Body Proportions

body proportions 2 copy

Knowing your body proportions is as important as knowing your face and body shapes.  Having a clear knowledge of these proportions will guide you toward the most flattering placement of horizontal and/or vertical lines.  It will also help you in understanding the second piece of the Scale Puzzle: selecting appropriately scaled prints and accessories.

Knowing your body proportions is a two-step process.  First, let’s measure each section of your body and identify how large or small each section is in relation to your overall height.

Following the directions below, use the Body Proportion Worksheet to help measure yourself and determine your exact body proportions.

Tools Needed:

    • Retractable measuring tape (to measure height)
    • Ruler or yardstick (to measure height of individual sections)
    • A section of elastic band or string (to wrap around waist)
    • Pencil or pen (to record measurements)
    • Copy of Body Proportion Worksheet (to record results)
  • Step One:  While barefoot, stand against a wall with your heels touching the wall. Using the ruler or yardstick balanced horizontally above your head as your guide, mark your height on the wall.  Use either the yardstick or the retractable measuring tape to determine your exact height. Record overall height on worksheet.
  • Step Two: Using the initial marking on the wall as your highest point, and the ruler or yardstick as your measuring device, identify the distance between the top of your head and the bottom of your chin. Be sure and look straight ahead, keeping your chin parallel to the floor when marking your chin level.  Measure the distance between the height mark and your chin mark.  Record your results.
  • Step Three: Mark the wall where the apex of your breasts lie (at the nipple line).  Measure the distance between the chin and breast lines and record the results.
  • Step Four: Tie and elastic band or string around your true waist (one inch above your belly button).  Mark and measure the distance between your breast line and your true waist.  Record the results.
  • Step Five: SDet on a hard surface (i.e., a chair, counter top, or hard floor). Measure the distance from your true waist to the point at which your bottom meets the hard surface.  This will identify where your pelvic bone rests. Transfer this measurement the appropriate distance down on the series of measurements marked on the wall.  Record the results in your worksheet.
  • Step Six: Mark the point on the wall at which the middle of your knee rests.  Measure the distance between that mark and the mark identifying the placement of your pelvic bone.  Record your results.
  • Step Seven: Measure the distance from your knee mark to the floor.  Record your results.
  • Step Eight: Add the measurements identified in steps 2 through 7.  The combined total should equal your overall height (see Step One).
  • Step Nine: In the second column of the Body Proportion Worksheet, divide your total height by 8.  The resulting number will be your “ideal head size.” This measurement is not the actual size of your head; rather, it’s an idealized measurement, calculated in relation to your overall height. This measurement conforms to a romanticized, artistic aesthetic.
  • Step Ten: In artistic terms, an ideally proportioned body is divided into 8 “heads.” Using your newly determined “ideal head size” as section markers, record your overall body measurements in 8 equally proportioned sections on your Body Proportion Worksheet (divided as follows):
  • 1 head – top of head to bottom of chin
  • 1 head – chin to bust line
  • 1 head – bust line to waist
  • 1 head – waist to pelvic bone
  • 2 heads – pelvic bone to knees
  • 2 heads – knees to floor
  • Step Eleven: Compare the Actual Measurements column to the Idealized Measurements column.   Are the differences between the measurements long, short or equal? (Slight variations, within an inch of the two measurements, have been noted.)

This first process determines your body proportion.  Our next step will be to understand what your body proportions tell you about the placement of horizontal and vertical lines, as well as the scale of your prints and accessories.