Adjusting Character Proportions

Jaysen Batchelor
A free video tutorial from Jaysen Batchelor
Illustrator & Designer
4.6 instructor rating • 13 courses • 668,561 students

Lecture description

Now that you've learned how to draw the human form and know its correct proportions you can now start drawing character body forms. Drawing character body forms is very much about exaggerating and pushing things such as shapes and curves. 

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The Ultimate Character Design School - Beginner to Advanced

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23:57:12 of on-demand video • Updated December 2019

  • How to design unforgettable characters
  • How to draw character body and poses
  • How to draw different styles of characters
English [Auto] In this lecture, let's talk about how to exaggerate your proportions and exaggerate your shapes. So let's go ahead and let's just kind of start off by roughing out a stick figure sort of form for a character. So if you remember, we want the top in the bottom marked out at the top of the head, bottom of the feet. Mark that in half. That's going to be the bottom of the crotch. Mark this part and half. That's going to be the bottom of the kneecaps or I guess the pivot point of the knees. And then we can go ahead and kind of based off of that sketch about how big her head would be. We can go ahead to sketch out a ribcage. Something like that can also go ahead and draw a pelvis. All right, let's go ahead and kind of sketch out two lines like this to represent our collarbones and we'll build our arms off of that. And let's make the pelvis a little bit more of a triangle just so we can build our legs off of this a little bit easier. Some of her legs come off. I can just draw some arms coming off like this just isn't super simple stick figure arms does have to be anything crazy. Let's bring those hands down just a little bit further. All right, so there we go. So there's just kind of like a stick figure that is using just kind of more realistic human proportions, we just darken and so you can see it a little bit better. The reason why we're not drawing a very detailed person or very accurate person is we just want to focus on the proportions and the shapes for the most part. All right, so following the kind of basic precautions, so what we can do now is we can let's redraw this, but let's try to change something. So we'll go ahead and we'll mark out the same exact height. But we're going to change some things up. So I'll keep the head the same size. I just want all I want to change basically is the torso area and the leg area. I'm going to bring the legs up quite a bit higher. So I'm going to mark my crotch to be about that high. I can go ahead and draw on that triangle to represent the crotch. And that means I'm going to have to basically squish my ribcage into more of a side oval like that, draw my collarbones like that. Right. And then I can go ahead and draw in my legs. So I still want to follow the proportions where the kneecap is about in the center between the legs and the crotch. In super simple shapes for the Ft. Mostly the arms really long, so they're going to go past the crotch, back down to like just a normal arm length. So really the only thing that's changing with this is we're just shifting that pelvis up and kind of squishing the the torso area and stretching the legs. But you can see that even though we're still kind of using the same basic structure as a real human by changing those proportions, we're starting to make it look a little bit more characterized, more interesting. We'd want to work some dynamics into here and a pose. And there's a lot of other stuff that goes into character design. But this is really where character design begins, is where you start editing what you know about the human form and structure. So you're editing it to simplify your adding, to exaggerate it, and you're just changing it up. So it's not just the everyday form that you see. Let's have a look at one more example of this. So let's say that we're drawing somebody. We'll do the same thing. We'll make them the same height and we'll keep the head up here. But this time, let's go ahead and. We're going to move let's leave the crotch at the same height over here, so we'll just kind of draw a line straight across like that that's going to be a crotch, but we're going to move our shoulders down. So rather than putting the shoulders across straight here, let's go ahead and let's move them down so that our character has a really long neck like that and then we'll go ahead. And so that's basically the collarbone. Go ahead and sketch in the ribcage like that. The pelvis is just kind of an upside down triangle and we'll sketch in those legs. We can have arms come off. Just have him come down to kind of normal proportions just right below the crotch and then from the neck, we can just kind of bring it right up into here like that, up into the head. I think kind of a smooth transition like that looks a little bit better rather than just drawing us kind of a cylinder going up. There you go. And so not only can we change the proportions, but we can also simplify the shapes. So we've these are basically simplified so we can change and exaggerate the shapes. So up to this point, we just kind of been exaggerating the measurements. But let's go ahead and exaggerate the shapes of the size, what the shape is. So, for example, let's just kind of get rid of the pelvis. And what we're going to do is we're going to draw our character with just a big round oval like this for the main part of the body. And then let's go ahead and we can do a circle for the head. And then for the legs, we'll just kind of draw a stick figure legs like we've been drawing so curve out and then back in because we're going to see the side view of this leg. And this one, it'll be almost a straight line because we're kind of seen a straight on view of it. And then we can have the shoulders come off, so actually go ahead and kind of sketch out another neck, kind of like this one like that might have that kind of bend out like this. So just building off of these very simple shapes, we can go ahead and just kind of sketching out the stick sort of structure for our character. Maybe on this character, we can kind of square up the top of his head and we could even kind of put like a cowboy hat on him like a cowboy. So I know this is probably that I draw a cowboy before. Maybe that was just when I was prepping. But I like cowboy. So we'll make this guy cowboy. Right, and you can see that right there. We have the beginnings for kind