Hands are incredibly tricky to draw. I’ve been drawing for my entire life and I still need a reference to draw them well.
Why do we have five fingers? Why does each finger have three joints? How the heck did fingernails get into the picture? Sometimes I stare at my hand and wonder how it came to be whatsoever.
I’m done feeling bad about posting to the entire world and admitting that I need references to draw hands - hands are just pretty weird! Looking at hands constantly while drawing is the only way for me to get them right.
Hands are the most expressive part of the human body aside from the face - I find that if hands are not well done in a piece, the piece lacks believability. If the hands look good, the entire piece is bumped up a notch or two.
I learn a lot about drawing hands when making comics. There is a lot of action you can express just through hands.
Overall when I draw hands, I ask three questions:
1. Do I believe in it?
Do I believe this hand could braid hair, hold a football, or punch a face? Do I believe this hand could hold a steering wheel and drive a car?
2. Is it expressing something interesting?
Does this move the story forward or tell a story? Is the story about action or peace?
3. Is the expression clear?
Do I know what these hands are trying to say? Does it fit the mood of the rest of the piece? Are the hands primarily responsible for the mood or meaning? Important for comics: Does the hand expression fit the character and the story?
Believability is everything with hands. While I can’t offer a cut and dried tutorial on how I draw hands, it’s always pretty much:
Look at an actual hand, or take a photo of a hand you want to draw
Copy the hand as closely as possible
Add expression or color, deep carnelian reds for realism are key.
The key is reference reference reference - at least for me. Without an actual hand in front of me, it’s almost impossible to make a believable hand. There are a ton of apps out there with hand models that you can use as well - I like this one, Handy, because you can pose and rotate hands as you see fit. Much better than searching Google for hands. With Google Images, eventually all hand photos kind of float to the top, and it’s risky to start using the same hand references over and over.
Another great reference is Pinterest. I’ve put together a board here of art references, many hands included. A ton of people hate on Pinterest but I’ll take Pinterest any day for art references over throwing myself to the wolves of stock art on Google Search. I usually just end up making fun of stock art on Google instead of actually drawing. Not so on Pinterest.