How to Draw Hands-Introduction to Sketching and Drawing-How to Draw Series
Our hands, they can be quite a useful thing in everyday life; from eating to typing, drawing,
writing, and also they can be a way to express ourselves.
Sadly many take hands for granted both in having them and in drawing them, many starting
artists think they are easy and something they will land the very first time, but unfortunately very
few, if any, are an art genius from the start. I have seen many starting artist hide the hands of the
person in their art piece, behind the back, in their pants pockets, etc. If you think about it you
may have played this trick before as well, probably one of the reasons you need this book. But do
not worry or fret it might take a little bit of time topped with some good old practice to draw this
vital part of the human body.
Hands can be difficult because they can assume hundreds of different shapes and positions with
a very complex muscular and skeletal structure in them. Not to mention the angle at which they
are viewed will change the whole process of drawing them.
In this book we are going to talk about how to draw hands. We're going to see how to capture the
complexities of the hand and draw them on paper, a canvas, or anything you can possibly
imagine, you're the artist after all!
How to study and prepare for drawing
If you have a model of some sort (a human, a statue, etc) these are great for beginning artists.
One can visually break it down and start seeing it as the individual parts; the lines, the curves,
and the lighting that make it look the way it does. Understanding the way the lines and curves
interact with each other rather than seeing the hand in your head, is key. We all have
preconceived ideas of the way something should be, but that may not be the way it is in reality.
This is why the use of a model is so vital to your success in drawing.
On the other hand if you are drawing with no reference but simply out of your imagination you
need to create a very clear image of what you want to draw in your head, visualize it as
realistically as you can in your mind and make yourself feel as if you have it in front of your very
Since you've got such a real image you can now go through the steps of breaking it down to
lines, curves, and squiggles just like you would have done if you had an actual material model.
With time and practice you will not even think about any of this and it will become second
The length of a hand from the tip of the middle finger to the other side of the hand vertically (the
longest length of the hand fingers close together) and the length from the middle finger to the
thumb when the hand is fully stretched open is the same. This length is also roughly the same
length as the distance from your hairline to your chin. Another important proportion is when the
arms are down the hands lie somewhere under the lower part of the hip, about a fourth the
distance from the hip to the knee.
All the proportions above can easily differ from person to person since some people have smaller
or larger chins, foreheads, palms, fingers, etc. This is just a general idea everyone is different so
the key is to be very observant and study your subjects the best you possibly can, this way you
can capture the cues that make a hand, or anything you are drawing, look realistic.
Almost from any angle hands have similar bases which stretch, enlarge, or disappear according
to what angle you are looking at the hand from. The heel part of the hand resembles a slightly
angled ‘"U’’ divided in 4 circles (the knuckles) in the open side of the ‘’U’’ from those circles
there is five thin elongated other ’’U’’ shaped phalanges varying in size.
Coming out from the circles previously drawn, for this hand position the fingers are gradually
closing so less and less of the fingers show at the furthest point from you which means the
smaller is the amount of the elongated "U" shape you should be drawing as shown in the picture.
Drawing the arm should be almost like drawing two parallel lines but not quite it tapers near the
joint with the hands and more further apart near the elbow’s side.
Once you do all the sketching and the layout, erase all the rough lines and leave the hand shape
lightly visible, when erasing do it slowly without rushing, you do not want to smudge the pencil.
It should be fairly easy if you used an HB or a slightly harder pencil and pressed fairly gentle
while drawing, you can now create a final outline, still somewhat light, but make sure you are
confident, before you start the shading or coloring.
When you shade, always plan and think beforehand to where the light is coming from, how it
hits the object, and what kind of light is it. Start by very lightly identifying the darker and lighter
areas, shade for a quick idea of where shading should happen, always draw the outline of the
shading very lightly.
Now let's start the actual shading, pick the style you want to shade with and preferably stick with
it throughout. The only exception would be if you purposely want to shade different objects in
different ways to create a specific effect. Always start the shading with an HB pencil and use
light shading, go with bolder pencils from there on, instead of pressing harder on the parts you
want darker go over more than once with a 4B or even a 6 B. To help avoid smudges, cut the
index and thumb fingers off an old pair of gloves, this is known as an artist's glove. Another trick
is to place parchment paper under your hand while drawing. Smudging is a great tool that can
aide you in smoothing the shadows so they look smooth, but it can also ruin your drawing if
smudging is done unintentionally.
THE DIFFERENT WAYS OF SHADING AND THE TOOLS THAT WILL MAKE IT
There are four very distinct ways of shading; they are cross hatching, hatching, blending, and
The grid method is the most basic method used. It is used for almost all kinds of subjects. If you
are basing your drawing on a photo, this will be a good method to resort to.
Simply draw a grid over the photo of your subject. Similarly, create a grid on the sheet of paper
using your HB pencil and a ruler. You might want to use a transparent ruler for this purpose. It
will ensure the lines on your grid are equally spaced. Increasing the distance between the lines of
the grid produces larger depictions of the subject.
Then, sketch the exact same figure on each square. If done correctly, the most novice of
beginners should be able to recreate an exact replica of the subject.
Process of the Grid Technique: 1) Draw a grid over the subject and on your drawing pad. 2)
Draw the figures on each grid of the photo onto the square it corresponds with on your drawing
Blocks and Cylinders
While this is typically used when creating comic strip and Manga figures, it is generally a
technique artists use for various types of drawings. Similar to the shading exercise mentioned
earlier, start out by observing your subject and then imagine each part as a geometrical form.
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