Black and white photo of a hand holding a pencil

So you hate drawing hands?

So you hate drawing hands? I have comforting news for you, you are not alone. There are many of us and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Hands are difficult to draw. There is no doubt about it. Hands are the single most intricate form on the human body because of the sheer number of gestures and movements they alone are capable of. However for this same reason hands carry an enormous visual language, you can express so much just by the use of hand gestures in your artwork.

Therefore if you hate drawing hands, you need to draw hands until you no longer hate it; you need to understand the hand. The first thing to understand when drawing hands, is that while tracing hands of photos and what not may help you, the best way to learn how to draw a hand is to learn how the hand works anatomically. Once you understand the anatomy of a hand you will be able to visualize it in any gesture, which is far more helpful than only knowing how to draw it in a set number of positions memorized of pictures.

“If you are drawing a blank, or are having a hard time drawing a certain thing, then it is because you have not studied it enough.” – Glen Keane [Tweet This]

There are artists out there who try to hide their problem with drawing hands by simply obscuring the hands in their pieces, they’re hidden behind objects/characters and let me tell you, although I have been guilty of doing this myself too, it is a BAD solution. Strong hands show a sense of mastery in your work, so you have to practice and learn. By hiding the hands in your work, you’re pointing out your own weakness so do not do it. It will be noticed.

Now the GOOD news are there are help for people like you and me, who hate drawing hands. Thanks to our common friend the internet, there are a number of resources readily available to help us study. I asked my good friend Google and found the following, which I am very happy to share with you:

The best hit was the Academy of Character Design who have a series of four posts on hands – I picked out some of my favourites for you. The drawings are by Andrew Loomis, Rune Brandt Bennicke, Milt Kahl, Jeff Smith, Jin Kim and Jim Macauley.

You can find the full post series and more images in the links posted by the end of this post.


Next I came across The Art Center – who also had a great post on hands. Some of the images were the same as the ones posted at the Academy of Character Design, but a couple differed:


And lastly the blog Drawn In Black, which I have followed for a while, have a great collection of 35 different hand tutorials from across the internet. You can find it here: How to draw hands: 35 Tutorials

I hope this was helpful to some of you out there, now let us defeat this hatred of drawing hands by practicing! Draw, draw, draw!

Links:
Academy of Character Design: Hand References, four part series.
The Art Center: Hands
Drawn In Black: 35 tutorials on Hands

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Kiri Østergaard Leonard is an award winning illustrator and artist from Denmark, currently living in Austin, Texas. She enjoys working on projects within the fantasy and children's illustration genre.

9 Comments

  • Matthew Thayer

    02.12.2013 at 03:31 Reply

    Thanks for the post. Lots of great stuff here. 🙂

  • Garance Cordier

    22.10.2013 at 11:57 Reply

    Article tres interessant sur ''comment dessiner les mains'' avec des references de grands artistes.

  • Jeremiah Torrevillas

    16.03.2013 at 01:06 Reply

    Thank you for taking the time creating this post. Very helpful, thank you

    • Kiri

      16.03.2013 at 13:43 Reply

      You’re welcome!

  • amish

    09.03.2013 at 11:30 Reply

    heya just want to know you are wrong on the first two pictures as well. those arent milt kahl hands they are rune bennickes

    http://flipbooksnstuff.blogspot.com/2008/11/american-dog.html

    • Kiri

      11.03.2013 at 15:07 Reply

      Ahh, thanks for the correction!

  • Victoria

    18.05.2012 at 14:35 Reply

    Just a small correction, the Tangled Hands are actually by Jin Kim and not Glean Keane.

    • Kiri

      19.05.2012 at 01:51 Reply

      Oh! Thank you for that! 🙂

  • ryan

    15.05.2012 at 18:15 Reply

    hands are defiantly intimidating. but they can make or break a piece. Thanks for this post very helpful indeed.

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