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Life drawing challenges: How to draw hands

If you ask any artist familiar with life drawing the following question: What is the most challenging for you when drawing from life? There is a good chance that the answer will have something to do with how to draw hands or feet. Getting the proportions right might be another answer as well as foreshortening. I hope in the future posts to be able to tackle each of these challenges and make them less intimidating.

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Here are a few tips to help you draw hands in your life drawing class:

life drawing with hands

I don’t think I am drawing perfect hands all the time yet, well I am not drawing perfect figures anyways! but at least hands are not a part I think as something more difficult or more special than the rest of the drawing.

hands are more detailed than the rest of the figure

I think one of the main difficulty of drawing hands is that the level of details is higher than in most of the rest of the drawing, except maybe the face.


Here are a few guidelines to help you draw hands

The size of the hand is about the size of the face from hairline to chin. The width of the wrist at is at its smallest were it attaches to the end and is about twice its thickness.

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the width of the wrist is about twice its thickness

So once good tip to start is to think about the scale of the hands and draw their position on the drawing as very simple shapes that look like gloves.

start by drawing the hands as gloves

The base of the hand is a squarish shape.

The base of the hand is a square shape.

From there you have a triangle shape that starts at the base of that square where the thumb is attached.

the thumb is attached by a triangular shape

If you draw the inside of the hand you can also represent the two main muscle masses.

two main muscle masses in the hand

Each finger has 3 joints.

each finger has 3 joints

The knuckles are not aligned but on a curve. The 5 bones on the hand are called metacarpal, then on the fingers, the bones are called phalanges.

knuckles aligned on a curve

It might help you to draw 4 circular shapes to represent the knuckles, I find it easier to place the fingers if I do that.

draw 4 circular shapes to represent the knuckles

The skin on the top side of your hand and fingers is close to the bone, so the lines are  more or less straight.

straight and curvy lines on the fingers

There is more muscle underneath, so the lines are curvy.

What is your biggest challenge when you are drawing realistic hands?

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