Altering the amount of heads in a figure can totally change how we percieve it. Swap 'em around, and you're looking at a very different story.
Our standards of bodily aethetics are based on the naturally-occuring aesthetics of the human growth process. Babies have big heads and little bodies, so naturally we find things with big heads and little bodies cute. Likewise, musclemen like Arnie are mountains of dude with a little head perched on top, and so this statuesque configuration repeats itself through tons of human art and architecture. Even this skyscraper looks heroic, when you think about it.
Whether you're conscious of it or not, head proportions are a valuable tool to all cartoonists and designers. For instance, a baby bear stands 5 heads tall, but this designer of stuffed toys has chosen to make his teddy bear 3 and a half heads tall, the same as a human baby.
Here's something interesting. This cat is 5 heads tall, and this random picture of a cute girl I found on the internet is 6 1/2 heads. When I drew the following pictures of cute girls a couple of years back, not thinking about head sizes at all, I made their proportions a lot closer to the cat's than to a real woman's.
It's fun to make your own studies into this subject. Sometimes the results are surprising!
Though it's easy to equate head sizes with character archetypes, don't be afraid to break the rules once you know them. Akira Toriyama was a big fan of making heroes and villains who were tiny powerhouses and enormous characters who were lovable oafs. These, too, have since become cliches- all the same, it's fun to try and play against people's expectations, even if those expectations are changing all the time.
I think this is the most interesting thing I discovered. This was drawn by my pal Corey Lewis (reyyy ). He's drawn these characters with roughly adult proportions, but their large videogame-themed hats give them the proportions of the cat we saw earlier, or of a small kid. In a way, this is a pretty good metaphor for how my generation retains the hobbies and interests of children way into adulthood. I guess oversized hats, hair and glasses are a useful tool to suggest cuteness on normally-proportioned characters.
I made a lot more of these studies, so if you wanna look at them, they're behind the cut.
Regular folks from peopleofwalmart.com.
When you compare this couture fashion model to this Pirelli calender model, you can see how ludicrously tall the women chosen for the catwalks are. Even without heels, she's a head taller than Schwartzenegger! These shows get a lot of flak for celebrating unnattainable standards of beauty, which encourage eating disorders in young women. That's pretty nuts when all the dieting in the world wouldn't give you a jingly-jangly skeleton like this moon alien.
Everyone's standards of beauty are different, but to me it seems like cute girls are usually between about 6-7 heads. N.B. Needless to say my girlfriend thinks I am a creep for having saved these to my computer.
Dan Clowes' famous Enid is roughly 6 heads on the nose.
Another picture of mine from 2008.
It's important to remember that people don't always stand to their full height. When you first start using these kinds of measurements as a drawing tool it's common to start out drawing nothing but people standing straight up, so watch out for that.
I'd be interested to hear other people's theories on this subject! Are you conscious of head heights when you draw? How do your own characters chart? Let me know!