Using head-to-body ratio to adjust a character’s height and age (part 2)

Last time, we introduced the concept of “head-to-body” ratio, and talked about how important it is when deciding a character’s height in anime. Today we’re going to be taking a closer look at the leg proportions, and how to use them correctly when changing a character’s height. We’ll also be looking at how anime proportions compare to real life proportions, and how to estimate the “real” height of your character in cm.

We’ll be using Japanese women’s average height as a guide – the average high school girl is 157cm tall, and the average woman in her 20’s is around 159cm tall in Japan. Let’s get into this in a bit more detail below!

Anime character’s height vs. average Japanese height

Japanese illustration is of course mostly based on Japanese proportions, and what Japanese people consider as “average”, so when thinking about the height of our characters, keep these average heights in mind and use them as a guide:

20+ year old man: 171cm

20+ year old woman: 159cm

High school boy: 169cm

High school girl: 158cm

Middle school (junior high) boy: 166cm

Middle school (junior high) girl: 155cm

Drawing legs for characters over 5 “heads” tall

For characters over 5 heads tall, it’s easy to find the right length for their legs – simply halving the entire height (including the head), will give you the middle point of the body, and you should start drawing the legs there. When we reach super tall heights like 8 heads and over, we should adjust the balance of the legs a little, and make them just a bit longer than half the height. This will give the character even more of an impressive presence.

Here are some examples of characters’ heights, along with their equivalent “real life” heights – use them as a reference in your work!

For characters under 4 “heads” tall, use children’s proportions

Shorter characters under 4 “heads” tall are not yet fully developed – they are middle school age or younger, so we should give them a more childlike balance. Ignoring the head when measuring to find the length of the legs – just measure the length from the neck to feet, and halve that! This will give a good balance for the legs.

Final advice

For characters that are 4 and 3 “heads” tall, making the legs half of the whole height will result in very strange looking proportions, so make sure to use the method we mentioned above, and don’t draw your characters like the bad examples below!

Good proportions are essential if you want your characters to look professional and believable, so make sure you learn all the key points we studied today and use them in your work! Good luck!

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