TRSE: How To Draw Tutorials:
Varying Body Proportions & Face Features

     The proportions and features of the human bodies tend to vary widely anywhere around the real world and even in any advanced artworks in accordance with the artists' preferences which can also result in some intented exaggerations of some human parts (like legs and breasts). Let's start with the basic proportions of real humans bodies as shown by the diagrams below.

Picture Source:
    There is a neverending dispute on the actual height of real humans in number of "heads", and that may be due to the fact that the height of the heads (not size of the brains) are not constant! My studies show that the height of humans (both male and female) are generally about 7 heads tall regardless. There's this life-size replica statue of world's tallest man at Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum at Branson, Missouri and I sized it up. Even he was the world's tallest man, he still had the height of seven heads because of his big head! It's obvious that shorter people have shorter heads while taller people having longer heads. But in spite of that, you can make a choice on how tall your characters should be as well as their body proportions. I demonstrated how the horizontal lines on the heads can be adjusted to get different face proportions and that can be done the same for the body proportions within the fixed heights. Take a look at the diagrams below (sorry if I didn't include any male characters!).
Rei Hino of
Akane of
Ranma 1/2
Mitsuki of
FullMoon W. S.
Belle of
Lust of
FullMetal Alchemists
All scanned from my manga collection.
    Based on their preferences, the artists set up the heights and proportions of their own characters, and you can see all of the differences by comparing the female characters pictured above. Rei Hino has a height of six heads (stopping at her ankles) with her torso being only two heads long while her legs being 3 heads long. Akane has smaller torso ("squeezed look") and much longer legs. Misuki's torso is very similar to Rei Hino's proportions but bit thinner while Belle looks bit wider and stubby. Lust is seven heads tall with the last six heads divided evenly between the torso and legs, and as a result, Lust has the most accurate body proportions compared to a real human body proportions. As you can see, you can make the choices on the way you draw the characters' height and body proportions. For example, I prefer the fixed height of seven heads that end up at the ankles with six heads being divided evenly between the torso and legs to make my characters look more natural (not necessarily realistic).
    It's very common for the female characters of Animanga to have a slim, idealistic, petite or "hourglass" figures while the male characters come in a wide variety of body proportions from muscular to heavyset bodies based on their personalities as shown by the two examples below.
   The muscular bodies are often given to the characters with matching personalities and the best example is Louis Armstrong of FullMetal Alchemists who takes a pride in showing off the art of his muscular body (and hugging his friends a little too hard) . The muscular bodies can be used for the big thugs who get to be beaten by our heroes. I must point out that it takes a lot of effort to build up such body, and many men with such bodies tend to build up their bodies mainly just for show. There are other massive men who don't look muscular, but can lift much heavier stuff than those artfully muscular men. You can go for those muscular bodies only when you're confident to give them a try. There are plenty of pictures of such people out there that can be studied and used for references.
   The appearance of bludgeoning belly and baggy breasts can be used to represent the villains who are lazy and greedy ("rich and greedy businessmen doing illegal stuff"). Abe of Lone Wolf and Cub is a good example of a heavyset villain who enjoyed the luxuries (women, food, etc..) of being a Shogun's Taster (checking for any poisons in the food) with an expertise in poisons.
  However, in the older periods of Japan, the bludgeoning belly is considered a sign of happiness and it is common for many characters with cheerful/jolly personalities to be heavyset like Santa Claus and some happy monks. They tend to be bit easy to draw with some practice.

    By playing with the body proportions, you can get different results and pick one you like most, and it never hurts to vary the body proportions to give the characters different looks. There are too many varieties of body proportions for me to cover, but you can apply what you learned about reading and using the patterns to figure out how to draw the characters with such different body proportions. Speaking of that, there is something I want to bring to your attention.

    I have read many manga, and I noticed something very common along those manga. It's called the "Cloned Look" where the characters look as if they have been cloned from the same person, and the only differences are their eyes and hairstyles. Take a good look at the picture below (scanned from the manga I have).

    If you study this picture carefully, you can see that the characters has the same body proportions meaning that their necks, torsos, breasts, hands, legs, feet and even their faces are shaped the same. That's not considered a flaw since it is very hard to give each character different proportions and features. It's fine to go with the "Cloned Look" since that's easier to draw, but I encourage you to give each of your characters different body proportions and face features only when you're confident with your drawing skills enough to go for it.
    I had been playing with my own characters and I started learning to vary their features, and you're invited to take a look at how I vary the proportions and features of each character I created.