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How to Draw Hands, a Step-by-Step Guide

How to draw hands - article title

Drawing hands can be a challenging task, as their forms change depending on the gesture. To create a good drawing, one must consider various factors such as anatomy, proportions, and expression. In this step-by-step guide, we will break down the process into simple, easy-to-understand sections.

Expertise: Drawing Hands in a Systematic Manner

If we were to summarize the process of drawing hands in one paragraph, it would be as follows: gain some knowledge of anatomy, begin with the shape and angle of the palm, outline the entire hand while maintaining proportion, and finally add the details and individual fingers. Let’s delve into this step-by-step process below.

1. Consider Shape When Drawing Hands

Start by drawing the contour shape of the hand, keeping in mind the features visible in your reference. Observe the shape of the palm or the back of the hand and build the shape from there. Remember these essential points about hand shape:

  1. There are two main masses: the palm and the thumb. While the fingers may move and fold, the changes in these main masses are minimal.
    how to draw hands - shape of palm and thumb

  2. The middle finger is the longest and forms an arch when extended.
    how to draw hands - second finger

  3. When fingers are extended, they have a slight backward curve. Incorporate this curve for natural-looking drawings.
    how to draw hands - back curve when fingers extended
    how to draw hands

  4. The palm has an inward-pointing arch towards the knuckles. It often appears hollow in the middle, especially when the thumb is brought close to the hand.
    how to draw hands - palm curvature

  5. When clenched into a fist, the thumb does not stretch beyond the second finger.
    how to draw hands - thumb shape

  6. There is a change in shape from the forearm to the hand, with the hand lower than the arm. Observe this shift and indicate it in your drawings.
    how to draw hands - step down from arm to hand

2. Important Landmarks for Drawing Hands

Incorporate anatomical landmarks into your hand drawings to create expressive and believable art. While some artists may seemingly omit these landmarks, they are present in a subtle and essential manner. Here are some prominent landmarks to consider:

  1. The distance between the knuckles and the fingertips is longer than the distance between the webbing of the fingers and the fingertips on the palm side. The knuckles are set back from the webbing.
    how to draw hands - webbing and knuckles

  2. The second knuckle is larger and higher than the rest, creating an arch when the fist is formed.
    how to draw hands - arch when fist is formed
    how to draw hands - fist second knuckle

  3. The palm consists of three sections: the thenar eminence (next to the thumb), the hypothenar eminence (under the little finger), and the pads below the fingers. The thenar eminence is the highest and most noticeable.
    how to draw hands - padding of the palm
    how to draw hands - thenar eminence
    how to draw hands - pads palm view
    how to draw hands - masses of the palm

  4. There are two notable bones in the lower arm connected to the wrist: the radius and the ulna. These bones leave landmarks in the form of bumps below the wrist. The styloid process of the ulna, located on the little finger side, is more prominent.
    how to draw hands - ulna
    how to draw hands - ulna 2

  5. The styloid process of the radius, on the thumb side, is less prominent but still visible from certain angles.
    how to draw hands - styloid process of the radius
    how to draw hands - radius

3. Consider Proportions When Drawing Hands

While there is no definitive formula for hand proportions, practice and observation will help develop an eye for proportion over time. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  1. The first joint of each finger is equal in length to the last two joints of that finger.
    how to draw hands - proportions

  2. The length of the middle finger, from tip to knuckle, is approximately equal to the length of the hand.
    how to draw hands - hand proportions

  3. The first finger almost reaches the fingernail of the middle finger.

  4. The third finger is slightly longer than the index finger.

  5. The little finger barely reaches the top knuckle of the third finger.

  6. To find the last joint in each finger, divide the length from the middle joint to the top of the finger in half.

  7. The height of the hand, from wrist to the tip of the middle finger, is approximately the same as the height of the face.

4. Basic Hand Anatomy for Accurate Drawings

Understanding basic hand anatomy is crucial for creating anatomically correct drawings. Let’s explore the bones and muscles of the hand:

Bones of the hand:

The hand consists of several bones, including the radius and ulna in the forearm, the carpal bones in the wrist, the metacarpals inside the hand, and the phalanges in the fingers and thumb.

Muscles of the hand (back view):

  • 1st dorsal interosseous: This muscle is located between the thumb and index finger, creating movement between them.
  • Abductor digiti minimi: Originating at the pisiform bone, this muscle is responsible for the movement of the little finger.
  • Tendons: The fingers have extensor tendons grouped as tendons of extensor digitorum, while the thumb has its own extensor tendons.

Muscles of the hand (palm view):

  • Thenar eminence: The fleshy area on the thumb side of the palm, responsible for thumb movement.
  • Hypothenar eminence: Located opposite the thenar eminence, this area influences the movement of the little finger.
  • Pads of the palm: These pads of flesh and fat are visible below the fingers, adding cushioning and shape to the hand.

5. Expression and Stylization in Hand Drawings

Hands play a significant role in non-verbal communication, making them essential for conveying expression in drawings. Artists have various styles and approaches when it comes to drawing hands. Consider factors such as finger length, muscle definition, and the overall gesture you wish to depict. Explore different styles and variations to find what resonates with you.

6. Creating Hand Drawings, Step-By-Step

Now let’s embark on a step-by-step drawing process for capturing the essence of hands:

  1. Observe your reference and note the outline or shape you intend to draw. Understand the spirit of that shape and plan your drawing accordingly.
    step-by-step 1

  2. Identify the landmarks in your reference and determine their placement in your drawing. Adjust and refine as necessary.
    step-by-step, example 2

  3. Indicate proportions by placing dots where the fingertips should end. Step back and assess if the proportions are accurate. Adjust if needed.
    step-by-step, example 3

  4. Begin adding details and individual fingers based on the outline and proportions. Refine the forms as you go.
    step-by-step, example 4
    step-by-step, example 5
    step-by-step, example 6

Remember, practice is key to improving your hand drawing skills. Observe how the muscles and fingers move in various gestures and interactions. For a more advanced understanding of hand function, consider exploring advanced resources on this topic.

BONUS: How to Draw Hands Using Bridgman Construction

For an alternative method, you can use the six-line construction technique found in Bridgman’s anatomy books. This method focuses on the active and inactive sides of the hand, utilizing six lines for construction. Depending on the gesture, two lines are dedicated to the active side and one to the inactive side. While this method simplifies construction, proportions still need to be resolved for accurate representation.
how to draw hands - Bridgman construction - 6 lines

Final Remarks on Drawing Hands

Drawing hands can be a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. Continuously observe and study the hands of others, including great masterpieces, to expand your visual vocabulary. By understanding hand anatomy, landmarks, proportions, and expression, you will develop the skills needed to create believable hand drawings. Remember to practice regularly and experiment with different styles to find your unique approach.

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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