Learn How to Draw Human Hands With This “Handy” Step by Step Guide

How to Draw Hands

Image: Drawing of a hand from bioraven / Shutterstock.com
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Drawing human anatomy is tricky. One of the most challenging parts of the body are the hands—especially when you’re sketching them in a realistic manner. As with all things in art, practice builds skills and confidence—which is just one reason why you should learn how to draw hands. They are undoubtedly a challenge, but when you can make them look so life-like that they’re popping off the page, it’s sure to boost your creative confidence.

One reason that the hands are difficult to draw is that they can easily look askew. (That’s why so many artists “hide” them by stuffing them into pockets!) There’s a fine line between too little and too much realism. By implying too many folds in the skin, you can dramatically (and unintentionally) age your subject. Or a misshapen finger can make the hand look like a claw. So when the initial sketching phase begins, it’s important that you make sure the proportions of the palm and fingers are correct.

Bone Structure of a Human Hand

How to Draw Hands

Medical illustration of hand bones from Sebastian Kaulitzki / Shutterstock

One of the biggest issues we can face in hand drawing is that we don’t fully understand what’s underneath our skin. The hands are made of 27 bones; some are very tiny at the tip of your fingers while there are long bones that comprise the base of the digits. In addition to bone structure, there are four main parts of articulation: interphalangeal articulations (the hinge joints between the bones on your fingers); metacarpophalangeal joints (where your fingers meet the palm); intercarpal articulations (the point at which the palm and wrist meet); and the wrist.

You needn’t memorize all of the bones in the hand. Instead, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the general structure. That way, when you’re trying to imagine how someone’s hand might look holding their cell phone or pointing their finger, you’ll imagine how their bones and joints would move.

Next: How to Draw a Hand Step by Step

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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