Drawing hands is very commonly one of the most challenging subjects to draw regarding human anatomy.
However, as with most art subjects, it can be done very quickly by breaking it down into simple and easy steps.
This way, you’ll learn how to draw hands in depth in no time! Start with basic shapes, one step at a time, and then refine everything to look more finished.
By following this tutorial, filled with images and tips, you’ll learn how to draw hands step-by-step and learn all the basics needed to draw hands!
Table Of Contents
- 1 How To Draw Hands Step-By-Step
- 1.1 Step 1 – Draw The Palm Of The Hand
- 1.2 Step 2 – Draw The Thumb
- 1.3 Step 3 – Draw The Fingers
- 1.4 Step 4 – Add Details
- 1.5 Step 5 – Clean Everything Up
- 1.6 Step 6 – Practice Drawing Hands In Different Positions
- 2 Why Is It So Hard To Draw Hands?
How To Draw Hands Step-By-Step
When drawing hands, it’s good to first look at them. Truly observe and analyze them.
You can look at photos of hands in positions and movements. Grab photos that you find interesting and keep them.
Searching and observing their bone structure can also be helpful in better understanding how hands work and move.
And, finally, use your own hands. Look at them and take pictures of them. Try different angles, and hand gestures.
We have a big pack full of hand photo references, including videos for this purpose, that you can find on our Gumroad page!
Use these as references.
Draw on top of them and divide them into different parts. Once you feel ready, it’s time to start drawing hands with the following steps:
Step 1 – Draw The Palm Of The Hand
When learning how to draw hands, it’s good to divide them into three parts: the palm, thumb, and fingers.
You can draw these with very simple shapes.
Starting with the palm, we can start by drawing a square.
Now, if you look closely to reference images of hands, you’ll notice the palm isn’t completely squared.
When reaching the area of the thumb, we have a sudden curve. So, before going to the next step, decide which side your thumb will be and cut one corner of your square.
With a very basic shape, a big part of the hand is already drawn!
Step 2 – Draw The Thumb
It’s time to add the thumb. For that, we’re going to use three shapes.
First, let’s draw an oval shape in the slanted corner of our square.
Now, add a small rectangular shape right after the circle.
Finally, for the tip of the thumb, let’s draw a shape similar to a lemon wedge. The curved line should be on the upper side of the finger.
This is just one way to plan and break down your thumb drawing. However, as you get more comfortable with drawing hands, you might start reducing the number of shapes you use.
You might also be more comfortable with different shapes. Instead of circles, you might prefer to just use rectangles for the whole thumb, for example.
The kind of basic shapes you use when drawing a human hand is totally up to you and what makes the most sense to you.
Experiment with different things, look at your own hand and imagine what shapes you’d use. Then, try drawing them!
Step 3 – Draw The Fingers
When drawing the fingers, there are a few ways you can approach it.
One thing to remember is that the highest finger, in this case, the middle finger, is as tall as the palm.
Again, when looking at your hand or any other reference image, you’ll notice that the fingers spread, forming a curved line.
With this information, we can roughly measure the shape of the palm and draw a curved line at the same distance. Something like this:
Now that we know how tall each finger will be, it’s time to draw shapes for them.
Draw four circles along the upper line of the palm. These represent the knuckles.
Now, starting from each circle, draw a straight line for each finger until it reaches the arched line we drew.
To finish, let’s add a few more circles for other joints and tips of the fingers. These should be halfway through the vertical line and along the arched line for the tips.
Three circles are usually enough, but you can be even more detailed.
We now have all the main shapes needed when drawing hands!
Even though it’s a very rough sketch, it resembles a hand drawing. It’s good to practice these a few times when learning how to draw hands first.
This way, you can get more familiar with the shapes and proportions of the hands. Then, when you feel confident in your sketches, you can start refining your drawing and adding more details.
Practice Each Finger, One At A Time
A good tip when drawing fingers is to draw them one at a time. This is especially helpful when learning to draw the fingers in different angles and positions.
Take some time to draw a finger fully extended and then several other sketches as it bends.
The shapes you use are the same. However, they might behave differently as the finger moves.
Start by drawing an extended finger using the same shapes as before. You can even outline the shapes, so it’s easier to recognize the fingers.
Now, draw the same finger but bend it slightly. Again, you can use your hand or a picture of it to understand the movement better.
As you can see, the same circles and lines are drawn in different places.
Finally, draw the finger fully curved into the palm. Here, some shapes might even overlap slightly with others.
