Drawing the Sexes - Differences between male and females

by Jennifer (Bidlingmeyer) Osterman

I know people come in all shapes and sizes, but the following are generally accepted trends...

Men ususally have a heavier, lower brow and deeper-set eyes, overall, more rugged and angular. The underlying bone is usually more emphasized. The lip line is thinner, and spreads wider, more emphasis on the lower lip. It is often shaped like this:

As opposed to this:

The jaw is heavier and more defined and the neck is thicker.

The female head is often round, oval or slightly heart-shaped, whereas the male face is ften more square or rectangular. The nose has a thinner bridge and a narrower ball-tip and wings, usually more rounded than the male nose.

Her eyebrows are thinner and the dip at the glabella (the smooth space between the brows (unless you have a unibrow, in which case, it is hairy...but you get the idea) ) is less pronounced. Whereas male eyebrows, if they lift over the eyes, are generally winged (^) women's eyebrows arch and curve. (~)

Women's shoulder structures are narrower than their hips, giving more of a pear-like shape rather than the cliched 'hourglass' figure. But, like the hourglass, the female figure usually has an indented waist above the pelvic bone, curving inwards from the lower edge of the ribcage towards the bellybutton and back out.

The male figure (motionless and face-front) can be thought of as a slight triangle from the shoulders down to the ankles with the shoulders almost directly above the hips, the nipples almost directly above the frontal point of the pelvic girdle (the lower edge of the iliac crest, if you know your bones). Men often have more of a gap between their legs around the knee region (above the curve of the calves) and under the curve of the calves to the ankles.

Steven Rodgers Peck says: 'In a general way, the female figure displays more fluid contour...due largely to the greater quantity of fat which serves to obscure muscular form. ...[Female] pubic hair shows a distinct horizontal limit at the crest of the mons Veneris. Male pubic hair tends to converge upward into the abdominal hair stream...the [female] forehead is smoother, more rounded and set...perpendicular. [The male forehead may slope backwards]...

'The [female] collarbones are shorter and less curved...while the male collarbones rise laterally, the female's are nearly horizontal or even drop somewhat...increasing the apparent length of the neck and [makes the female shoulders appear more rounded]. A female's neck is often...encircled by creases of skin (Rings of Venus)...shows a flattened thyroid cartilage (Adam's Apple) and a full thyroid gland. ....

'The female trunk is longer in relation to total body height. The thorax is shorter and more conical, and displays...breasts (male breasts are vesigal).

'The pelvis is wider and deeper...and [set at a sharper forward incline]...hip joints...are spread farther apart, thus giving the female hips their characteristic breadth. ...

'Buttocks reach to a lower level than in the male figure. The flesh of the abdomen is more rounded and the navel is more deeply set.

The upper limb of the female is shorter than the male...due...to the shorter humerus. Consequently the level of the elbow is raised...at the trunk...and the fingertips to a higher point on the thigh. Hyperextention is the rule. ...Wrist and hand are small.

'...Both thigh and leg are shorter in relation to the trunk. Owing to greater separation...at the pelvic sockets, the thighs take a more oblique course towards the knees. This leads to a sharper angle between thigh and leg. Knees are more plump...again, hyperextention...the calves are somewhat lower on the leg. The full outer contour seems to be the end of a long curve beginning at the waist. The foot is smaller and narrower.'

Me again. More than you wanted to know, right? I practically live by Steven Rogers Peck's Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist. He's a bit long-winded and scientifically technical, but if you're serious about accuracy, you'll know the figure down to the tiniest bone. Since bones are the base, it's the best place to start. He's got bones, muscles, joints and limbs from every angle, plus this description of sexual differences, a section on age, race, varieties of physique, some photos, beautifully rendered bone drawings, 'Agents of Expression', and on and on...

One last thing. William Li's 'Warrior' is a good example of facial differences between sexes. Note the slight upward tilt to the eyes, the smooth, oval face and arched brows, the small, full lips and thin, dainty nose. All signals that blink in red neon lights 'THIS IS A WOMAN!' Put her in camoflage, a bridal gown, a snowsuit, a slinky dress, a tuxedo, an Armani suit...she's still got those key features that make her feminine.


6 months ago
Art / Drawing

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