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Manga: Drawing a character's body

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Do your characters have some proportion issues? Do your male and female characters look the same? Keep at it and learn a few simple rules to make your characters at home in their bodies!

What you need to know

To carry your characters off, don't just focus on their faces: start by getting acquainted with their basic anatomy. Observe yourself in a mirror to see how the various joints are positioned and set them down on paper in silhouette form.

1. How proportions work

Head and body: Finding the right balance!

  •  For an adult: the body is about 8.5 times the head.
  •  For a teenager or kawaii (cute character in the manga world): the body equals 5 times the head.
  •  For children or funny little characters: the body equals 3 times the head.


Putting each part of the body in its place

The spinal column is the median line for your character's body. To start with, you can draw it lightly with a pencil to keep the body symmetrical.

Then from top to bottom:

  • From the shoulders to the tips of the fingers, an arm is equal to 3.5 times an adult character's head (2 for a teenager and 1.5 for a child).
  • The elbows are located at waist height, above the hips.
  • The legs are about half the size of the body.
  • The knees are equidistant from the lower abdomen and the ankles.

2. Differences between men and women

For your female characters: emphasize the curves!

  • Shoulders, chest, hips, thighs, buttocks, calves: use rounded lines.
  • Chin, neck, waist, hands: every part of her body should be soft and delicate.


For your male characters: avoid curves and focus on angles to make his body look heavier and more muscular.

  • His chin and hands are angular.
  • His neck (remember to represent his Adam's apple), shoulders, and chest are wide and thickset.
  • His waist is not noticeable, his hips are straight, his buttocks and abdomen are almost flat.