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How to Draw Hands - Tips to Keep in Mind

Hands are considered one of the toughest parts of human anatomy to get right. All artists, beginners and veterans alike, struggle with hands and their nuances. Hands are so difficult because of their complex anatomy and subtle foreshortening -- a complex type of perspective. Luckily, because they’re so difficult, artists have come up with many different techniques that you can use to draw hands. Here are some of those techniques and tips for drawing hands of all ages!

Not much of a reader? Don’t worry -- we have a video on our YouTube channel that’s all about drawing hands and their poses, along with some extra hand anatomy tips!

Hand anatomy

an anatomical drawing of a hand

Before you get into any complex drawings of hands, just like any part of human anatomy, you’ll need to know the measurements. Your pinkie finger will be the shortest, your middle finger will be the longest, and your index and ring finger will be around the same length. Sometimes your ring finger is a little bit longer than your index. When put together, your fingers will create something like a “mountain peak.”

Also keep in mind that your thumb will always be next to your index finger! It seems obvious, but putting the thumb on the wrong side is a simple mistake that a lot of artists make. Your thumb will also come just below the first joint of your index finger when they’re perfectly side by side.

Drawing hands with the “bean” technique

a hand drawn using the bean technique

One technique that some artists use is the “bean” technique, where each joint of the finger is drawn as a bean. The palm of the hand can be drawn as a flattened oval. All of your fingers can be drawn with three beans each, while your thumb can be drawn with two. While your thumb has the same amount of joints as your fingers, the final joint is embedded within the palm, so you don’t have to draw it as a bean.

Drawing hands with 3D forms

a hand drawn using 3D forms

Many classical artists like to draw their hands with rectangular prisms or cylinders. This technique makes it much easier to foreshorten your fingers since you’ve broken them down into simple forms. It does take a lot of practice to make them more realistic, but drawing hands takes a lot of practice anyway!

Drawing hands with simple shapes

hands drawn using simple shapes

This technique is much more cartoon-y, but just as effective! Many cartoonists and anime artists draw their hands with rectangles and trapezoids to give them a simpler, more expressive look. This technique, however, makes it much harder to foreshorten and draw hands in complex positions. However, if you’re looking to simplify your forms or draw anime characters, this technique is perfect!

How to draw baby hands

two illustrations of baby hands

Baby hands are much simpler than adult or elder hands since they don’t have as many wrinkles and aren’t as jointed. If using the bean technique, you can just draw baby hands with a single bean per finger. Though they still have all their joints, they tend to be so small that the extra joints make them seem a bit too detailed. Usually when drawing babies, simpler and smaller shapes/forms are better!

How to draw elder’s hands

two illustrations of elderly hands

Elderly hands tend to be very tricky, since you have to draw sagging/pulled skin and make the joints seem extra pronounced. However, the anatomy of elders is overall the same as a normal adult’s hand. Often, the most pronounced sections of elderly hands are the tendons and knuckles, so usually you want to draw the most attention to those. Adding some sun spots also helps the hands appear more aged.

Hands may seem tricky, but just like all aspects of art, they take practice! Use plenty of references of all different ages, sizes and poses, and soon enough you’ll be a master! If you’d like to learn more about drawing hands, consider checking out our realistic drawing class, where you can get guided lessons and feedback for hands and all other aspects of human anatomy! If you’d like more tips about drawing hands and anatomy, check out our human anatomy playlist on YouTube!

Teacher Resources:

If you’re a teacher that’s looking for classroom content centred around drawing hands, visit this quick and easy resource!

If you’d like worksheets related to art, check out our teachers pay teachers page where you can get worksheets and lesson plans for your classroom! More classroom resources like this can be found on our art resources for teachers page, where we break down the elements of art, art history resources, and drawing resources!

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