Figure Drawing ProportionsDrawing proportions correctly is the cornerstone of any successful and realistic drawing.

Any drawing can be broken into proportions, and when drawing the human figure or the human face....a badly proportioned drawing is not likely to accurately represent the subject.

For instance....consider a child drawing a stick figure. Odds are that outside of the simple, linear nature of the drawing itself, there will be 'major' issues with the proportions. The head will be WAY too big, the arms WAY too long, you get the idea....

Drawing a figure without simple consideration to proportions means that the head might be too big, the arms too short, so on an so on. When you though it all together, the drawing doesn't look much like a "stick man", but more like a lollipop!

Aside from the common stick 'man', proportions come into play when children start to 'flesh' out their drawings. They might start with defined body areas....a head, an upper body, a lower, etc....however, it's the ARMS and/or LEGS that are typically way too short or too long.

This misunderstanding of the simple length of an arm or leg in relationship with the head can have huge impacts on a drawing, especially when the arms are show hanging at a person's side.

Often the wrist may not reach the waist (too short!), or the hand hangs beside mid-thigh (too long!). Ideally, the wrist of this person's arm in the drawing should be right around the groin area....about four 'heads' in length. What? Keep reading.....

Proportions Drawing - A Simple Measuring Stick

Drawing ProportionsWouldn't it be nice if we had a measuring stick of some sort that we could refer to when drawing the human body? Well, there is!

Consider the human head for a moment. Most every drawing begins with this simple, lightly sketched 'circle' as a reference point....even with children's drawings.

When we start with that simple circle, making sure we have a well proportioned human frame is fairly simple (or at least, easier). The key to the entire drawing (and the measuring stick) is the HEAD...the circle we begin the drawing with!

Most artists consider the "ideal" human figure to be about eight "heads" high. This means, that once you sketch your initial head/circle, you can draw seven more, top to bottom and you'll have a very rough estimate of how tall this figure should be based on the size of the head you drew.

In reality, most people are not eight heads high though....they might be seven and a half, or even 6 and a half, but eight is a common guideline.

The occasional super hero might be drawn a bit taller....say, eight and a half heads high. However, drawing figures at eight heads high is an even and very simple way to check yourself as you go. Here are some basic rules to follow after that initial head/circle is drawn:

  • First head: The head itself!
  • Second head: Chest high...about nipple level
  • Third head: Waistline high...about the bellybutton
  • Fourth head: Groin or 'crotch' high....
  • Fifth head: Knee high....slightly above the knee
  • Sixth head: Just below the knee
  • Seventh head: Just above the ankle or mid calf
  • Eighth head: Bottom of the feet!