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Art Lessons: The Hand

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Hands today are no different than hands
from the ancient times.
From the ancient mummies of way back when,
We still have the same hands.
The thing is that hands, historically art
historically have changed so many times.
A Renaissance hand was different than a
mannerist hand.
And a mannerist hand was different than
hands from the times of Baroque art.
And those were clearly different than
contemporary hands are interpreted.
So, the reason that hands are so
amazing is that they really embody so much
personality, so much personality.
You can tell if someone is tense, you
by the way that they hold their fists.
You could tell that someone is uptight.
You could tell is someone's relaxed.
And the hand will show you what the face
will hide.
You know what I'm talking about, right?
The hand will always show you.
If you really wanna read somebody, you
know, you wanna get that tell?
You look at their hands and see what their
hands are doing.
That will tell you the story, because
people can hide a lot with their eyes.
Oh yeah, everything's cool, everything's
cool, everything's cool.
But in reality everything is not so cool.
Or everything is not cool but maybe it is,
maybe it is.
What's going on with their hands?
Let's look at their hands.
So, hands are gonna tell you everything.
And, you know historically,
there have been some amazing hands that
have been painted and drawn historically.
Think of Michelangelo's Creation of Man on
the Sistine Chapel, God touching Adam.
You know, think about Van Dyck's hands,
how beautifully, gentlemanly they were.
And Dyck actually said, I could never
paint the hands of a workman.
I have a hard time.
I can't do it.
As where Molet said, I cannot paint the
hands of a gentleman.
So, artists also have always struggled
with different kinds of hands.
But I think it's really important to
understand all kinds of hands.
So, with children, the hands are gonna
look a lot more fleshy.
There's a lot more flesh around the wrist
to protect the wrist.
The flesh around the bones.
The bones are softer.
With, with a older person and a worker
person, the hands are gonna have much more
information of their history etched onto
the palms and the backside of their hands.
It's just part of where we take our
experiences, it shows up on our hands.
So, I think besides portraiture,
hands are the most important thing to
learn how to draw.
And oftentimes you see people trying to
cheat that.
You see a lot of portraits where you have
hands like this, or hands like this, or
hands like this, or maybe a hand like
because people are afraid to draw the
I think from a spiritual point of view
they're afraid to draw the hands sometimes
because they might see something that's,
that's deeply profound.
Might see something that they don't want
to necessarily see.
In another respect, hands are hard to
The more you draw hands, the more
comfortable you will get.
And you will be able to see and
experience a hand like you should be able
to, because hands are fascinating.
So, let's start off with hello, with the
So right here.
The skeleton of the hand, we're talking
about all the carpels here.
These are all the carpals, and there's so
many, too many to name,
so I just usually group them into one
Here, we have the metacarpals, and here we
have the planges.
So, this is kinda, how, when I'm drawing
it, this is obviously the thumb side,
what I like to kind of just group these
carpals like this,
so I see it as just one basic shape.
The metacarpals, you know, come out from
here, like that.
The thumb.
The index.
And the reason that this is fascinating,
is because there's a rhythm and an energy
to all of this.
Obviously, I'm just kind of making
not getting into all of the exact
Now this, this all, kind of relates like
If you took a C-curve, you realize that
these all line up, as do these, you know?
I'll just get to these really fast.
But these all line up as well.
So, there's a certain rhythm to all of
So they're, they're radiating out.
They're radiating out, radiating out.
But some on the other hand comes to
to, to actually a little further out like
It comes to right about here.
This is very long, here.
Not as long, in the phalanges and
more like that.
But there's that kind of rhythm,
where we could feel a relationship with
all of them.
There's a relationship.
The metacarpals line up, line up,
phalanges line up.
That goes for everything.
You see that?
They line up.
There's a certain, there's a certain
rhythm to that hand.
So, if you see a hand like this, and
you're drawing a gesture,
you could see the gesture of that thumb,
the finger, finger, finger,
the palm, the pinky and there's that.
There's a rhythm there, right?
And they all seem to line up, like that.
So, there's always that kind of
gestural rhythm that we're,
we're reaching for, that we wanna
really experience [NOISE], okay.
[SOUND] Thinking about the hand,
we really have to think about what
function the hand has.
What is the function of the hand?
[SOUND] Different teachers teach in
different ways.
But one of the,
one of the most important things is to
think about, the purpose of the hand.
