Basic Figure Proportions for Making Dolls

  • 01 of 05

    Basic Proportions

    A teenage doll in 1:12 scale holds another 1:12 scale doll
    Lesley Shepherd

    The first step in sculpting or drawing a figure is to work out the proportions you will need. Figure proportions are important as they will help determine the age and character of your character for a doll's house or model scene.

    The average person is measured by artists and sculptors based on the proportions of the head. Most people are 7.5 times the height of their head tall. Heroic, or heroine figures, slim and tall ballet dancers are usually roughly 8 heads tall. Eight-year-olds are roughly 6 heads tall, babies are 4 heads tall.​

    You can adapt the age and appearance of your figure by giving them a larger or smaller head than normal for their height (then they may appear as an adolescent or a child or as more of a caricature).

    If you are going to make a 1:12 scale dolls house doll that is 6 inches tall to represent a six-foot man, in real size that man would have a head 72 inches/7.5 (number of heads to the body) or 9.6 inches high. Your six-inch high doll would need a head between 9/12 and 10/12 of an inch high to represent this size.

    If you are making a 1:24 scale female doll that represents someone 5' 4 inches tall, you will need a 64 inch/7.5 = 8.5-inch head which in 1:24 scale is 8.5 / 24 or .34 inches tall, about 1/3 of an inch high.

    This sxs on figure proportions is the first of a series on making miniature dolls and figures.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Sizing the Head

    Miniature doll torso on a diagram
    Lesley Shepherd

    Here are some common head sizes to aim for.

    6-ft Man

    Average build head height:

    • 1:6 scale = 1 2/3 inches/4.5 centimeters tall

    • 1:12 scale =5/6 inches/2.2 centimeters high

    • 1:24 scale = 5/12 inches/1.1 centimeters high

    Heroic or ideal build head height:

    • 1:6 scale = 1 1/2 inch/4 centimeters high

    • 1:12 scale = 3/4 inch/2 centimeters high

    • 1:24 scale 3/8 inch/1 centimeter high

    5-ft 4-in Woman

    Average build head height:

    • 1:6 scale = 1 5/12 inches/3.5 centimeters high

    • 1:12 scale = 15/24 inches (bit less than 3/4 inch) or 1.75 centimeters high

    • 1:24 scale = roughly 1/3 inch/0.75 centimeters high

    Heroic or ideal build height:

    • 1:6 scale = 1 1/3 inch high or roughly 3.4 centimeters

    • 1:12 scale = 2/3 inch high or roughly 1.7 centimeters

    • 1:24 scale = 1/3 inch high or roughly 0.85 centimeters

    See the diagram for the points where the various sections of the body match up with head proportions. As you can see when you place an old head on an average body, the proportions seem a bit off. This figure uses 8 heads to show the relationships.

    • Body width: is also based on head proportions. The average man is two head heights wide at the shoulders (Lay two heads top to chin across the shoulder area). The average woman is 1 3/4 head heights wide at the shoulders.
    • Hips: Men's hips are narrower than their shoulders, Women's hips are usually equal their shoulder width.
    • Thigh width: The top of the thigh is approximately the same width as the width of the head.
    • Navel: The navel is located on a line which is approximately 2 heads down from the top of the shoulder (collarbone)

    Other Common Measurements

    • The distance from the wrist to the end of the outstretched fingers of the hand is 1 head.
    • The distance from the elbow to the end of outstretched fingers is approximately 2 heads.
    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Facial Features

    Main division lines for the sculpture of a miniature doll head
    Lesley Shepherd

    The position of eyes, nose, and mouth on a head can be based on the head proportions for drawing or sculpting.

    • If you divide the head into four equal sections the first quarter is from the top of the head to the front hairline.
    • The second quarter ends at the lower line of the eye The bottom of the eyes falls roughly on the 1/2 way point between the top of the head and the chin.
    • The third quarter ends at the base of the nose.
    • In the fourth quarter, the mouth is just above the midway point between the bottom of the nose and the chin.
    • The bottom of the nose is halfway between the eyes and the chin
    • The mouth is halfway between the nose and the chin.
    • The top of the ears is at the line of the eyebrows.
    • The bottom of the ears is just above the bottom of the nose.
    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Proportions of Features on the Width of a Head

    Divisions of the face used to locate facial features on a miniature scale doll.
    Lesley Shepherd

    The width of a head determines the position of facial features like eyes nose and mouth for sculpting dolls or drawing figures.

    • Width of head: Most heads are 2/3 as wide as they are long. Faces are usually 5 eye widths wide and the space between the eyes measures one eye width.
    • Mouth width: If you want to get the approximate width of the mouth, make a triangle from the center of the eyes which touches the outside edges of the base of the nose. Where that line crosses the location of the mouth will give you an average mouth width.
    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Front to Back Placement of Head Features

    Side view of a miniature doll's head
    Lesley Shepherd

    The final set of proportions for sculpting dolls and figures involves placing the features front to back on the figure's head.

    • The distance from the forehead to the back of the skull is almost the same as from the top of the head to the chin.
    • In a side view, the ears are behind the half line of the head from front to back.