Drawing hands is one of the biggest obstacles for beginner artists. And one surefire way to improve at drawing hands is using good hand reference photos!
So, where can you get those fantastic reference photos to draw beautiful hands once and for all?
You can get hand reference photos from different stock websites for free, take your own photos of hands to practice drawing, or even use online drawing tools.
So let’s go over some specific examples and websites that you can use to get great-looking hand images for drawing and improve your hand drawing skills!
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With both an iOS and an Android version available, this “handy” tool sure is amazing! You can tweak every 3D hand model to a specific pose you need and draw it. This is a great drawing hands reference tool.
Not only that, but it includes several different body parts that you can draw and tweak to your liking, such as heads and even feet!
You can also tweak the lighting on the image to get just the right mood you want in your drawing.
There’s much to work with regarding getting a perfect reference. So I highly recommend this tool if you want to practice some specific hand poses!
Get the Handy Art Reference Tool on:
This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned Line-Of-Action (check the Best Pose Reference Websites here), and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last!
Not only does Line-of-action have a wonderful website with tools for figure and gesture drawing, but they also have specific tools for hands and feet!
You simply need to select a few options, such as “Hands” and “Only Female Read Models” or “Only Male Read Models” and you’re basically good to go.
There are currently over 600 different hand reference photos available for you to draw, making this an excellent tool to practice drawing hands!
One of the best things about this hand reference tool is that you can set timed sessions where the hand photo keeps changing. This means that you’ll have to be somewhat quick at drawing and focusing on the main shapes and gesture of the image!
By doing this, it will help you improve at drawing much faster, I guarantee it. Just set the time interval to something comfortable and go for it.
You can find the hands and feet practice tool here!
Pexels is another free stock reference photo website that I will always recommend. It has thousands of hand reference images available for traditional or digital artists.
Not only can you find literally over 100,000 photos of hand references, but you can also find over 47,000 videos!
All of them free to use.
Talk about value.
So if you’re looking for random hands to draw, I couldn’t recommend Pexels more. It has high-quality photos of hands from different angles and different ethnicities.
Do keep in mind that some of them are a bit more “artistic” than others. So if you’re looking for a more casual-looking hand, I recommend you check other options on this list!
Search “hands” or “female hands” on Pexels, or click here to get hand images from pexels.
With over 120 photos and 2 different videos, there are a lot of photos of hands for you to choose from in this pack!
A small disclaimer here: we (Miguel and Patricia) are the ones that created this pack and took all the photos and videos, so our recommendation can be a bit biased!
But we did create this pack since, at the time, there weren’t many available options for hand reference photos online.
This hand reference photos pack is available for only 1$ (or more if you’re feeling generous), and we hope you enjoy it!
You can find the hand reference photos pack here.
For anything related to images, Pinterest is always a great bet! You can find thousands (maybe even millions at this point) of hand reference photos on the website by simply searching.
One good way to get good hand reference photos on Pinterest is just by typing in “hand photos” or “hand photography” on the search bar.
You’ll be greeted by a huge volume of hand reference photos, so I do recommend you to scroll around and get the ones you like the most.
I also advise creating a hand photos pinterest board if you have an account there! This way you’ll always have your reference photos quite “handy”!
I do have my own “Hand Reference Photos For Artists” Board there, which you can look at and even pin whichever ones you like! Feel free to use those at will.
Do keep in mind that you never quite know where these images are coming from. So do use these hand photos primarily for practice, not commercial projects.
With many different options of stock photos available on Deviantart, there are quite a few hand reference packs as well!
For example, Adorkastock’s 50 Hand Challenge Pack (with 244 Photos) is a great option to practice drawing some hands.
Adorkastock is a professional model that has created thousands of photos for digital artists (and traditional) for many years, so I highly recommend checking her work out!
With that said, don’t just take my word for it. Download the pack or search deviantart for other hand packs available from other of these many artists and go practice!
I’m sure you’ll find the perfect hand reference photo for you there.
Good old Google, you never disappoint.
If you run out of options from the other websites I’ve listed and are still looking for more hand reference photos, Google has you covered.
Being one of the most used search engines on earth, google has indexed millions of hand photos that you can find!
Simply search for something such as:
- Hand photos
- Hand Photography
- Hand Reference Photos
- Photos Of Hands
And so on. You get the idea!
And you’ll find a hand pose you need, I’m sure of it.
You can even be more specific and write “hand reaching out” or “couple holding hands” and you’ll be able to find many different hand poses to draw.
Do remember that most of the results aren’t available to be used commercially. So I would stick to just using these hand reference photos as a practice tool for the most part.
Hand Reference Tools
Other than the previous websites and tools such as Line-Of-Action and Handy Art Reference Tool that I’ve mentioned before, there are a few other options.
For example, one of the best ways to get that perfect specific pose that you want is by using a Hand Figure Manikin such as this one (on Amazon).
It has a decent range of motion and is primarily suitable for static poses.
One of the pros of it is that you can get a flashlight or a lamp and put it anywhere around the hand figure manikin to test out different lighting situations.
This will help you improve your shading skills much faster than other methods.
One other option is to use your own hand as reference of course!
Using your own hand as a reference image for drawing hands can be great since you can get the angle and pose just as you want it to.
You might need a friend to help you take the photos the way you want. But even if you’re alone, you can use a mirror to get different angles of your hand.
And finally, another option is a bigger sketching app such as JustSketch.me.
This web app has many settings that you can tweak. You can change the pose around as much as you want, and even test out different lighting!
It does have a bit of a learning curve, so you might want to dedicate some time to try everything out. The best part about this hand reference tool is that since it has so many options to work with, you can get the exact hand pose you need.
You can even make a sitting pose reference, like the ones in these photos.
Do try it out and let me know if you like it!
Hand Gesture Drawing
Gesture drawing isn’t only about drawing poses and figures! It’s also about drawing other gestures, such as those in hands.
When doing gesture drawings of hands, you’ll want to focus on two things:
- Line Of Action
- Hand Shapes
First, you should start with the line of action, drawing the flow of the hand with just one line.
This should be a long line that will give the entire hand movement.
And then you focus on the bigger shapes of the hand. You can split these in rectangles, squares, ellipses, anything that makes sense to you!
This exercise aims to simplify the shapes and improve your hand drawing skills.
I do have a complete guide on drawing hands, so do check that one out if you need more information on drawing hands!
And that’s all you need to know about getting the best hand reference photos for drawing, as well as how to do your practice!
Also, if you’re looking for references for drawing some portraits (taking a break from drawing hands), here’s the 11 Best Portrait Reference Photo Websites For Artists.
Have fun, and keep on drawing!
Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!
Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!