The hand is,
the hand is really what separates us, from
the rest of the animal kingdom.
You know, it's this opposable thumb that
really makes us.
You know, be dominant on the food chain.
So, I think that historically this right
here our hand right
here has really separated us in addition
to our brain.
So, why is that?
Okay, so the hand can be used in, in
various ways.
Number one, we have to think about the
hand as a, as a hook.
That's the functionality of the hand.
So, the hand is really,
used practically as, as a hook.
when we think about the functionality of a
that is, one way to think about it.
Like that.
The second way to think about is as tongs.
So, we, we pick things up.
So, a hook, kinda hooks things up, and a
tong actually, picks things up.
So, another way to think about a hand is
as a tong.
Like that, now we can see that when we,
you know, have a hand like that.
And, we're picking something up.
the other thing we have to think about is
the hands a weapon.
Like that, so, you know, it's a fist.
It's gonna strike.
It's gonna strike.
It's gonna, hit.
[SOUND] And, when you hit.
[SOUND] You wanna hit with right here.
[SOUND] So, the hand [SOUND] Historically
has always been a weapon, obviously.
And still is.
So, you wanna think about.
Like this.
Something that can be piercing.
In other words, a fist.
So, that's hook, tongs,
weapon and finally a scoop.
We also use our hands scooping like that.
So, this is really important.
And that would be.
Like a scoop.
Although, it would be.
Like that.
[SOUND] When you think about the hand, you
think about the movement,
you think about what it does, it has, you
know, a real practical, pragmatic.
Aspect to it, and then there's the
aesthetic aspect to it.
So, you really have to think about if
you're designing a character who's in
a field and he's working like a, you know,
a Francois Millet, Jean-Francois Millet,
then you're of course gonna do much more
workman type of hands.
Because they're just gonna be more rugged,
more, more worn in the sun.
And actually, more muscular, because you
have all of these muscles going on here,
and it's not gonna be as dainty or as
royal, or regal.
So, you wanna really be able to apply.
[SOUND] The character or assign the
character to the appropriate hands.
Because, that's gonna be, like I said,
like a portrait.
let's think about how to break the hand
down into super-simple terms.
So what I like to do sometimes is just use
a ball as the knuckles,
as an icon for the knuckles.
And then use a string connecting a ball,
a string, and a string, like that.
So, the knuckle, the bone, the knuckle,
the bone, knuckle the bone.
And as we take that to another level,
we get a little bit more advance with it
we say knuckle, bone, knuckle, bone.
Knuckle bone, like that.
So, you could see how
you can make it really
simple, like that.
That's phase one, phase two, and the third
phase is actually a finger.
So you take that idea of the knuckle and
the finger.
You make these round, and these more
Like that.
Round, right?
Because the bone more straight here
because there's padding.
Like that.
So it's really important also to feel what
part is fleshy, and
what part is bone, and what part is tendon
when you're drawing it.
So you really wanna experience that.
So you wanna draw over the form.
Draw over the form.
Over the form.
[NOISE] Speaking of over the form,
you wanna also, as you start
to construct these hands,
you wanna break it down into simple shapes
know that the knuckle is right in
the middle here, like that.
A knuckle, knuckle, and
then the nail in perspective.
Like that.
So you have also an overlap here at the
And you have to feel that.
You have to feel it going around the
Then it's kinda hitting the bone.
And going around the bone like that.
You have to really be able to feel that.
Cause this is the bone right here.
And it comes down and this is padding,
this is the muscle.
So you have to really be able to kinda
discern the muscle from the bone.
This is the bone here, and
then the padding is underneath.
Like that.
Knuckles here as the knuckle is here.
from the side you wanna really see that as
You wanna see that there is bone, and
you could break that into kind of a simple
cylinder shape, and
then you wanna see that there is padding
like that.
So, this padding interestingly enough is
equal distance.
This is the same as this, as this, as
But the bones are all, are all different
So that's important to know
when drawing the finger.
Also, looking at the figure, looking at
the hand,
you have to see when the hand bends like
It's perfectly 90 degrees.
So it bends like that.
So this, just note that this
is 90 degrees as it bends.
So that's really important.
And also, really important this way is
bending 90 degrees,
you always have to kind of see the push
pull of that skin like this.
So really pay attention to the padding
here kind of pull of that skin,
the wrapping of that form, down the actual
bone of the knuckle burst the flesh here.
