Looking for some feedback on hands

  • I've been enjoying lurking around on the forums and seeing everyone's great work, but as part of the New Year, I'd like to contribute and receive some feedback too 🙂

    I've been taking the laid out curriculum and am currently working through Drawing Fundamentals. Something I've always wanted to do to draw convincing hands very well. I think I'm on the path to that, but I can't help but feel these look a little deformed still? I'd love to get some feedback / advice on where I can improve. The longer I work on them, the weirder they get.

    Thank you in advance


  • Moderator

    Personally, I love these. I think you're capacity to suggest areas of shadow with simple lines is great!!

    I've been told that it can be useful not only to study how other artists draw hands (which it looks like you're doing) but to draw from photographs if you can because artists can sometimes "cheat" shadows and light and shapes for the purposes of the internal logic or style of the painting, so trying to redraw them can sometimes--not always--result in malformed appearances because you're interpreting an interpretation... For what it's worth. That may be apocryphal, but that's what I heard.

    Something I'm personally struggling with is drawing hands that don't appear to be replication of my reference photo. I see how other artists use their reference material and I'm amazed--they can somehow look at how a hand is posed in a pic or a sculpture or painting and then set it aside and "own" it, resulting in a hand that isn't a replication but is clearly inspired by the hand they looked at. Perhaps there is some freedom in not replicating but instead emulating? I'm not sure, as I'm struggling with that VERY issue, and time and again I have to question whether I'm actually learning anything or just practicing how accurately I can copy. Maybe you're not struggling with that like I am.

    I wonder if you try to break them down into flat geometric planes a bit more, then build up from there, maybe they won't feel so weird to you? I say that because you're first hand on the top has a finger that look bent in the wrong place, and perhaps the angle of the top of the hand might be tilted closer to the arm it's grasping--it's almost appears like the hand is in the middle of lifting away from the arm. I think your second and third hands are much stronger.

    I hope that helps somehow and doesn't just confuse things for you...

  • I think they are really good, although the picture you have chosen for the first one is a little bit of an awkward pose for anyone to draw. So you are doing very well with your studies keep it up.

  • @ryandowns Hands really are kind of weird looking TBH. Also as I work a drawing and fix mistakes I'm always looking at what to fix or adjust next and so it rarely looks right to me. I can only judge whether an image "works" later.

    Your hands are going really well. The first one is a tricky pose. If you group the shadows a bit more on the back of that one it will look more like the back of the hand is a single plane/object turning away.

  • @coreyartus Thanks so much Corey! Super helpful!

    I think we're in the same boat in terms of replication vs. emulation. I think I can draw from reference okay, but take away that safety net and I tend to flounder haha. I think my next move will to practice a bit more from reference, then maybe draw hands from imagination once I feel more confident in the basic structure?

    @thiskatecreates and @DOTTYP Agreed, that first hand was wacko. I had to scrap my first attempt and totally try again. I enjoyed the challenge in retrospect, but it wasn't so fun during the actual drawing haha.

  • The first thing that jumps out at me is the outlines. You should get rid of them. Draw in tones, values. Put in the black shapes around the hands, the mid tones, the highlights, but don't draw lines, just shapes. Nothing in nature has outlines. Also, these appear to be a little rushed. Take your time, really study what you're looking at, double check proportions, negative space etc. A classic read is 'Drawing on the right side of the brain'. If you go through that, takes about a month or so, that would improve your basic technique no end, then drawing everything will be ten times easier.

  • I think they are really good! 🙂 The first one looks a little awkward, but the reference looks awkward too.

    However I think with hands the trick is not to draw a few really detailed hands, but hundreds roughs sketches. It'll be much more useful if you want to pursue illustration (which is probably why you're here 😉 to be able to draw hands in any positions than to render a hand very realistically! Although there are certainly things to learn with detailed, carefully rendered drawings (and they can be fun to do!) if you want to get good at hands I would draw sketchbook pages full of hands doing various things. And even after doing that, you'll probably still find them hard to draw haha! Hands are really tuff.

    But again, I think your studies are quite good!

  • SVS OG

    I agree that the first hand is already a little exaggerated. Is it Sargent? But also take a look at the wrist and its conjunction with the thumb. You have the wrist down lower. Your second finger middle joint is very high and that flattens that finger. The third finger is the one that should be flatter, but it's turned upward.

    The second is a sculpture, and so is good reference. In fact, your thumb on the lower hand is darned good! The upper part of the index finger on the upper hand is a bit distorted, and I think the remedy is to do what Will calls "drawing through." He talks about how drawing close to the edge can tempt us to distort shapes and so we should extend outside the canvas to make sure our drawing is correct.

    But mainly in this one, the wrist in the original has a lot more volume. I see where you've outlined the shadows, but I think you've got the whole thing a bit high. And also, I think that if your shading lines didn't just follow the form vertically, but described it by running across it more, you'd get more volume.

    The third is the closest. Here you only have the ring finger coming out a little too far. But all of these tiny distortions are easier to see when your eye is fresh. I often draw something, go away for a while, and come back to see how distorted it is. Then I correct furiously for about five minutes.

    Hope I'm not being too severe--and on your first post too! I'm a major hand stickler. And I agree with everything @Coreyartus said above. I don't think there's anything for it but concentrated practice! But you're off to a good start and practicing hands is so worth it, because they are so expressive! Continue to post your progress!

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