How to draw hands

Step by step guide with helpful tips


Drawing hands is tricky and challenging - but it's a fascinating challenge and some simple guidelines will be of great help for figure drawing.

I am going to share 3 easy-to-follow tips with you to enhance your hand drawing skills.

But let's have a quick look at the anatomy of the hand before:

The anatomy.

When we are looking at this human hand, some parts of it instantly catch our attention:

The lines on the back of the hand, for example. They are visible in a lot of hand poses and they are a good guideline for drawing the hand, as they visually link the wrist with the knuckles.

These lines are created by sinews above the metacarpal bones.
When looking at the bones of the fingers, the joints are well visible. And you see here that the distance between the joints is getting smaller towards the fingertips.

When we are looking at the back of the hand (with open fingers), you see that there are further guidelines, that we can keep in mind:

The fingers have a similar size like the back of the hand. Meaning, that the longest finger is about as long as the palm. For sure, this isn’t always the case, but that's nevertheless a good guideline to keep in mind.

Here are 3 simple hand drawing tips that are easy to apply and to remember:

#1 - basic shapes

Make it as simple as possible:
You can draw a trapeze instead of the back of the hand.
When we look at the hands below, you will see some orientation points for the use of basic shapes.

This rounded 3-dimensional trapeze is representing the palm of the hand and is of great help when it comes to define the position of the knuckles.

As it has a 3-dimensional shape, the slightly turned position can be made well visible. You can also see the lines of the metacarpal bones here, that give further information about the perspective of the hand and the position of the knuckles.

#2 - "lines of the fingers"

For defining the position, length and shape of the fingers, I am drawing single lines. Each finger is represented by one line, that is following the back of the finger. 

The lines are straight, they are only bended at the height of the joints.

#3 - shape of the fingertip

The third helpful tip for hand drawing is the focus on the fingertips.

Look at their shape:

The back of the finger is straight, the tip of the finger ends with a slight curve.

This shape makes the finger quickly recognizable.
The typical curve of the fingertip and the straight line on the back make a finger instantly look like a finger – without any further details.

Precious Exercise:

To get a good feeling for drawing hands - for their anatomy and typical poses - you can easily integrate exercises in a daily drawing rhythm:

by sketching 3 minutes a day.

The basic idea of the 3-minute drawing is, that the hand learns the lines. Which means, that the muscle memory gets a lot of precious drawing information within minutes. This kind of drawing under time pressure has indeed an amazing effect on your drawing skills. 

You’ll only need

- an hourglass or stopwatch to define the time you are sketching,
- a sketchbook or a pad and
- a pen or a pencil.

Choose a specific pose of the hand, it’s up to you which one you decide to draw. There is an endless number of hand poses. Once you have decided on the pose: turn the hourglass (or start your stopwatch) and then forget about everything but drawing.

The time pressure should also make you forget about perfection but let you draw instantly what you are seeing, without reflecting too much. 

You see, drawing hands can be really fun and absolutely not the complicated.

I'm sharing lots of drawing tips with you in this mini class about hands, so that you will absolutely feel at ease with hand sketches afterwards!

Share your own sketches.

Feel free to draw your own hand based on the tips that I have shown you here and share your sketches with us on Instagram. If you tag me ( @baumann_illustration ) and use the hashtag #drawinggang, or you join our private, creative Facebook group.

I'd love to see what you are up to!

Want to learn more about drawing? I am happy to keep you updated about new tips, tricks and exercises in my weekly Newsletter: Subscribe here to be part of the drawing gang:  

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Barbara Baumann Illustration

About the Author

Hallo, I'm an award-winning illustrator and drawing tutor from Austria. After great experiences in the Marketing and Database sector, I finally realised that I simply need to follow my enthusiasm and fascination for drawing and illustrating.  

What fascinates me most, is this way to communicate without using any words. So expressive, so global. And this leads me to my second fascination about drawing: the exchange with others, with you! In my drawing courses I simply love to see the enormous developments of each participant - initiated by exchange and practice. That's what I like to do here, too. 

The idea for this blog comes from the bottom of my heart: to get you close to drawing and to show you that you too can draw #drawinggang
It's all about learning to feel the drawing!

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