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Home Tutorials Anatomy – Back to Basics, Proportions of the Head

Have you ever looked at one of your drawings, and thought that something looked odd, but you couldn’t work out why?

More often than not the root cause of this when it comes to artwork is mistakes made within the anatomy of the character. In this particular series of articles I will be taking you through the anatomy of the head, the body, and finally the feet and hands.

Now, Pinups by default have some pretty funky anatomy going on. Much like the comic book superheroes created by Marvel or DC, or Catwalk models on the runway, Pinups proportions are often squashed and stretched in order to create an appealing shape to the artist.

However, in order to be able to break the rules of anatomy successfully, we first have to learn them. Now I’m not claiming to be an Anatomy Guru – although I wish I was – but I’ve compiled some of the tips and tricks that I’ve found helpful and, hopefully, you will find helpful too.

So let’s crack on, and look at where we should be placing our features on the head.

On this quick sketch, you can see how each feature should be roughly plotted onto the skull in order to create a fairly anatomically correct head.

Measurement point A shows how the forehead contributes to a whole third of head space.

Measurement point B shows how from the bridge of the nose to the tip of the nose, is generally the same distance as from the bottom of the nose to the chin. This can vary on individuals, however, as a general rule, the majority of the population will have this facial configuration.

Measurement point C demonstrates how the eyes are pretty much always one eye distance apart.

Diagram D shows how the jaw connects with the skull. Always remember that the jaw is a separate entity and is the part that moves when talking or laughing. The join between the two bones is also important as that’s what creates the hollows in people’s cheeks underneath the cheek bone.

You can also see how the top of the ears sit just on the lower part of the eye, which gives you a good anchor for where to place them.


Now I’ve also shown these same proportions on both a human skull, and the gorgeous Betty Page. See how the proportions we’ve just discussed work?


Another important thing to think about when it comes to the anatomy of the face and proportions, is shading and using shadows appropriately.

The most important thing to remember is that the skull determines the shape of the face, as well as the shadows created within the face. If you feel your own face, you can feel where the bone protrudes or recedes, and also where there is no bone at all – such as in the hollows of your cheeks where you can feel your teeth through your skin, or your eye socket, where you can feel where the bone stops and your eye begins. An important part of anatomy and creating a believable character is really visualising the skull underneath the face. The skull is what makes the head a 3D object, so it’s important when shading to really acknowledge and pay attention to this incredible bit of biological engineering.

You can see from the skull we looked at earlier that the eye sockets are recessed, and are big! Therefore, the eyes are highly likely to be in shadow. You can also see that with the light directly shone onto the face, where the hollows in the cheeks would be in more shadow, as well as the recess under the lips and in between the eyebrows. Noticing these small things about the human face will really stand you in good stead when you are creating your pinups features and expressions.


I really hope these few bits of advice help you to advance your drawing when it comes to the head and feature placement. Let me know what you think, and if this article has helped you with your own art!

Thank you so much for joining me for this tutorial, and stay tuned for the next Anatomy article where we will be looking at the proportions of the body!

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