Superhero Proportions

A couple of years ago, an amazing friend from my PLN, Malyn Mawby wrote about her fun Math assignment on the topic of ratios/percentages/fractions using DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man. Her assignment reminded me of what I had learned in art class about drawing people 6 or 7 heads high. Back then, I also learned that comic book heroes are drawn with bodies 8 or even 9 heads high, to make their physique appear more massive.

I left a comment on her original post about this, with a link on Scribd to a page from Christopher Hart’s How to Draw Comic Book Heroes and Villains that describes this concept. Unfortunately, the book was removed for copyright reasons, so I ordered myself an inexpensive used copy of the book, and scanned the pages in myself. (The copy I received appears to be brand-new, and the book itself is really awesome!)

human proportions
human proportions

For example, consider the Incredible Hulk (as opposed to the Credible Hulk, which is a topic of discussion for another day.)

Hulk stands six heads tall, but he is always hunched over. If he would just stand upright, he could easily add a seventh head to his height. But alas, it isn’t easy carting all of that bulk around, fighting against gravity all of the time.

Spiderman & Superman are both seven heads tall.
And this drawing of Batman shows him nearly 8 heads tall.
And look, even Wonder Woman is 8 heads tall. I guess the standard holds for female superheroes as well.

I think this would be a really fun assignment in a math class. Get pictures of superheroes. Measure the hero’s head, and find out what percentage of the whole body is the head. What is the ratio of head to entire body? Which heroes have the most exaggerated proportions? It might even be fun to send kids home to take pictures of the adults they live with to see how their head to body proportions measure up with the superheroes.

4 thoughts on “Superhero Proportions

  1. Thanks Bill,
    This is truly awesome! I will be sharing your post and linking to it from my lesson on Technomaths. I really appreciate you taking the time to order the comic book and sharing the images here.
    Best Regards, Britt Gow.

  2. Thanks Bill….again!

    The Vitruvian Man always made for a fun lesson every time he “appeared” in my classes. The Superhero twist would be a richer lesson, yet again. To aid that along, the superhero database might come in handy.


  3. Mr. Genereux,
    I think this is an awesome math assignment! I am majoring in math education at the University of South Alabama. I would have never thought of configuring super heroes into math problems. This is a great idea!

    Hannah Dickerson
    EDM 310 student

  4. Even more interesting is to look at how many heads wide they are when standing front face and forward. The more muscular heroes are up to 4 heads wide and thinner heroes like Spider-man are only 2.5 to 3.

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