Critique on Hand Drawings

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This topic contains 44 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Joshua 7 years ago.

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    This website was recommended to me by someone to practise drawing hands. I've been trying to learn how to draw them, but without success.

    I think my biggest problem is that I'm not used to drawing quickly. I'm relatively new at drawing (I started drawing at the beginning of the year). I've timed all the drawings I've ever done (simply for reference, I don't try to rush at all... well I didn't until I came to this site!), and I usually spend 30 minutes to an hour on each drawing.
    My other main problem is that I simply cannot drawing convincing hands, even with infinite time.
    So when I try and draw hands quickly, the results don't turn out well.

    I have two general goals I'm working towards:
    1) To simply be able to draw hands convincingly i.e. so they don't look more like a piece of ginger than a human hand.
    2) To be able to draw more quickly in general

    When I get better my goals might get more specific as I get better.

    I'm going to try to use this site at least once a week to practise. I intend to update this topic with all my future drawings of hands and feet (if I decide to use this site to also draw animals and/or faces, for example, I will create a separate topic for those).

    Of course, my goal here is to get feedback on how I can improve. I'm been uploading all my other drawings to Deviantart for the same reason, but unfortunately I rarely get any feedback on any of my drawings there.

    So far I've done two sessions on this site. On the first day, I drew various hands at a minute each, and two other at five minutes each.
    For the second day I did a 30 minute class.
    The links to my drawings are below:

    The first day:
    1 Minute Each -
    5 Minutes Each -

    The second day (a 30 minute class):

    Get more practice photos

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    HI Joshua,

    I think you may have unrealistic expectations of the goal of 30 second, 60 second, or even 120 second drawings -- very few people on the planet are able to produce "nice to look at" or even "accurate" drawings of something so complex as a hand or a human form in such a short period of time. And the goal, especially at this point in your practice, is not to make a finished piece. Indeed, if you keep thinking that you should be able to, you are setting yourself up to be frustrated and feel like a failure, and probably to give up before you make progress.

    Let me reassure you: Your 2 minute -or shorter- drawings can and should look like total garbage, and can still provide a learning benefit to you!

    One of the biggest mistakes that artists fall prey to is this feeling that they need to jump from a blank page to a beautiful artwork right away, when in fact, many stages of drawing don't look like much. Often, you may spend 10 minutes getting one part of the body totally captured and shaded, and then 10 minutes on another part, and then realize that while each individual piece is good they are at the wrong angle to each other, or badly out of proportion, etc. I can see in the drawings you've posted that you are ending up with extra fingers, which is exactly this problem of getting sucked into trying to render the details without first understanding how those pieces fit into the larger whole.

    So in that sense, the super short, frustrating exercises you're struggling with are exactly the ones you need to be doing. They exist to train your brain NOT to get sucked into the amazing details, because you simply don't have time. Instead, you have to shift your priority to finding a way to capture the whole of the pose or the hand without any details first. I'll do my best to give you some suggestions for how you can begin to do that.

    If what you have is 30 seconds to work with, try to get down a single line at first, that captures the main motion of the hand. If you have more time left, maybe try to capture the angle of the palm to the wrist, the index finger to the pointer finger, all with single strokes. You will never be able to capture more detail or shading at this pace, so don't worry about it. Your mission is much simpler. Let your mind take in not the details of what you're seeing, but how the whole of the hand works together to make an impression of grace or tension or anger or striving. You can see this in a split second impression, without have to study the details of shadow or wrinkles in skin.

    If you have 60 seconds to work with, you might aim to take down a shape of some kind for the palm - a rectangle, a triangle, whatever seems to work best for the angle you're seeing the hand at - and five lines that capture the basic relationship of the fingers to that palm shape.

    If you have a whopping 120 seconds available to you, you might do what you did for the 60 seconds, but this time, put down circles to indicate where the joints are in the fingers. You might even be able to render one or two of the fingers as three different lines, capturing the subtle or sharp changes of angle where those joints you've identified are.

    In this way, you will start to train your brain to see the lines of motion (often referred to as the lines of action) in a pose or in a hand that give it feeling or interest, start to teach it to see the pieces of the body individually, and how they seem to change shape when rotated in space, and how the joints are placed in the skeleton to articulate different poses.

    Carry these lessons forward with you into longer poses, where you can spend time working on getting the details right, and you will find that you gradually have a much clearer understanding of what you're looking at. The class modes that work you through those shorter foundation exercises/warm ups and into longer poses are great for this!

    In looking at the pieces you've posted, it looks like you are currently paying attention mostly or only to the outer edges of the things you're looking at, but not putting much attention toward what is going on INSIDE the hand (skeleton, muscles, flesh) to create those silhouettes in space. I'd encourage you to spend a month trying to sketch the bones and joints in a hand (you can represent them with lines and circles, no need to draw actual bones!) before you go back to drawing the visible flesh bits. You will come away with a much more powerful understanding of how hands work and are assembled.

    Hope this helps!


