Children Proportions for Illustrations & Drawings

Rough Sketch of Toddler
Rough Sketch of Toddler

Recently I went to a workshop around critiquing, which if you are an illustrator you would know is a fairly brave thing to do. Basically you take your portfolio, which consists of probably 10 to 15 illustrations. Well that’s not entirely true, 10 to 15 of your best illustrations. Then you sit by, smiling and nodding while someone goes through your hard work, your sweat and tears, your time and freedom and basically tells you what’s wrong with them.

This is somehow distressing. Its one thing if a client asks for changes or tweaks – that is easy and you can just say ‘yeah, sure.’ But a critique is a different story. It’s something personal, but you’re not allowed to take it personally, which takes a lot of practice. I am a little out of practice. When I was a student, critiques happened every other week, but now? Phew. It was a good thing to experience and I think it is something we should go through every now and then.

One thing that did come up during the day’s discussion was children anatomy. The lecturer then showed us all the difference between adults and children and I thought it would be a good idea for a blog post. For those of you who aspire to be illustrators, it is always good to have a few children drawings in your portfolio. For those of you who draw children all the time, it’s also a good refresher of the basics.

How Many Heads

In some professions they might measure in centimeters, meters, or maybe in some countries inches, but in illustrations it’s all about heads. How many heads does it take to fit into an adult body? On average about 8, depending on how tall you an the person to be. A creepy little witch might be only 5 heads. But an average human man is about 8. A toddler is about 3 to 4 heads.  Here are some great illustrations from other sites that show us the progression.

courtesty of idrawdigital.com
courtesty of idrawdigital.com

This graph from Foervraengd takes it one step shorter to show where the arms also end on an adult, teenager and a toddler.

courtesy of foervraengd deviant art.com
courtesy of foervraengd deviant art.com

Body Language

In this terrible, 5 second drawing I did, I’ve attempted to show some basic body shapes that you can use as basis. With babies, their body is a like a bag. Their neck doesn’t really feature too much. with toddlers its more like a bean shape. As they grow into children, it becomes rectangle. Once the hormones kick in, then their bodies change shape with curves and shapes like we know. Remember, a little girl does not have a waist.

 

Basic Break Down
Basic Break Down

In Your Face

The last point that I would like to bring your attention to is the face. In this illustration you can see that if you take a child’s profile and lay it over an adults, the ears, top of forehead and eyes stay the same. But see how the child’s bottom half (ie: nose, mouth and chin) all squash together? Then also note the nose difference. Children’s nose by default is a lot more like a ‘button’ nose. Their cartridge hasn’t fully developed and that straight nose hasn’t kicked in yet.

Something to just note – cartridge never stops growing. So your nose and ears will continue getting bigger and bigger. Next time you visit your gran, or grandpa take note of their nose and ear size. If they have a photo of themselves when they were younger, you will see that grandpa only recently got his big nose!

courtesy of Crafsy.com
courtesy of Crafsy.com