Let’s talk hand/head ratio! How does the size of a character’s hands change depending on genre?

Have you ever found yourself wondering how large you should draw your character’s hands in relation to their body?

The size of character’s hands actually changes a lot depending on an artist’s style, and the genre of their work. A great way to measure a character’s hands is by using the size of their head/face as a base. Let’s use this method to take a look at the most common size of hands in a few different anime genres! This should help you decide on the shape and size of your own character’s hands!

Generic heroine from modern anime (2010~present)

In most modern anime that features a school-age girl as a main character, we’ll see this balance for their hands.

As you can see, this hand measures about half of the whole head, making it about the same size as the face from the top of the eyes to the chin.

Men in women’s anime

This is the kind of “ikemen” character you’ll see in anime, manga and games aimed at girls and women.

Larger hands help to add to the manliness of the character, so we want to aim for a 3/4 size here, with the hand almost the same size as the whole face, including the forehead.

Characters in “shounen” anime

“Shounen” anime and manga is a genre aimed at young boys. We tend to see a more exaggerated, cartoony style, and the size of the hands is no exception! These larger hands are used to make characters’ emotions more obvious to younger audiences – it’s easier to read a character’s emotion if they are waving their hands around a lot and making lots of expressive gestures! The shape of the hands and fingers are also often more rounded and cartoony.

For “shounen” manga characters, we want to make the hands about 3/4 to 3/5 of the head size.

Girls in “moe” style anime

Here we have a character from a “moe” style anime. You’ll see some similarities to the first generic heroine character – the overall size of the hand is about half the size of the head again.

But with “moe” characters, we see childlike elements emphasised to make the character cuter. Even in more grown-up characters, we see a soft roundness to the body and face, and larger eyes. We see childlike elements in the hands too – there’s a childlike roundness to the shape of the hand. The palm is larger and rounded, and the fingers are slightly shorter, with less definition than we’d see in other genres.

Tips for some other genres and characters

Female characters in anime for girls and women tend to have hands about 3/4 the size of their whole head.

Babies and children in all different genres usually have more rounded hands, with large palms and shorter fingers.

For taller characters whose height is about 6.5x the length of their head, and are of about high school age, we often see hands about 3/5 the size of their head. This ratio is the same for both girls and boys.

There are endless character types, ages and genres to choose from, so we weren’t able to cover all of them this time. But hopefully now that you know how to measure the hands using the head of a character, you can use this technique to help with your studies! When observing your favourite anime characters, take note of the size of their hands in comparison to their head and face, and use this as a reference for your own work! Observe how the size changes depending on genre, and make sure the hand/head ratio in your work fits with the genre you are drawing.

We go into lots of detail about how to draw hands in our online courses at Anime Art Academy, so be sure to check them out! We also have lots of free lessons that you can enjoy without signing up!

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