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  1. #1
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    Relative Ideal Proportions

    Iíve noticed a lot of problems with human anatomy here in the forums so I thought Iíd offer some generalized/ideal measurements for other artists who might need them. These are used to measure against other portions of the body you are drawing, so if you elongate or shorten something you know how much to adjust other areas. It would be great if other pros could add any tips they use to keep figures correct

    Iíll start with some obscure ones like
    Your foot is as long as the inside of the forearm;

    When the arm is hanging straight down the elbow falls between the bottom of the rib cage and the top of the hip bone.

    If you rest your forearm on the crown of your skull your arm should be at a 90 degree bend at your elbow

    From your wrist to the tip of your middle finger is about as long as your face from the chin to the tip of your hairline (if you have hair)

    When you bend your arm at the elbow your wrist comes about level with your shoulder

    If you pull your leg to your chest the knee is level with your shoulder
    if you squat down to the ground your butt rests at your ankles

    Faces are five eyes wide and there is one eye width between the eyes

    Image from Will Pogany's Drawing Lessons

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  4. #2
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    I composited some interesting measurements from Jack Hamm book.

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  6. #3
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    They're a good guide, but for instance the hand/arm thing doesn't work on me. My lower arm is much longer than my hand.

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    did you try the foot comparison to your lower arm? Allot of people are surprised by that one.

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    Thanks, dpaint, the descriptions especially are helpful. They never seem to all be located in one place. At least, when I look.

    I have a question. I know that gesture drawings can help with body positioning and the relationships between parts, but is there anything similar to help with facial structure and feature positioning? It's a particular problem of mine.

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    Here are a few; there is more than one way to do this, some are based on squares and triangles, this is based on an oval. It is a guide for the ideal only and you have to adjust for the specific in real life.


    The inside corners of the eyes and the outside edge of the nostrils should line up vertically

    The top of the ears and the top of the eyebrows should line up when you draw a horizontal line through the head

    the bottom of the ears and the bottom of the nose should line up when you draw a horizontal line through the head

    in profile from the tip of the nose to the back of the head divided in half is the front of the ear

    If you draw a line from the hair line to the chin and divide it equally in thirds,
    the bottom third would be from the bottom of the chin to the bottom of the nose

    the middle third would be from the bottom of the nose to the middle of the eyebrows

    the top third would be from the middle of the eyebrows to the edge of the hairline on someone with normal hair, not receding hair

    The head is five eye widths wide

    the inside corner of the eyes are one eye width apart

    From the hairline to the chin is ten eyes high

    the width of the head is almost equal to the distance between the brows to the chin

    the outside corners of the mouth are equal vertcally to the middle of the eyes

    Halfway from The top of the head to the bottom of the chin is the bottom of the eyes

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  11. #7
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    Thanks so much. I'll have to practice that. Self-portraits, ahoy!

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    I think one might also greatly benefit from a study of Leonardo's Vitruvian man:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man

    When in doubt, learn from the master! ;-)

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    I think Jack Hamm's proptions are either very idealistic or... very skewed.

    Foot = inside of lower arm is quite normal but Hamm says inside of arm = hand length. Those are some huge hands... Or very short arms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post
    I think Jack Hamm's proptions are either very idealistic or... very skewed.

    Foot = inside of lower arm is quite normal but Hamm says inside of arm = hand length. Those are some huge hands... Or very short arms.
    hmm, yeah, that one is weird... I know my hand is definitely way shorter than that. I wonder if he's counting long fingernails - you know, the inch-long variety with little palm trees painted on them. That might just fit.

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    my hand just fits the length of my forearm, when my arm is bent. When extended, it's not. I've been told I have long fingers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TASmith View Post
    my hand just fits the length of my forearm, when my arm is bent. When extended, it's not. I've been told I have long fingers.
    Same with me, and I don't think I have particularly large hands. But that is on the inside of my arm, and only when it is bent.

    Last edited by brianvds; July 22nd, 2010 at 10:42 AM.
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  17. #13
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    While its fine to check proportions on yourself remember these are ideal proportions or measurements meant to give you a standard or starting point. Its the variations that give people their individual look but its good to know how they vary from the ideal.

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