Learning how to draw hands can sometimes seem intimidating at first. However, once you break it down it won’t seem so difficult! To learn something more complicated you just need to start with the simple elements first and build from there.
This article will help you to get a basic start in understanding everything to do with the drawing of hands. Before we delve much further though, we first need to understand the basic structure of hands and how the bones and muscles work.
Basic anatomy of hands
There are 27 bones in each hand, not counting the sesamoid bones. These bones give the hand its structure and form. It is helpful to see and understand the muscles attached to these bones as they are what form the structure that we see on the surface of the hand.
There Are Two Main Types of Muscles in the Hand: Intrinsic and Extrinsic
The intrinsic muscles are those that are found within the hand itself and attach to the bones of the hand. Fortunately for the artist these are not visible on the hand surface so we don’t need to concern ourselves much with them. These intrinsic muscles allow us to move our fingers in a very precise way-such as when we are doing delicate tasks such as threading a needle.
The extrinsic muscles are those that attach the hand to the forearm. These muscles allow us to open and close our hand as well as move the hand from side to side. In babies and young people these tendons are hidden. However, they are much more visible in the hands of adults and the aged.
Here you can study a simplified drawing of the muscles that are on the hand. You can do a drawing study yourself of the muscles of the hands. It helps to know what is beneath the surface of the skin – so you can understand the structure of the hand better.
Block structure of hands
We want to simplify and understand the basic structure of hands if we are to draw them well. This helps you to achieve a realistic and dimensional quality in the hands you draw. It also helps the whole process of hand drawing become approachable and less daunting.
The basic block structure of the hand can be seen in the drawing above. You can see how it progressively builds off of a simple shaped line drawing and becomes more three dimensional. This method is a good way to start when you are learning how to draw hands.
You will notice that each part of the hand has been broken down into a more simplistic form. This makes it much easier to understand how to place the parts
How to draw hands from a block structure
Once you have the basic structure of hands down, it is time to start refining your drawings to make them look more realistic. As you refine a hand drawing more, continue to visualize it in terms of blocks. Notice in the drawing below how the hand is more refined but still has a strong 3 dimensional quality about it. Doing this lays a good foundation for the rest of the hand drawing.
Of course you don’t need to keep the ‘blocky’ structure of the drawing. In fact, I recommend for you to refine it even further in such a way that it feels more real but still retains a strong 3 dimensional quality. In the drawing below we can see an example of a hand drawing that is taken quite far past the ‘blocky’ stage.
Drawing hands in different positions
Now that you have the basic structure and form of hands down, you can start practicing drawing them in different positions. This is important as it helps to further your understanding of how the hand works. It also helps to increase your repertoire as an artist.
When you draw hands in different positions use the basic block structure first to figure out the angles and general form. You can see an example of this in the diagram above. Notice how basic shapes can be used to figure out various different hand positions.
Once you have the basic form of the hand down, start refining it to look more realistic. Remember to think about the different planes that make up the hand as you draw.
Developing your hand drawing skills
As you draw hands more you will be able to visualize them mentally as a block structure and can forgo drawing the block structure out first. So you can go straight into drawing real natural looking hands. Getting to this place requires consistent and deliberate practice.
Start observing and drawing your own hands
One of the very best ways to develop your hand drawing skills is to observe and draw from your own! Also, training your mind to visualize different hand positions will help you to develop your hand drawing skills faster.
You can also always ask your friends to model their hands for you to draw from. Observing different kinds of hands will help you to understand them better.
Also look at other artists drawings of hands and study how they have captured the hand in line, tone and form. You can learn a lot from studying the drawings of other artists.