A Word About Head Proportions
Head proportions are seemingly an often missed part of a character design. The scale of the head to the rest of the figure designates what role the character will fill and how tall they appear. I like to look at Bayonetta as one of the most ridiculous character designs seen in games, mostly due to her ludicrously small head. Being 9 1/2 heads tall, Bayonetta appears to be in the neighborhood of 8’-9’ tall. This design choice is one that has baffled me as the only thing it adds to the character is making her more unbelievable. Which may be what they were aiming for knowing Platinum Games.
I have put a photo here showing what an extremely tall real life human being looks like. This woman, reported to be 6’9” looks peculiar to most, she certainly does not scream protagonist. Being 9 1/2 heads tall she appears awkward, even if she may not be. The size of one’s head greatly influences the viewer’s perspective of the design, whether they understand why or not.
Ryan Reynolds has a protagonist build, being just around 7 heads tall. That is the magic number from my observations. Most real world human beings are between 6 1/2 and 7 heads tall, contrary to the teachings of Loomis. Kate Beckinsale stands a rather average 5’7” and is firmly around 6 1/2 heads tall. Both of these actors have been featured many times as the protagonist. They are tall without being too tall and their heads fit into the 6 1/2-7 heads tall proportion.
I’ve attached a few examples of good design(in my opinion) for characters. Link, Ezio, and Kratos are all protagonists that vary from small, medium, and large. With Link being 5 1/2 heads tall, its expected that he will be a little guy; he is. Ezio has a pretty medium build and sits comfortably at around 7 heads tall. Kratos is an example of a very tall character, being 8 heads tall. Kratos would look stretched if he was not so muscular and bulky. The smaller head on Kratos gives him the appearance of being much more mighty in stature, making his muscles look bigger than they are.
Decreasing the size of a character’s head is an extremely common design trope. It is especially used in character designs featuring helmets. Helmets make a person’s head look very large in the real world, so many designers choose to decrease the size of the helmet to the size of a regular human head. Though it looks quite comical if they were to ever take their helmet off. Other artists choose to decrease head sizes to embellish certain body parts like legs or breasts.
You just need to be keenly aware of what you want to say with your character. Have an idea about what their motivations and setting will be, then think about appropriate head size. Also, counting the head height of your character designs will help you draw them again more accurately, as not getting the head size right will make them appear different and you may not know why. These are just a few thoughts on this subject. Also a T. rex tail is roughly the same length as the rest of its body.