder? At the waist? At the hips? How many heads wide is one leg? An arm?
If there is more than one person in the room (or in the magazine if you don’t have a person) do this test on the others. Compare them. Keep in mind the person’s age when doing it. Is the person a child, a baby, a grownup?
Notice the difference between a baby, a child, a teen, a grown-up. A baby is about 3 heads tall, as she grows she gets to be about 4 heads tall , then 5, and once she is grown up she will be about 6 heads tall. A boy may end up being 7-8 heads tall. Width also changes as a child grows. A baby is only about 1 and a half heads wide, moving to about 2 heads wide as a toddler until adolescents. A 10 to 12 year old girl starts to widen slightly at the hips and by the time she is grown she will probably be about 3 heads wide both at the shoulders and the hips. A boy on the other hand will probably be about 2 heads wide at the hips and 3 at the shoulders.
Yes, everyone is different which is why this is a general rule. It gives you something to go on and will help you figure out proportions when drawing from the imagination AND when drawing from life. It will also help you if you want to draw in another style–for instance comic book illustrators tend to exaggerate certain proportions to make a point and manga/anime artists exaggerate them in a different way. If you know the general rules for real people it will make learning to draw other styles easier.
This week I would like you to draw a family, it can be your’s or someone elses. You can use stick figures or draw realistically if you like but I want you to use what I just explained about figuring out a person’s proportions using their head. Draw people of different heights and ages.