❖ Essential Guide for Drawing Hands ❖


Of all parts of the body, the hand is by many considered to be the hardest to draw. We all have stories of how, early on, we would keep our characters' hands behind their backs or in their pockets, avoiding as much as possible the task of tackling hands. Yet paradoxically, they are our most readily available reference, being in our field of vision every moment of our lives. With just one extra accessory, a small mirror, we can reference hands from all angles. The only real challenge, then, is the complexity of this remarkably articulated organ: it's almost like drawing a small figure onto a larger one, one doesn't know where to start.

In this tutorial we will deconstruct the hand's own anatomy and indeed demystify it, so that when you look at a hand for reference, you can make sense of it as a group of simple forms, easy to put together.

[ ! ! ! ] Very Important Disclaimer:

The cover photo is the actual me in person (Futopia; on the right) with my mom. Well, we use the A4 paper in order to let Clip Studio team and judges know exactly that it's actually us, the real persons behind this tutorial creation. I use my mom's hands and mine as references for drawings as well as my fiance's hands for female part but I don't want to distract viewer's attention with so many photos: in the end, we keep everything simple by using only sketches and our avatars.

Thank you for your attention.

Chapter I : Preface

At the outset I should like to make clear the fact that there is no specific rule or formula for drawing any object and that the hand is no exception.

In view, however, of the complexity of form and movement inherent in hands, it is true that they do present many difficulties to the drafter (for comic artist) and painter.

The achievement of fullness, variety and clarity at one and the same time is always a problem and particularly so. It seems, in dealing, with the forms of the hand.

[ ! ! ! ] Keep in mind:

I use only [ Design Pencil ] brush from [ Pencil ] Sub Tool for all the images I put into the tutorial. In order to maximize the capability of shading like a real pencil on paper, however I did those with graphic tablet which of course had a pen pressure to achieve lighter and harder strokes.

[ My tutorial focused on explaining in depth for each hands, I will not talking about you have to do it my way, tell you how to color, using this particular brushes, etc. But more to theoretically present the principle of hands drawing from my passed away master of traditional sketches, my only mentor in hyper realistic drawing: my uncle, Mr. Hariyanto. "I miss you, sensei." ]

The fact that we are aware of being surrounded more often by clothed individuals than otherwise has led to our being almost as conditioned in our attitude to hands as we have become to the human face. They have come to be regarded as expressive feature (emotive fragments) of the human being, subsidiary only to the face, and our incurious familiarity with them continually comes between us and endeavor to view them in an objective or dispassionate manner.

It is then rather on account of their familiarity to us than the reverse that they are deserving if not demanding of separate study, and it is my hope that the following drawings, diagram and text may be of real service and not merely an aid to the accumulation of series of smart tricks to be applied mechanically.

Chapter II : Bone Structure

The following diagrams, though brief, show the main bone and muscle patterns as simply as possible with the minimum of text. The information given here may be easily augmented by reference to standard works on anatomy should the reader wish to pursue the subject to a further stage.

( A ) Diagram showing extent of thumb movement
( B ) Characteristic changes of axial direction at joints; side view

It should be remembered that the main muscles for flexing and extending the hand and fingers are situated in the forearm; those for flexing on the palm-side of the arm and those for extending on the elbow-side.

Keep in mind, too, that the carpal or wrist bones move in unison with and as part of the hand against the radius and ulna.

At all times notice that the palm-side of the hand is padded and fleshy in comparison with the back of the hand where the bones lie just under the surface.

( A ) This skeletal drawing of the palm shows the relationship between the creases and the joints
( B ) Notice that the webs of the fingers come about halfway down the phalanges
( C ) Notice, too, that the skin creases do not lie directly above the joints
( D ) Remember that the bones of the wrist move with the hand
( E ) Observe the size of the hand in comparison with the size of the head. The most common fault is to make the hands too small

Chapter III : Simplified Construction

Here I have drawn a series of hands in different positions in what can be called a three-dimensional diagram form. That is to say that only the simplest surfaces or planes have been employed in building up the structure.

( A ) Note the rectangular section of the fingers
( B ) Cross section of wrist. Think always in terms of surfaces or planes. Consider all dimensions
( C ) Notice the planes of the joints

This type of drawing by means of basic solid geometry form is very valuable in developing a feeling for essentials and may be profitably used as preliminary probe when you are faced with complexities which might otherwise appear insoluble.

You might want to see another tutorials, done by me but in such a fantasy approach. But keep in mind, I've put the same principles with the basic geometry before go into such a complex shapes of designing alien creatures. Here's the sample and you got yourself the link as well:


Notice the relative absence of curved planes. In simplified constructions as contrasted with finished drawings nearly all the surfaces meet at a definite angle. This is to remind ourselves that everything, no matter what, has front, back, sides, top, and bottom.

