Forums > Model Colloquy > Body proportions

Model

angel emily

Posts: 1020

Boston, Massachusetts, US

So, I've read that fashion designers draw their models based on the following proportions:

Draw a head.  Ideal length of head = 1 unit.   
Draw a torso.  Ideal length of torso = 2.5 units.
Draw legs.  Ideal inseam measurement = 3.5 units.
Total ideal body length (height) = 7 units.

i.e.,:

Total body = 7 units
Head = 1/7 units of total body length (height)
Torso = 2.5/7 units of total body length (height)
Legs (Inseam) = 3.5/7 units of total body length (height)

Can anyone speak to this, whether it's accurate, or complete garbage?
The source is questionable... but the topic does interest me!

I'm snowed in & entertaining myself with measuring tape and math skills. big_smile

I'm really more curious than anything, not trying to use this info to try to justify becoming a fashion model (I know I'm too short)...  I just found it interesting when I did these calculations on myself and found they came out near perfectly aligned with the "ideals" (1/4" off head, spot on for torso & inseam).  Feel free to share yours!

Feb 08 13 05:42 pm Link

Photographer

Rob Photosby

Posts: 3224

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

That formula is not wrong, but nor is it particularly useful.

I take a full set of measurements of most llamas that I photograph because I do a lot of underwater photography which requires using a short focal length which can introduce considerable distortion, so I keep a record of a llama's dimensions so I know what I am aiming for if I need to correct the perspective.

My records show that there is not that much variation between people at the level that that formula specifies, so, in a sense, nearly everyone is "perfect".  However, if the units are refined a bit, you might start to see some diffences e.g. head 7.1 vs head 7.0.  However, what happened to the neck? Is it part of the torso or part of the head?  Can you see where this is going?  A lot depends on definitions and where measurements are made from.

Also, that formula does not capture other important dimensions.  Ideally, bust and hips should be within 5cm of each other and waist should be 25 cm less, but, as height decreases (below about 165 cm), so should bust and hips. 

So, to return to my original comment, the formula is not wrong, but it is too simplistic to be of much use.

Feb 08 13 06:35 pm Link

Photographer

grandart

Posts: 736

Chicago, Illinois, US

That formula is NOT bs; it is in general use by painters and sculptors and all sorts of other artists, except perhaps photographers. Depending on the lens used in making the image, all sorts of distortions can be introduced starting with the relative position of the photographer and the model.

Feb 08 13 06:42 pm Link

Model

angel emily

Posts: 1020

Boston, Massachusetts, US

natural beauties of qld wrote:
My records show that there is not that much variation between people at the level that that formula specifies, so, in a sense, nearly everyone is "perfect".  However, if the units are refined a bit, you might start to see some diffences e.g. head 7.1 vs head 7.0.

Oh, I see!
Yes, I see what you're saying. I did mine out 2 decimals.
I would be interested in keeping a record, very cool!

Feb 08 13 07:33 pm Link

Model

angel emily

Posts: 1020

Boston, Massachusetts, US

grandart wrote:
That formula is NOT bs; it is in general use by painters and sculptors and all sorts of other artists, except perhaps photographers. Depending on the lens used in making the image, all sorts of distortions can be introduced starting with the relative position of the photographer and the model.

The source did say it was used by fashion designers, hmm.  Makes sense why it wouldn't be useful for photographers because of lens/distortion/angle/position, etc.

Feb 08 13 07:34 pm Link

Photographer

GER Photography

Posts: 8233

Imperial, California, US

I think my proportions don't add up!!:-)))

Feb 08 13 07:38 pm Link

Photographer

Marc Damon

Posts: 6562

Biloxi, Mississippi, US

Don't let the fancy math scare you. Read the text.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_proportion

Feb 08 13 07:52 pm Link

Clothing Designer

Krystell Barraza

Posts: 163

Chicago, Illinois, US

e m i l y wrote:
So, I've read that fashion designers draw their models based on the following proportions:

Draw a head.  Ideal length of head = 1 unit.   
Draw a torso.  Ideal length of torso = 2.5 units.
Draw legs.  Ideal inseam measurement = 3.5 units.
Total ideal body length (height) = 7 units.

i.e.,:

Total body = 7 units
Head = 1/7 units of total body length (height)
Torso = 2.5/7 units of total body length (height)
Legs (Inseam) = 3.5/7 units of total body length (height)

Can anyone speak to this, whether it's accurate, or complete garbage?
The source is questionable... but the topic does interest me!

I'm snowed in & entertaining myself with measuring tape and math skills. big_smile

I'm really more curious than anything, not trying to use this info to try to justify becoming a fashion model (I know I'm too short)...  I just found it interesting when I did these calculations on myself and found they came out near perfectly aligned with the "ideals" (1/4" off head, spot on for torso & inseam).  Feel free to share yours!

