Friday, May 15, 2020

Proportions, Exaggeration, Personal Perspective and Design - プロポーション、誇張、個人的な見方、デザイン

This is maybe is a touchy subject. However we shouldn't lie about what is true and what we "see".


What are the idea human figure proportions?


"Wow, you have such a small face!"

If you are a westerner living in Japan (like myself), you will hear that odd sounding compliment at least once during your stay here.


Japanese nationals tend to think esterners have small heads to compliment their supposed "ideal looking" bodies. Small heads, long legs etc.


I think it’s a matter of individual point of view of what is ideal.


It's important to have an understanding of the proportions of our figures so we can draw them accurately or exaggerate them if necessary.


Often schools teaching fine art use western looking figures with generally western features and proportions.


We should note that these proportions will differ from one ethnic group to the other.  These things are determined by genetics, diet, generation and even perhaps culture.    The average American like myself, might be about 7 and a half heads tall in measurement.  However in Japan the average man in this generation may be around 6 and a half heads high.


If you already have a sense on what the average proportions of humans are, then it's not so important to labor over it. However, if you don't it's very important that you do.


In order to break the rules you have to know the rules! 


As I noted before, the average human proportions are about 7.5 heads high....(not so impressive)  


However, an "ideal" human would have proportions about 8 heads high.  This is better, but essentially there is no "commentary" on the figure.   No story. 


However when we get into figures being more than 8 heads high, now we are getting into beyond what is normal.  Now we are going into the figure looking dramatic and their proportions express they are more than the average or ideal human. 


This is what we see often in fantasy and fashion illustration and of course, superhero comic books. 


Please note these two examples of two people from "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" illustrated by John Buscema.

ジョン・ビュセマの著書「How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way」の2人の人物を見てください。

The figure below is  a "superhero" but his physical build is supposed to be that of an "average man".  However note how "heroic" he looks.  He is designed 8 and 3/4 heads high.  This was done for the effect of drama.  


The above character's spouse is also supposed to be an "average woman" but she is also 8 and 3/4 heads tall, despite she is written as a kind of "superhero's housewife".  These proportions make her more impressive and appealing to the viewer.  John Buscema made a statement in her design but without departing too far from the feeling of realism. 


Now let's talk about breaking some rules!


This superhero is only 6 heads high!  But he doesn't look weak does he?   So what is happening here?  Making him six heads high helps make the character more broad in design...implying strength and power. 

このスーパーヒーローは、たった6頭身しかありません! しかし、彼は弱く見えませんか? 何が起きているのでしょうか? 彼を6頭身にすると、デザインの幅が広がり、強さとパワーを暗示できます。

This gangster named "The Kingpin" (also from Marvel Comics) is supposed to stand about 2 meters in height but he is only 5 heads tall!  So imagine how massive he would be standing next to you. 


Essentially where we are going is into the realm of caricature.  But not in the interest of being funny. 


Artist Bill Sienkiewicz took his design of The Kingpin even further to the point of abstraction. 


Despite being absurd and surreal it's quite effective in making a visual statement The Kingpin's overwhelming presence.   So effective that his designs inspired his animated film depiction. 


Speaking of animation let's take a look at some proportions from some well known animated characters. 


Here is a size chart from Walt Disney's Peter Pan.  Note the actual size of the children's heads are smaller than the adult's heads. Both the younger and older female measure about 5 and 1/2 heads tall. 


Another note about average proportions:  Generally the length  people's hands and feet are about the same size as their heads.  Note the sizes of the hands and feet of all the characters vary.  Note how small the father's (John Darling) feet are in contrast to his head, making him look quite large.  Note how small Wendy and Mary Darling's hands are in contrast to their heads. making them seem even more feminine and gentle. 


Mickey Mouse is famous for measuring 2 and 1/2 or 3 heads high.  Basically these are the proportions of a child.  That might be the reason why he is so instantly appealing to audiences.  Note Donald Duck also measures about 3 heads high but his head is smaller making him actually shorter than Mickey. 


This proportion design was used over and over again at Disney as we can see with its earlier films like Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and others. 


Most Disney Princess type characters stand about 5 and 1/2 heads tall.  This forces the design to make the body slender but the head a little larger, drawing more attraction to the face and eyes. 


Here is size comparison chart from Disney's Aladdin.  Note the proportions of the characters in contrast to the other characters.  What do you think it says about them?  Do you feel a sense of character or story about them based on their size and shape?  


In closing I would like to say that how we design our figures greatly comes from how we see them.  When I say "see", I am referring to our personal point of view. 


What we see in American illustration, comics, art or animation greatly is influenced by what Americans see or want to see.  The same goes for Japanese illustration, comics and animation as well.


Below are some other examples of proportion and how some exaggerations were made for design's sake. 


Andrew Loomis 

Robert McGuiness

Pete Hawley 

Jeff Scott Campbell

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Alex Ross

Bill Sienkiewicz

Friday, February 14, 2020

Drawing the Human Figure - The Sphere and Box - 人物を描く:球とボックス

I am going to share a drawing tool that some of you might have seen before in but taught in a different way.

In terms of laying the human figure many people use the torso as a central grounding point for drawing the figure.

I have given examples of this with our old friend " The Rice Bag" (aka the Flour Sack in American animation) in previous  previous blogs. 

The Rice Bag while useful for a quick lay-in for the torso, or a cartoonish form of design, it can sometimes lose some of the clear structure underneath. 

Whenever I prepare to draw I like to fill my pages with spheres and boxes to get my head in the right direction.  Spheres for the organic frame of mind, boxes for a structure and a sense of perspective.

My instructor, Glenn Vilppu has a tool where he combines the Sphere and the Box for drawing the human torso. 

Drawing is greatly visualization and it is very difficult to draw something if you do not understand or respect what is underneath the form.

This also helps create the illusion of a more realistic stretch or squash.  As opposed to the gummy squash and stretch of the rice bag.

See in the example below how the Box and Sphere helps show greater dimension and also clearer depth and perspective.

Also with the corners of the box can be used to show the pulling of or contracting of flesh in the forms---not just on the contour but also off the surface of the form. 

Please keep in mind this is only a tool to help you lay in the forms.   I have not thrown away the concept of our old friend the rice bag.  This is only a tool to add to your artistic toolbox.

Below are some of examples in other artists work where the combination of the sphere and box can be seen in constructing the figure. 

Chris Wahl クリス・ウォール

Frank Frazetta フランク・フラゼッタ

Glenn Vilppu グレン・ビルプ

John Buscema ジョン・ビュッセマ

John La Gatta ジョン・ラ・ガッタ

Steve Huston スティーヴ・ヒューストン