Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves
Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves is about more angular, more square and more muscular men, male animals, aliens, monsters, fantastical and mythical creatures, and robots and more curvaceous and rounder women, female animals, aliens, monsters, fantastical and mythical creatures, and robots. Female characters can be angular, but they are usually curvier and less square than male characters.
Bird and mammal characters in the lower end of the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism
(from Nearly Normal Animal
to Funny Animal
) tend to be given chest ruff for these purposes on females to give a distinct Non-Mammal Mammaries
Female characters might also be given Hartman Hips
This is a foundational trope for character design in comics. Part of the problem with human examples is that they are so pervasive! It's very common for (human) male and female characters to be clearly differentiated with exaggerated straight-line, curved line designs to the point where we don't even notice any more.
For animal examples, please only list examples that are both on the same (or at very similar) level(s) on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism
; examples where female animals are actually more anthropomorphic than male animals and not merely more curvaceous go under Humanoid Female Animal
. See also Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism
- Pick up a copy of most commercial comic art books—specifically Wizard Magazine's "How to Draw" series or How To Draw The Marvel Way. Female characters will be drawn much curvier than males.
- Dick Tracy's visual signature is his ultra-manly rectilinear chin and nose.
- In the American version of Dennis The Menace, Henry and Alice Mitchell are notorious examples, specially during its' first twenty years.
- Similarly, Darryl of Baby Blues is more angular-looking than his wife Wanda.
- In Joker Poker, three curvacious female jokers are featured on the backglass, while the playfield has two playing-card Kings, sporting sharply angular features.
- Dresden Codak: Ron Awning's character design is based on triangles. Kim Ross is based on circles and soft curves.
- Aaron Diaz, creator of Dresden Codak, writes a blog called Indistinguishable From Magic where he discusses comics. This artwork from the blog - specifically, from the figure design essay - seems like a good illustration of the trope. (Though the discussion was about the need for instant recognition in design rather than male-female design; Ron's sister Vonnie, not shown on this trope page, is made up of arches and triangles.)
- The Order of the Stick has rectangular, straight-line models for male characters' torsos and curvy rounded models for female characters' torsos. The series also abuses the audience's trust in this trope in order to make Ambiguous Gender jokes, since the torsos and hairstyles are the ONLY gender differences (that we're allowed to see, at least).
- Even though they're not like this in real life (as they're, well, human), the title cards for The Nostalgia Critic and The Nostalgia Chick reflect this style. The Critic is drawn thin, angular and with very hard lines although the man himself has quite a soft face, while the Chick is placed in just as silly situations but is drawn with Curves in All the Right Places.
- A drawing tutorial by Majnouna from DeviantArt states that the female "body is made up of [an] oval, [and] soft shapes." while the male "body is made up of [a] trapezoid, [and] angular shapes." The oval and trapezoid are to help draw the torso.
- On Clone High, male characters are drawn with boxy frames and straight lines, and rectangular fingers that end with an edge. Female characters are drawn with curvy frames, including Hartman Hips and curved fingers that end in points.
- Batman: The Animated Series and anything else with designs by Bruce Timm. His male characters are always extremely blocky compared to the curvy women. Men often have square jaws, square hairlines, even square ears! Meanwhile, women look like they've been poured into their outfits.
- Phineas and Ferb is a particularly clear example. Phineas is blocky with a triangular head; Doofenshmirtz is the the same but his edges are rounded off. Ferb, Lawrence and Major Monogram are made of a series of boxes. Candace is quite angular but has a round face; Isabella and the Fireside Girls are similar. Linda and Vanessa are all curves.
- Total Drama Island/Action/World Tour
- Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter is a very boxy kid, and Dad has a rectangular face. Deedee and Mom have more rounded face and body lines (especially Mom's Hartman Hips).
- Two of the Star Wars CGI-animated series establishes that female mandalorian warriors get helmets that have a more curved, bird-like viewports on their helmets, compared to the traditional "male" ones like what Boba Fett wears. Compare Bo-Katan's or Sabine's helmets to Boba's.
- Inverted with human clavicles; men's clavicles are more curved than women's clavicles.
