Hands are some of the most important things for many artists to get a grip on (see what I did there?).
For me, they’ve always been difficult. For some, feet are the issue. Which I’ve always thought strange, because feet….are basically a block with 5 little stubs that really don’t do much.
Hands on the other hand, is a block with five separate appendages that have a life of their own and do tons!
Which is why they are considered (accurately) one of the two most expressive things on the body (eyes being the other).
So….ya gotta learn to do them. At least half way decently.
I hesitate to call this a “Tutorial”. This is just an example of my own approach to hands.
So let’s get into some of the different methods to doing hands!
There are three methods that pop into my mind as far as doing hands:
The “cylinder approach”
Some like the cylinder approach.
As with anything, you have to have an idea of what you want your hand to be doing in the picture. And then you start to ‘build’ it.
Example A”: As you can see, the one constant in ALL of these methods is the pentagon shape. Or curved block shape that serves as the palm/backhand.
Example B: From there, you build onto that block frame with cylinder(esque) shapes serving as the fingers.
Example C: You start to round it out and clean up the drawing. Adding knuckle lines, tension pulls where the fingers separate from each other. Also adding fingernails which gives the needed look of perspective to sell the picture.
Some people like this cylinder approach and do great work with it.
It’s not an approach that I much care for though. Only because I’m not particularly good at making it look and feel organic. Probably just me, but I find it difficult to keep the hands from looking stiff and mechanical. It’s just a far too ‘technical’ way of thinking for my likes.
That’s not to say that it’s a ‘bad’ way. It’s just not the way I personally like and feel comfortable with.
I much more prefer a more organic approach. Relying on a more ‘gestural’ take.
One such take is the “mitten” approach.
The “Mitten” approach is simply grouping the majority of fingers, and then fleshing them out as you progress the drawing.
I used this quite a bit when I would animate a scene.
Again, you’re simply just ‘blocking out’ the big shapes for your pose.
Once you’ve got that, you cut back in and start carving out those fingers.
In a way, it is just a way to keep you from feeling like your swallowing a watermelon whole! Making it easier to control by dealing with BIG SHAPES.
As with the ‘cylinder’ approach, the one constant that you are building off from is once again…the block shape that is standing in for the rough palm/backhand.
And from there, again…you are building your fingers (or mitten) from it.
Remember. That in each one of these ways…that the fingers (unlike the toes most of the time) are individual characters all of their own!
With the “mitten” approach, one might want to be tempted to just leave them in that mitten look (all grouped together). And sometimes, you can.
But usually it’s a good idea to offset those fingers from one another.
To separate where you can.
Remember. Hands are story tellers. Communicating.
Those fingers and what they are doing, are doing a lot to *sell* that image.
And people pay attention to them!
So. Being that its often essential to really spread out those fingers for dynamics. I actually do a mixture of both the “mitten” and “gesture” technique.
Both organic and fluid ways that greatly appeal to me.
The “Gestural” approach is simply that. Gestural! You know what you want, and you just rough it in.
Yet even with that ‘gestural’ technique, there is still that implied block shape for the palm/backhand from the wrist that you’re building from. That’s the constant.
For me, that is the most fun method. That said…many times, depending on how fast you work in your gesture, often times you have to really pull back and do a lot of refining when you are tie’ing down that drawing because the rough, while it does well in capturing the essence of that hand and pose, many times proportionally and structurally speaking, it is way off.
Advice for those starting to draw or trying to improve on their hands.
Out of the three routs of drawing indicated here, which is the right one for you?
Well. That depends obviously as to where you are in the learning process. And how comfortable you are in that process.
I think the best rout of the three indicated here, if you are just learning from square one…..the “cylinder” approach would probably be a good way for one to grab hold of the reins and start to get comfortable with the forms in a *piece by piece* basis.
Once you get the feel for the hand and how all the bumps, bends, curves and twists all come together…confident in the cylinder approach. Maybe then you’ll want to see how you feel about the “mitten” or “Gestural” approach to the hand.
Where you can skip some of the more construction ways of doing things in the cylinder method, and just start laying in your shapes quickly.
In any case…we all gotta learn to crawl before we walk. And walk before we run.
So lets get crackin’!! And lets start drawing some hands!!
Questions? Thoughts? Leave em’ in the comments section or email me. Love to hear what y’all think!