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Anyone have an alternative to the "heads" method of figure drawing?

Most artists should be aware of the method of drawing where one uses "heads" stacked on top of each other in order to create their figures. This has been a time honored approach which has been effectively expounded on by such masters as Andrew Loomis. (PDF of method found here. Download Figure Drawing For All It's Worth for one of the best descriptions of the method. WARNING: Nudity in book.)

I came across a method called the Reilly Method (Scroll down to the heading "Figure Drawing" to start learning about it). It opened up some new ways of thinking about creating figures and forms but the information here is somewhat limited and incomplete. It might be further explained in the book.

Then of course, one could take the "Cartoon" approach with the line of action. I've mixed an matched all of these together.

So, that said, the "heads" method for me has reached it's limit for me - and here's why: After studying real people - they don't fit the so-called construct. Generally, regular people are around 7 - 7.5 heads tall, heroes 8-9 heads tall. And in general, roughly the different parts of the body land supposedly on the different measurements:
Head to chin (1 head),
chin to nipples (2 heads),
nipples to navel, (3 heads),
navel to crotch (4 heads),
crotch to mid-thigh (5 heads),
mid-thigh to knee (6 heads),
knee to mid-shin (7 heads),
mid-shin to bottom of feet (8 heads)

The above is all true...except when it isn't. (And the system works...except when it doesn't) There are times when someone's head is 1/4 taller or their crotch is a 1/4 or even a half lower or higher, or the measurements are all just off by a bit, or a lot - or their torso is actually equidistant, but their head and lower body not so much...

Anyway, enough of my rambling - just curious if anyone has seen or knows of an alternative way/method/system of making and maintaining figures?

I feel like, even with years of training and doing art for a living, I'm missing a piece of the puzzle. Any help or suggestions appreciated.

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Yup. It's solid information.

Nobody has alternative drawing suggestions?

Scott MCdaniel has some cool tutorials on drawing. He uses the 8 heads method too.

Ok...found what I was looking for...

This guy has awesome info:

If an artist, digging around on his site will be worth it. Warning: Very advanced concepts.

@Martin mind telling us what it was? I was thinking Circle, Square, Triangle?

Hey Alika -

To be honest - I partially found what I was looking for in the Rad How To

However, there is still a small piece of my puzzle missing. I'm looking for a method of maintaining characters, specifically odd shaped characters - and their interlocking shapes.

My tension is coming from the fact that the head method as good as it is, is limited at a certain point (it is extremely flexible in general, but still only goes so far) - especially when pieces or parts "fall off the grid" so to speak. And especially when you decide to break the mold of a character completely - as in going more cartoony.

The chart you present here is intriguing.

I don't know if I'm asking the right question, or even saying the right thing...but in my head i can understand what it is I'm trying to get at. If I was able to actually talk it out verbally with a veteran of the trade, I think I'd be able to figure out what it is I'm trying to do.

So something like?

There is always a Fibonacci Guage you could use.

Or math.


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