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How To Draw Realistic Hands: A Drawing Tutorial

Updated on November 30, 2011

Hands are said to be the hardest thing to draw. Honestly, I don’t think they’re any more difficult than drawing drapery. Like anything you want to be good at, it just takes practice. I look at this subject as nothing more than shadows and highlights. My goal in this tutorial is to de-mystify hands.

*Note : the drawings below may appear distorted depending on the camera angel.

You will need drawing paper. I like to use a Canson sketch pad. You will also need a 2H, 2B, and a 4B pencil. You will need a blending stump, a white eraser, and a kneaded eraser.


I used a reference picture for this drawing. When drawing hands I like to start with an out line of the basic shape. I used a 4H pencil to draw the outline of the hand and nails. Remember to press gently on the paper. This will make it easier to erase when you make a mistake.


Then I took my 2B pencil and shaded in the beginnings of shadows, veins, and other details. I use these as landmarks for further refinement. Its okay if they don’t look exact.


Here you will see I have begun to shade in the joints, and creases. My shading is done in circular strokes. This will give it a more organic appearance. The 3 dimensional qualities of a hand are beginning to emerge.


At this point I took my blending stump and began to soften the lines. I also used it to blend shadows and to add subtle details of the hand.


Here, I began to focus on the veins and joints. I’ve mapped out where my highlights are going to be.


I take the blending stump and add even more shadows of varying shades. I love to draw using the blending stump. You should have enough graphite on the stump, to fill in the hand.


I then take my 4B pencil and concentrate on the darkest shadows. I try to make these areas blend seamlessly with the rest of the hand. The trick is to get rid of most of the lines.

Next I take my kneaded eraser and clean up the edges and smudges on my paper. I go back to any areas that are too dark, and gently remove the graphite.


Now I take my kneaded eraser and add highlights to the hand. Highlights are the whitest part of the drawing. They show the sheen of the skin and give the drawing a more realistic quality. This is my favorite part of a drawing.


And lastly I use the kneaded eraser to clean up the nail and add more contrasting highlights to the drawing.


And finally you have a hand. I hope this has helped make drawing hands easier.

Happy drawing!


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    • profile image

      Vladi Dorfman 6 years ago

      Hello Gabby!

      This is indeed helpful!

      I think what people mean that drawing hands is perhaps the most difficult thing to do is when it's done from memory and imagination. That is, no reference at all.

      "Complicated angles" such as the fingers and palm pointing at the camera or hands interacting with each other is especially hard to draw (at least for me).

      I only wish you had a better camera and posted higher resolution images to see all the glory of the details of your drawings :)


    • Gabby G profile image

      Gabby G 6 years ago from USA

      I'm glad you liked it. Ooh thank you for the advice, I will definatly try the easel next time.

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      Nice work. I am always looking for techniques to improve my sketching. Hub voted up and bookmarked. Shading is my weak skill in sketching.

      PS - I have found that if I place my sketches on an easel it cuts down on the distortion in my photographs.