How to Draw Hands (Beginner + Advanced) Hand Drawing Tips

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how to draw hands sketch

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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.

drawing of hand leaning over a chair in demonstration of how to draw hands
Study of Christ’s left hand to the painting ‘Entombment’ (1850), Józef Simmler (Polish 1823 – 1868). Use yourself or others as a model to practice drawing hands from.

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

hand anatomy for artists.
Here we see an anatomical diagram showing all of the muscles and bone structures found in the hand. It is helpful understand what lies beneath the skin, as it is this that gives the hand its shape and influences what how we draw hands.

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.

Drawing hands anatomy reference
Here are some simplified drawings of the basic anatomy of hands. I encourage you to take some time to learn the basic anatomy of hands. It will help enormously when you draw hands.

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.

Simplified hand drawing. How to develop a hand drawing
Drawing hands can seem complex at first. But if you start with basic shapes and blocks then you will be able to build off of that and move forward much more easily! This image shows you the progression you can make from a very simple line drawing.

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.

hand drawing built with block shapes. How to draw hands from shapes
In this drawing we can see a clear block structure of the front and back of the hand. You can break down each part of the hand into a three dimensional block. When you have difficulty with drawing a hand work at breaking it down into three dimensional blocks.

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.

Simplified hand drawings showing how to draw hands with shapes
Once you understand the basic block form of a hand you can start to refine your hand drawing and make it more true to life.

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.

En Hånd, Tegnet Efter Gips (1829 – 1833); This drawing by Dankvart Dreyer is a terrific example of a refined hand drawing that retained a strong three dimensional quality. It was further developed with tonal value drawing techniques.

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.

How to draw hands diagram showing hands in different positions
In this diagram you can see how different hand positions can be drawn from using basic blocks and shapes. This is a great way to start out a drawing and figure out how to draw different hand positions.

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.

Study of Hands (1842)
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French, 1780 – 1867); In this hand drawing of various different hand positions we can see how the artist developed it in such a way that it looks convincing and realistic.

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

Drawing from your own hands is a very helpful way to develop your hand drawing skills.
Use your own hands as a model to draw and develop your hand drawing skills. You can also draw from the hands of your friends.

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.

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    4 thoughts on “How to Draw Hands (Beginner + Advanced) Hand Drawing Tips”

    1. My congratulations for your nice lesson of anatomy. Despite the fact that I am doctor in medecine it was a pleasure to read your article
      Thank you very much
      Helena

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