I’m pretty terrible at painting hands – how can I improve in this area?
Vin T-Bone, US
Hands are quite tricky to paint or draw, and painting them when you’re a beginner can be an uphill struggle, to say the least. The key to success is to learn about their real shape (anatomy), to learn how to construct them in a painting (perspective) and how to render them (this is basically practice, practice and more practice).
Buy or borrow a good anatomy book and study the bones and joints of the hand and forearm. Try to understand their shape and how they move. Take some pictures of your hands and spend time drawing the bones over them – this will help you understand what’s going on under the skin. Visualise the hands as simple three-dimensional shapes – such as boxes – to get the volume right. Painting two-dimensional hands may be easier and be something you can get away with for now, but you’ll have trouble painting them in perspective further on down the line. Put the groundwork in now, and reap the rewards later!
And finally, spend time observing hands: photos of hands, paintings of hands, or your own hands (or those of a friend) and try to paint them. Pay attention to the subtle shape of fingers (they’re thicker on the joints and are oriented in different directions), the wrinkles on the skin and the position of the knuckles. Fingers aren’t sausages, so practise until you understand them inside and out – literally! It’s the only way to become better at painting one of the human body’s most complex elements.
Painting hands can be difficult, but if you spend some time analysing their anatomy, volume and details, then you should be able to improve quickly.
Always paint using references if you want to learn how to depict hands. Once you finally know how to paint them, you
can stop using the reference material.
Hands and characterisation
paint realistic hands Even if you don’t want to
style, try and you want to develop a cartoony
reference, and to learn from real life using
the best way to reinterpret the results. This is
personal style. achieve an expressive and