Sketching a Decent Hand

Background.

Drawing is hard. Some people have the artistic skill to make it seem easy, but others don't have that ability. My mother is an artist, and by looking at her paintings and sketches, it was obvious that it was a talent that she was born with. Just look at the pictures (Images.2&3.). Not only that, but she also nourished and developed the gift she was given and made it far better by practicing for years of her life. My sister has that same ability and she spent some years of her life in art school, further honing the artistic skills she had.

But what about the rest of us? I was no where near as talented as my mom or sister, but I still wanted to create something that had artistic value to it. No other drawing tutorial gave me enough information. Step 1: draw outline. Step 2: add details. Step 3: finalize. That was the gist of it, except it was absurd how Step 1 was circles and Step 3 looked just about as real as a photograph. So here I am.

Now, the final product (Image.1) won't be nearly as good as the other images, and you knew that coming in: you're here to draw a decent hand. But hopefully, these steps are clear enough that you can follow along and create art without being the most artistic person around, like me.

Step 1: Gather Materials

For drawing, especially for the most basic sketches like these, you only really need a clean sheet of paper or two and a pencil. As seen in the image, I only had to use paper, pencil, and an eraser.

Step 2: Draw Basic Shapes (Foundation Pt.1)

When drawing, it's easiest when you see what you're trying to sketch. In this case, it's your hand. Even looking at your own hand may be the easiest way to proceed. In a way, it is a way to replicate the image you see onto paper. Like any building, you want to lay out the foundations. When drawing, the best way to do this is to choose the most basic shapes that resemble the figure you are attempting to create. In this case, I chose an oval for the palm and rectangle for the forearm.

Step 3: Connect Those Shapes (Details Pt.1)

Now with the foundation laid out, you want more than those meager rectangles and circles. I know I'm here to teach you how to make a "decent" hand, but I can do better than that.

You need to create smooth lines to connect these foundational shapes, creating an outline of the base of the hand that is a bit more than just two shapes jointed together. Again, look at your own hand for inspiration of how the line should be drawn. A bit more of a concave line with the vertex closer to the inner palm would be more accurate.

Step 4: Draw More Shapes (Foundations Pt.2)

Like what you did before, you need to set more of the foundations, but this is for the palm and fingers. It might be useful to look at the following diagram of the surface anatomy of a hand; it helps me reference certain areas.

As you can see, I drew an oval shape for the 'palmar digital', which is the area where the fingers connect to the palm - and this will be the area where you will specify each finger shape later on. The larger circle on the left represents the 'thenar', which is the larger fat/muscle area right under your thumb. As described, this circle should be predominately larger, and cover a bit more of the palm than the rest. There is another thinner oval above the 'thenar', and as you can guess, that is for the thumb. And finally, the one last oval shape you want to draw is right next to the 'thenar' and under the 'palmar digital' in the empty space of the palm, and it is the 'hypothenar.'

Step 5: Connect More Shapes (Detail Pt.2)

The line connecting from the 'thenar' and thumb should be connected in a curved inward on the left-most side. On the opposite side (right accordingly to the picture), it should be convex instead.

Step 6: A Lot More Circles (a Bit More Foundations)

There's been a big part of the hand missing this entire time, and it was the fingers. As what you've been doing this entire time, you will have to do it one last time: creating the foundation of what the fingers will look like. Perspective is everything when it comes to drawing, especially three-dimensional. When you see the viewpoint of this drawing, your pinky finger is closest to you, and then in order all the way to the index finger. This means that the pinky finger will be the most visible, and so forth. Because of this, I would suggest drawing the outline of the pinky first and then continue on.

More about the fingers themself, each finger is composed of three subsections. Back to the diagram, the segments are: distal phalanx, middle phalanx, and proximal phalanx. For each subsection of the finger, you will draw an oval to represent it, as seen in the picture.

Step 7: Details Pt.3

In the first picture, you construct your pinky finger from the outline that we created from the ovals. Using the segments you created with the ovals, use those ridges in between the ovals to be the same inner curves that are created when you bend your finger. Press a little harder with the pencil in this area so that you can differentiate it from the basic outline sketching you've been doing.

In the second picture, you move onto the next finger, the ring finger. Not much detail is put into this, but make sure to get the shape of the nail right. It'll curve to a flat line, which makes sense looking at your own finger again. The side with the nail should be more flat, almost like a line.

Finally, in the third picture, you focus on the segments of the index finger as well as the nail, which again, includes a bit more of a curve to it and a flatter edge on the other side instead of just a normal oval.

Step 8: Finalizing

Almost done! Now to finalize, erase a bit of the extra areas. Definitely do your best to get rid of the foundational outlines that you created because those are unnecessary and can be unappealing. Some sketch lines can add to the feature of the art, as it creates appropriate shadowing in certain areas, and just emphasizes the hard work you put into this.

Just to make clear through all of the sketch lines, I would trace the sketch with a black pen, thinly. It'll make the image itself much more precise and clean.

Bonus step for those that are a bit more experienced:

If you're really up for it, add shading by choosing certain areas that include intersections of certain lines and outline them with pencil. Think about how the light is hitting the image and determine where shadows would be accordingly. For example, the ring finger behind the pinky finger would receive more shading, and the index finger behind the ring finger would have even more shading than either of those fingers. Use your finger to rub the graphite powder from the pencil to spread the shading across the direction that you desire. Don't be too excessive, but the right amount could create an image more realistic.

Step 9: Sign It!

You're an artist now! All art has an artist, so sign it at the bottom with your name so everyone can know that you created this piece. Hopefully this gave you a taste of the beauty of art when you can be the one creating it instead of just simply observing. Good luck in your future experiences with art and I hope that this had taught you some basic lessons about sketching.

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