This is the last part of a 2 part tutorial. Part 1 covers basic proportions of a hand. If you have not reviewed it, please click here.
Being able to draw the shape of a hand is great, but what happens after that? In this tutorial, I will be covering how to draw nails, skin, wrinkles and folds for several different types of hands: baby, elderly, masculine and feminine. What characteristics make a hand look strong, gentle or young? Read more to find out!
*Most of the drawing techniques are covered in the first section (how to draw elderly hands). Don’t skip this section if you want to get the most out of this tutorial :)
For more detailed instructions, checkout my new video tutorial! https://youtu.be/j739xyYn0fE
How to Draw Elderly Hands
Elderly people generally have less body fat, so when you draw the outline, make sure to pronounce the joints.
Instead of shading with long pencil strokes, use a fine 0.5mm HB
mechanical pencil to create layers of circles with even amounts of pressure. Avoid shading the nails. Switch to a 2B or even 4B to darken areas between bones or around tendons to make the hand appear even skinnier. Layer the circles on until the gaps are really small, but still visible to achieve the look of fine lines.
Click here to see an interactive diagram of a hand in layers
In order to retain as much realistic skin texture as possible, do not blend or smudge! If you feel the need to blend any area of the drawing, use an HB pencil to layer on even more circles.
I will go into more details in a future tutorial on skin. Follow me on Facebook to get an update whenever I post a new article!
Click here to learn how to shade!
3. Veins, Wrinkles and Folds
Use a blunt 2B pencil to draw clean lines where prominent folds, wrinkles and veins appear. Then apply different shading techniques for each one.
Veins: Gradual, soft shading
Wrinkles: Less gradual, darker valleys, more prominent highlights
Folds: Gradual, less prominent highlights
Give some of the wrinkles at each finger joint some wider valleys than others.
To make them easy to draw you can section each nail into 3 main areas: the lunule (the white semi circle above the cuticle), body of the nail and the free edge.
If you look at your fingernail up close you will notice many lines stretching across the entire nail. Because of these lines, there will be breaks in the light reflected off the nail’s surface. Draw lines to section off areas you need to shade or highlight. As we age, our nails grow thicker and the lines may become more apparent.
Shade these areas in one at a time. Make sure to give the nail some shape by making the left and right side darker.
How to Draw Masculine Hands
In order to draw strong masculine hands, we need to go back to part 1 and enlarge the bottom row of joints for each of the four fingers. For the thumb, enlarge the two bottom joints. If you look at your dominant hand, you may notice that the bottom two thumb joints are more prominent compared to your other hand. These joints change over time, especially for those who are frequently involved in laborious physical work.
With a blunt HB pencil, use circular motions to draw the skin, but this time follow up with a blending stump to smooth out the texture. Introduce lots of lines and shapes for a chiseled look.
3. Veins, Wrinkles, Tendons
Accentuate tendons and veins. You can find an interactive diagram with tendons and veins here. The only apparent wrinkles are located at each finger joint. Keep the lines narrow and shallow.
Draw short fingernails with lots of texture for a rugged look.
How to Draw Feminine Hands
Put less emphasis on the finger joints and knuckles. Especially the bottom 2 thumb joints.
Use a blunt HB pencil to draw the skin using circular motions and then blend using tissue paper. Unlike masculine hands, avoid harsh lines and shapes. Make the skin as smooth and consistent as possible.
3. Veins, Wrinkles, Tendons
Tendons should only be slightly visible with very gradual shading.
Most people think fingernails grow out straight, when really they’re curved. In fact, the longer they grow, the more apparent this curve becomes. Have you ever watched the episode of Guinness World Records featuring the lady who grew her nails 10 feet long? They literally spiral out of control!
Fake nails or real… there will almost always be a curve. Don’t overlook this detail!
How to Draw Baby Hands
Add thickness between each joint and round out the tips of each finger so they are nice and plump. If you are drawing a skinny baby hand, do not put too much emphasis on the bottom 2 thumb joints.
Baby hands are smooth and plump, so you want to focus on making your circles as close together as possible. Keep your pencil pressure consistent and work in layers using only a blunt HB pencil until you are ready to do some darker shading. Avoid using any lead softer than 2B. Stick to gradual shadows for a cute chubby hand. Use tissue paper to smooth out the skin.
One big characteristic of babies or children’s hands are the dimples that appear on each knuckle (minus that of the thumb) when the fingers are outstretched. Use a 2B pencil to draw these cute little dimples, making sure to appropriately shade and highlight the space around it.
4. Wrinkles and Folds
Babies have very few wrinkles, so when drawing finger joints, draw only a few large wrinkles. They should appear thick, so stick to gradual shading with less prominent highlights.
A healthy baby has smooth, shiny nails. Avoid adding any additional textures.
Need some pictures for drawing reference? Click here to download a whole bunch! :)
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw hands: beyond structure. If you have any questions or comments, please drop them in the comments section below!
Darlene created RFA In 2013 with the goal of sharing simple yet detailed drawing tutorials with other artists on the world wide web. She is a self taught pencil portrait artist and Youtuber.