How to Draw a Hand

This is the second of a series of mini tutorials about drafting details for fashion illustration. These instructions support the full figure tutorials in my book Draw Fashion Now.


One of the most challenging parts of fashion illustration is to convincingly render the hands. Often when we’re beginning to study illustration, it’s tempting to find work-arounds to avoid drawing the hands – hiding them in pockets, or relying on simplified symbolic outlines. I know that when I was just starting, I would often draw a hook shape that I hoped looked like a hand from the side. These shortcuts look awkward though, and if the hands are awkward, the whole figure looks awkward.

Hands are very complex. This tutorial will help you get the parts and proportions correct. A simple, relaxed hand like this one will give your figures a relaxed attitude. Once you have a sense of the proportions, you can begin to study the gestures of the hand and move the fingers into different positions.

how to draw a hand 1

Begin by drawing a trapezoid for the back of the hand. It’s slightly narrower at the wrist and wider at the finger end. It is very nearly a square but not quite.

how to draw a hand 2

I’ve extended the wrist with two parallel lines here. Mark where the break of the thumb is about two thirds along the lower edge. Mark the tip of the fingers to the right – the length of the longest fingers is about equal to the length of the palm. Then draw gentle curves to guide the knuckles and joints of the fingers. Each curve is about a third of the way between the knuckles and the tips of the fingers, and the curve angles more closely towards the hand at the little finger side. Make sure to extend the knuckle curve towards the thumb.

Divide the knuckle curve into four equal sections to establish the width of the fingers.

You can use your own hand easily for reference to identify where the landmarks are in relation to one another. It’s very handy (sorry).

how to draw a hand 3

Next, render the digits of the hand. I like to connect the centre two fingers and leave spaces between the outside fingers. If you hold your hand at ease, you’ll notice it usually falls into this position. At each joint break, lift the pencil slightly and add a slight bend.

how to draw a hand 4

Now you can take another sheet of layout paper and trace over the hand, and there you have the completed draft! If you used this tutorial I’d love to know what you think and see the results! Please feel free to share in the comments.


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