Not only that, but more skin folds appear, which you can also to draw!
Practice drawing one finger at a time so it’s easier to understand them. You can even make several sketches without drawing the palm of your hand. Just floating fingers.
Once you feel comfortable with your drawings, you can draw a hand and all its fingers at different angles.
Try Using Different Shapes For The Fingers
Even though we used circles and lines for the fingers, you can try using other forms when drawing hands.
For example, some artists use the ‘french fries’ method, which uses rough rectangles for each finger.
This method is much less detailed than the previous one but is good for quickly sketching out different hand gestures.
However, it’s the method that might be easier to use once you’re more comfortable with drawing hands.
Another thing you can do is, instead of drawing all the fingers separately, you can make one big shape for the middle and ring fingers.
Most often, these two fingers are too close together, so it might easier to get the right proportions for them. Using this method might also be a matter of stylistic choice!
Finally, you can use rectangles for the bottom part of the fingers, along with bullet shapes for the tips.
Here, you divide the fingers into two parts but already have a more realistic shape for them on your sketch!
It’s totally up to you what shapes to use. You can even make up your method. What matters is that it makes sense to you and that you have good results.
Step 4 – Add Details
We reach the final stage of our sketch when drawing a hand. You can review some previous lines and outline the fingers and thumb.
This is also a good time to play with different styles of hands. For example, when drawing female hands, it’s very common to draw thin and elongated fingers.
When it comes to male hands, they have thick and shorter fingers. But the human body differs from person to person, so it’s always good to look for a reference and see how hands change!
Another thing you can do is add two lines below the hand shape for the wrist. They don’t need to be too long, just enough so it’s not just a floating hand on your paper.
Palm Of The Hand
Adding details to the palm can be very simple.
If you look at your palm, you’ll notice a lot of texture and curved lines. However, you can omit a lot of these.
To keep things simple, you can just draw the most defining lines, such as the three biggest lines crossing the palm:
You can also draw some skin folds near the thumb area.
On the other hand, if you’re going for a very cartoony style, you can just draw a smooth line connecting the thumb to the rest of the fingers.
Finally, you can draw a few lines where the knuckles are on each finger!
As you can see, this is a very simple and minimal way of adding detail. You can add more lines and shading if you want to draw a more realistic hand!
Back Of The Hand
For the back of the hand, you can take the opportunity and add fingernails. Again, for the joints, you can draw a few horizontal strokes.
Again, there’s much more you can draw regarding adjustments and additions. Learning to draw the human body is very complex and filled with intricacies.
But, in the beginning, you can just keep things as simple as possible until you’re ready for more!
Step 5 – Clean Everything Up
Now that our sketch is ready, it’s time to clean it up.
This is a very simple step that helps with muscle memory and adds a bit more practice.
Go over all your lines with smooth and long strokes until your drawing is ready.
This is also the time to fix anything you missed before. So if something doesn’t sit right, take your time to figure it out.
You can add some color and shading to your drawing if you want. If not, you’re ready for the next step.
And, if you prefer to follow this process through video, take a look at our Complete Figure Drawing Course, where we learn how to draw the human body, step-by-step, including hands!
Step 6 – Practice Drawing Hands In Different Positions
Now that you know everything you need to know to draw hands, it’s time to draw them in different positions.
Certain angles are more difficult than others, bringing a new challenge. You can take the opportunity and play with perspective as well!
Remember to grab a few references and photos, so you always have a point of reference.
At first, you can keep things simple and just draw the gesture of the hand. This is good for warm-up but also for getting more familiar with the form and movement of the hand.
Then, you can pick a few sketches you’ve drawn and refine them into rendered drawings of hands!
Take your time when learning, and have fun. Even though they look challenging, drawing hands have such an interesting form that they end up being enjoyable to draw.
You can also check my video below and learn how to draw cartoon hands!
Why Is It So Hard To Draw Hands?
Due to the number of bones, muscles, and tendons, hands are very complex. You can move your hands in many ways, which can be very challenging to draw.
In fact, this is one of the subjects I’ve listed in my “7 Hard Things To Draw” post here!
However, this also makes them fascinating as an art subject!
Remember that the first hand you’ll draw won’t be perfect. You’ll need practice and trial and error until you feel confident in your hand drawing.
But once you break everything down into simple shapes and steps, you’ll see that drawing hands isn’t as complicated as it seemed.
So if you’re still struggling or just want to get the “upper hand,” here are the 5 Best Tips For Drawing Hands!
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!