What will you create
Many people think that drawing from all parts of the body is the hardest. We all went through the stage when we were drawing the character’s hands behind our backs or in our pockets, trying to avoid the need to draw them at all. Surprisingly, this is the part of the body that we see almost constantly, practically always having a good source before our eyes. If we add one more small object – a mirror – then we will be able to look at the hands from different angles. The only real obstacle is the complexity of the structure of this amazing body; it’s like drawing a whole figure — you don’t even know where to start.
In this lesson, we will deal with the anatomy of the hands, so that this is no longer mysticism for you, and when you look at your hands, you will be able to see a few simple forms that are simply combined into one.
I will use the following abbreviations for fingers:
- BP = thumb
- UE = index finger
- SP = middle finger
- BIP = ring finger
- M = little finger
On the left in the image below you can see the structure of the bones in the human hand: 8 blue carpal bones, 5 purple metacarpal bones and 14 pink phalanges.
Since most of these bones are not able to move at all, we can simplify the structure of the arm. The diagram on the right is all you really need to remember.
Note that the actual base of the finger, the joint that corresponds to the knuckles, is actually much lower than the visible base formed by the skin. This is an important point in drawing bent fingers, as we will see later.
Based on the image above, we can conclude that the easiest way to draw a hand is to start with a palm shape, a flat figure (very much like a steak, but rounded or similar to a square or trapezium) with rounded corners, and then draw your fingers:
If you have problems with drawing fingers, then try to present your finger as three connected cylinders. Cylinders are easy to draw from any angle, this should ease the pain in the process of drawing fingers in perspective. Note that the base of the cylinders in this case is the place where the thumb is folded.
Important: do not try to align joints in a straight line – in fact, if you draw a line connecting them, then a concentric arc is formed.
Well, add that fingers not straight, and slightly bent in the direction of the gap between the joint venture and the BIP, and even if you show it in the picture quite a bit, it will revive it.
Let’s not forget about the nails. Of course, there is no need to always draw them – they add a certain degree of detailing that looks right only if you look at your hands closely. Usually we are not taught how the nails should look and that is why I, for example, did not manage to draw them normally for a long time. Below you can find a couple of notes regarding nail art:
- The nail begins in the middle of the last phalanx of the finger.
- The nail is separated from the skin by different people in different places: some nail plates extend to the tips of the fingers, and some have a very low separation of the nail from the skin (in the figure above, this place is indicated by a dotted line), and in this case the nails will be wider, than long.
- The shape of the nails is not flat, but rather resemble tile, where the degree of curvature varies. Look at your hand, and you may find that some nails are more curved, others are weaker, but fortunately, your drawings should not be so realistic.
Let’s take the unitary enterprise as a unit of measurement, and roughly outline the proportions of the hand:
- Maximum distance between BP and UE = 1.5
- The maximum distance between the UE and BIP = 1. The joint venture may be located closer to one or the other finger, but this will not affect this distance.
- The maximum distance between the BIP and M = 1.
- The maximum angle between the BP and M = 90 degrees, if measured from the joint BP. Completely extended M is leveled with BP.
I said “rudely,” since these distances can vary from person to person, and sometimes quite strongly, but remember that deviating from standards when drawing can look weird and wrong. If in doubt, use the proportions described above: they will always look right.
The shape of the hand is just one difficult aspect of drawing it; another such aspect is small details, like lines and folds. Well, who had no problems with this whole bunch of lines? Let’s take a look at the folds of the arms and some measurements:
- An imaginary tendon line separates the thumb from the rest. Sometimes on the spot indicated in the image there is a small tendon fold.
- When the fingers are pressed to each other, as in the image, the thumb is slightly bent under the palm, and partially hidden.
- UE and BIP are sometimes the same length as the joint venture.
- The folds depicting the knuckles have an elliptical shape – in other words, they resemble brackets, but if the hand is in position, as in the image above, they are not too prominent (unless, of course, the knuckles stick out like people doing hard work with their hands) and they can be depicted as small dimples.