of an interesting looking cowboy character that's really exaggerated and you don't have to make your characters this exaggerated. If you want, you can keep a lot of the information. So, for example, like the neck and the shoulder structures and all that, and some cells will be like this where you really exaggerate it, you really simplify things. So you kind of take out all the structure. So, for example, this guy doesn't really have any color bones. It's just kind of one big, smooth structure. But maybe you want him to look more realistic. So maybe you could just give him the same broad shoulders, have the same kind of proportions, but maybe you would actually draw the ribcage in there and all the muscles and stuff like that, because maybe you want it to have a little bit more of a realistic muscle structure. So all this is up to you, how much you simplify it or not. But no matter how you do character design, you're almost always going to simplify to some extent, even if it's supposed to look kind of real. That's part of illustration, is being able to simplify things and make it look appealing to the viewer. All right. Lastly, let's go ahead and let's talk about the face. So when we're drawing the human face, let's go ahead. Just draw kind of a generic one real quick so we can play with the shapes and the proportions of the human face as well. So it just kind of in general the human face. If you're drawing it correctly, you kind of have your ears right here between the eyebrow line and the nose line. Right it all down here, then you have your coming off. Your shoulders, and so from here, we can go ahead and kind of sketch out the eyebrows, so we'll make this a male, some kind of give it them thicker eyebrows like that. Go ahead, go ahead and sketch at the center of the face so we kind of know where that is. Let me go ahead and sketch out the eyes. Kind of sketch out the nose right there with the nose should be on the nose line and the lips, the crease, it'll probably be somewhere right there. So just kind of sketch an outline like that kind of shade in top lip. Bottom lip is a male, so we don't have to get a lot of detail into the lips, but something like that will look good. All right, so there's kind of a more realistic male character design, so this still kind of falls into the category of character design. It's not really hyper realistic looking or anything like that, but it's definitely following correct human proportions for the most part. But we can extremely exaggerate this or we can exaggerated just a little bit. It's really up to you. But let's have a look at an example of how we exaggerate this. So we kind of looked at this a little bit before. But let's say, for example, let's just completely change the shape of the head. So let's kind of make more of a rectangle shape. So it's going to be based off of more and it can maybe be a little bit more of a trapezoid shape. That maybe it's built off of a circle like this, and then rather than using these proportions where we divide the circle and have to find where the eyebrows will be and then the hairline and the nose line in the lips, kind of like drawing the Lumis head, what we can do is we can just kind of change all of that up. So, for example, I can go ahead. Let's say that let's put the eyes right here on a line like that, not even the eyebrows, but that'll be our eyeline. Our nose will go. Let's say let's put the nose right about there and then let's put the mouth way down here at the bottom. So this is much different than the proportions of this right here. We can go ahead and still follow some correct proportions. So, for example, maybe the ears will still be between the eyes and the nose, because if we don't do that, it's probably actually going to look a little bit weird and maybe we can kind of play with the shape a little bit more now. So maybe I can angle it back in down here, but then kind of add more of a square chin like that. We kind of go ahead and sketch out where the nose is going to be, and maybe we'll make that kind of almost like a diamond shape. And maybe this person will be kind of scowling. We go ahead and put them out down here, so I want to make this guy making kind of a funny face so he'll make his mouth look something like that. Give them kind of a pony nose like that, drawing his eyebrows. So make them nice and thick. We can draw isaam. Maybe we can actually make these eyes kind of looking in a different direction. So it kind of make them look like they're looking off to the side. When we get his jawbones in there, so this is kind of when we're drawing the Lumis head like this and we have these lines kind of going up like that from the chin, that's kind of representing what we're drawing here, these kind of the edge of the jaw and the cheekbones. And so we're kind of taking what we do here. We're just applying it to the face just to kind of really exaggerate its form. And then we can kind of get the jaw popping out right there. So we're doing the same thing on our character here. There maybe this is like a caveman type character who's he's got some hair kind of coming off like the middle of his head or who knows, play around with it forever. But I just want to give you the idea of how we can really play with these proportions and exaggerate. The shapes can make them bigger or smaller. We can just completely change the shape if we want. So we have to follow the actual shapes of the human body. We can try fun things like like we did here, where we did a trapezoid for the shape of the head rather than using a circle and then building a jaw off that. I guess we kind of did that. But overall, this is just kind of a trapezoid shape. It's pretty square and we could do the same thing. So, for example, we can bring his neck off like this. So it's just incredibly thick and we can just go ahead and just make his shoulders just absolutely massive. And maybe that's too big for you and that's fine. But you can see that we can just try all kinds of different things when it comes to exaggerating these forms and figuring out the style of our characters. I really hate that hair, but that's OK. All right. So that brings us to the end of this lecture. So just remember that basically character design, all you're doing is you're just taking the actual human form and you're simplifying, exaggerating and and that's exaggerating the shape and exaggerating the proportions. And you're also just kind of changing things. So rather than doing a circle for the head, would you kind of trapezoids square shape for the head? So play around with this stuff and I'll see you guys in the next lecture.