How to Draw Hands Guide

Hand drawing by Andrew Loomis

Hands are undeniably one of the hardest parts to draw. This is due to the bends and crooks found on all hands. This guide will help you clear up your questions about drawing hands.

How to Draw Parts of the Hand

Most artists have problems drawing hands in the beginning. Let’s be honest, they’re hard to draw. Some beginning artists tend to solve this problem by hiding their subject’s hands behind their backs or behind props. Eventually, though, a time comes when the artist just has to bite the bullet and draw. Here are some surefire ways to draw hands…so no more excuses!


Hand drawing 1Properly drawn fingers are one of the keys to good looking hands. Take a look at example number one. Notice how all of the fingers are different sizes? The difference between finger sizes varies from person to person, but, in general, most people have fingers that arch in in size.

The middle finger is the longest finger and the highest point in the arch. The pinky finger is the smallest finger in the arch and the arch gently slopes to the pinky from the middle finger. On the other side the slope is much more dramatic. The difference between the middle finger and the index finger is usually much more than any other finger.

Proportions of the hand by Andrew Loomis.Drawing fingers is a lot like drawing cloth. Take a look at your own hand. The skin drapes around your knuckles much like cloth. In many drawings you will be able to simply imply these folds with simple marks. Take a look at example number two. See how the folds are simple lines?


Hand drawing 2Properly drawn nails make your hand drawing much more realistic. Here are some things to remember:

  • Draw a light line that curves downwards to indicate the white area of the nail.
  • Make sure to draw the cuticle on each nail when drawing hands close-up.
  • Remember, some nails are rounded, some nails are square, some extend past the fingertip, and some don’t.
  • Nails don’t go all the way to the edge of the fingers. There are areas of flesh on each side.


Construction of the hand by Andrew Loomis.

Thumbs often get confused with fingers. Thumbs shouldn’t be drawn like short fingers; they have a shape all their own.

First, notice how most thumbs curve outward, away from the hand. They also have only two joints, unlike fingers, which have three joints.

Thumbs are rounder than fingers, as well. When drawing them, think of a potato-like shape that connects to a round, fleshy joint.

The Palm

The palm should be drawn like a square with rounded edges. When you are drawing a hand in motion, think of it as a folded square. There’s no need to make it much more complicated then that.

Take a look at example number three. The hand is in motion and the palm is basically bent into a fold. The part that is closest to the viewer looks like half a square. The part farther away is very shadowed, but basically follows the shape of the part that is closer.

To draw a hand as a whole you need to combine these tips to make a realistic whole. Use your own hand as a model and practice. One day drawing the hand will be as easy as the rest of the body.

How to Draw Hands: A Step-by-Step Demo

Hands are one of the most feared parts of the body to draw. This is because they are made up of complex three-dimensional shapes.
Once broken down into these simple shapes and then broken even further down into lines, hands can actually be drawn with ease. This step-by-step demo will show aspiring hand artists how to simplify the hand to the point that it is no longer a mystery, but a joy to draw.

Lines, Lines and More Lines

Step 1
Step 1

The first step to drawing hands is finding good reference photos. The artist should make sure the photo is clear and has plenty of contrast.

Next, on a piece of paper, the artist should draw the contour lines of the hands. These lines don’t have to be exact and they shouldn’t be detailed. The lines should mimic the ridges of the knuckles and how the outer lines of the fingers interact. See Example One for a demonstration of the contour lines.

Refining the Lines


Step 2
Step 2

After the contour lines have been drawn, the artist should start drawing the thumbs around their contour lines. Thumbs are nothing more than tubes that connect to a hand. Remembering this makes them much easier to draw. See Example Two for a visual demonstration.

The artist can then go on to drawing the fingers by adding to the contour lines. Each finger has three knuckles, so the artist should remember to draw these in instead of making the finger a solid, unbendable mass.

See Example Three.

Step 3
Step 3

Adding Detail

In Example Four, detail is added by drawing in the wrinkles of the fingers. Wrinkles are drawn as v-shapes in the crooks of the finger and hand.

To finish the finger, the artist erases the thumb contour lines and adds lines in the knuckles and then adds the fingernails.


Step 4
Step 4

The lines on the knuckles are simply three lines that curve around the knuckle to indicate the extra skin at the knuckle.

Fingernails are drawn by drawing a u-shape at the tip of the finger and then closing the ‘u’ with a straight or curved line at the top.
To learn more about drawing the details of the hand see the article How to Draw Parts of the Hand.


Step 5
Step 5

Shading adds depth to the finger. The darker shaded areas should be drawn around where the fingers meet and overlap. The lighter areas should be on top of the hands where they are closer to the light.

Using these steps should simplify any hand drawing that an artist comes across in their career.

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