Use this diagram form before beginning any drawing, but keep it separate and do not attempt to superimpose the finished drawing over it. Above was taken from my past tutorial as well. Focused on creating heads for galactic creatures. If you're interested, please head to the link I provided.

( A ) Regard this eminence as part of the thumb
( B ) Observe the end planes of finger tips in foreshortened positions
( C ) Watch the positions of the joints in relation to one another

( D ) If in doubt, draw in this section even if it destroys a "pretty" drawing

Think always of the structure and never merely of silhouette. Only in this way will you learn to draw with expressiveness.

( A ) The position of the fingernails in relation to the finger tips is good indication as to whether the finger is foreshortened. ( 1.) Is obviously pointing more directly at us than ( 2.), where the tip does not show below the nail

( B ) The cross section (1 & 2) are particularly helpful in establishing forms in foreshortening. Note their changed relationship as well as the position for the cylinder drawings.

Chapter IV : Lateral Wrist Movement

As can be seen from these diagrams, the lateral movement of the hand at the wrist in either direction is more restricted than the forward and backward movement shown on the above image

( A ) Observe the angle of the fingers, shown by the dotted line, relative to the wrist. The movement shown is restricted, and the angle formed is thus obtuse (more than 90◦)

( B ) This movement (toward center of the body) is less restricted than the other. The angle form by the fingers and wrist is less obtuse

( A ) In this wrist movement the fingers tend to extend and straighten themselves

( B ) In this position the fingers tend to close over the palm

( C ) In the backward movement the angle of the wrist and hand is more obtuse than in the forward movement (shown in top figure) where the natural angle formed is about 90◦

( A ) The movements shown on this part are the same as those on the preceding part above, but the hands are viewed from different angles

( B ) Notice how cushioned and fleshly the palm looks in comparison with the boniness of the back of the hand (image on the top and above)

Chapter V : Hands of Children

The hands of the children vary only in a most subtle manner from age group to age group. I have therefore concentrated on the early or infant age group, since this group provides us with the maximum difference when compared with the hands of adults. From about four years of age onward the proportions are much the same as in a mature hand, although perhaps more delicate in structure.

The infant hand is characterized by a general chubbiness, notably at the wrist and on the back. The fingers are short and well-padded with flesh. There is a minimum of tapering toward the tips, and the fingernails are short and small.

It is difficult to make any hard and fast rules about the character of children's hands. Their manifold movements and gestures alternate between fumbling and clumsiness and extreme delicacy of touch and posture. Truly, the only individuating characteristic to hold on to are those already mentioned, particularly the well-covered, fleshy look. Note also the tendency to dimples on the back of the hand.

Because children are so restless, it is almost impossible to get them to hold still long enough to observe their hands. The time to get properly to grips with the problem is when they are asleep and when it is possible to observe their hands closely between their fitful movements.

Chapter VI : Male Hand

The main characteristic of the male hand, as compared with the female, is its greater angularity. Consequently, the modeling of the component planes may be more decisively accentuated. Bone projections and surface textures may be similarly stressed.

In the early stages of learning to draw anything, superficial differences, such as the difference between the male and the female hand, should never be unduly insisted upon. The general structure of your subject is the most important concern.

Differences in character will follow naturally in your drawings as a result of your continuous observation of what lies around you.

Chapter VII : Female Hand

The female hand differs from that of the male in that it nearly always has a finer and more delicate bone structure. It is smaller, and the joints are usually not so accentuated. The fingers are narrower and taper more toward the nails, and the nails are more oval-shaped and certainly longer.

The general effect is that of elongation and elegance frequently allied to a slight plumpness. There is a tendency for feminine hand gestures to display a greater refinement of posture and movement than masculine ones.

In the drawings on above image, I Have consciously tried to convey the deftness of gesture that seems to me such an essential part of the feminine make-up. When a woman is groping blindly in her handbag-even with gloves on, needless to say- she manages to do so with a certain grace in the midst of awkwardness.

Observe constantly, and from what you remember of what you have seen draw such action studies at these, particularly such movements as opening handbags and putting up or combing the hair, purely feminine activities.

Chapter VIII : Elderly People

I promise you (as well as I try my hard not violate any Clip Studio Tips rules by posting unknown sources from the internet), my mom's hands will be my only picture references, but I won't put all of them here. Just selected few which I think the best and suitable for our case.

