Saturday, February 16, 2013

How to draw a hand - Clenched fist and open palm

Hey world,

Today's drawing lesson will be dealing with a very touchy and sensitive subject... you will learn how to draw hands!!

So yeah, I'm half kidding half serious. A lot of people struggle drawing the human hand, because it CAN be pretty complicated, but as long as you understand the basic logic of it, you're gonna be fine [=

* Update (July 2013) - I made a newer, more elaborate lesson: How to draw hands - A step by step guide, and some more examples: How to draw hands - Step by step - Examples, that I recommend you to check out now / after you finish this lesson (links will open in a new window).

In this lesson, I will try to explain a bit on how it works, and then give 2 examples on how to apply it, by drawing a tightly clenched fist and an open palm.
I want to make it clear though, there are infinite ways and poses of drawing hands, these are just 2 to get you started, but I suggest you try and draw your own hands and other people's hands in as many position possible, to get this down.

So lets get right on it!

Here are 3 examples of the human hand, in which I put guide lines to help us understand the basic structure.
(click to enlarge)

Notice that the black lines represent the "fatty" areas of the right and left sides of the palm. The red ones are for the place from which the fingers connect to the palm.

A couple of important observations:

1. The area where the thumb connects is a bit fat. This is also true to the other side of the palm (the right one in this example).
2. The 2st and 4rd fingers are usually the same length, the 3nd finger is the longest and the 5th is the shortest (actually about the same length of the thumb).
3. When the hand is closed to a tight, clenched fist, the thumb goes OVER the other fingers, and her "fat" part becomes more prominent.
4. Notice that the fingers are creating a sort of a "fan" shape. we will see more fanning later on.
5. Pay good attention to the red line, and where it is located, especially in the right most example.

Okay, are you ready to draw this for yourself??
Here it is, step by step - first the picture and then the explanation.


Step 1:
draw hand open palm sketch

Okay, so here I outlined the general shape of the palm. I also added the thumb, and the location of the other 4 fingers, without too much details. The best way to get this right, is again, to look at a real hand and sketch it.
Pay attention to the "fatty" left and right parts, which we already indicate lightly here.

Step 2:
draw hand open palm refined

Here I added the fingers, including the basic nail location.
Most of this is pretty straight forward, but notice how the 2nd finger is sort of pointed towards us, which creates what is called foreshortening (the nail is "squashed", the top most part of the finger is short).
This foreshortening happens to some degree in each of the 5 fingers, but is most noticeable on the 2nd and 3rd ones.

Step 3:
draw hand open palm finished

Here I indicated the wrinkles of the palm skin. There are 2 small wrinkles on each finger (we see only some of them). There are also wrinkles indicating the fatty areas, especially near the thumb. Notice how it actually creates a circle on the left side of the palm. And that hand is finished (=

Check out my new website and subscribe for a FREE eBook! (=


Step 1:
draw hand clenched fist sketch

I will explain a bit more at this point.
Can you guess what the lighter line is? That's right, its the RED line from the previous examples! And the top line is actually where the fingers will be. See how they are far apart.
Also, notice that as I said before, the thumb goes ON TOP of the other fingers, folded at about 90 degrees.
Another thing that happens here, due to this, is that the fat bulk that is underneath the thumb becomes more noticeable.

Step 2:
draw hand clenched fist fingers fan

Here is the fun part, I divided the top line from before to 4 fingers. Notice the purple angle lines? That's what I meant before when I said fanning.
I also added the nail to the thumb, the other nails are not visible.

Step 3:
draw hand clenched fist finished
Like in the open palm example, here I indicated the wrinkles of the skin, and done some shading.
Notice something interesting I haven't mentioned before - the vain at the bottom will sometimes come up in these poses, we can indicate it lightly.

That's mostly it for today's drawing lesson, on how to draw the human hand. In the beginning, drawing hands can be a bit frustrating, but once you practice and internalize it, it becomes really fun, and still challenging.

So work hard towards mastery of this.

Also, check out my new website and subscribe for a FREE eBook! (=

And I will see you on the next post! wonder what it will be about.... hmmm... you'll have to wait and see ( ;

- Liron

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