On chibis and vitruvian men
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Vitruvian man and a chibi

You can create:

  • Your own classic or modern art
  • Self-portraits
  • Conjectures about ratios and proportions

"Vitruvian man" is one of the most famous drawings in the history of humankind. It is a study of "perfect" proportions of man's body. Leonardo da Vinci took detailed notes on many body proportions in the picture, such as "the man's height is twenty-four palms." In reality, every human has different proportions. You can create your own vitruvian portrait. Trace a hand or a foot on paper, then use it to measure the rest of your body, then use measurements to draw a portrait. Even if you go for stick figure style, it will be uniquely your own, because of the measures.

Modern art isn't as realistic. "Chibis" (a Japanese word meaning "small" or "child-like") are drawings of super deformed proportions we usually find cute or funny. The vitruvian man is seven times higher than his head. How about chibis? You can figure out some chibi proportions using your favorite cartoon characters or dolls. Real babies have proportions different from adults, too. You can find your baby pictures and figure out real baby proportions. Once you figure that out, you can create cartoons of realistic adults, realistic babies, or "chibi" characters and share them with the world.
chibi proportions

Because this activity is artistic, comes from real life, has cultural and historical connections, and can lead to good stories.

As you go

  • Find "chains of measures." If the cubit (the distance from the tip of your fingers to the elbow) is six hand's widths, and the human height is four cubits... You find multiplication!
  • Try changing some of the proportions for crazy "Alice in Wonderland" effects

Alice in Wonderland

Higher and deeper

  • Ratio, proportion and scale relates to linear functions in algebra.
  • A strongly related, also very mathy art topic is perspective.
  • Proportional reasoning is said to be the cornerstone of algebra and the capstone of arithmetic.
  • In fiction, sizes are often told through proportions. Paul Bunyan combs his hair with a rake (so you can imagine how huge he is), and Thumbellina sleeps in a nutshell. You can find more examples and make your own.

Snippets and strewing

You can find "strange proportions" in most modern media, from bed time stories to cartoons. Be on a lookout for examples, wherever you go. To be reminded of the activity ("strewing"), you can accumulate examples, as you find them, on a poster on the wall, or a notebook you keep at some prominent place.

Created: December 6, 2008, 6:54 am, by MariaD
Last edit: January 26, 2009, 6:18 am, by test ( Edit, History )
Co-author: MariaD, test