The bone, and how the skin wraps around
that, and then the muscle like
that, and often times it's just pulling
like that,
pulling, and you could feel it.
So, when you draw, you really have to be
mindful of, am I drawing bone or
am I drawing skin, or am I drawing muscle.
So, just try to feel it.
Just try to feel it right here, this feels
like skin, its pulling around.
The skin is wrapping around like that.
It's wrapping around, pulling down, kinda
experiencing it like this.
Going back to space.
There's bone here.
Skin wrapping.
And then that feels like a muscle here
getting flexed,
like that, and this is pulling down.
So, here's the construction of the hand.
If you have to do it out of your head, or
you're doing it from a different angle, or
you don't have the ability to look at your
own hand because sometimes that's just
the best way to do it.
But other times, it's really just good to
experience your hand and
to look at your hand.
And so right here, we could take these
lessons because what we want to do with
these is say, okay, well, some parts are
obviously bone, some parts are knuckle,
some parts are bone, and some parts are
actually flesh.
And some parts are flexing, and some parts
are pulling, and some parts are pushing.
So we really want to be able to explain
that three dimensionally on paper.
let's just kinda take a look at our hand
see if maybe we could kind of experience
So, I'm starting with right here.
Doesn't matter where you start.
But you wanna kinda start from a place
that inspires you.
You wanna feel like you're inspired,
you're into it.
And I'm starting with that little knuckle
right there, and I see that,
that edge of that finger is traveling up
and around.
I can experience that bone.
I go underneath, and [COUGH] I'm wrapping
that flesh.
I'm wrapping it around.
And it, here this is going up.
That's bone.
That's bone.
And then that nail.
Right here.
That nail is key.
Like that.
That's gonna give us that perspective,
nails going from here to here.
And that's pushing against that flesh
coming down, back.
That way, we experience that thumb a
little bit like that.
Going around and down like that.
So, here's a knuckle.
Here's the skin.
There's a couple of things pulling like
Thumb's coming down and back like that and
the nail is pretty high here.
And you could see it digging into the skin
Digging in like that.
And this is wrapping, wrapping.
That thumb comes all the way down like
And now you really feel that skin.
You really feel the skin wrapping around.
So it's really about experiencing it and,
and feeling it.
Here, going back up here to the index.
Style's lines are a little lighter.
They're not pushing as hard.
And this come out and back.
And then from here the middle finger I
kinda feel like is going up.
And you could feel the.
You feel how volumetric it is.
And here it's pressing in, coming around,
and just that skin is just pulling.
The skin is pulling.
That finger's going back in the space like
that, wrapping this direction.
Always think about what direction things
are wrapping.
That's really, really, really important.
So this index finger here is going that
way, it's going back in the space.
This is wrapping back.
That's there.
This is wrapping that way and it's
It's almost like an overlap there a little
There's really intense concentration
And you really wanna do it, you really
start to see all that's going on.
It get's really, really, really powerfully
intense because the hand,
there's just a lot of visual information
and a lot of visual clues and
it's real easy to kinda get lost in all of
So you really wanna.
Try to this, keep it calm and carry on.
So there's that bone there right there
too, it's like [NOISE],
there's that bone and there's a bone part
And this kinda trickles into this.
This, this muscle right here is a very
strong powerful muscle.
It's pulling down.
There's this part the pat of that hand
goes out all the way.
Over up, right to here.
Now this pinkie starts to go.
This direction.
And the reason the pinkies going that
direction because the pinkie
kind of marches to the beat of it's own
And what I mean by that is the pinkie is
not connected to the same tendons.
The pinkie kinda runs on it's own tendon
These three are grouped.
Do you see that?
These three go back to the same place but
this pinkie doesn't.
That's why you see people drinking tea
like this.
It's so good.
Isnt it good?
It's quite amazing, isn't it?
It's nice.
Now you also get that pinkie in a lot of
A lot of master painters.
They've always had that.
Whether it's a, a regal thing, or
whether it's actually a religious thing or
symbolic thing.
Or an actual physical thing, because it
does operate it's own tendon and
when you group them together, pinkies
don't really do that.
Pinkies kinda march to the beat of their
own drum.
So, very interesting.
Check it out, experience it, best ever.
Bam, like that, oh I'm going back to here.
Where am I?
So I'm on the pinkie and flesh,
flesh, flesh side.
