Day 22 // How to Draw Body Proportions

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Today we are learning about body proportions! Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, but there are similarities that all bodies share. Understanding these relationships the body part have to one another will help you draw bodies that look natural and balanced, even if you are pushing the boundaries on “realistic” proportions. It’s essential to understand the rules of body proportion so that you know how to break those rules and still have your bodies looking good.

In the tutorial, I will walk you through setting up a body proportions diagram and teaching you all those rules while also showing you how to set up a skeletal structure that you can use to draw bodies of all shapes and sizes!

Body Proportions Diagram

Body Proportions Rules

The average body between 7.5 and 8 heads tall.

This means that if you use the head as a unit of measurement, the entire body would be about 8 heads tall. Let’s call this a head-unit. (P.S. I like to use 8 because it is easy to divide.)

TORSO

  • The collar bones are about 1/2 head-units below the chin
  • The shoulders are about 2 head-units wide
  • The trapezius is a triangular shape that connects the neck to the shoulders
  • The belly button is about 3 head-units down from the top of the head
  • The groin represents the bottom of the torso and is at the midpoint of the body

ARMS

  • Elbows line up with the belly button
  • Wrists line up with the groin
  • Hands fall to the mid-thigh
  • The upper arm is longer than the forearm
  • The hand is 2/3 – 3/4 the length of the forearm

LEGS

  • About half the body is legs. From the groin to the heels, the legs are equal to the length from the head to the groin.
  • The knees are just above the point midway between the groin and the heels
  • The ankles are about 1/2 head-unit up from the heels.
  • The widest part of the calf muscle is 1/3 of the way down the calves.

Key Rules to Remember

Legs should make up about half the body

If your person has a disproportionately large head, just make the legs longer than the torso

Knees are above the midway point between the groin to the heels

Hands go down to the mid-thigh

Homework

Create a body proportions diagram using the steps in the video tutorial to get yourself with the rules of body proportions. Then, on your own, sketch some skeletal figures of bodies freehand. Experiment with pushing proportions, and see what happens when you break the rules. Try to draw at least 5 different body types, and don’t worry about finishing these sketches with any details.

Example

Keep researching, observing and learning! I’ve made a Pinterest board full of additional resources to help you learn more about drawing bodies.

This lesson is a part of a month-long series that will get you you familiar with the basics of drawing humans, and help you develop your own people-drawing style. To learn more, check out the People Skills Intro, or continue on to the next lesson below.

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