Even that quick first attempt looks about a thousand times better to me than the current defaults in BG3!
I hope they end up going for something more like that.
Oh also regarding skull sizes, another important thing to consider is that we are all pretty used to seeing conventional depictions where the "normal" head to body ratio is not the average but already an extreme.
In traditional art and illustration the ideal ratio is 1:8, in fashion its typically 1:9, so that may contribute to what seems off if going the other direction. 1:7 is more realistic, but we get mainly 1:8 from commercial illustration and advertising, and even in photography there is a tendency to choose models who get closer to the 1:8 ideal when casting.
Shadowheart, Gale and Astarion all appear to have the 1:8 head to body ratio in this game (they're actually pushing unreal, closer to 1:9) which is probably what makes them look like tall centerfold types by the standards of like magazines or movie posters hehe. We can blame the Vitruvian Man for popularizing these conventions in modern times, especially since it was widely reproduced during the 18th/19th century when traditional illustration was peaking, along with many of the other ballpark relative proportions that have since become ideals in artistic depiction. DaVinci favored composing from the square following the classical advice, and in that image he put the "head" of the Vitruvian Man (chin to crown) at 1:8, and the "face" (chin to hair) at 1:10, relative to the height of the whole figure. Doré, who was probably the greatest illustrator of all time, used the same basic proportions in his figures. So did Gibson for his Gibson Girl and Gibson Guy, which taken together give a snapshot of how the rule was put into practice in popular forms during the second half of the 19th century.
Basically in art we've seen 1:8 pretty consistently for a couple centuries now, and if it diverges from that it tends to go even taller into 1:9 territory with the body elongated and more stylized. That's just what we're used to seeing - smaller heads in general. After photography was invented, the use of those proportions didn't stop, mainly because they still work so well in drafting and because the visual norms were already well established by that point in print. We seem to find it's appeal enduring, even if it's not exactly accurate and sets unrealistic expectations of beauty.
Here are the idealized proportions as shown by Andrew Loomis...
Note especially the labelling in that last image. Gives a real sense of the conventions at play hehe
Those images were first published in "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth" 1943. The same idea is shown again in "Successful Drawing" 1952, where the 8-head-mannequin also appears on the cover.
These were standard instructional texts, along with Bridgman's, considered classics for American illustrators of the 20th century. Just about every D&D illustrator we associate with the high fantasy genre would have been familiar with them, or at least with the basic ideas there regarding proportions.
Vilppu still teaches the same method in animation. It also informs the standards established by Disney way back when, even when they were rotoscoping live actors, for how to distort those figures to further maximize aesthetic appeal. This is for figurative realism where the 'real' has already been idealized to a fair extent.
The reason the 1:8 thing is useful for drafting, is because it is very simple to divide a line of any length in half by eyeballing it. Then through halving, using relative lengths and splitting things in half, to arrive at the place where things need to go, a head for example. All pedantic to be sure, but that's why forums exist right? and this seemed as good an opportunity as any lol. Main point being that Shadowheart isn't really the average, she's definitely already the idealized version. 1:8-8.5 at least according to the Loomis scale.
We see the smaller heads and we think mimesis, gravitas, and like studied academic refinement following the classical forms hehe, whereas larger heads indicate more caricature and cartooning and like the bawdy sarcasm of satirical cartoons. Or in the old papers, it's the basic difference between the funny pages and the super hero pages. So that translates over, whether we want it to or not, I think. A bobblehead is just going to bring that baggage along for the ride, whereas if they give Halflings the same basic treatment as the Human models (e.g proportional skulls) they'd have something that can work a rather different appeal.
Hair is important for the overall visual read too. We're not super used to seeing heads sans hairlines the way a skull presents in maquette. A hairline compresses the sense of relative scale even further for a given head/face. So if you take any of the current models in the BG3 game and select the "no hair" option, the skulls will appear larger on that figure, even if they haven't actually changed in scale. You can make Shadowheart's head feel massive for example, just by removing her fringe/braid and opting for the Mr. Clean style waxy dome instead. That's why in the Halfling wireframes above even the normal Human models already sort of look like they have Gerber baby heads. Or why among the current Halflings, the dude on the far left of the rock seems to have an extra giant dome (the Halfling skull models are huge in BG3!) We are pretty conversant in these 1:8 ideals just from being bombarded by idealized images of humans constantly, and thus pick up on subtle scaling differences very quickly. Especially with skulls since its a big part of the visual language inheritance and we're trained to look for it as a hallmark of cartooning. Enlarged heads set a visual tone, and as noted many times, a little goes a long way hehe. I think their best bet is to go 1/2 scale off their idealized Human counterparts for the Halflings, so it carries through in the quick read. Pretty much exactly like the <Redacted> image above. At least as a starting point. If they want to go 1:7 for the Halfling skulls from there, the difference won't seem as marked, and at least the body animations would look alright.
Just to reiterate, I think if they gave Halflings the proportionality and aesthetic appeal of the Human/Half-Elf models at 1:2, then Halflings would instantly rival Humans as a top choice for a PC with many players. Right now I suspect Halflings are coming in like dead last behind Dwarves and Githyanki. All the current Halflings models could just become Dwarf/Gnome models so the work isn't lost. Halflings at 1:2 would feel so novel, it'd seem like they actually added a new race. I totally think that's what they should do, and just scale down the weapons types to include small size-versions. I mean since they're a distinct culture and mini civilization, the idea of them having to use human sized daggers for swords just feels goofy. It works in the Hobbit as a one off, but in Faerun they should have access to weapons that fit their stature. For the modellers just hit scale, so it's not too much crazy work. Or I don't know, but hopefully they read some of this stuff, fingers crossed, cause this is still the best thread.