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Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves

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"Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves" is a visual trope about the marked difference in how men and women are drawn in artwork and animation. Males—be they human(oid), robot, or animal—will have more angular faces, square jaws, and broad, square shoulders. Meanwhile, females will have smoother, rounder faces and curvaceous bodies.

In humans, this trope is somewhat true to life. The differences between male and female physiology generally revolve around bearing and nurturing young; the average adult human woman has more fat than a man of the same size, which functions as fuel reserves for a developing baby during pregnancy. This means there's technically no reason for a robot or non-mammalian creature to look this way; it's just our brains' visual cue telling us "This android/alien/whatever is female."

Female bird and mammal characters in the lower end of the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism (from Nearly Normal Animal to Funny Animal) often sport a ruff of feathers or fur at chest level that serves as an analogue for womens' breasts, in a manner that approaches Non-Mammal Mammaries. Female characters might also be given Hartman Hips.

This is a foundational trope for character design in comics, and extremely pervasive with human characters. It's very common for 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 and Cute Monster Girl when females of nonhuman species are drawn to be "pretty" compared to the male's more bestial/monstrous look.

Human and Demihuman Examples

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  • The Kiss (Klimt): The man has a boxy body and drawn with rectangles filling his body, while the woman has notable curves and is drawn with circles filling her body.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In Super Sentai and Power Rangers, the visors on the helmets on the male rangers will be very sharp and angular while the females will be very rounded (Pink rangers have a strange tendency to have their helmets be heart shaped, or very close to it.) The Zeo Rangers are probably the best example.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 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).
  • Awful Hospital has curvy, rounded Fern and tall, gangly, square-headed Jay. Averted with Dr. Man.

    Web Original 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 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.
  • The Powerpuff Girls have circular heads, bodies, hands and feet, whereas their father, Professor Utonium possesses rectangular equivalents. The Rowdyruff Boys subvert this by having the same circula traits as the Powerpuff Girls themselves.
  • 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 - "male" helmets have a thick, roughly T-Shaped visor with a wide rectangular vertical slit, "female" helmets are more more oval-shaped but tapering to a point both horizontally and vertically. Sabine's helmet has a mixture of both traits, with the thick vertical stalk like the male helmets but the rounded owl-like eye slit of the female ones, as befits her tomboyish personality.

    Real Life 
  • Inverted with human clavicles; men's clavicles are more curved than women's.
  • 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), X-Shape (same, but with more developed legs), or H-Shape (shoulders, waist, and hips with similar width). Women, however, are usually described as hourglass-, pear-, or apple-shaped.
  • When a Transgender man takes testosterone, it often reduces the fat in his face, giving him a more angular, masculine jawline. While not every trans man develops a Lantern Jaw of Justice, comparing before-and-after photos will show a very marked difference in facial structure. Unfortunately for trans women, estrogen alone rarely has a comparable effect, and many resort to plastic surgery to feminize their faces.

Animal (Real or Fictional Species) Examples

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Brother Tai has a noticeably more angular appearance than his crush, Sister Tigress, who has more curved lines in her design.

  • 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: Dawn of the Dinosaurs has Hartman Hips and looks more curvaceous than Scrat.
  • Shows up with the animals in Home on the Range.
  • In The Lion King (1994) female lions (lionesses) such as Nala appear smooth, whereas male lions such as Simba appear rugged. The character designers, such as Aaron Blaise, made a conscious effort to integrate the principle of "rough males, smooth females" into designing the characters, even though it may not make a whole lot of sense considering these animals have pretty much the same build and are covered in rough fur anyway.

    Western Animation 
  • 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

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon
    • The Ralts line plays with this. Ralts has a gender-neutral appearance while its evolutions Kirlia and Gardevoir have flowing, feminine appearances. However, later games introduced a male-only evolution Gallade, which is much more angular compared to Gardevoir.
    • Pokémon Black and White: 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.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield: Male Indeedee have angular hips and Tsurime Eyes, while female ones have Hartman Hips and Tareme Eyes. Male Indeedees' horns curl upward, making them look aggressive, while female ones curl downwards (similar to pigtails) and are more rounded, making them look gentle.
  • 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, chitinous 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'.
  • In Kerbal Space Program, the head profiles of male Kerbals have corners while the heads of female Kerbals are more rounded.

Deity and Fantastical and Mythical Creature Examples

  • The Greek gods and goddesses from Hercules.

    Video Games 
  • 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 (Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776), 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 Gerome. 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.

    Web Original 
  • In this drawing of a dragon couple, can you guess which is the male and which is the female?

Robot and Animate Inanimate Object Examples

  • Wall E and EVE fall into this pattern. He's boxy, she looks like she was made by Applenote . 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 race car and Carla Veloso the Brazilian race car 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, such as Porsches. They have less prominent grilles, which look like mustaches when anthropomorphized.

    Western Animation 
  • Black Widow from Avengers Assemble especially in season 2. Zarda also counts as well during her close ups.
  • Though it is subverted at times, this is the general pattern for the manbots and fembots of Futurama.
    • Including the time Bender was converted from one to the other and his chassis was forcibly reshaped into a curvier form.
    Professor Farnsworth: And now to begin the delicate procedure of a robot sex-change. (produces sledgehammer and starts swinging)
  • Most of the Transformers from Transformers: Generation 1 are male and drawn in straight lines. The few (toyless) females are generally curvier, but so are nearly all the males not drawn after a toy.
  • Superjail!: Jailbot is a white tombstone-shaped levitating robot with a boxy form. His Distaff Counterpart NOVA, on the other hand, is pink and much curvier.