Looks Matter

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The unfortunate (or fortunate) side effect of being an artist is that the entire profession predicates around how the surface looks. However, what works and what doesn’t is entirely based on who you’re showing your art to.

Let’s have a discussion on proportions then!

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A training artist might have been exposed to the idea of “ideal” proportions for the human body. Since I’ve already established what might be ideal depends on who you ask, why is it that all artists learn this? I urge people to not be offended by the idea of “ideal”. There’s a great reason why it’s set at what they are even if there are slight deviations from each source.

People might be familiar with the idea of the “Golden Ratio” or the 3.14. It’s a ratio that is somehow universally appealing to everyone. Nature has an incredible way of putting this ratio through every facet of life. While it’s a hard ask for every single person in the world to be perfectly “3.14” (you might want to consider going to Hollywood as a career if you are), ideal proportions are simply a hypothetical situation if all a human being consists of is the golden ratio.
Leonardo Da Vinci
The ideal proportions are as if you were to construct a human being with math, without any subjective input. Given nature tends to work in golden ratios, you simply cannot fail to create something that looks “human” if you follow the ideal proportions, hence why it is “ideal”. In actuality, all of us humans will have deviations from what this construction is, some more than others. 

Titian

This isn’t something based upon one person’s opinion on what looks nice; it’s through hundreds (if not thousands) of years of study from people much smarter than I am!

It doesn’t mean someone can’t be beautiful or handsome if they were off of golden ratio. In fact, you risk making a figure look robotic if you followed it number by number. I would be hard-pressed to find anybody who would find that their most attractive ideal would be a mathematically perfect figure.

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Ideal proportions are objectively neutral by default; good designs will always have parts accentuated by building off of what’s ideal. In other words, ideal proportions are great to learn off of but not something you want to follow if you want to push your style. The most realistic painters and sculptors choose to accentuate certain areas they wish to, even if it’s subtle. Since we’re artists, we’re not here to create boring messages. We’re looking to create something better than reality. We want to show the world what we prefer. The deviations are what creates interest in your work, not following the rules word by word.

I’m not going to say how you could do this. Every style is different, and you might have a clue of what works and what doesn’t based on what you need to portray. I’ll leave it off with me urging others to study why and where artists choose to deviate from the ideal.

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