Drawing Great Hands - One Line at a Time | Andreas Provoost | Skillshare

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Drawing Great Hands - One Line at a Time

teacher avatar Andreas Provoost, Illustrator / Multimedia Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Intro


    • 2.

      Lesson 1: Structure


    • 3.

      Lesson 2: Line Drawing


    • 4.

      Lesson 3: Exaggeration


    • 5.

      Lesson 4: Color


    • 6.

      Lesson 5: Putting it All Together


    • 7.



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About This Class

In this course, you will learn exactly how to draw the best hands you've ever drawn. In five lessons, each focusing on a single topic, I will give you all the tools you need to understand how hands work.

We will cover:

  • What makes hands look realistic and believable
  • How to make your hands feel alive and dynamic
  • How to turn your hand's line art into beautiful paintings
  • How to avoid the most common hand drawing mistakes
  • A step-by-step process to make sure you always know what to do next

Hands - the Artist's Mortal Enemy

Almost everyone who's ever picked up a pencil and tried to doodle a hand will know. There's a lot more to drawing them than you might think. For some reason, hands just never seem to come out right -- and this has earned them an infamous reputation among artists.

Hands are made up of tons of tiny moving parts that all seem to behave differently. And for whatever reason, people always seem to be experts at noticing every mistake within the hands we draw. How are we supposed to tackle drawing something so complicated?

This Class

The solution to all that overwhelming complexity is to strip away all the parts that don't really matter, and to focus on building a solid base underneath. That is what this class will help you do. 

In the class, we'll take a look at the complicated anatomy of the hand, and boil it down into something much more manageable. We'll tackle a variety of other hand-related subjects too, always focusing on making the underlying ideas simple and clear to understand.

What You Will Learn

By the end of the class, you will have a much better understanding of how to tackle hands from any angle and in any pose. No matter what style you want to draw in, you'll be able to use the knowledge from this course to draw the most expressive and believable hands you've ever drawn!

You will be given clear and concise instruction that's focused on practical, useful knowledge. Using plenty of demonstrations and visual examples, ideas that may have seemed complicated will be simplified and explained thoroughly. You'll also get some concrete homework assignments to help you get familiar with applying all the knowledge involved.

And on top of that, you will be able to apply the ideas from this course not just to hands, but to anything else you will draw in the future. The drawing tips in this class are designed to apply to your drawing skills as a whole, and you'll benefit from them no matter what you end up creating.

What you will need:

  • Something to draw with (a pen, a pencil, a stylus, a brush!)*
  • Something to draw on (some sheets of paper, a Photoshop canvas, anything!)

*Your medium of choice will need to be able to produce different colors for you to do the homework for Lesson 4: Color. But for every other lesson, any black-and-white medium will do.

That's it. There's no pre-requisite skills required for taking this course. There's also no strict requirements for supplies or equipment. This class focuses on the underlying ideas that apply to any and all art mediums.

Don't let any lack of supplies or experience stop you from having a go!

So what are you waiting for?

Come on in! Let's draw some hands!

Meet Your Teacher

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Andreas Provoost

Illustrator / Multimedia Artist


Hello, I'm Sjoerd! I'm an art instructor and illustrator who loves to teach. Learning new skills is my favorite thing in the world, and I'd love to share with you what I've learned! I'm new to SkillShare but incredibly excited to teach, so expect more art classes to come!

