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How To Draw A Hand

In this Sketchbook Session I demonstrate my approach to drawing a hand.

I start by sketching the general structure and overall shape, and pay attention to proportion, position and direction of the palm of the hand and the fingers.

I then develop the form with line and tone.



Tips for Drawing Hands

When the hands are at ease, the fingers will bend. This is especially true if the palm is facing up. Hold out your hand and observe what happens when your palm faces the ground and when it faces the sky. When drawing, look for the rate of curve and bend of each finger.

Observe people’s hands in action and at rest. Watch how the hand straightens, bends, relaxes, grabs, writes, throws, grips and gestures. Look for the length and direction of core lines.

Draw from photos of hands. You can get stock photos as reference. (Unsplash, Wikimedia, Pixabay, for example). You can approach this in two ways:

Draw the gesture and movement in loose lines. Work quickly, filling a page in your sketchbook with loose, gestural drawings. Capture curves and motion. Don’t worry about the details of the contours.

Worry about the details of the contours. Slow down and observe the hands carefully. Draw 1-2 hands on each page. Drawing larger allows you to add more detail. Try abstracting what you see into geometric blocks and cylinders. Pay attention to changes in angles and scale (size).

Draw your own hands. Begin with your non-writing hand. Draw your hand holding objects, flat, relaxed and in a loose fist. Use a mirror to see the other side, and draw what you see in the mirror.

Draw others’ hands. Look for different characteristics in the hands of people of different ages, genders and body types: children, men, women, older people. Remember that hands are expressive. How do people use their hands to communicate and accomplish tasks? When you consider how hands are structured and what we do with them, we are better able to illustrate them.

As always, you will not improve unless you decide to. Getting better takes effort and time. But as you draw regularly, your skills will improve.



Media used in the video demonstration: Derwent Inktense pencil and Wolff’s carbon pencil. I like carbon over charcoal because it’s just as black but not as messy.

Music track is by Bensound.

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Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and principal of Alvalyn Creative, an independent consultancy providing brand strategy design and bespoke illustration for more than 30 years. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business school and podcast for creative freelancers. She teaches design and design practice on the college level with design schools and programs.