- The folds of the finger joints on the back of the hand are elliptical, but tend to disappear if the fingers are bent. From the side of the palm, these folds are parallel lines, but most of all they are visible on the lower joints – usually the lines on the upper joints are not represented by two lines.
- From the back of the palm, the lines of the fingers extend all the way to the upper edge of the palm, and therefore appear longer from the back.
- From the side of the palm, the fingers end with short horizontal lines on both sides of the finger, and from both sides they are directed away from the joint venture.
Also note that the diagram above is almost incompletely drawn, but this degree of drawing corresponds to the level of detail of the image as a whole (which, by the way, is probably higher than necessary, since I was aiming to show all the necessary lines). The smaller the size of the palm you are depicting, the smaller the level of detail should be if you certainly don’t want it to look old.
Above, I didn’t say anything about the palm lines, so let’s take a closer look at them:
- The clearest lines on the palm – the so-called lines of the heart, mind and life appear where the skin is formed, when the hand takes on a shape that resembles a bowl. If you are not drawing in the style of hyperrealism, then perhaps the image of these lines will be superfluous.
- Do not confuse the line of life with the contour of the thumb, which can be seen at a certain angle, such as in the image in the upper right corner. The life line almost coincides with the contour of the finger, but notice how much higher its end is – in fact, just in the place of the (true) base of the UE.
- From the side, the pads at the base of each finger resemble several rounded parallel tubercles.
- These fold lines bend around a finger in half. They become more pronounced when the finger is bent.
- A small bump appears on the stretched finger in this place due to the fact that the skin is collected in this place. When the finger is bent, the tubercle disappears.
So, what will we see on the side of an outstretched palm?
- From the outside, the line of the wrist reaches the base of the palm, and there is a small tubercle at the transition point of the wrist to the palm.
- The palm looks flatter on the outside than on the inside, although the thumb may still be visible on the outside.
- From the outside, the last visible joint is the joint of the BIP, since M is sufficiently strongly pushed back relative to it.
- From the inside of the joint venture is visible a little or not visible at all, depending on the length of the UE.
- From the inside, the line of the wrist is hidden by the base of the thumb, so that the transition of the wrist to the palm will be sharper and the knob in this place will be more visible.
Also note that if you look at the palm from the outside, a new contour line appears. It starts at the wrist, and if you turn your hand harder, it will connect to the M line, and later close the base of the power supply unit – look at the image below.
Range of Motion
Joints exist so that the arms move, and they move constantly. They move not only when performing a certain function (to hold a mug, to type), also hand movements accompany our words or emotions. Therefore, it is not surprising that hand drawing requires an understanding of how the fingers move.
Thumb and Other Fingers
To begin with, let’s look at how the thumb moves. Its real base and center of movement is located very low on the arm, in the place where it connects to the wrist.
- In a natural, relaxed state, there is a small distance between the PD and the whole arm.
- The thumb can be bent down to the base of M, but in this position it is very tense, and it will quickly cause painful sensations.
- BP can be bent to a length approximately equal to the width of the palm, but this situation will also be tense and cause discomfort.
The remaining four fingers may move slightly to the sides, but mostly back and forth, parallel to each other. They, of course, can move on their own, but exerting a certain influence on the fingers that are close by. Try, for example, to bend only the joint venture, and see what happens to other fingers. BP can move without affecting other fingers.
When the hand is clenched into a fist and all fingers are compressed, the palm takes on a cup shape, as if you were holding a large ball. Only in this case, the ball (marked in pink in the image below) is reduced and bent more.
When the palm is fully extended (in the image above on the right), the fingers are either straightened or slightly bent back, depending on flexibility. Some people’s fingers can bend back to a 90 degree angle under pressure.
It is also worth a closer look at a clenched fist:
- The first and third folds on the fully bent finger will meet, forming a cross.
- The second fold seems to be a continuation of the finger line.
- A part of the finger is hidden by a stretched skin and thumb, which reminds us that the thumb has an outer structure. You can draw the UE over the skin fold, anatomically it is possible, but in a fist, compressed naturally, it will still be partially hidden by this fold.