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1. Class Intro: Since the dawn of history, mankind has wrestled with tough questions. Where do we come from? Where are we going? What does it mean to live a good life? But one question more so than any other continues to plague us to this very day. How the [inaudible] do I draw hands? Well, no longer. In this course, I'm going to teach you everything that you need to know about drawing hands. We're going to look at how to take them apart, to simplify them, and how to add a bit of life and expression to them. In a lot of step-by-step demonstrations, I'm going to show you exactly what you need to do to take your hand-drawing game and take it up to the next level. So if you're ready, let's dive in and get started. My name is Shoot (phonetic), I'm an art instructor and Illustrator, and I've been teaching art online for a few years now. The course here about to take has been divided into five different sections. In chapter 1, you're going to learn the structure of a hand. We're going to pick it apart so that we can understand how hands move and then we're going to simplify those forms into something that we can put into different perspectives. In lesson 2, you'll learn to take that sketch and turn it into a finished hand-drawing. We're going to look at how the lines that we use affect the final outcome of the drawing and we're going to see if we can use that to our advantage. In chapter 3, you'll learn how to take your hands that are now looking finished and correct and inject some extra life into them. In lesson 4, we're going to shift our attention from drawing onto painting, as we look at what color choices are involved in painting hands, as well as what you should know before tackling them. In lesson 5, we're going to start an illustration that incorporates everything that we've learned so far. I'm very excited to get started on this. But before that, there's one more thing to keep in mind. Following the lessons is all well and good, but it's important that you try to apply these ideas. So at the end of every chapter, there will be a short homework assignment. You can watch the videos in any pace that you want, but try not to move onto the next video before you've had a go at doing the homework. If all you're doing is piling on new knowledge on top of knowledge that you haven't quite made your own, the ideas in these lessons aren't really going to stick. So try to do the homework exercises before moving on to the next chapters. That said, I think we're ready to get started. So let's dive into lesson 1, which is all about structure. 2. Lesson 1: Structure: You've arrived at Lesson 1. In this one we're going to talk about the structure of a hand. We're first going to pick it apart and see if we can understand its different parts and then we're going to see if we can simplify those and make it a little more approachable. Let's first look at the bones. On this chart here, you can see the different bones of the hand. The group down here are actually part of the forearm. These two are called the radius and the ulna. Then next up we have the carpus group. The carpus group at first glance might seem really complex. There's all these tiny little bones intersecting in weird ways. But the good news is that they are largely invisible. You don't really need to know them. See them mainly as a part of the base of the hand. For our purposes, that's all we need. Don't let all those little forms overwhelm you because we're not going to pay a lot of attention to it. However, it is of course, an important part of the wrist joint. Then next up we have the metacarpals. The metacarpals are the main largest group in the palm of the hand. You can see there's one leading to each and every finger including the thumb. All of them can shift a tiny little bit past one another but they don't move a whole lot by themselves. But the thumb metacarpal is a little different because of the joint at its base. The thumb metacarpal is able to have a much bigger range of motion. This allows the thumb to travel all the way across the palm. Because of this, the thumb is a really important part of grabbing things. Lastly, there's the phalanges. Every finger has three of them, except for the thumb which has two. But because of that increase range of motion that we talked about in the previous part we often think of the thumb's metacarpal as like it's third phalange. The phalanges can move from side to side, opening and closing the fingers. But of course, their main range of motion is in flexing and extending the fingers which allows the hand to grab things. If this part went a little fast or this is your first encounter with the anatomy of the hand, don't worry. We're going to be looking at all of these as simplified shapes. Instead of learning each individual bone and all of its little details try to just group them into these simple sets. There's the forearm bones, the palm of the hand which consists of the carpus and the four metacarpals through the fingers then the thumb metacarpal we're going to treat it separately because it can move more. Then we have the fingers divided up for each phalanges. Looking at the anatomy this way should make it a little more manageable. Next up are the muscles in the hand. The muscles are also important even though the bones make up the majority of the structure of the hands. A lot of people are actually surprised to learn that there aren't any muscles in the fingers. The majority of muscles that move the fingers around are found in the forearm and if you hold yours like this and move your fingers around you can feel them shift. Still, that doesn't mean that we can't find any muscles in the hands. The most prominent forms caused by muscles that you will find on the hands are these three. There's one at the base of the pinky along the entire side of the palm. There's one at the base of the thumb. This one is the biggest one. Lastly, you can find one between the metacarpals of the thumb and the index finger largely visible on the backside of the hands. When I squeeze my thumb like this you can clearly see it bulge out. The muscle at the base of the thumb is the biggest one and it's the most important one to know. But all of them cause forms and rhythms and overlaps that we're going to talk about in other episodes. For now, just try to keep these three muscle groups in mind. We're not going to get into the nitty-gritty of every little part of the hands but with the bones and these muscles combined you'll already be able to get very far. We'll cover a lot of the details in Lesson 2. But for now, try to stick mainly with these. Now, you have a decent understanding of the most important parts of the hands. But knowing the anatomy is all well and good but it's only as useful as you can actually put it into practice. If you look at all the little forms of the bones it's still quite complex. There's a lot of little overlaps and irregularities and if we have to sketch that out every single time we want to draw hands it's going to take ages. It's just not the most practical solution. What we're going to do instead is we're going to learn to simplify it into something that's a bit more manageable. We want to take all those complexities out and turn it into a model that we can turn in space and visualize much easier. Let's do that. In simplification, there's not necessarily a right and a wrong answer Whatever makes most sense to you is what you should use. But I'll share with you the way that I like to think about hands and if you end up changing it at some point along the way that's perfectly fine. Just try to understand the logic of the forms that I'm choosing to simplify the hand into, so you can take those ideas and use them for yourself. I'm essentially going to break up the hand into three different parts. First part is the main hand palm. The second is a little attachment to that palm to cover the thumb metacarpal and lastly, we're going to add the phalanges for the thumb and the fingers. These are the simplifications that I like to use. I'll go through them one by one to explain my reasons for picking the forms that I did. I think a flat rectangular shape best describes the palm of the hand. I'm going to draw a simple box for that part. Although covering the entirety of perspective is a little bit outside the scope of this course it's useful to be able to draw boxes in any type of angle. This way, you know that even if you change the camera or the pose of the hands you'll be able to draw the palm of the hand in any perspective. However, when we see photos of hands things are generally not in perfect alignment. When we see a hand from the top we can see there is some arching to the knuckles and the fingers. When we see a hand from the front or the side we can often see the same. In my experience, hands tend to look best when there is just a little bit of an unevenness, a bit of curvature and a bit of