Ooh this is interesting.

We actually talked a lot about proportions in my fashion illustration class.

Typically, 6.5 - 7 "heads" or units = average female
8 heads = used when illustrating costume design for film/theatre/etc
9 heads = standard fashion model
11 heads = ultra-dramatic high fashion illustration x)

When I illustrate, I lean towards 9.5 heads + a smaller torso/longer legs (really dramatic) though in class we were expected to keep it at 9 units.

I guess there is no set standard. It's really a matter of the individual designer's preference.

Feb 08 13 09:24 pm Link

Photographer

Ralph Easy

Posts: 6426

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

e m i l y wrote:
Total body = 7 units
Head = 1/7 units of total body length (height)
Torso = 2.5/7 units of total body length (height)
Legs (Inseam) = 3.5/7 units of total body length (height)

Can anyone speak to this, whether it's accurate, or complete garbage?

These are for a basic drawing and illustration classes.

In photography, you don't get to measure these things.

You see and feel with your vision, eyes, framing and composition using the camera, not the charcoal pencil.

Beauty and proper anthropometric sampling often times don't rhyme together for a single model.

An example would be a very stunning and beautiful news presenter with all her charm and grace... and when she stands up, she is short legged and plump from the wasteline down. The directors of the show know this, so they capitalize on her charming looks to net in the audience for the news telecast. If they want to use her whole body, they would cast her in a rocky horror show or something...

.

Feb 08 13 10:27 pm Link

Model

Alabaster Crowley

Posts: 8272

Tucson, Arizona, US

Most sketches that fashion designers do are not realistic to human bodies.

Example:
http://www.londonfashion.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/fashion-design-sketches-for-girls.jpg

Feb 09 13 12:14 am Link

Photographer

Tzalam

Posts: 548

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This might be interesting to you
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AZe9g2Huz0

Feb 09 13 04:59 am Link

Model

angel emily

Posts: 1020

Boston, Massachusetts, US

Marc Damon wrote:
Don't let the fancy math scare you. Read the text.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_proportion

I'm not reading all of that -- what's important to know?

Feb 09 13 06:38 am Link

Model

angel emily

Posts: 1020

Boston, Massachusetts, US

Tzalam wrote:
This might be interesting to you
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AZe9g2Huz0

Yes! I know about facial proportions, that's great, was also curious for body proportions. smile
Thanks for sharing.

Feb 09 13 06:39 am Link

Model

angel emily

Posts: 1020

Boston, Massachusetts, US

Krystell Barraza wrote:
Ooh this is interesting.

We actually talked a lot about proportions in my fashion illustration class.

Typically, 6.5 - 7 "heads" or units = average female
8 heads = used when illustrating costume design for film/theatre/etc
9 heads = standard fashion llama
11 heads = ultra-dramatic high fashion illustration x)

When I illustrate, I lean towards 9.5 heads   a smaller torso/longer legs (really dramatic) though in class we were expected to keep it at 9 units.

I guess there is no set standard. It's really a matter of the individual designer's preference.

Cool!

So if fashion llamas are 9 units (head = 1/9 of total body), what does that break down to for ideal torso/leg length proportions?

Feb 09 13 06:42 am Link

Photographer

Jeffrey M Fletcher

Posts: 4376

Asheville, North Carolina, US

If you were snowed in for a long time there are a bunch of proportions for male figures here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man

Feb 09 13 06:59 am Link

Photographer

Fotografica Gregor

Posts: 4126

Alexandria, Virginia, US

Artists were taking note of sets or proportions that tend to be seen in nature back during the Renaissance and Enlightenment Era.   They came up with  the notion that certain proportions were a part of the Divine plan for nature.  They used these proportions in their drawing and painting to good effect.

For an artist it comes down to understanding golden ratios -  the golden section or mean,  golden triangle, golden rectangle, golden spiral etc.

The work of the great painters of the time took basically an evolutionary step over and above what came before, based on applying these ratios -

I make an attempt to apply golden ratios to a lot of my photography -  I can't alter the size of my model or subject - but I can choose angles of view and focal length combinations - perspective -   and composition -  to make use of them.....

Feb 09 13 07:00 am Link

Model

angel emily

Posts: 1020

Boston, Massachusetts, US

http://www.anaface.com/

I scored a 9.21/10.

Pretty cool!  Says my face is too narrow/too long (which I knew) - haha!

http://i47.tinypic.com/34ih4w4.jpg

I tried it with a different photo and got a 9.03/10:

http://i46.tinypic.com/aeac1c.jpg

I imagine it will differ a bit depending on the photo and the preciseness and accurate reporting of point placements (just a little off can affect a lot, too easy to fudge numbers, IMO; would be more accurate to have others do it and take an average).