- Even descriptions of men and women follow this pattern. When describing the "ideal" shape for men, the most common terms are a V-Shape (broad shoulders, slim waist) or X-Shape (same, but with more developed legs.) Women, however, are usually described as hourglass- or pear-shaped.
Animal (Real or Fictional Species) Examples
- Female emperor penguins in Happy Feet look a little more curvaceous than the males. They also have feminine shading on their chests, which the male penguins don't have.
- Pongo from 101 Dalmatians has more pronounced shoulders, a squarer snout, and straighter lines than his mate, Perdita. In contrast, Perdita has a more delicate chin, rounder shoulders, and a more curved, slender body.
- Scratte from Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs has Hartman Hips and looks more curvaceous than Scrat.
- Shows up with the animals in Home on the Range.
- This shows up in the facial structures of the ponies in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Generally, male ponies have more straighter, more angular muzzles and narrower ears than female ponies.
Alien and Monster Examples
- Pokémon plays this straight with Gallade, whom due to it being a male-only species, has a very angular body, but subverted with the more feminine-looking Gardevoir (and to a much lesser extent, Kirlia), where despite having a curved body, can actually be both genders. Ralts, on the other hand averts this as it appears to have a gender-neutral appearance.
- While both have No Biological Sex, Reshiram and Zekrom were designed as polar opposites, with one of them being that they are designed to have feminine and masculine features respectively.
- Perhaps best exemplified in the Mass Effect universe between the asari and turians. Asari are an all-female race whose technology, shipbuilding, and architecture emphasize smooth lines, sloping curves, and chrome finishes. Basically their homeworld is what Steve Jobs would create if he got to design a planet. Even their bodies exhibit this design aesthetic, with the gentle wave of their head fringe. Their masculine counterparts, the turians, are all about sharp, jagged edges that look like they could skewer something. Even their bodies are covered in hard, chitonous bones, and their head fringe juts out to a downright deadly-looking point.
- In Mass Effect 3: Omega, we see Nyreen Kandros, the first on-screen female turian, who's designed in a much softer manner than other turians. In particular, her head fringes are significantly shorter than the males'.
Deity and Fantastical and Mythical Creature Examples
- The Greek gods and goddesses from Hercules.
- This is basically the gist of the Wyvern Rider and Pegasus Knight classes in Fire Emblem. The former tend to have sharper, angular, and more blocky designs as opposed to the sleek and more form-fitting uniforms of the Pegasus Knights.
- In the Jugdral continuity, this is zigzagged. The predominantly-male Wyvern Riders tend to be brutish-looking male characters and the mounts themselves are rather bulky-looking things. However, the most important characters - Travant and Arion, and Altenna - are, respectively, a pair of biseinen and Aloof Dark-Haired Girl. By contrast, the female-only Pegasus Knights feature highly feminine women like Mahnya and Ferry riding sleek winged horses. However, a trio of antagonistic Pegasus Knights in the endgame all have very triangular faces.
- As the series as a whole underwent Art Evolution, this began applying in different ways to the classes' costumes: with Wyvern Riders having sharp, angular, and blocky armour as opposed to the sleek and more form-fitting uniforms of the Pegasus Knights.
- This trope also applies to the Wyvern Riders of Fire Emblem Awakening: Cherche and Jerome. One of them wears form-fitting armour that shows off their curvaceous body and frames their gentle face while carrying a sleek-looking axe. One of them wears thick armour, has sharp facial features and carries a bulky axe. Guess which is which.
- WALL•E and EVE fall into this pattern. He's boxy, she looks like she was made by Apple. The masculine and feminine shapes of WALL•E and EVE was even highlighted in the credits. The eight-bit versions of them start out as a brown square and white ellipse. The other Axiom robots who are (presumably) male are more angled and squareish too.
- Cars (also by Pixar) actually did this with the characters' windshields. Male cars have angular eyelids, while female have curved eyelids.
- A more straight example would be Shu Todoroki the Japanese racecar and Carla Veloso the Brazilian racecar from the sequel. While the two cars both appear to be of the exact same make and model, Shu, being male has a more angular appearance, while Carla, being female has a more curved appearance.
- In general, female cars are given more rounded car designs (posesing less prominent grilles, which look like mustaches when antropomorphized), such as Porsches.