an organic feeling to it. I'm actually going to choose to use a slightly bendier box. This is what a box would look like if it was perfectly flat. This is the bendy box I'm going to use instead. Next up for the thumb metacarpal I'm going to use what's called a triangular prism. Which sounds fancy but really it's just a triangle that we then give a little bit of depth to give it form. I use a separate form for the thumb metacarpal because of that range of motion that we talked about earlier. If the hand is flat, I might decide to pretty much draw it in line with the rest of the box. But when the thumb angles in it's nice to have that extra form there, so we're not stuck using a rectangular box when really the form is a little more complex. Because the thumb can angle in so far we want to have two separate forms for this, so it feels a little more natural. As for the fingers, I tried to just take that skin bone and fat and all those complex little forms and turn them into small cylinders. You can't draw cylinders without drawing ellipses. Basically, an ellipse means that we're going to take that circular front face and turn the cylinder away from us meaning that, that face is going to get thinner and thinner. This oval type shape which we know represents a circle in 3D space is called an ellipse. Now, to make sure that your cylinders feel like they're sitting in 3D space it's important that they hit a few characteristics. Each of these phalanges makes a different mistake. Let's see if we can find out what that mistake is and fix it and see what a difference that makes. On the first phalange, what we're seeing is that it doesn't quite feel like an ellipse. The corners here actually create some sharp edges where really we would want it to flow straight into the next line. To prevent this, make sure that you are drawing through your ellipsis, that you're ghosting the motion a few times before you commit to drawing it. The key here is to focus on those corners where the turning is strongest. If you don't pay attention to getting those corners smooth out it's going to feel like a two-dimensional shape instead of a three-dimensional form. Secondly, you always want to try to align the ellipses at either end of the cylinder with its axis. If you were to draw a line passing straight through the middle of the cylinder along its length that line should cut the ellipse in half and these two halves should be perfectly symmetrical. This means that if the ellipse is angled once again, it's not going to feel like a cylinder. Try to make sure that if you cut your cylinder in half, that ellipse also gets cut in half and that it gets cut in half symmetrically. Lastly, as the ellipse turns towards us you want to make sure that you're able to control the degree of the ellipse. The degree of the ellipse simply means how wide or how narrow it is. A lot of the time people don't foreshorten their cylinders enough that when we push those cylinders out a little bit further to make sure it feels properly foreshortened the entire 3D illusion works much better. If you're struggling getting those cylinders to fit right in perspective try to look at three things. The corners, the angle and the degree of the ellipse. If you can check these three things off everything is going to feel super tangible and three-dimensional. If you're still struggling to get your cylinders to feel like they have form, another good thing to pay attention to is wrapping lines. You can add lines to the inside of your cylinders following the form and mimicking the ellipses of the front and back faces. The more the cylinder is rotated towards the camera, the rounder and more exaggerated, as well as the closer together these lines are going to be. If you're having trouble with getting your cylinders to feel like they actually have some form to them this can be a great way to visualize and help you get there. Now, a couple of good things to keep in mind is that first off, even when you're constructing hands you can still use references. I do this all the time and pretty much every artist I know does. The idea here is that it's mainly about understanding these forms, so that you can make more of your references and you're not limited by not having the exact right pose or the exact right angle. In this quick time lapse you can see how I'm constructing a hand that has the pose from one and the angle of another. This is a relatively simple example but it shows that by understanding these forms I'm not limited by the exact reference I use. Even so though the references I use still allow me to make more informed decisions on what I do and do not include. Don't be afraid of using references but just see this as a way to supplement them. Lastly, this is not always the way that I work. Again, for most artists they don't really construct the hands out fully every single time. But the main key here is that I want you to understand the structure and how to simplify these forms mentally, so you can put them in different perspectives. Even if you don't use this exact process to draw your hands, the knowledge of this foreshortening these cylinders and the simplified forms is still going to help you a lot to visualize what hands are supposed to look like even if you add a lot of style, lot of color, all of these details and whatever else you can think up. If underneath that you have this rock-solid structure, it's going to be much easier to convince your viewer that the hand that you've drawn feels correct. It feels right. Let's try to summarize all that into easy to follow steps. Even though we're going to be constructing, I still like to start with a very rough outline of the hand. Next, we add our bendy box shape for the palm and make sure not to include the thumb just yet. I also add a quick boxy indication for the wrist just to make sure that the box of the hand is not completely isolated. Next up, we add that triangular prism for the thumb making sure it has the exact right angle. Then instead of moving straight to constructing individual phalanges for the fingers I make some rough indications of what I expect they will look like. Then lastly, I clean up the actual cylinders for the phalanges making sure to pay attention to the perspective. Your homework is to use this process to sketch your non-drawing hand three different times. Try some different poses and some different angles. Try to look at it and just observe its three-dimensional forms. Pay a lot of attention to the exact angle of the fingers, the palm and the metacarpal of the thumb. Try and do it three times and save your drawings because we're going to use them in the next lesson. In Lesson 2, we're going to take these sketches and turn them into more finished drawings. Good luck with that. I'll see you in Lesson 2. 3. Lesson 2: Line Drawing: All right, you've made it to Lesson 2 so in the previous one, we talked about how the bones and the muscles are two of the most important parts that make up a hand. But you might have noticed that the sketches we made during the last lesson don't really cover the structural differences between the front and the back of the hand very much. If we take these two drawings and put the front and the back of the hand next to one another more of the structural differences become apparents. Of course, on the palm of the hand, we can see some creasing. We can see those main muscle groups and we can see the tendons as they pass through the wrist. On the back of the hand, the tendons tend to be more defined and visible throughout. We can also see creasing at the joints of the phalanges. The webbing on the back of the hand, the nails. Sometimes we can see a bump for the ulna bone and depending on the hand type, we might also be able to see additional wrinkles or veins. There's a lot of structural differences between the front and the back of the hand and because in many poses you'll be able to see parts of both it helps to be able to describe and separate these two parts. A great way to start doing that is by controlling the lines and the shapes that you use. A great way to start thinking about shape design is to consider this chart that many people use as their introduction to shape language. Basically what we want to do is we want to compare the characteristics of a square, a circle, and a triangle. Let's start with a circle. The circle is the only one out of these three that either has infinite corners or no corners depending on how you look at it. This causes the circle to feel quite soft and rounded. Because of this roundness and this gradation, round things tend to feel less threatening. You can actually reverse engineer this process and use it for yourself. This means that by introducing more rounded and circular shapes into your designs, you can push that gentle, approachable feeling into the designs that you make. Here you can see me drawing with a more circular shape language and by doing so, I'm changing the