Ques­tion What’s the key thing to re­mem­ber when draw­ing arms and hands? Ol­lie Smith, Eng­land

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Naiha replies

Hands can be dif­fi­cult to draw for novice artists be­cause they’re com­plex parts of the hu­man anatomy. A lot of pro­fes­sional artists tend to pho­to­graph ref­er­ences when work­ing with the hu­man body: this not only saves time but also helps to cap­ture some of those awe­some skin and joint de­tails!

Draw­ing hands and arms is not, how­ever, de­pen­dent on shoot­ing ref­er­ence images. The two most im­por­tant things to re­mem­ber are the proportions and the form. To help me get the proportions right, I usu­ally break down the body parts into very sim­ple shapes. Once this is es­tab­lished, it be­comes an in­dis­pens­able guide for the rest of my paint­ing.

The form, in this case, means how three­d­i­men­sional your il­lus­tra­tion of a hand or arm looks and how it would fit in a real en­vi­ron­ment. To un­der­stand this, it’s im­por­tant to de­fine a light source from the be­gin­ning. Once your il­lu­mi­na­tion is in place, you can eas­ily de­ter­mine how the shad­ows will ap­pear and be cast by el­e­ments in your im­age. From this, a form will nat­u­rally emerge!

Pro­por­tion and form are the two cru­cial things to keep in mind when draw­ing hands.

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