Drawing Tutorial: Anatomy and Proportions #2 Adult & Child Proportions

In the previous drawing proportions tutorial, I touched upon the differences between males and females when attempting to draw correct proportions. This time around, we’re going to look at the differences in the human form as it progressively ages.

We all know that a small child is not built to the same proportions as a grown man/woman – so in order for your drawing to accurately represent a human in all walks of life, you need to understand the ratios for those specific age groups.


Proportions between adults and children

Note the following proportion differences:

  • Adult = 8 heads tall, with a head size of 9 inches
  • 15 year old = 7 1/2 heads tall with a head size of 9 inches
  • 10 year old = 7 heads tall with a head size of 7 1/2 inches
  • 5 years old = 6 heads tall with a head size of 7 inches
  • 3 years old = 5 heads tall with a head size of 6 1/2 inches
  • 1 year old = 4 heads tall with a head size of 6 inches

According to Andrew Loomis, the creator of this chart from Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth – there is a gradual increase in the size of the head of about 3 inches from a toddler to an adult. As the body progresses to shape itself, you’ll note that the legs of the subject will extend at about twice the rate of the torso. These heights are all relative, but act as a great guide for creating proper proportions for a man, woman and child if they are all in the same viewing area.

Try out the following exercise:

  1. Much like the previous entry on proportion, do some freehand sketches to note the difference between a child’s proportions and an adult’s proportions. Remember the number of head units needed for each.
  2. Try an anterior, posterior and lateral set of views.
  3. Remember to modify the look of the young child to resemble a young child (pudginess, wide eyes, lack of muscular definition) otherwise you will run the risk of drawing your figure to resemble a dwarf/little person.
  4. Move on to your computer and try out the exercise using the guide lines from your drawing software to create exact proportions.
  5. Compare and adjust as necessary.

You should now understand the concept of proportions and have a better grasp of creating realism through the use of varying sizes and shapes and body types of the human form. Check back for my next entry which will deal with proportions in relation to space/perspectives.

12 thoughts on “Drawing Tutorial: Anatomy and Proportions #2 Adult & Child Proportions

  1. Hi there, I’ve been looking exactly for an image like the one you posted above, and… I sadly had to say like for many others i have found, it does’nt convince me. I mean (and not intending to offend you the creator or anyone), look at that one year old child, he seems like a two or three years old; and that three has to be like 6 or 7 years old, and so on. I noted that this pic says “prop2” so where`s the “prop1” ? Have you found any other drawings more realistic?(As a petition no in means to offend, really)

  2. No worries at all Diego – this chart is more of a rough reference guide and not a strict code. As an artist you have the liberty of control when you’re drawing. These images were taken from Andrew Loomis’ book and I personally have found that most of these guides tend to exaggerate features to an idealistic proportion rather than a true proportion.

    The point of this chart was to show more of a difference between a grown adult and a baby/young child. You wouldn’t draw a 1-2 year old child in the same body proportion as an adult (4 heads vs 7-8 heads).

    I totally agree with the 1 year old looking like a 2-3 year old kid. That’s a big baby!

  3. This chart has been super helpful, thanks very much!

    Has anyone come upon a chart like this for females? It would also be cool to see the change between 16, 18 & say 22 or 25. A person in their 20s generally doesn’t look like someone in their 30s or 40s. And how about Gramps? His spine is curved, is generally shorter than in his prime, with bigger hands, feet and smaller jaw. Just curious to see if anyone has gone super in-depth with this.

  4. my head is 9inches … face 8 inches n head 57.5cm in circumreference im also about 5’8/5’9 im a 20yr old male wb please

  5. I think the issue I have with this chart is that it’s increadibly linear across 2 growth spurts. The way I see it is that there should be a steep rise in size for the first 2-3 years. Then a slow rise in size till puberty (so roughly then next 8-10 years) and then a steep rise into adulthood.

  6. Can you please, please draw the same proportions of child to adult for a female body? This would help wonderfully for my sculptures. Thank you so much!
    Your drawings are so much help!

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