actual character of the hand. We can do something similar with the square. The square is even on all sides, so it feels very stable and sturdy. Some people have called it proud or reliable by introducing these chunky rectangular shapes into one of our hand drawings, we can make it feel robust and sturdy. It won't feel as gentle and flowy as the other one, and as such, it will have a slightly different character. Lastly, there's the triangle. Triangles can feel dynamic like they're moving, or they can feel unpredictable or dangerous and by introducing more of that triangliness into one of our hands, we can evoke some of those dynamic feelings. Now, notice that I'm not turning the entire hand into just triangles. I'm trying to just incorporate that tapering feeling of the triangle to make sure that all the fingers feel dynamic. You have a lot of freedom with how you decide to use these shapes. You could build a hand just from triangles, and you may very well make it look great, but it's a very strong design statements and I think for here I want something that's a little more gradual. You can see how your choice of line and shape can affect the feeling and the character of a hand so it's good to realize that you can actually use multiple aspects of this within the same hand. You can mix and match it as you need to. But a great way to get started with this is to consider the bonier versus the fleshier areas of hands. In this quick sketch here, you can see how I'm able to get a structural feeling on one side and a softer feeling on the other simply by using more strays and defined lines on one side and using softer curvier lines on the other. The contrast between that sharpness and that softness is really going to help lift your hands up another level. Now to take our sketches from previous lessons and turn them into finished drawings and the key here is that we want to focus on getting those medium forms in there. In the first lesson, what we did is we made a very strong structural block in, but it ignores a lot of the muscle masses and a lot of the details that you will find on the hands. You start to introduce a little more subtlety into your initial hand sketches it's really good to try and consider overlaps so an overlap just means that the form is going to be in front of another form. If we draw two circles intersecting and then erase this part. Now it looks like one circle is in front of the other. Especially because of this line here, you can tell exactly which of these circles is supposed to be closer to the viewer. But overlaps don't just happen between different forms. They can also happen between different parts of the same form, like parts of a hand. Look at this photo here. Can you see how there's overlaps between the knuckles? On this one can you see how the fingers overlap with parts of themselves? Here in this photo of this bunched-up hands, we can see the compressed muscle groups overlap with other parts of the hand. This is the process we're going to use as we develop our sketches further. First, we take that initial construct. Then we start adding those medium forms like the muscle masses. We want to work from our biggest forms first and go smaller and smaller so once those medium forms are in there, we're going to pay more and more attention to the smaller forms as well. We're going to pay particular attention to those overlaps. Wherever we can see masses in front of one another that's where we want to pay extra attention. In essence, small creases and wrinkles are also just very tiny overlaps. The webbing that we mentioned all the way at the beginning of this video is an important example of this. Lots of people ignore it. But in certain poses, especially if the fingers are in very contrasting angles, the webbing can be very, very visible. The webbing extends out a little further on the palm side than it does on the backside of the hand, meaning on the backside sometimes we might want to suggest a bit of overlap between the main finger form and the webbing. Whereas on the palm side, we're not really going to get this. Depending on the pose of the actual hand the webbing can sometimes also pull taut and create some strong overlaps of its own. As we define these forms further, don't be afraid to make any changes that you need to if you're working on the smaller forms already, but you notice a problem with a larger form sometimes it may be worth it to actually redraw the finger, just like I'm doing here. Then just cleaning up the sketchy bit, getting rid of the lines I don't want in there. Lastly, I'm trying to create a little bit of difference between the bony and fleshy areas using that shape language that we just talked about. For your homework, try to take two of the sketches that you made in the previous lesson and turn them into finished hand drawings. It's okay if they're still a bit loose or sketchy, but try to really make them representations of an actual hand and not just a schematic abstraction of one. When you've had a go at that, I'll see you in Lesson 3 where we're going to try and inject some energy into those drawings. I'm really excited to get on with that so good luck, and I'll see you in Lesson 3. 4. Lesson 3: Exaggeration: You've made it to Lesson 3. In this one, we're going to talk about gesture and exaggeration. This is always one I find really interesting to talk about because it's one of the things I commonly see people struggle with. Once they've got hands that feels structurally correct, they still feel like there's something that makes them feel a little stiff or a little dead and I think generally gesture is the way to fix that. Gesture always is a bit of a nebulous concept. Teachers will often tell you to just feel it and to just draw it, but a lot of people don't actually understand what gesture is. For this lesson, my definition of gesture is going to be the feeling that the flow of energy through something evokes. When people talk about gesture drawings, they often do so in the context of full human figures. You might have seen gesture sketches before and they might have looked a little something like this; loose flowing sketches of the human body without a lot of detail in them. But gesture isn't everything and you can make these types of sketches for body parts and also even inanimate objects. Everything visual can have gesture. If I add some arrows to this chart, you can see how the flow of the line work causes the eye to travel around it. The gesture arrows largely ignore detail and they focus mainly on those larger forms. Those different forces that flow, that is what I refer to when I'm talking about gesture. A common example I use to describe how you can use different gestures is an illustration comparing two different types of waves. Is a similar idea to the shapes that we used in the line-drawing lecture. This first wave feels calm. The second one feels chaotic and dynamic. You might even recognize some of those pointy tapers that we used in the second lecture when we were talking about more triangular shapes. In the first wave, the rhythm is soft, is gradual, it's calm. The second one it's much more erratic, it's sharper, it's unpredictable. Even in such a simple illustration, we can use that flow of the line work to give these two different waves very different characters. But having a loose understanding of gesture can often not be enough to truly understand exaggeration. When speaking specifically about hands, what I would recommend is trying to compare a relaxed hand to a hand in a pose and seeing how the two differ. Here we have a photo of a relaxed hand. You can see that the hand is just resting and dangling from the wrist and that the fingers have a bit of a natural curvature to them. Here we've got a hand in a more distinct pose. Think about the emotion that it makes you feel. If we just copy this, then we'll have a hand that feels the same way, right? Well, not quite. Art often needs to work a little harder than photography. If we just trace this hands, well, it's going to feel a little limp. How do we exaggerate our hands? Well, a great first step can be to just act it out. If you're trying to channel a certain emotion into a hand you're drawing, try to act out that emotion and see what happens to your hands. Are they tense? Are they relaxed? Is the wrist flexing or extending? A hand that is tense and frustrated has a lot of very visible details. The lines that you choose to use might be a lot more angular and sharp. A hand that is a little limper and softer has more rounded shapes. The wrist is dangling and relaxed, and the fingers themselves don't have a lot of force applied to them. Here, using some more gentle curved lines might be more natural. Somebody pointing with determination can look quite different again. The wrist might lock out to be as straight as possible and so might the finger. Start without acting, act out the emotion and then notice what happens to your hands. The main thing I want you to watch out for is this idea of squashing and stretching. As you act out these emotions or as you look at a reference, try to observe squash and stretch. