Hand Gestures

  • Software:Photoshop CS6  ·
  • Difficulty:Beginner

Rules of the Exercise

  • 1
    Download and open the practice worksheet for this exercise
  • 2
    Observe and analyze the subject matter. Follow the guides of the instructor notes.
  • 3
    Submit your work for this exercise under the "Submissions" tab for grading!


  Hands down, this feature seems to be the toughest anatomical feature for artists to include in their work. I see hands hidden in a variety of ways but mostly hands are hidden behind backs, in pockets, or just not drawn all together. LET'S FIX THAT. I believe it's a lack of confidence when it comes to drawing hands. They can be fun to create and add an impression to the viewer. So let's explore creating hand gestures. This takes a mix of solid understanding of proportions, anatomy, and realism. I urge you TO TAKE YOUR OWN REFERENCE! You have a physical resource to use at all times for reference and you are in control of the lighting, direction, literally everything. So take reference shots of your hands doing the 9 gestures in the exercise worksheet. It's up to you to decide if you want a straight on shot, side, or back shot of the hands in each example. Even after you use them for this exercise you may find them handy for a future reference use. Below is the practice worksheet that you can download! You can find this on the “Downloads” tab under the header image near the top of this exercise! Exercise_43_HandGestures_PracticeSheet2



  • Create your own References!
  • Push realism and focus on the details such as webbing, wrinkles, creasing, knuckles, etc.
  • Usually the width of the finger doesn't vary as much as some artists believe. Analyze your reference to see what I mean!
  • It's up to you whether you want to draw outlines or shade the hand but focus on making them feel accurate.

Below is another Handy resource focused on general tips while drawing the hands and fingers. Don't be intimidated by hands, they are fun to draw! FacialReferences_HandsandFingers


  Hands are perceived as being tough to draw, and initially they are. Don't psych yourself out, take your time to understand the forms that hands are composed of and then analyze the details. Once you get into the habit of drawing them again and again, you begin "seeing" subtle details such as webbing in between the fingers, how fingertips and knuckles are typically a more flush color, or the proportions between each finger. This takes time and practice, there is no way around it. And don't expect your first attempts at hands to be near the reference or close to it looking realistic. Just know it will take multiple, multiple attempts until you start noticing how to fix areas and improve the overall look of the hand. Below is a small guide and step by step on how to paint the hands digitally. These are typically my general steps on drawing/painting hands BUT it's not an exact guide on the only way to paint hands. There are many ways to go about it, just experiment and find what works for you!

  1. Rough out Shapes - Be loose and quick with your line but with purpose. Draw out helpful shapes or guides to help create the overall shaping and proportion of the hand.
  2. Refined Outline - With a more refined eye, create an outline that uses the initial foundation to create a clean line from. It's good to include "imply" line details such as a wrinkle or a knuckle line to help when laying out color.
  3. Base Color - Start with a solid foundation color on a neutral grey background when starting the coloring process.
  4. Block out Colors - Block out colors NOT the details. Use reference and see where there are more "fleshy" tones such as red or magenta in areas such as the knuckles and fingertips.
  5. Remove Outline and Detail - This is where some artists get stuck but be confident when removing the outline and start detailing.
  6. Final Polish Pass - This is when you can add those highlights or surface details like the refined wrinkles on the palm of your hand. As a extra challenge try not using white for the highlights or any black for the shadow areas!

Exercise_43_HandGestures_Results Hands can be tough, but with some determination and dedication, drawing hands can be fun! When you finish the exercise, remember to submit the result to the “Submissions” tab near the top of this exercise. You can see other submissions alongside your own!