Apart from occasional structural distortions, caused by arthritic joints and the like and which are different in each person affected, the main characteristic of the hands of old and elderly people are: loose but sharply defined skin folds, noticeable vein patterning on the back of the hand, and large, accentuated joints. There is a tendency for the bones of the fingers to be out of alignment.

There are certain occasions when it is possible to draw one's own hands to advantage or even use anyone around you. I should say hand since it is obvious that there is only one available to draw, the other being engaged in drawing it.

The limitations are very great indeed, either with or without mirror, but perhaps greatest without one since it is almost always obvious that the hand drawn is the artist's own, and we are always necessarily confronted with the thumb side, as in the drawing directly above. Image below is my mom's fingers reference and I did not the exact way, adding more imagination and slightly make it... A bit less wrinkles and give a long sleeve in order to make it into an old style drawing.

( A ) Always be sure to observe the precise shape of the nails and their relationship to the form of the finger tips. I ask my mom to pose. Watch how radically such relationship alter when viewed from different positions, especially drawn from the top.

( B ) The real advantage of drawing one's own hand is of course its availability while it must be difficult if you need to draw your own hand which will be the only one capable of drawing (some people are ambidextrous) but as I am the right hand; I was unable to sketch my own hand with pointing something - so I ask my mom to pose it for me.

However, limited the basic view of it may be, each pose, even though similar to a preceding one, is always subtly different. So, there is more of an exercise in drawing and less of an anatomical study. Exploration of forms is common to most master drawings in any era.

Bonus Chapter: Japanese Sign Languange

Japanese Sign Language (JSL) is the sign language used in Japan.

Just like how Japanese is completely different from English, JSL is completely different from ASL. For one, JSL uses mouthing to distinguish between various signs. ASL uses mouth movements a little bit, but not mouthing to this extent.

Finger-spelling is also used more in JSL than it is in ASL. Finger writing (drawing Japanese characters in the air) is sometimes used in JSL. Finger writing is never used in ASL.

JSL also uses the topic-comment pattern of sentence structure that is used in spoken Japanese as well as American Sign Language. However, even though JSL borrows heavily from spoken Japanese, it is not a signed form of Japanese–it is still its own language.

Some signs from JSL are shared with Korea and Taiwan's sign languages. This is probably due to the cultural exchanges during the Japanese occupation period.

I'm fond of Japanese language and literature (which is why I love everything made from Japan), also I was an Indonesian Creative Industry and Design student who was living in Taiwan and learn Japanese culture from my Japanese friend back then in 2016. She's a fine woman, not deaf or something, but she showed me a lot of Japanese especially the sign language.

And this is my dedication to her:

Final Chapter: Wash Your Hands!

Below is my D.I.Y ( Do It Yourself ) step by step guide for you to wash your hands after you've done with any activities including digitally drawing with Clip Studio Paint and put down your graphic tablet. You might ask...

"Why do you put this 'mini tutorial' apart from hand drawing tutorial above?"

Truth be told, after done with many activities, even inside my home. I often forget to wash my hands, it seems not so important at first, but you know...

Hand-washing remains the No. 1 tip for preventing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). It's common sense and it works. However, it must be done properly and with soap and water. When soap and water are not available, the next best option is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

[ Path to improved health ]

Proper hand-washing not only reduces the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), it can prevent the spread of other viral illnesses such as cold and flu. Hand-washing also reduces the risk of getting other easily spread infections, such SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

Step 1:

Wet hands with water and apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces

Step 2:

Rub hands palm to palm

Step 3:

Right palm over left dorsum with interlaced fingers and vice versa

Step 4:

Palm to palm with fingers interlaced

Step 5:

Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked

Step 6:

Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa

Step 7:

Rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa

Step 8:

Ringse hands with water and your hands are safe

Final Tips:

[ How long should I wash my hands? ]

Science has shown that washing your hands for 20 seconds is effective in killing germs. Don't have the patience for this? Experts say that washing your hands while singing Happy Birthday twice makes the experience quick and pleasant. :)

[ Things to consider ]

1. Draw from references if you don't have a mirror, ask your parents, your fiances, your friends. Make sure to draw from reality. Many of hand drawing tutorials here already filled with anime style drawings, which is good. But not really the best way to develop your skill.

2. Focus onto shading first, add values to your drawing with black and white or any other monotone. Don't start with colors yet, but aim to had the understanding of shapes, forms and full control of your pen pressure.

3. When you're figured things out with realistic approach; you'll naturally draw any fingers, hands, and other usual anatomy drawings (especially body and gestures) without worry about the weird proportions. You can draw within any style that you'd like.

Thank you for scrolling until the end. I hope you'll learn thing or two, especially the importance of washing hands. It's life saving gestures that could impact everyone after all.


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