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, take a look at this cartoon sac. Here it's just sitting on the ground. Now imagine that I I that top right corner and I started pulling it up and to the left. You can see how one side elongates and to compensate the other side has to compress. One side squashes, and one side stretches. The lines that you end up using to describe these two sides look drastically different. On the squashing side, we have a lot more of these tiny little overlaps and creases. On the opposite side, we want to use long slender lines to show that that side is being stretched. Let's try and apply the squash and stretch stuff to a new hand. Using these green arrows, I'm going to indicate some areas where I see stretching. For example, here. Here you can see the fingers extend and as such, the palm of the hand gets pulled taut. Here however, the opposite thing happens. As the fingers curl up, the inside compresses and the outside stretches instead. To find the areas that squash, all you need to do is look at the opposite of the areas that stretch. If the inside is stretching, the outside will be squashing. If the outside is stretching, the inside will be squashing. Now what we need to do is, we need to take that squash and stretch and just exaggerate it. Where we see the stretching, we want to stretch it even further. We can push that motion out so the finger stretches even more and we can then use our lines to describe that feeling even more strongly. A finger that was mostly straight, we can make it completely straight and we might choose to ignore some details on that side to really push that idea of long slender lines. The opposite is also true. If something is squashing we can compress it further and really emphasize those overlaps. Let's try and draw that hand photo again, but this time paying attention to squash and stretch and exaggerating it where we see it. All I'm doing is taking what I'm seeing in the photograph and pushing it just a little bit further. The last change I'm making is the wrist in the original reference. There's not a lot of squash and stretch going on there, but because I want this to feel as dynamic as I can make it, I'm just going to introduce them myself. Now, seeing these two side-by-side, I hope you can agree that one of them feels much more alive than the other. Even if gesture isn't quite making sense to you, you can just use this principle of squash and stretch to add a little bit of life and emotion to your hands. The best way to practice this is just to do it a lot. Try to make some quicker hand sketches. Don't focus too much on the 3D construction, and instead pay more attention to the shapes and the overall curves. Use long flowing lines and try to keep things fairly loose and playful. If you're having trouble getting your hands to feel spontaneous and alive, another good thing to look at is rhythms. Like we discussed in Lesson 2, adding a bit of curvature to your hands can make them feel more organic and natural. This is because organic things are often imperfect. They're spaced unevenly and they have a bit of bend to them. When you start to organize lines to flow into one another and to work together, you can start forming what's called a rhythm. Rhythms are often used as the counterpart to repetition. Both of these things refer to repeating elements, but whereas the rhythm has a natural field to it, the repetition feels more machine-like. Basically in a repetition, you're just using the exact same spacing over and over and over, whereas in rhythms, there is a natural ebb and flow to the entire thing. You want to introduce a bit of that into your hand sketches. Have there be a bit of unevenness. If the fingers are spaced perfectly evenly, maybe you can tweak them a little bit to make them more interesting. If all the fingers are angled the exact same way, maybe you could add a bit of variety to it to make it feel more natural. Try to just stay loose and have fun with these. Don't worry too much about the 3D construction. It's more important that you understand those ideas than that you actually worked that exact same process. Try to focus on playful lines and shapes and just imagine and be aware of how exactly those forms turn in space. That way they'll still inform your decision-making, but you're not chained to them. Lastly, when you do these sketches, I've got three more tips for you. The first is to start rough, start rough and allow yourself to explore. Try to still use longer lines, but feel free to use slightly lighter lines that you can either erase out or that just won't show up that much in the final drawing. But you need to allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes and to push things one way or the other as you discover more and more ways to exaggerate hands. Secondly, if many of the fingers are clustered up together in the pose you're trying to draw, sometimes drawing a big shape for the entirety and only then breaking up that shape into smaller pieces can be easier than drawing each finger separately. Working this way helps you keep your proportions under control. Lastly, if you have the opposite problem and all the fingers are spread out, sometimes it can help to quickly indicate the end of the finger first and then connect it back to the palm. You don't always need to start at the palm and then build your way out. You can start at the tip and work your way back in. In a more extreme and heavily foreshortened pose like this one, starting at the fingertips is often easier way to get started. For your homework, I want you to draw three different hands, each of them exaggerated to have a bit of personality to them. Try to keep your lines long and flowy and use those principles of squash and stretch, as well as rhythms to make him feel natural. You can use as much construction as you need to, but you don't need to work the exact same process that we did in Lesson 1 and 2. Try to have fun with it and try to stay loose, because the less tension that you have in your arms, the easier it'll be to get those nice flowing lines. Have a go with that and I'll see you in Lesson 4 where we're going to talk about color. Good luck. 5. Lesson 4: Color: We're onto the color lesson. For this lesson, I've prepared a few demonstrations. I'll just run you through the process a few times while covering some different aspects to think about and the logic behind the step-by-step process. My hope is that at the end of this lesson, you'll have a clear understanding of what painting a hand can look like, as well as some good things to look out for yourself. Without further ado, let's get started. Let's get into the demo. I'm here in Clip Studio and I'm going to first start off with a loose line sketch. You're going to see me focusing on the larger arcs and the way the things connect. Because we have such a good reference, I'm mainly looking at the two-dimensional shapes rather than the 3D forms. You'll see me start with just some general large establishing lines and then as the drawing progresses, I'm going to keep cutting into them to define them more and more. The initial lines are just long, big C curves, very general and then slowly but surely we're going to add more definition into them. Eventually, you'll also see me add some thinner, darker lines and even a little bit of indication of shading. The idea here is that I really want to get a clear defined structure before I add any color. Because just like adding detail, adding color is also not going to save your drawing. Your lines are like you're scaffolding for the rest of the image, so you want to try and get those lines, those shapes and those proportions exactly right. That's how I'm going to start, by first establishing the biggest forms and then cutting into them to work smaller and smaller. I also add a quick indication of where the patches was going to be and I do make sure that even though the sketch is still loose and playful, I do try and get the subtleties of the forms in there. Then when I'm happy with what I've established, it's time for phase 2 where we actually start applying the color. You'll see me start not with the skin tone, but with the background instead. The reason I start with the background and not the skin tone, is that color is always seen in context. Look at these two patches. In the middle of both of them, I'm adding the same gray. But in the black patch, you can see how that gray appears much lighter than in the white. Similarly, if we have an orange patch and a blue patch and we once again add that same gray in there. We can see that in the orange one, the gray feels a bit bluish, whereas in the blue one, the gray feels orange. This is what it means to see color in context, colors are shaped and