Drawing hands (and feet)

edited September 2013 in The Toolbox
So rather then further disrupt the 10 Rules thread, I started one on drawing difficult things like hands and feet. Below is a collection of hands from the first ten pages of Venus in Furs. Most are quite small. Most are either some sort of emphatic gesture, or holding something. As you can see, many are very reduced, mere suggestions of hands. By working in the gestural fashion, I can focus on making the hnad a useful thing, and not worry so much about drawing all of the details right. This doesn't mean that artists should make a close study of drawing hands and feet.


I think it would be cool to see how other artists approach drawing hands, feet, etc.


  • I have books on it.
    I have bookmarked sites on it.
    I have photo reference files.
    It always seems no matter what I can't figure out the angle that I want it, or the reference to do it.

    I am flummoxed by the damn things.
    I do better with feet.
  • edited September 2013
    I've studied hands... have sketchbooks full of hand poses copied from photos or good drawings and paintings, including a number of pages of Gil Kane hands (great for studying the 3-D-ness of hands - - Gil Kane excelled at that.) and many others.  I also have sketchbook studies from how-to art books by Bridgman, Loomis, etc. and have drawn sketches of my own hand. 

    Bridgman's books helped a lot in understanding feet, as well.

    When I have trouble, I have a little mirror I can set on the lip of my desk (my drafting table didn't come with a lip, but I screwed on a wooden yard stick) , so I can pose my own left hand as right. 

    These things help me.  I still struggle, or mess up, sometimes, but for the most part, I think being able to draw hands is one of my strengths - - mostly due to what I mention, above.
  • For me, the trick really was drawing the hands first.  I still do a loose figure/gesture to start, but once figure placement is decided, I draw the hands (and whatever they're holding) first then make the figure work with 'em.

    Hands are harder and more complex to get right so I find it easier to make the body work with the drawn hands.  Further:  if I can't get the hands to work (odd angle or too complex a gesture),  since I'm starting with 'em, I can start the panel over with only a little time invested.  Nothing worse than drawing everything but the hands, then struggling with 'em.
  • i'm not an expert at drawing either, but works for me most of the time is to start with wedge shapes, then start concentrating on individual fingers. most of the time, fingers and toes remain in close proximity to each other which creates a basic shape that is easy to start with or suggest their nature if you are not dealing with a close up.
  • edited September 2013
    While there are folk who do hyper-realistic and photo reffed art for comics, one of the traditional keys to drawing comics is to reduce the characters, faces etc to iconic ciphers.

    Dick Tracy for instance.


    This is supposed to be a handsome, strong man. We read him as such. But really its just a standardized pile of marks. Its an icon. In learning to draw comics we have to find a way to do much of it without reference, directly from our minds. To do this we rely on standardized manners of drawing this passage or that passage of the figure.

    So it is with hands and feet.
  • @anthonyperuzzo - That's what I do.  I make the wedges, then the cylinders / joints, etc.
    I usually end up hammering the hands into a shape / position that I never intended.  Perhaps I should take a page from @Richard_Pace and draw the hands first. But that might lead to my other problem with hands... and that is making them proportionately the correct size.

    Nothing worse than spending the time to draw the hands only to realize they are too big or too small.  It's like all my focus goes into drawing the hands and I have horse blinders on for the rest of the body.  Don't get me wrong, I've learned quite a few tricks over time in how to *get by*.  I'm not a total novice, but it's still one of sticky parts in drawing that gets to me -- even today.
  • @Jimmie_Robinson Yeah - -I occasionally end up with larger hands, , but it's still faster for me to redraw an arm and torso than a hand if it's an important element in a panel.

    Never would have believed if I the teen-aged me was told he'd only start feeling comfortable drawing hands in his mid forties.

  • What my buddy Zlatan does (unless it's a close-up or the the gesture requires otherwise) is to draw hands like mittens, with a thumb and a flipper-like rest-of-the-hand, usually with finger lines drawn on it (to show that he knows that humans don't have flippers).  This makes it easier for him to get the general shape of the hand right, without having to fuss with knuckles and such.  Because his figures are somewhat stylized already, it works surprisingly well.
  • I'm not sure I realized that Dick Tracy was meant to be handsome.
  • I try to decide what is the focal point of the picture. If it doesn't involve the hands, then I don't use a lot of detail in them. I also consciously avoid having characters with their hands in their pockets or behind their backs unless the scene calls for it. (Although having done a lot of people watching, people really like to put their hands in their pockets)
  • edited September 2013
    Not every story, or style, has the same intent... my style, both writing and drawing, pushes away from "cipher", toward specific, so I can't fall back on graphic short-cuts, much.  I don't always draw every detail, but the form has to be as right as I can make it.

    I guess it's odd... but I don't use a lot of photo-ref, despite aiming for a certain amount of realism.  I don't want that stiff, over-referenced look, either.
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