A question of scale

Discussion in 'Research' started by Ireth, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Mythic Scribe

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    Not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, but math is a real-world subject, so maybe? ^^;

    I'm working on a story that involves several giants (of the Norse variety), but the main character is a dark-elf. He's a little over 5 feet tall (maybe 5 foot 3, tops), and the giants in my story average out at about 20 feet tall. Right now one of the giants is just about to meet the MC for the first time, and I want to get a more visual sense of how they could interact given their sizes and proportions. Would the giant be able to pick up the MC with one hand, for instance? I've tried visualizing it with myself (5'4"-ish) and a humanoid plushie (the biggest I have is about 13" tall), but the proportions of a plushie are different than a real person.
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Look at your hand. How big is it in relation to your body height? Ratios vary, but let's say a hand length (not width) is about one-tenth of body height. As for width, my hand is a little over two inches wide. If I were only five foot, probably two inches would be about right. So the ratio would be 2:60 inches. Twenty feet clocks in at 240 inches, so make their hands about eight inches wide.

    Not wide enough for the elf to stand, except maybe on one foot. BTW, artists and sculptors know about this sort of thing. Search on "body proportions reference" and you'll get a bunch of useful stuff.
     
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  3. Ireth

    Ireth Mythic Scribe

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    Thanks bunches, Skip! I was envisioning the giant wrapping her hand(s) around the MC's waist to pick him up (probably should've been more specific before, sorry!). Would that be more feasible?
     
  4. psychotick

    psychotick Dark Lord

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    Hi,

    So your elf is one quarter the height of a giant? Roughly knee height surely. So a six month old baby would be about that height if s/he could stand straight, though thinner. What could you do with a baby of that size?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  5. Ireth

    Ireth Mythic Scribe

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    I don't know. I haven't been around a baby that size in years. XD
     
  6. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Grandmaster

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    Babies have completely different proportions to adults.
     
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  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Figure someone with a 30" waist, just to stick with round (*ahem*) numbers. The giant hand would need to be somewhere more than half that figure (*ahem*!), so let's just say 20" long. If hand length is approximately one-tenth body height (long hands), then your giant would need to be 200" tall. Since 20' is 240" I'd say you clear that.

    I'm sure you already realize you only need to be in the ball park. No one (well, there will always be that *one* reader) will get down to actual proportions, and anyway giants are built different, right?

    Here's another thing you can do for your imagination. Find something that is twenty feet tall. A single story house, for example, is in that neighborhood. (I really need to stop) You can then mentally cast the form of a giant up against that, then imagine yourself standing before it. Maybe thirty feet tall would feel more convincing, but maybe twenty would be just right.
     
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  8. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Staff Moderator

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    Hello Ireth.

    It would be helpful to know if both characters involved have the same body proportions. Now, sorry but I am going to go all Metric here: Let's say that your small character is 1.6 meter tall (approx. 5'3'') and the giant is 6 meters tall or approx. 20 feet. That means that the MC's height is 0.267 the height of the giant.

    If we apply that number to your own height of 1.63 meter (5'4''), and you were the Giant, then the MC would be 44 centimeters tall.

    That would make it impossible for you to grab the MC with a single hand. You would be able to kill him with a single kick, though... another possible interaction would be to lift him by grabbing the back of his clothing, or even to stomp fatally on him if you raise your leg high enough.

    If the giant is sitting on the ground and slouching, they would be able to have a face to face conversation. It would be a very frightening situation for your MC, that's for sure!
     
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  9. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Grandmaster

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  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Wonderful image. Does the troll's hand really stretch from his knee to the ground? That's what it looks like to me.

    And that's part of the thing here. Are a giant's proportions the same as human proportions. Which is another way of saying you can probably get away with making the hand disproportionately large to achieve the effect you want.
     
  11. Ireth

    Ireth Mythic Scribe

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    I do intend for my giants to have human proportions, yes. (With the Square/Cube Law being somewhat handwaved because I'm obviously dealing with non-humans in a fantasy setting.)
     
  12. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Grandmaster

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    Thanks, skip. The hand is closer to the camera, but, yeah, I think the modelers made the hand disproportionately large. They created the creature, which they called an Ogre, at a normal height of eight feet. I scaled it up to twenty feet without changing any proportions of the hands or other appendages.

    Many images of giants show them as quite bulky. They have to be muscular to hold up all that weight. They might also need long arms/hands so they can more easily pick up things without having to bend their bulk so far over.
     
  13. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Staff Moderator

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    Ireth, another way to see it would be to imagine yourself as the Elf instead of the Giant.

    You have stated that the Giant has the normal body proportions that we have, so we can know exactly how large his hands would be in comparison to your 1.63 meter of height. I don't know what is the length of your hand, but let's say that it's 15 centimeters. That means that your hand is 0.092 of your height.

    Then, with the same proportions the 6 meter tall Giant's hand would be 55.2 centimeters long.

    What a huge hand, but it's not enough to wrap itself all around you like you were a rat or a toothbrush. You can draw this 55.2 centimeter hand on paper or cardboard, and that would give you a better idea of how the Elf would feel and what kind of interactions could happen between both characters.

    There are more dramatic interactions seen in Gulliver's Travels (first between Gulliver and the 15cm tall Lilliputians and later between Gulliver and the 18 or 20 meters tall inhabitants of Brobdingnag), but the difference in size is much larger than the one that you are talking about.

    Is the Giant friendly?
     
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  14. Ireth

    Ireth Mythic Scribe

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    Most of them are. Given this story is based on Snow White, one of them is inevitably modeled after Grumpy. But she doesn't interact with the MC as much physically, and she is going to warm up to him by the end. The one who does the most physical interaction with him (the one modeled after Doc) is definitely friendly.
     
  15. SumnerH

    SumnerH Journeyman

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    My gut reaction without thinking is that it's not quite enough of a size difference to make this reasonable, but it's not impossible if you want to stretch things.

    An average full-grown housecat is 18" long without the tail, which is about 1/4 of a 6' tall person. Even without the squirminess factor (assume a willing subject), picking up a grown cat in one hand, held out vertically like that, would be very awkward at best and not easy to hold for long even if you managed it. Holding it horizontally with a hand cradled under it is comparatively easy.

    If your giant has non-human proportions (oversize hands, etc) then the vertical grab might work okay.
     
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  16. psychotick

    psychotick Dark Lord

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    Hi,

    Why not do as Michael did but with four humans standing on top of one another and another beside them in the same pose as the four humans but standing as high as all four. Then you can see for yourself.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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