adjusted by the color surrounding them, so you never want to work in isolation. If you're doing a color study like this, try to always work by establishing that context as soon as you can. So just get your first guess out there. Get a background color in there. Don't work on a plain white photo canvas because it's so hard to judge exactly how dark, how bright everything needs to be. Then the more colors you add, the more context you will have. The colors start speaking to one another in a way and every guess you make brings you a little closer to the true color. The background color and skin colors that I choose are just my best guesses as to the averages of these colors. I'm trying to essentially get the color in there that requires the least amount of changing to make it work. I'm not looking for the very darkest or the very lightest color among all the colors in the hand, instead, I'm just trying to get a nice average tone that doesn't need a lot of working into to start looking realistic. Next up, I add in some color variation. I can see for example, that the colors in the hand shift towards the red as we approach the fingertips and at the base of the hand I actually see a bunch of green. I add these colors in there quite coarsely and then pull them back when I need to. From here on, I'm applying that same logic of making those big changes first and the smaller changes later. I'm trying to limit my brushstrokes and I'm trying to use the biggest brush that I can. Then I throw in some quick indications for the main shadows that I see on the hands. Before I start painting, I use a little trick that I like to do. Right now, the lines I've used are pretty much 100 percent black and organic things that can sometimes tend to desaturate the color and make it few less alive. What I want to do is just quickly give those lines a bit of color. In Clip Studio Paint, I can do this by adding a layer above the line art, clicking on this layer to clip it to the layer below and now anything that I paint inside that layer is going to show up only in the pixels that were filled in the previous layer meaning that anything I paint is going to show up only in my line art. In Photoshop, you can do the same thing by making another layer, holding "Alt" and clicking on the line between the two layers. Next I combine the line art layer with a color layer to turn them into a single hole. I'm just going to keep developing the forms by using smaller brushes, I am able to achieve more detail and slowly, but surely I'm going to work smaller and smaller. Another useful trick to use here, is to use the transparency lock to make sure that just like clipping, I can paint only inside the pixels that have already been filled. If I use this on my hand layer, all my brushstrokes will be limited exclusively to the actual hand I'm painting. I'm looking for a lot of subtleties here, like how the highlights on the hand tend to lean a little towards the blue and slowly I'm also starting to look more at smaller overall forms. Try not to move on from stage to stage too quickly. Just like how the drawing is the scaffolding that holds everything together, these larger painting strokes actually make sure that when you add your detail, it all feels like it's proportional to the rest. If you're ever not sure whether you are ready to move on to the next stage or not, try to lean a little bit more towards spending some extra time on those early stages. Because it really is those early stages that make the biggest difference. The better you do here, the easier it will be for you to add all those details and smaller things and have everything work together. Largest strokes first, then those medium form establishing strokes. Then only at the end here, you can see that I'm starting to cut into the smaller things a little bit. I'm using some harder brushes with sharper edges to give the hand a bit more structure. I continue to work this way, looking for little bits I can add, until I've achieved the desired effect. I don't want to make this overly rendered, so I'm going to leave it here while it's still slightly painterly. That really is the main process that I follow for these studies. But there are some other cases where you might need to consider different things. In this photo, we've got two hands interacting with one another as well as an object, the flowers. Proportions are always a relative thing. Even though a hand might look correct by itself, that doesn't necessarily mean it looks correct in context. I'm starting with a very loose sketch because I'm just trying to gauge what the overall area is that both at least hands occupy. Again, I'm not worrying too much about using that exact process of 3D construction. Instead just focusing on getting the shapes to be the right size. The pinky, for example, on this photo, is so hidden and foreshortened that I'm effectively able to capture it by just using a circle. Now admittedly, I think I move on a little too fast from the sketch. It's not necessarily that it looks completely wrong, but it still looks a little undefined. If I were watching a student do this, I'd probably tell them to spend a little bit longer on the actual drawing. But still you can see the process is largely the same. I'm starting with these very rough, loose and general statements, and then using some darker, more defined lines to carve into them a little bit. Next up, just like in the previous one, I start by blocking in some context. But in this photo, the majority of context that we have comes from the flowers, but also the skin color because we're seeing skin tone on top of the same skin tone, I know here we have to pay extra attention to getting those shadows exactly right. After I've established the initial contexts, I then start carving into these general tones with some strong, thin and darker marks. Basically, I'm trying to get some crisp shadow edges that really help me be more aware of where the planes change. I also add in a lot more local color variation on the nails and the palms of the hand. In many people with darker skin tones, you can often see a color shift going from the back of the hand to the palm of the hand, and here on this figure as well, you can see how sometimes that color shift runs all the way through and actually shows up at the tip of the nails as well. The colors aren't quite right yet, but I'm just trying to once again get those average statements. Because once again, I want to create as much context as possible I then also block in some green for the flower stems. You can see how in the world of hands there's a lot of different variations of color you can get. In this reference, for example, you can see that the colder neutral light actually ends up causing a lot of notes for highlights that are very important to capturing the feel of this person's hand. Just like with the local color shifts, I first block them in very notably, and then I will pull them back a bit later. Once again, the process is, start with a drawing, start introducing some context, and then refine and refine. If you do notice something that could just be better if your overall colors just aren't quite working out, even though you're already working into the details, or maybe a part of it just doesn't look quite right. Whatever the case may be, you should not be afraid to redo it. There's a few areas in this hand where I judged the skin color to be a little lighter than it was, or a little less or more saturated, and whatever the case, even if I already started putting detail in there, the best course of action is always to just redraw it. It's free practice. You're learning from your mistakes within the very same painting. Don't be afraid of redoing things, it's a natural part of the process. As you apply paint to the canvas, you're going to lose certain parts and you're going to have to get them back. If you try to preserve everything you've done, your painting is going to feel very tight and overly controlled. Then lastly, you can see here I'm spending quite some time just going through all the little ridges and the fingertips and just all of those edges where you can find that final bit of subtlety. I always really feel like a lot of that feeling of the form turning depends on the very edge of the form. I like going around the edges and just really there paying some extra attention to the subtlety. Adding just that tiny little bit of extra shadow to make it feel like everything's turning away. Lastly, I wanted to show you a drawing of some older hands. The main changes happen when it comes to articulating the lines and blocking in the initial forms. I'm a little less concerned with keeping the lines smooth and having them flow into one another, and I'm also less concerned when I actually block in the color with keeping all the transitions clean, it's okay to have a little bit more grids and a little bit more contrast when you're drawing elderly hands, the extra