Feb 09 13 07:12 am Link

Photographer

Rob Photosby

Posts: 3224

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The inseam measurement "ideal" is nowhere near reality. 

Since you started the thread, I have taken the inseam measurement on several models and they are all closer to 3 than 3.5.

Out of curiosity, I took my own measurements because I am tall (185cm, 6'1") with unusually long legs, and my inseam is only 3.1.

Feb 12 13 04:28 pm Link

Model

a raw muse

Posts: 3227

New York, New York, US

Weird, I thought the "ideal" was closer to 8-head-figures (based on posing for sculpture workshops and drawing groups geared towards animation especially).

I think my proportions are close to 7.5 head figure thanks mostly to my child-sized head. One artist swore I was an 8-head figure but he was a bit kooky. All of my proportions in general are on the smaller side; for reference:

(snapshot from Nov)
neck: 12"
arm: 9"
wrist: 5.25"
bust: 33"
waist: 25-26"
hips: 35.5-36"
thigh: 18.5"
calf: 13"
ankle: 7"

Different styles call for different figures. For myself, I find different body types are necessary for different studies. If I want to do a skeletal study, a very slender person with obvious bone structure is required. If I want to do more of a texture/creases study, I find a larger person with folds, dimples, and creases is necessary. There are many other figures that are useful to different artists. I know many "classical" areas of the country prefer larger, taller women; many of the more successful art models I know in Central California are 5'9"-5'11" and a size 8-12. Some artists prefer tiny people who can fit into boxes, baskets, refrigerators, or just a very small space that they want to shoot in. Animators I've met prefer muscular, dynamic figures that are on the lean side while still curvy; I've found being bald is a plus.

For fashion, I find a lot of fashion models are fine-boned in general; they have longer, more slender legs relative to me, smaller hips, smaller ribcage (even though mine is on the small side), as well as shorter torsos.

Hope some of this rambling was helpful.

Feb 13 13 11:33 am Link

Model

_eMMe_

Posts: 866

Florence, Toscana, Italy

For fashion design normally proportions are a lot more stretched (about 9/10 units as somebody says before).
That's the classical art proportions and they are not usefull for real anyway: people have normally shorter legs or they will look bizarre...

Feb 13 13 02:33 pm Link

guide forum

Model

Anna Adrielle

Posts: 18763

Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

no, those are the average human proportions. Head is about 1/7th of the entire body, and that is the case for pretty much everyone (roughly speaking). So it's not that strange that your proportions fall within these measurements, at all smile

for fashion design drawing, the proportions are exaggerated actually smile. Then the head is easily 1/10th of the body and even more.

for instance:

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3ko0onHkL1ru12fuo1_500.jpg

but that's just part of the designing process.

Feb 13 13 02:37 pm Link

Photographer

Dannielle Levan

Posts: 12857

New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada

e m i l y wrote:
So, I've read that fashion designers draw their models based on the following proportions:

Draw a head.  Ideal length of head = 1 unit.   
Draw a torso.  Ideal length of torso = 2.5 units.
Draw legs.  Ideal inseam measurement = 3.5 units.
Total ideal body length (height) = 7 units.

i.e.,:

Total body = 7 units
Head = 1/7 units of total body length (height)
Torso = 2.5/7 units of total body length (height)
Legs (Inseam) = 3.5/7 units of total body length (height)

Can anyone speak to this, whether it's accurate, or complete garbage?
The source is questionable... but the topic does interest me!

I'm snowed in & entertaining myself with measuring tape and math skills. big_smile

I'm really more curious than anything, not trying to use this info to try to justify becoming a fashion model (I know I'm too short)...  I just found it interesting when I did these calculations on myself and found they came out near perfectly aligned with the "ideals" (1/4" off head, spot on for torso & inseam).  Feel free to share yours!

I went to fine arts school. It's a general guide for figure drawing - to be taken with a grain of salt.

Feb 14 13 12:41 am Link

Photographer

Jerry Nemeth

Posts: 28691

Dearborn, Michigan, US

e m i l y wrote:
http://www.anaface.com/

I scored a 9.21/10.

Pretty cool!  Says my face is too narrow/too long (which I knew) - haha!

http://i47.tinypic.com/34ih4w4.jpg

I tried it with a different photo and got a 9.03/10:

http://i46.tinypic.com/aeac1c.jpg

I imagine it will differ a bit depending on the photo and the preciseness and accurate reporting of point placements (just a little off can affect a lot, too easy to fudge numbers, IMO; would be more accurate to have others do it and take an average).

I would have no problem photographing your body!   smile

Feb 14 13 02:22 am Link

Model

angel emily

Posts: 1020

Boston, Massachusetts, US

Jerry Nemeth wrote:
I would have no problem photographing your body!   smile

LMAO.

Feb 14 13 04:15 am Link