Many people are intimidated by drawing hands: they’re intricate and detailed, and getting the proportions or the poses wrong can mess up a whole figure drawing. But they add a lot of emotion to a drawing and tell a lot about the subject or the mood, so it’s worth taking the time to master the art of hand drawing. 

Read on for hand drawing reference ideas, a guide to how to draw a fist and other poses, and more tips to help next time you’re drawing hands.

How Do You Draw Hands for Beginners?

Use hand poses reference photos to practice your hand drawing.

Hands can make so many different poses and gestures, so no two hand drawings are ever the same. By following these step-by-step instructions for drawing hands, you should be able to replicate the process and draw great hands every time. 

Pro tip: Use a hands reference photo (or a live model), especially when you’re a beginner, which will help ensure your hands look realistic and proportionate. 

Step 1: Sketch the Basic Shapes and Lines of the Hand

hand sketch
Sketch the main shapes and lines of the hand first, using a hands reference photo.

From a reference photo, sketch the basic shapes and lines of the hand. Don’t worry about the lines being perfect at this stage—the goal is to lay the foundations of your hand drawing. 

Using digital drawing software can make this process a bit easier as you can draw directly on top of your reference photo first and then drag it to its own space for further development. This will help get the proportions right. You can follow a similar process with a pencil and sketchbook, though. 

Step 2: Sketch in the Curved Lines and Large Details

hand sketch
Add finer details, as seen in your hand poses reference photo.

Next, sketch in the curved lines of the hand and fingers, and add major details like fingernails and crease lines around the base of the thumb. 

Step 3: Add Color (Optional)

drawing of hand
Adding a natural skin tone is easy using digital drawing software and a hand reference drawing.

If you want to add color, do this last when the outline has been completed. Skin and nails are usually differently colored, so be sure to differentiate them. As skin comes in a huge array of shades, practice with different tones and see how that changes the appearance of your hand sketch.

Step 4: Practice With Hands in Different Poses

fist sketch
Learning how to draw a fist uses the same technique as other hand sketches.

Using the above process of sketching the main lines and shapes first and then filling in the curves and details, practice with different hand poses. It’s a good idea to practice thumbs further, too, as these are different from the other fingers. Fists, palms, intertwined fingers, the victory pose (fingers in a V shape), baby hands, and resting hands with slightly curled fingers are all important hand sketches to try out if you want to perfect the hand drawing technique.

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Where to Find Hand References and Poses

hand refrences in pinterest
Pinterest is a good place to look for hand drawing reference photos.

You can find hand drawing references in many places:

  • Art drawings and photos in books and reference websites
  • Pinterest
  • Real life: Ask a friend to pose for a few photos, or take some of your own hands!
Drawing hands are an important part of the overall figure drawing process. Learn how to draw figures in their entire form with Skillshare Originals teacher Jazza.

5 Classes for Learning How to Draw Hands

hand drawings
Student work by Natasha Gardner

Artist Patricia Caldeira teaches how to draw fingers, thumbs, and fists in her easy-to-follow class for beginners. She also provides several hand reference drawing photos in her resources file.

hand sketches
Student work by Anastasia Nemkova

JW Learning teaches how to balance the hand construction and gestures and tackles some positioning challenges. The class introduces complex poses in an accessible way, making it perfectly suited to beginners.

hand sketches
Student work by Nathaly Witt 

Arleesha Yetzer teaches students how to break the hand down into basic geometric shapes, focusing on the “rhythm” of the hand, or the patterns of anatomy that all hands will follow.

hand sketch
Karl Reid teaches students to focus on the details.

Once you’ve practiced the basics, take a look at Karl Reid’s advanced class for hand drawing. He focuses on teaching students to draw more realistic hands by focusing on the details and the differences between different types of hands, such as seniors’ hands and children’s hands. 

skeleton hand
Skeleton hand drawing is a good way to learn the anatomy of hands.

Skeleton hand drawing is a good way to learn the anatomy of hands and take your hand drawing to a more expert level. You’ll get the basics in this class.

Written by:

Elen Turner