    I'd also like to add: Work in pencil rather than pen! When you find yourself confronted with a full 5 or 10 minutes to draw, start by drawing those basic strokes that capture the angles, and the shape of the palm. Look at what you got, look at the image, use your eraser to make a few quick corrections, and then draw your details right on top of that basic framework. Stuff will relate to each other much better if you've got a little map to work with before getting detailed.


    Hi Kim, thanks for the detailed feedback!

    I tried the class again tonight. This time I felt I did much better on each exercise than the first time. For the 30-second and 1-minute drawings, I started out by drawing the lines of action like you recommended, and added some more shape if I still had time.

    I meant to use pencil to start off the two 5-minute drawings and the 11 minute one, but I forgot to use the pencil for the first 5-minute one! For the other two, I started by drawing the basic lines of action and the shapes in pencil (like for the 1-minute drawings), then went over the top in pen.

    Looking at my last drawing, I'm trying to figure out how it's physically possible to position your hand as I drew them. The view is of the palm and the thumb is on the left, indicating it's the left hand, but I drew the fingernails on the right side of the fingers. The view was on an angle and the fingers weren't exactly straight, but if the hand and position were where I thought they were when I drew them, the fingernails should be on the left side - but I'm sure that's where I saw them! I didn't notice this until I was uploading the drawings though.

    Here are the three pages:

    Could you please give me any more feedback or advice?


    Wow, huge improvement right away! I don't see a single six fingered hand, and the one in the middle right of this page that's holding a rod or some straight object stands out as a landmark in your beginning to understand how to see and record finger anatomy:

    You seem to be on the right path. I would say hold this course for a few weeks and compare the differences before setting new goals. One thing to try during this period would be trying to measure the hand against itself. For example, how many thumb lengths are in each finger at the particular angle you're seeing? This may help you to start getting more realistically proportioned hands. Here's a video on measuring the human body against itself: It's meant for figure drawing rather than hand drawing, but many of the same concepts apply.

    At this stage of your practice, I would say put the pen away and work in pencil entirely. You'll probably be doing a lot of erasing, and that is good, because it means you are taking in more information and figuring out how to apply it to the page.

    You may also want to do a few weeks of this exercise simultaneously with your hand practice:

    It will help you to do your initial underdrawing (with the basic lines and shapes) veeery lightly, the next phase of putting in detail a little darker, and the final phase of finalizing your lines and adding shading even darker.


    Thanks for the quick reply! I'll definitely try out that pencil exercise. Are there any other exercises I can/should try to practise my drawing?

    I also just read through your articles on gesture drawing. I'll give that a shot sometime this week as well.


    You're welcome! :)

    If you found the gesture drawing basics series, that is probably plenty of exercises to work on and get you started. Just remember, progress comes from consistent practice. Be patient with yourself and keep at it!


    I had another attempt at the hand drawings. The first section is from 30-second images, the second from 1-minute images, and the third from 2-minute images. I did them all in pencil this time"

    I also tried the pencil control exercise at the top of this page (there are a few other exercises on the same page):

    I also tried some figure drawing. I'm going to create another topic for that, so I can use that thread as the master thread for my figure drawing, and this one for my hand drawing.


    Looking at your longer hand drawings at the bottom of this page, and comparing to the ones that you showed me only two days ago, there is a dramatic difference. Please keep up with this practice, it is clearly benefiting you! :D


    Here's another attempt:

    Each section is based on the 30-second, 1-minute, 2-minute, and 5-minute exercises from top to bottom respectively. They don't look as good as yesterday's drawings unfortunately.


    Here's another attempt, drawn from 30-second, 1-minute, and 2-minute images. Unfortunately I forgot what I learned before and draw all the 1-minute hands like the 30-second ones. I only remembered before I started on the 2-minute ones.


    That is okay, you are still really early in your learning process. Still looks like you're on the right track. Keep it up! :D


    Thanks Kim! I had another go today.

    A lot of the fingers were spread further apart than they should be, especially with the second 2-minute drawing. I'll try to keep that in mind next time.


    It jumped out at me on the second to last drawing that the palm is out of proportion to where you've put the fingers. If you hold your hands out in front of yourself, palms facing away from you, and make an L shape with your pointer and thumb, you will see clearly that the pointer is at the very edge of your hand. If you fold your thumbs in toward your palm, hiding them from your view, this becomes even more apparent -- the hand becomes essentially a square that is then almost the very same width as your four fingers are when pressed together.

    If you hold your thumb out straight again, note the flap of skin that connects the side of your hand to the inside of your thumb. This can create the impression of the hand being wider, but really, the bones and the muscles are mostly all in alignment with the fingers.

    On your pinky side, there's a very slight curve outward of the hand from wrist to the outer edge of your pinky's base, which keeps it from being a perfect rectangle, but again, this difference is slight. Hope that helps as something to think about when drawing!


    Thanks Kim! I tried again today, and tried to focus on drawing the palm as a squarish shape, although I didn't account for it properly when the hand was at an angle.

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