texture and the more defined surface forms allow you to get away with a lot more contrast. You can see more color contrast between the skin and the skin that has veins directly under it. The wrinkles cast deeper shadows and any textures and smaller forms are much more noticeable. In these ones, I'm much more willing to just chuck a bunch of contrast in there and seeing what happens, but I really want to emphasize in particular on these hands, how you should not worry too much about the wrinkles, right from the get-go. Wrinkles aren't really an integral part of the structure of the hand, but they're more so the final surface details. You don't want to block them in too early because they're going to seem way too important. Try to imagine the hand as if the wrinkles weren't there, paint it that way first and then only when you add those final stages do you actually put in the wrinkles. You'll be able to see in the time-lapse as well, I do only add them quite late. As you work into these forms though, try to think about the materials that make up your hands. It seems like a bit of a weird question, but keep in mind that materials have very different properties. On this hand, in particular, because the hand is wearing some jewelry and also the nails are painted, we have some suddenly much more reflective materials where previously all we had was skin. Reflective materials often show greater contrast, more crisply reflect what's actually in their environment, and also tend to have much more defined highlights. The hands and the nails are being affected by the same light, but because the nails are so much more smooth and reflective, you can see that their highlights are much more crisp and defined. Hands tend to have more of a diffused reflection. Meaning that while the colors do change, you can't see a clear reflection of the environment in the actual hand itself. Whenever you paint hands try to think of the characteristics of the materials involved, nails in general are going to be a bit more reflective than skin, but of course, nail polish is going to make those nails even more reflective. Other than that, the considerations are mainly the same. From the loose sketch, we move to the big block in then to the medium form brushstrokes and we end with the smaller and smaller details. You can see I stop before including every single wrinkle in the photo. I like doing this because it keeps my style a little simplified and a little painterly. If I don't feel like detail is going to add to the piece, then I generally prefer to leave it out. But there you go, that is our third hand demo complete. Your homework is to take the process that I just showed you and step-by-step do a color study of your own. Simply find a nice hand photograph that you like and do your best to replicate it. Pay attention to it's subtle color shifts, as well as how the color of the lighting and the environment affect it. Pay attention to the skin tone and how that skin tone can vary across the hand. If you want to keep things simple, look for a softer and more neutral lighting. If you want to challenge yourself, try to look for poses with a lot of foreshortening or different dynamic-colored lighting sources. Try to gauge what level of challenge is appropriate for you right now, and just have a go at going through this process. If you've done that, I'll see you in Lesson 5 where we're going to take all this knowledge and combine it into a single illustration. Good luck with that. I'll see you in the final lesson. 6. Lesson 5: Putting it All Together: Hi everyone. You've made it to Lesson 5. Well done. In this lesson, we're going to be discussing how to take any ideas you have and turn them all the way to finished illustrations. These steps are general and applicable to everything. I want to give you a very practical roadmap that you can follow to take any illustration idea you have and take it all the way from the start to the finish. I'm going to be demonstrating the full process of doing a digital illustration, explaining every single step as we go along. At the end of the demonstration, you will get a step-by-step sheet that you can print out and use to create your own projects. I'm very excited to go through this, I hope you are as well. Let's get started. First things first, the thumbnail. I think when a lot of people start these tutorials, the first step they'll generally include is the sketch. You start with a rough draft and you refine it until you have something finished. But there's often a little section that I always do separately before anything else. It is a thumbnail sketch. Basically, in the thumbnail sketch, I'm trying to get a visual reference of what my ID is going to look like. Basically, whenever I struggle to get started with a drawing, it tends to be because I'm either out of ideas or I have ideas, but I'm discounting them. I start them but give up on them really quickly because I feel like they're not going to work out. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to draw, but the perspective and all the things I need to work out, it clogs up my brain a bit and I end up never finishing it. Enter the thumbnail. The thumbnail is ideal for just getting your first idea out there. The idea here is to create more of a visual reference to develop your idea without really worrying too much about the perspective and getting the composition just right. You're just wanting to get the first idea out of your head and onto the page. Here's my thumbnail for the illustration we're going to be making. As you can see, it is not particularly impressive. It doesn't need to be. The thumbnail is just for you. As long as you understand what it is that you're trying to get at, then the thumbnail has done its job. You don't need to worry too much about the lighting. You don't need to worry too much about the exact composition, the anatomy, the structure, all of these details. Just get your initial idea out there and see if it works. If you want to, the thumbnail is also the best edge to experiment. See if you can change the camera angle, see if you can change the poses of the characters. Starting with a thumbnail like this where you don't need to worry about correct drawing or all of these little technical considerations, it's such a nice low stakes way to just get started. Whenever you want to tackle a longer illustration project, I recommend that you start with something really crummy like this. Don't worry about your line quality or how good it looks, or if this is something that you should be making, just ask yourself, is this something I want to draw? If it is, then let's move on to the sketch. When sketching a little scene like this, it helps to understand what the characters are like, who are they and what is their relation to one another? How are their character traits and their current moods? How are they going to affect their facial expressions and their poses? Start with rough block-outs. Don't worry about clean lines or details or anything like that just yet. Try to just get things in the right position on the page. Just make any big changes that you want to make now. Just get moving, get sketching, and be willing to redraw things. As soon as you start feeling happy with the composition, the general placement of things, it's time to start considering the structure of things a little bit more. You can start thinking about the foreshortening or any anatomical elements that you see. When it comes to things like hands and faces, you want to start fleshing those out a little more. You want to start considering the perspective, the three-dimensional structure of the elements on your page, that kind of thing. I had a lot of trouble tweaking the smile of the female character. I ended up just redrawing it and sometimes that's what it takes. You want to continue drawing and redrawing until you get to a point where you feel decently satisfied with the sketch, then you're at a bit of a crossroads. Depending on the style you're going for, you might decide to flesh out the sketch a lot more, focusing on the line art and keeping everything really, really crisp and clean. If you're going for more of a painterly style like I was, you might be okay just moving on a little faster. You're going to be painting over the lines so many times anyways that just getting the general indication of everything will be good enough. If you're not quite sure whether you want to keep it more defined or more sketchy, I'd say lean towards spending a little bit more time on your drawing because I'm quite impatient and that habit has come back to bite me a lot of times. As soon as you feel satisfied with your line blocking, you can start to introduce a bit of rough color. Personally, I don't really separate things into different layers because it helps me keep things connected and unified. Keeping things in separate layers gives you more control, but it can also sometimes make things feel a little