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Explanation: Heads High by SimonGannon Explanation: Heads High by SimonGannon
One of the things I always have trouble explaining at the workshops is a topic in Proportion that deals with heads high. Mostly, I just can't draw on white boards, at all, and this topic is pretty diagram heavy.

Here are two models (from Persona 4) who represent the height difference between two average humans. This diagram is mostly to show the technical difference between heads-high and height. Someone can be 8 heads high and 5 feet, or 6 feet. This catalogues the differences between them, as well as the differences between a broad character, and a slender one, as a bonus.

Not that this diagram should not be taken at face value and used for stock for the following reasons:

1) Shorter people tend to have fewer heads high. Though the point of this is to try to illustrate that height and heads high have nothing to do with each other, there's still a correlation in real life. This can get hard to realistically depict in a comic, where the reader expects more consistency, or at least definable differences.

2) 8 heads is a 'heroic figure', often seen in comics. The slender figure looks to have a small head compared to the buffer character. The higher the heads, the wider the figure tends to have to be to offset this. Of course, a smaller head can be aesthetic, too - it depends on the look one wants.
3) You don't have to force everyone in your character roster to be the same heads-high, though it seems this is usually the case. 70's anime often had one or two characters that broke the mold of the rest of the cast - usually comedic, or humongous guys [link]
A real human is generally only 6 heads. Realistic portrayals tend to be 7. Most eastern and western comics are 8, because this cuts the figure more memorably - But some anime are 9 or more, like Fist of the North Star and Sailor Moon mangas.

4) [I'm aware these aren't cannon outfits or anything - I was trying to keep it simple while still suggesting where clothes would cut, too.]

5) There are a few issues I ran into while mapping these two characters to exactly 8 heads. While this is the traditional breakdown, I find the knees set too low for my tastes, and similarly the elbows also feel too low - Generally in anime/manga at least, extra height is given at the shins and forearms, rather than the thighs and tops of the arms, which I suspect is usually how that goes in real life. I think this has a lot to do with foreshortening and perspective, when drawing the characters at anything other than straight on - The knee to the shin, when looking down at some one will look even smaller, so it pays to exaggerate.

As a side note to the heads-high discussion, it's interesting to note how much a single foot of difference can make to the area that a person takes up. Naoto could probably fit right through the neck of Kanji's shirt without even any exaggeration. I've been nearly hit in the face with an elbow myself while walking behind someone that much taller. This kind of stuff is really interesting to try to depict in a believable way in illustrations. Most of the time, a height difference like this has to be mollified because it just looks too weird.

As another observational note, sometimes people as tall as Kanji (especially at his age, where he's taller than anyone around) tend to hunch over the way he often is shown to do in game. I've even had trouble hearing two tall people talk to each other over my head! There's a lot of reasons to start hunching over more and more without even realizing it...
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sunflora263 Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2015  Hobbyist
how big do you make the heads? An inch?
RurouniGundam Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
See I like this explanation, as before It often looked like most character had the same head size and just had different Head height counts.

This makes things much easier especially when trying to draw a character with a body type without making things look awkward.
AliceSacco Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2014   Digital Artist
Humans are 7,5 heads tall. I measured myself, and I'm not even tall.
SimonGannon Featured By Owner May 29, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
This comment comes a bit late, but I'm about 6 heads high, myself. A rule of thumb is the shorter a person is the more _likely_ they are to have a big head, really. My partner KrisRix is around 7, and is roughly of average height. Kris has a slender, but quite a _long_ head. It's really going to depend on the individual - and to some degree where they are from ethnically, so it's just an interesting thing to keep in mind as additional thing you can do optionally for character design.

I personally happen to like the seven and a half set! It ends the person at about the ankles with the way I draw feet, which I find nice. I think most people probably find a heads breakdown that is memorable to them and stick with that for most of their figures really, I know I tend to - but to throw it out there that this is technically a thing! Once you pick a way that divides nicely for you, it's that much easier to do foreshortening or crouching for example.
You're pretty lucky to be 7.5 :X I wish I didn't have a bobblehead. X.x ...This is not so elegant lol
LeoHwzr Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
I usually just go with the head that would fit the character. Ive been all over, and i can honestly say heads and body types tend to be all over the place. For me its even harder when comes to women with long hair. But thats a personal habit
TheSkaldofNvrwinter Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I know this is old, lol, but: I've found female heads tend to be shorter than male heads, thus why there are fewer heads in a shorter female, and that's probably true of any short person. Not necessarily, haven't studied it lol.
SimonGannon Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Ah, I super wasn't clear about it in this, but this is more so that you can map out how large each piece of the body should be in relation to the others! So yeah, you could pick a size head that you think is good, and then once you sort out how big that guy's head is in relationship to the body, then if you have to draw him crouching or something, you always have that reference, that stays internally consistent! Mostly I tend to only really need it when I have to draw figures jumbled up together, or curled up, but it's interesting to keep in mind for character design like you mentioned - it can say a lot about someone!
KrisRix Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
This is probably one of my favorite things ever.
SimonGannon Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
It's been something I've been meaning to start for a long time. Now I need to do proportions comparisons... :x Thank goodness for how inspiringly different these two are :P
KrisRix Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012
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Submitted on
September 19, 2012
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