Human Face & Body Proportions, and the Rule of Three

When carving human figures knowledge of proper body proportions is essential, even if you are just carving a human face or bust.  This also holds true when carving caricatures.  In caricature carving, face and body proportions are often exaggerated or distorted but a basic knowledge of proper measurements is still important. This week I want to discuss proper human face and body measurements and some simple ways you can remember them.

The Human Body

The human body is 7 1/2 heads tall.

Figure 1

The Human Face

The human head is 5 eyes wide.

Figure 2

The eyes on a human’s face are located on a horizontal line across the center of the face as measured from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin,

The distance between the two eyes is the width of one eye as measured from the inner corners of both eyes.

Figure 3

The rest of the facial measurements can be taken from Figure 3 or Figure 4.  Either one works.  Figure 3 uses measurements from the top of the head and the center of the eyes.  Figures 4, which follows the Rule of Three uses measurements from the hairline and the eyebrows.

The Rule of Three

The Rule of Three divides the entire human body into thirds.  The head is divided into thirds.  The hair line to the eyebrow is one third, the eyebrow to the bottom of the nose is one third and the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin is one third.

The rest of the body from the shoulders to the bottom of the feet is divided into thirds.  The shoulders to the waist is one third, the waist to the knees is one third and the knees to the bottom of the feet is one third.

Figure 4

Rule of Three by Donald Mertz

The ears on the human head right behind a centerline drawn down the side of the head, and the back of the head extends well beyond the ears.  The height of the ears is from the bottom of the nose to the eyebrows.

Questions & Comments

Brad Coval sent in a question about the International Association of Woodcarvers (IAW) meetings and asks:


Curious, are the zoom meetings/classes free of charge? Please let me know. This was the first time I have seen your blog. Thank you


The IAW Zoom meetings are absolutely free!  Just use the Zoom code to enter the meeting.  Each meeting usually runs about an hour to an hour and twenty minutes.  It’s the best hour you can spend on a Saturday afternoon!

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have them critiqued by me and get my truthful opinions on what you did right and where you might improve next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!

This week’s (only) entry to the “Carver’s Corner” comes from Nicky Foley:

“I carved the head on the left in November last year and the one on the right this week, some notable changes thanks to the advice of @carverbobk and his critique on his Wood Chip Chatter blog.”

Nicky Foley’s Santas

Remarkable improvements, Nicky!  I really like the way you did the nose and eyes, and you did a nice job on the fur hat trim and pom-pom…much improved.  Excellent job all around!  I’m glad my advice was helpful.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is a new section as part of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display.  The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”

Here is a photo of some terrific Santa ornaments Nicky Foley recently carved:

Santa Ornaments by Nicky Foley

Those are some excellent ornaments, Nicky!  You really have the eyes down to a science now!  Thanks for the photo!

Next we have two photos sent in by Leonard from Newfoundland:

“Hello Bob here is a photo for the photo shop in the next blog. They are your simple Santa pattern in ten different colours that a customer of mine ordered. Cheers”

Simple Santas carved by Leonard

Those are terrific Santas, Leonard!  Great color choices!  I bet your customer loved them!

“Here’s another photo Bob of a praying woman I saw ddalo, a YouTube carver from Korea carving a couple of weeks ago so I decided to try one. Came out half decent I think, I was happy with it anyway.”

Praying woman carved by Leonard

Excellent carving, Leonard!  You should be happy with it.


The first meeting of the International Association of Woodcarvers for 2022 will be held on Saturday, January 29 at 3:00 pm EST.  CCA member, Bob Hershey will be the presenter, and will be giving a demonstration on how to carve a floppy eared Easter Bunny bust.  You don’t want to miss this!

Zoom:  3104603575


1/29 – Bob Hershey

2/5 – Jim Hiser

2/12 – Tom Wilkinson

2/19 – Kevin Applegate

2/26 – Dave Francis

3/5 – Rich Schneider

3/12 – Roger Beane

4/9 – Joe You




I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share in my new “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings help to liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Also, my “Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones.

When sending in photos please specify whether you want them for display in “Photo Shop” or if you want me to critique them in the “Carver’s Corner.”


Send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter active and keep the conversations going!  Effective discussions are one of the best ways to learn about the topics that interest you.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.  Plus we would all love to learn about the unique tips, techniques and products YOU use in your woodcarving process.

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

8 thoughts on “Human Face & Body Proportions, and the Rule of Three

  1. Hi Martyn,
    Thanks for writing! I greatly appreciate it! Unfortunately, your pictures didn’t come through. I’m having some problems with this email address. Please try sending them again to my personal email which is: I will put them in next week’s blog. Do you want me to critique them or not?
    Thanks again!


  2. What about the distance from the front of the skull to the back of the skull? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this.


  3. Thanks for the anatomy charts. I’ve always had problems with proportion and alignment such as eyes. 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


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