Going up and around, and look at that.
If we put a line all the way through
there, see?
They're still lining up.
They're still lining up.
How about that?
Now that pinkie for the bone side gotta
really experience that bone side.
Er, like that.
And here up,.
So, really, always kinda wanna,
experience these,
like that.
And obviously this is.
This is back in space.
This comes down and the wrist wraps
tendons pull [SOUND]
So [NOISE] that is a little bit more
observational, but what that will
give you is an understanding of,
okay, so we take the principles of.
The bone, the flesh, the tendons and the
the skin is wrapping around the muscle and
the bone.
So, when we draw the hands, let's look for
the actual structure of the hand.
Let's look for the actual pulling of the
It's like wrapping drapery around
something and pulling it tighter.
And you could see that.
See here, it's pulling tight?
Right here there's tension.
Here the skin is relaxed.
So, when we draw, we look for the
difference between bone, flesh.
And skin.
Very important.
So pay attention to that always because if
you do a great drawing of a hand,
that's one of the best things you could
A real understanding of the hand will tell
you so much of the story.
with the hand because it's coming out of
these bones,
just wanna talk a little bit about the
wrist right here.
And, as you could see, the humerus here,
and you could see the thumb side which is
the radius, and
the pinky side which is the ulna.
That's where you get this bone right here.
Now, with this part of the hand, you see
it in Kung Fu and Karate a lot,
is that there's a very strong bone there.
So, you could really hit things.
Now the strongest bone in the body is the
The heel is actually the strongest bone in
the body.
That's why when you kick, you can kick
very powerfully with the heel.
It's a very, very solid strong bone.
But right here, there's a bone called the
pisiform bone
which is incredibly strong and you use it
there to karate chop.
So, a lot of times when you're doing like
push ups,
you have a tendency to kind of go on this
hand and push up from it.
So usually when you push, you push from
right here.
You push from right here.
And when you pull, you pull from right
You pull from right here.
See this right here?
This is a very intense pulling muscle.
See that muscle?
You just pull from there.
And that is called the dorsal interossei
right here.
Because it's really used as a pulling
So, push, pull.
So the hand, there's always an equal and
opposite strength to the hand.
It's a lot of super important
functionality to the hand.
So getting back to the wrist, as you can
see here with the humorous, and
the radius, and the ulna, when the wrist
turns like that, the bones cross.
The bones cross literally like that.
That's how much flexibility we have like
So, see?
When you're turning a doorknob, like this,
see how the bones are crossing?
They literally will cross as you turn the
Like that.
So, here you have
the humerus,
here you have
the radius,
and here you
have the ulna.
Now, when you have it crossing,
you have the humerus here.
You have the radius actually crossing.
I'm gonna exaggerate a little bit because
you have
the radius crossing going that direction
like that.
So you have, literally like an X going on.
And as you can see,
you could see
it turning
like that.
It could, it's turning.
So, those are some things that are really
important to look for.
And one of the beautiful, flexible
qualities of the human
body is that the body actually can,
sometimes do magical things like that,
where the ulna and the humerus are
and the ulna and the radius is actually
Very, very important functionality.
wanna talk a little bit about perspective.
Perspective is, is very complicated.
And especially with the hands.
So, let's look at some of the, the
troubles that we have when we draw a hand.
Often times.
We see hands that are in very stock poses.
You know, like this.
The Superman hand.
Or, you know, like this.
Or like this.
Or like this.
But very rarely do we see hands that are
going away, like this.
Hands that are bending, and turning, and
moving in bizarre ways.
Why is that?
Because hands are incredibly difficult to
That's why, because hands are hard to
So people go after stock poses.
So stock poses are hands that we've kind
of created that we know that we see alot.
But maybe might not be the best thing for
our pose.
Or our figure.
But we put it there anyway because it's
the easier route.
It's not the better route it's the easier
So lets talk about a way to think about
Where we can draw something that's a
little more difficult.
With a little bit more understanding and
let's do this together because not only is
it important It's fun.
Seriously fun.
Hands are the best thing ever.
It's like amazing.
So happy right now.
[SOUND] Okay, so the second hand is kind
of maybe going away in space from me.
So, just a little kind of thing called
perspective clues, perspective clues.
So, if we have a cone going back into
space like this.
See that?
It's perspecting, right?
So here it's, it's closer to us.