disconnected from another. Like instead of a painting full of characters, you've created a collage where everything feels a little bit out of place. By using fewer layers, you end up overlapping bits and pieces which just ties the piece together. When you're going to block in the rough color, you don't always need to consider your shadows, but it does help to have an idea of what the lighting is going to be like because softer, larger light sources are going to cast softer shadows and because the main light source in this painting is going to be the lamp around the rim of the mirror, the shadows are going to be relatively soft. I'm going to choose not to block in a separate shadow color here. Another reason you might want to consider the light sources is that if your light source is colored, it's going to cast that color into the scene. The colors that you do end up picking are going to be radically different than if your light source is more white, more neutral. Next, I drag in a quick tile texture, which I do mainly for very repetitive or texture heavy work. If something already needs to look very perfect and in perspective, well, I could take a lot of time to draw it by hands, but sometimes using a texture is a little quicker. Also because I already know I want to keep the main characters in focus but blur out the rest, I'm okay with using a texture because any detail that is just too much, that is too realistic, isn't really going to show up because I'm going to blur it all out. Next up, I'm going to start slowly indicating some light. Remember from the color lesson that everything is context, so you want to pay attention to staying zoomed out and keeping the entire thing in frame. When you zoom in too much, you might render out a face that looks beautiful, but just make the entire thing too contrasty or too light or too dark. My initial guess is, I have no idea if they're going to work, but by just introducing some color in there, slowly but surely, I'm giving myself more information to work with. All these colors are talking to one another and then I can just adjust them as I need to. I keep working into this. I keep going with that big to small principal, starting first with the overall largest adjustments and then slowly working into more detail. Sometimes I just throw in a color that I think is not going to work, but then I just blend and blur it to the point where it fits in quite nicely. This idea of introducing something very heavily and then pulling it back actually brings me to a principle that I always think about when I'm painting. Essentially for this entire midsection of the painting, we're not doing the final details, but we're also not really doing that initial establishing, I like to think of a wheel. On one side of this wheel is structure and on the other side of the wheel is subtlety. I'm always asking myself, does this need more structure or does it need more subtlety? I keep going between these two. What I mean by structure is sharp shapes, hard edges, bold lines, anything that helps give your piece a bit more solidity. A lot of the time when we get into painting, and especially when we get into the details, things start to feel a little too soft, a little bit mushy. Whenever I notice an area in my painting that has that going on, I try to reintroduce some structure. I focus on working with harder brushes, bolder strokes, pressing a little harder on the tablet, just so I'm blending less and just introducing more definition. On the other side, if things are feeling too crisp and the transitions just are too sharp, maybe there's some things that are supposed to feel soft or organic, but instead they feel very rigid or sharp. In that case, I want to introduce a bit more subtlety. Words that I think of there are blending, soft edges, and subtle color. Basically, I'm going to be using larger brushes, softer brushes, and introducing subtle color to try and smooth out anything that feels a little bit too sudden, a little too sharp. This way, I'm able to strike a balance between things not feeling mushy, formless and weak, but also not feeling machine-like and rigid and unnatural. Then there's one addition to the wheel, which is the larger scale adjustments. As I'm going between the subtlety and the structure and thinking about both of these and keeping them in balance, sometimes I need to again, pull back and just make some general overall tone adjustments. A lot of the time, I'll be happy with how painting is developing, but just realize that the entire thing needs more contrast. If this is the case, I might go into my settings and just bump up the levels a little bit, or increase the saturation. Maybe I want to introduce a bit of a vignette around the corners of the painting. During the entire middle part of the painting, this is the process I'm following. I'm moving between structure and subtlety constantly and occasionally pulling back to look at the bigger picture to see if there's any bigger adjustments I need to make. Then when the overall thing is established, I'm going to start sticking in single places a little longer, spending a bit more time on each individual element, like a hand or a face and just pushing it further. It's starting to approach the point of being finished. I'm going to do a pass over the painting where one by one, I take these elements and I render them out into a more finished form. I basically want the painting to get to the point where it might not necessarily look finished, but I can exactly tell what it is going to look like when it is finished. Now that you feel you have a clear idea of where your piece is going, the key is to try and finish it. A lot of people stop just before that end line and they never end up making something that is entirely done. All they do is sketches or illustrations that always feel just a little half-hearted because they were never taken all the way. What I would like to do is the next time you're in that situation, just make a list of the individual elements of your piece and try and rank them by priority. Then starting with the most important part first, try to work into it. Essentially, as soon as you finish that area and you decide that it is done, you are no longer allowed to touch it. By working this way, it doesn't feel like the finishing stage just goes on and on forever. This is one of the main things that's holding people back from finishing their work regularly. There's always more to do. Try to use this checklist to show you what you have left to do, what you've already done, and which parts you are not allowed to touch again. The last thing you want to do is just leave the piece for a little bit. Just walk away and maybe spent a few days not looking at it. Then the next time you open it back up, try to identify if there's anything that jumps out of you that needs to be fixed. The idea here is that by refreshing your perception of the piece by simply not looking at it for a little while, you're able to more clearly identify the things that are working and the things that aren't. A lot of the times when I've done this in the past, I was able to just take five minutes or so just to fix a few little things when the overall piece was definitely working, but basically, it just prevented me from being frustrated seeing that piece online and always noticing that one little thing that would be so easy to change, but now it's already out there. Try to take a little bit of a break so that with a fresh perception, you can make sure you've tackled any major issues that might be there. A lot of the time, you can make the piece just that tiny little bit better with only one minute of extra work. Your homework for this lesson is to start an illustration featuring at least one person. Try to keep the structure solid and believable and try to think about what you learned during the Gesture and Color lessons to add a bit of life and flare to the entire thing. You don't need to finish it today but of course, the thumbnail process is perfect for just making a start. To do so, you can use the document I provided in the class notes. If you're ever not sure what to do next, try to simply follow the steps on the document. If you take those steps off one by one, it can take you all the way from the start to the finish. There you have it, your final homework assignment. Good luck. 7. Outro: All right. You've made it to the end of the course. Give yourself a pat on the back, I hope you had a great time taking it, I had a great time making it. If there's any feedback that you have, any questions, comments, or things that you'd like to learn more about, you can send those to the email on screen right now. I love hearing from you all and I love seeing what you've made. On that note, you can share whatever you've made in the class projects for this course. But either way, thank you so much for taking this course and I hope I can see you in the next one. For now, happy drawing.