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How to Draw Hands

Hands are one of the more challenging body parts to draw but extremely important to master since their shape and pose offer many expressive possibilities. However, with a few guidelines, the drawing process becomes less daunting. All that's required are a few basic shapes, drawn in proportion. However, if drawn poorly, the hands can dramatically take away from the piece and act as a distraction from the quality of your work.

When drawing hands, it is crucial to note the length of the hand which equals the same length as the face. What is more, many people make the mistake of drawing the palm too small when in fact the palm is the same length as the distance from the knuckles to the tip of the middle finger. Either of these important measurements can throw off the proportion of the hand and the entire look of the piece. You will also note that the ring finger is just slightly shorter than the length of the index finger. What is less obvious is the length of the pinky finger whose tip lines up with the first knuckle of the ring finger. Fingers are made up of three small bones while the thumb has only two. These bones are connected by knuckles. At each knuckle, your finger is slightly wider. Remember to incorporate this characteristic into your drawing.

 Rectangular Guide

Geometric Model

Drawing tip: Start with a geometric sketch of the hand and wrist to help build overall structure.

To help draw hands in proportion, start with a rectangle slightly more narrow at one end (to form the appropriate width of the wrist). Next, divide this rectangle in half to achieve accurate proportions for both the length of the palm and length of the fingers. Note: One can create any length hand, or thickness of fingers by adjusting the size of the rectangle.

When drawing the fingers, note that one side of the index finger shares the line forming the side of the rectangle. Just right of center is the middle finger and the inner tip of the pinky finger touches the other side of the rectangle with half of the pinky left outside the boundaries of the rectangle. The thumb is entirely outside of the rectangle. When relaxed, the thumb sticks out at a 45 degree angle and there is a web of skin between the thumb and forefinger. Begin with the little finger and work inwards from there. This technique enables you to use the smallest reference point to measure from. Do not see or treat the fingers as four individual units; instead, see them as a rectangle with three dividing lines.

Remember that each finger has natural curves before and after every knuckle, however it is often easier to lightly sketch in the digits with straight lines to establish proportions first before adding these sorts of details. Knuckles are rendered with groupings of curved lines.