This is just a simple cone, or if you like
Italian food,
you can think of it as a penne pasta.
And, it's going back into space.
And so we get that, that, that that is a,
that is a,
perspective clue as things are moving
We can see right here, right here on the
hand, right there.
Is where the skin folds, that's where a
bend is.
And that's really important,
because that's actually gonna act as a
perspective clue to help
guide us through understanding how to draw
the hand as it's going away from us.
Okay, so with this same kind of principle
like that,.
Let's just take a really weird pose like
It's not the easiest pose ever.
But we can see that this, this line's
toward us like that and this right here is
So overlap is the second thing.
Is the second most important thing, and
obviously, just real quickly, to review,
an overlap is when you have one form
overlapping another form, like this.
So that's overlap.
So we see that this form.
Right here is in front
of this form like that.
See, that's overlap.
So one is going to be.
The skin that's folding, which is our
perspective clue, and
the other one's gonna be an overlap.
So, where am I?
See, sometimes you talk too much, you lose
your train of thought,
you don't even know where you are in your
So let me just [SOUND].
Okay so here, here's a little bit of the
overlap of that finger.
Just a little clue, just a little clue
like that.
And this is moving that direction.
This middle finger right there is moving
that direction.
So that's going down, around back.
It's moving back into space, back like
It's turning back like that, turning back.
Gosh hurts my brain but I'm doing it.
Here as well.
Going that way.
And here's our perspective clue.
Right here.
Moving wrapping around the form.
Like that.
Wrapping around the form.
Moving that direction.
Wrapping around the form.
And it's subtly getting.
Just a little smaller, a tiny bit, a tiny
But we, we, we give it the benefit of the
doubt because there's overlap and
there's these perspective clues like that.
Now this is kind of moving back into space
and see,
things are still lining up like that.
Digits are still lining up like we spoke
This is moving back.
This is moving back like that.
Pulling, wrapping down,.
Wrapping down and around, and around.
Wrapping back
into space
Here's a perspective clue.
That thumb is going in this direction.
It's going that direction.
There's a bone here going that direction.
Coming down.
Overlapping here, just a little bit behind
the wrist,
which is coming in, going back out that
way, and down like that.
Same here.
It's going.
Going out,
and there's an overlap here, an overlap
Now we're exaggerating this, to show
perspective, and I'm gonna have to draw
into my other drawing, but that is just
the way it's gonna have to be right now.
This piece of flesh is overlapping here.
This is overlapping.
All that nail is kind of getting lost in
this other drawing.
But as you can see,.
So as it, as it moves back, it's receding.
It's receding.
It's receding.
And without showing value, without showing
even value,
you should see that this piece here.
Is higher, and as it comes down, this is
like a shelf right here.
This is like a, this is all like a shelf.
So that's just, those are just a couple of
things that'll help guide us through.
Drawing things that are a little bit more
complicated, with respect to the hands.
Another perspective clue is the nail.
'Cause we look at an, a finger
We have.
Okay, a finger like this.
We have the nail perspecting back into
space, like that.
So here it's a little bit darker.
It's a little bit darker because it cuts
in deeper.
Here it's a little lighter.
I always think about the weight, how I'm
holding the pencil.
How I'm holding it and what weight I'm
gonna give it.
The, the more I push down, the darker it's
gonna be,
which means it's gonna be deeper set.
The lighter I push down, I'm giving less
attention to the weight.
So, every time I make a mark, every time I
make a mark.
There's an importance to it.
There should be something that is being
experienced and explored.
Every mark means something.
You can't just put things down mindlessly,
you have to actually think about
everything you put down.
So I think about this weight is way
Then this way, because this fold is way
more important.
Because this fold is actually a
perspective clue, like that, but,
you know,
right here,
this weight again is not, is darker at the
Because there's a major fold as it goes
into the next finger here.
So, getting back to the perspective of
that now.
We wanna say that this is going back-
Into space like that.
The nail is traveling back into space.
So if this was a square it's basically
like a box.
So if this was a box,.
The nail would be in here going back into
So it's basically create, creating the
illusion of space.
And just as we have.
A clue here which is a perspective clue we
have another clue
here which is called overlap overlap
clues weight of line and an understanding
of anatomy.
Anything that you can do to help you get
through a drawing is really important.
Drawing can be very difficult.
But the more information you have, the
more experience you have,
the more you'll be able to experience
drawing a hand.