A Detailed Tutorial on How to Draw Hands

Today, we'd like to help you overcome a common artistic fear: drawing hands.

In the world of art, drawing hands has a well-deserved reputation as one of the trickiest tasks.

They can strike an infinite variety of intricate poses because their construction involves a plethora of tiny joints and ligaments. Like any other skill, drawing hands benefits greatly from repetition.

Check out Maria Lia Malandrino's Fundamentals of Drawing if you're interested in mastering the art of human figure drawing.

Here are a few things she teaches in her course that will help you draw hands more easily so you know what to expect.

Learning the Bones

Learning the fundamentals of hand anatomy is the first step in mastering the skill of hand drawing.

There are 27 bones (28 counting the wrist) that make up a human hand. The hand is home to a wide variety of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

The muscles are the contracting structures that allow the hand bones to move.

Hand joints are held together by ligaments, connective tissues. Tendons attach flexor muscles of the hand to the bone.

In addition to these parts, the hand also contains blood vessels, nerves, and sensory endings.

Anatomy of the human hand Graph drawn by: Group of Hand Surgeons and Rehabilitators in Istanbul

Studying medical diagrams of hands can be useful for learning about their overall bone structure and how they move due to the complexity of hand anatomy.

The skin on our palms is often a slightly different color than the rest of our skin, which is something to keep in mind as well.

In those with lighter skin tones, this can cause their palms to appear pink, while those with darker skin tones may have palms that are lighter in color than the rest of their skin.

Attempt the Loomis Technique

The Loomis method, depicted in the image below, is an excellent way to learn how to draw hands by breaking down the various proportions of the hand.

In her course "Fundamentals of Drawing," Maria Lia Malandrino does a fantastic job of explaining this technique.

If you're looking for a fantastically comprehensive guide to drawing hands, it's a must-read.


Gather a List of Reliable Sources

When starting a new drawing, finding suitable reference images is always a good idea. Seek out snapshots of varying poses and perspectives.

Your understanding of hands and their appearance will benefit greatly from this. You'll be able to draw them in any position after some practice.

Sketch Daily and Pinterest are great places to look for examples of people's hands, and you can even use photos you take of your own to use as a reference.

How to draw human hand using a reference image @rheatibbey

Advice to Keep in Mind While Rehearsing

  • Men typically have larger, squarer hands than women do.
  • The human hand should be drawn with the middle finger the longest. Finger lengths should be uniform between the index and ring fingers, with the pinky being the shortest.

First, use a reference to sketch out the main shapes.

  1. Take a look at your source and judge the stacking order of the fingers. When depicting hands from unusual perspectives, this can be a huge help.
  2. Once you have a firm grasp on how the fingers are stacked in the image, you can move on to laying out where the digits' ends and joints will be. If you've never attempted to draw a hand from this angle before, you can always reduce the opacity of your reference and draw directly over it as a guide.
  3. The basic forms of the hand can be drawn using simple block shapes once you have the joints mapped out. This guarantees the hand will always look three dimensional.  
  4. Put in your final contours, making sure to round off the shapes and draw more curved lines than straight ones. Using your own hand as a reference can be useful for double-checking any information about which you are unsure.

Drawing Hands: Advice from the Pros

Your character's hands will have varying finger lengths and details consistent with their age. In contrast to the long, thin fingers and prominent ligaments and knuckles of an older person, a baby's fingers are short and rounded.

A drawing comparing hand of a baby, child, adult, and an old person @art_bymemo 

Without Using a Mirror, Here's How to Draw Hands

Do you wish to learn how to draw hands from memory, without the aid of visual aids? Perhaps this straightforward strategy is all that's required to kick things off  

  1. The palm can be thought of as a square or rectangle at its most fundamental level. Use this as a template for your hand drawing. Make an effort to give the impression of depth when drawing the hand's basic shapes.
  2. Using the rectangle as a guide, sketch out the fingers so that they fan out from the wrist.
  3. Draw some simple cubes for finger tips to start. These will serve as a template for the remaining fingers as you draw them.
  4. The thumb should then disengage from the palm's circular joint. Draw a similar cubelike shape for the thumb's tip.
  5. You can now build upon this basic outline of a hand by adding more intricate strokes. At this stage, visualizing each finger as a separate cylinder can be useful.
  6. Finish off your artwork with some coloring and shading. Finish what you started Keep in mind what was stated earlier with regards to the palm and fingertip skin color.
Steps for drawing human hands without reference @rheatibbey

You can now begin illustrating various hand gestures for your characters now that you know how to draw hands using these straightforward methods.

Want to improve your hand drawing skills but can't seem to find any more helpful tutorials? Maria Lia Malandrino has a great book out called "Fundamentals of Drawing."

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