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Tips on Drawing Hands: Gesture

3 Nov 2019

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Now, anatomy is very important, but it’s not the only thing that makes a drawing. As with figure drawing in general, it’s gesture that really brings a drawing to life. Hands are probably the most expressive part of the body besides the face. They can change the mood and energy of a pose, and go a long way in expressing specific action.

With all the poses hands can take, it can be difficult knowing what to do with them and how to express a chosen gesture effectively. Here are some tips:

1. Pair Fingers

It can be difficult to keep the fingers from looking like disorderly tentacles, but pairing them, or sort of dividing them into “action groups” can help your drawing look a lot more elegant and purposeful.

2. Use The Hand To Flow Energy Through A Pose Or Trap The Energy In The Pose

An open hand gesture can extend the energy of a pose beyond the body and create a nice flow, while a closed gesture can effectively cap the energy inside the pose. Both can be effective and helpful if you know what you want.

See how the open handed gesture lets the energy flow freely, while the closed feels more tense and contained? The first is a lighter, happy emotion; while the second is more triumphant.

Another example:

See how the closed handed runner has a feeling of tense determination while the open handed one has a sort of cool confidence about him?

3. Know Which Way Is Up

The curve of the fingertip is important in signifying the way the finger is facing.

Signifying the nail can also be very helpful in giving the finger a sense of direction and dimension as you move toward adding the details to your drawing

4. Remember The Basics

Last but certainly not least, always keep the basic shapes of the hand in mind as you sketch out your gesture, especially the curves!

Hands rarely make “box shaped” gestures with right angles and straight lines. Look for those curves!

Curve of the metacarpals and phalanges:

Thumb “S” curve:

That about sums up what I’ve got to say about drawing hands. I hope that it has been of some use to you. As always, remember to practice, practice, practice! I promise it’s fun!

sarahculture's profile image


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Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a professional Illustrator and graphic designer, and I'm overjoyed to be part of this app to keep ideas flowing. Feel free to ask me anything. You can find me at sarahculture on DeviantArt, Tumblr, and Twitter and at sarahcultureart on Instagram; you can find some tutorials I've put together on my DeviantArt and Tumblr accounts. Thank you so much taking the time to look at my sketches. I'm honored!

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