Easy Proportions: 6-Head Method
Drawing full-body characters is a challenge. And drawing bodies in general is so tough… Despite manga bodies having larger heads, they can end up with heads that are TOO large…
For the longest time, I struggled a lot with anatomy, and a lot of my characters had very odd proportions, so I’ve tried my best to come up with an easy method to draw good-looking proportions on manga characters.
I made this method based on a blend of realistic figure drawing videos, and my awesome stash of manga tutorial books from Japan and China. Using “landmark points”, I’ll be showing how I make characters look believable as simply as I can.
*These are by no means “accurate” proportions, as they are altered and stylized, but I do find that these proportions work well in my drawings. They are altered from ideal human proportions to be more cartoony.
The Head Measure:
The standard for measuring a character’s height is usually by “heads”. This just means how many times a character’s head can go into its body. In real life, a human being is about 7.5 heads tall.
The way that I like to make a measure is to copy-and-paste my character’s head over and over to get a more accurate measure.
The 6-Head Method:
For my characters, I usually set 6 heads as a standard for young females (7 for young males), and so on and so forth. Instead of using 8 heads, I try to make enough leeway for a larger head without it looking disproportionate. On the left side, I’ve marked out 6 heads, for the reference.
Halfway down the entire height is the middle point (3 Heads). This is where the crotch will be, separating the torso and the legs. The wrist will be either level with the crotch, or a tiny bit shorted. In some cases, a character’s arms may look a bit too lanky with the wrists at exactly the crotch level, so adjust accordingly.
Now for the legs! Roughly above the halfway point (1.5 heads) between the leg and crotch is the knee cap (the knee is above this place) This is where the thigh will taper off into the knee. If you want a glamourous character, you can make the knee higher and elongate the shins; if you are drawing a male, you may want to make the thighs longer and kneecaps lower. I like stocky leg shapes, but a nice taper towards the feet can give a character a lot of grace.
Roughly one head down from the original head (4 heads) is where I like to put the bottom of the chest for characters. For younger characters, I may put it slightly higher, and for older characters with larger chests, I may put this point lower.
Lastly, the navel (belly button) will appear roughly 1/3 head of the way up from the crotch, and the elbow joints will be slightly above where the navel is. The collar bone is 1/3 to 1/2 head down from the original head. (These little details are more flexible, and as long as your navel is not where your collarbone is, they are easy to make believable)
That’s pretty much it for my easy proportion tutorial for manga girls. This method works well for young females (teens and young adult characters, as well as shorter older characters). It’s easy to adjust and tweak for characters of different sizes!
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Special thanks to:
Takashi Iwaibara - I appreciate your support!