- The knuckle of M stands out most, and further knuckles are located further away from it, forming the angle shown in the image above; the parallels between the fingers are visible from the outside, but not from the inside.
- The first and third folds form the cross again.
- The thumb is bent so that its last phalanx seems shortened.
- Sticking out a fold of skin.
- When the palm clenches into a fist, the knuckles come forward, and you can see the same lines in the form of brackets.
Hand as one
When the hand is relaxed, the fingers are slightly bent, and when the hand is pointing up, they are bent even more due to gravity. In both cases, the UE remains the most straight, and the remaining fingers fall gradually – thus, M will be bent more than anyone. If you look from the side, because of this gradation, 2 or 3 fingers may appear between the UE and the BP.
M sometimes “runs away” and is located away from the rest of the fingers – another way to give naturalness to your painted hands. On the other hand, the UE and the joint venture or the joint venture and the BIP often “stick together” together when the other 2 fingers are located loosely. This will also make the hand more natural. Sometimes there is a pair of BIP-M – when, for example, the fingers are slightly bent.
Since the length of the fingers is not the same, gradation is always present. When a person takes something, such as a glass in the image below, SP (1) is seen most, while M (2) is barely visible.
When a person holds a pen or something similar, the joint venture, the BIP and M are bent back, towards the palm of your hand, if the object is held only with the help of BP and UE (take a pencil in your hand to better understand this). If you push harder, the joint venture straightens and presses against the object. And if you press with full force, the fingers will be directed in the opposite direction, as shown on the right of the image below.
According to my observations, the arm and wrist are surprisingly mobile, each finger seems to live its own life, and therefore the need to draw hands sometimes puzzles an illustrator. However, the reverse process also takes place: when the hands finally go out as it should, we complicate the process too much, trying to carefully monitor that each finger is in its place, parallel lines, careful alignment. As a result, the hands are too stiff for a part of the body that can be as expressive as the eyes. Of course, this is well suited to certain characters (who have a hard or discreet character), but more often live, expressive hands look much better. There are two ways to draw such hands: add a character (for example, add drama to a gesture – then you will have a dynamic position of hands, which you most likely will not see in life) or add naturalness (watch the hands of people in life when they don’t think over their movements to see the naturalness that I’m talking about). Of course, I cannot show you all the existing gestures, but I can give examples of constrained and natural / dynamic hand movements:
* Please note that in this particular case, trained fighters will always keep their fingers in parallel (as in an unnatural position) when they are struck, because otherwise they may break their knuckles.
The hands are as individual and diverse as the facial features. Men are different from women, old from young, and so on. Below are several types of hands, but, of course, they do not cover all the possible characters that a hand may have. Yes, it is the characters, because it is best to represent the hand in the form of a character with its own character – delicate, soft, dry, hard-hearted, rude, and so on (see Practice Time).
The image below actually shows the proportions of the fingers and the palm.
Even the nails are not the same! Well, in fact, Mother Nature has presented us with a straight or twisted nail bed, and man has already created all the various forms of nails.
- Watch the hands of the people. First, deal with anatomy: how your fingers look in different positions, when lines and folds are visible and how they change, how much detail you can see depending on the tension of your hands, and so on. Secondly, pay attention to diversity: how are women’s hands different from men’s? How do they change with age? Can you recognize someone by the hand?
- Make quick sketches of hands, looking at any source: your hands, the hands of other people, photos. You can find stock photos of hands on Envato Market (https://photodune.net/tags/hand). Do not worry if the proportions on your sketches will not look right, or if you overdo it with the details – the point is to catch the expression.
- Draw your hands in different positions, from different angles, sorting them out on the simplest forms (almost like drawing a little man out of the sticks, and then adding a form to it). You can also start with quick sketches, and then turn them into something more complete. In the figures below, the rough draft is almost imperceptible, but if you look closely, you will notice that before turning to the details, I disassembled these hands into large simple shapes.