How to draw hands part 2 – Beyond structure

how to draw hands old 2

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 :)

How to Draw Elderly Hands

How to draw hands - old elderly hands

1. Structure

Elderly people generally have less body fat, so when you draw the outline, make sure to pronounce the joints.

2. Skinhow to draw old hands skin 2

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

how to draw hands wrinkles and folds s2

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.

4. Fingernails

how to draw fingernails on a hand 4

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

how to draw a masculine male hand

1. Structure
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.

2. Skin
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.

4. Fingernails
Draw short fingernails with lots of texture for a rugged look.

How to Draw Feminine Hands

how to draw a feminine female hand

1. Structure
Put less emphasis on the finger joints and knuckles. Especially the bottom 2 thumb joints.

2. Skin
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.

4. Fingernails
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

how to draw a baby hand with pencil

1. Structure
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.

2. Skin
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.

3. Dimples
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.

5. Fingernails
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!

UPDATE: For more detailed instructions, checkout my new video tutorial!

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21 thoughts on “How to draw hands part 2 – Beyond structure”

  1. jim bartholomew

    jim bartholomew, Darlene, I’m 87 and have never had an interest that is so great as your tutorials. I’m ecstatic to have discovered them. I live in a retirment facility and we do have an art teacher but she
    has very little time to spend with each resident so you are my teacher and I can spend an afternoon and evening with your classes. You are perfect for me the way you teach. THANKS!!!

  2. This is so helpful. Thank you. I tried to copy and paste this, but the pictures didn’t copy. Do you have a pdf on the hand lessons I could download?

  3. Hi Darlene,
    I am a 74 year old Heinz 57 Canadian artist (ha! wannabe, maybe. Couldn’t find how to make a one time donation and couldn’t. Please advise.

    1. Darlene Nguyen

      I like your sense of humor :) To donate, you can become a patron of mine here and cancel after the first month or alternatively purchase one of my exclusive tutorials. I really appreciate your support, Robert! Thank you very much!

  4. have been following your website for a while and really appreciate the amount of quality you put into these tutorials. it really helps me!! I just want to say thank you and keep doing what you are doing it’s great!!!!

  5. The elderly hands technique, it was awesome. I have been practicing drawing hands for the last month and they’ve never came out right, texture wrong. I used a .3mm mechanical pencil and drew the small circles, I have texture and realism. I am awed by this. Thank you. Thank you.

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