Sketchbook: This is Handness!

So I spent a lot of time drawing hands last night. Making an appearance in the jumble below is is the hands of yours truly holding a bottle of shampoo. Dynamic stuff!


So hands… They’re hard to draw. You open up anybody’s sketchbook and you’re going to find pages full of hands, drawn in frustration and confusion. If you’ve struggled with hands, rest assured, you’re not alone. Probably everyone who’s tried to draw the darn things has. Judging from comic artists breasts and buttocks are the easiest bits of anatomy to draw, which kinda makes sense when you think of how they’re shaped. But artists who shy away from hands are also missing out on an amazingly expressive bit of anatomy. Hands are like two supporting actors for the face. They can communicate so much. Breasts, buttocks, biceps, abs look pretty much the same if the person is sad, happy, mad, depressed, etc. Maybe this is why so many comics remain just awful to look at even today? They are emphasizing the least expressive bits of the body.

One master of expressive characters is Milton Caniff, a huge favorite of mine. Here’s a single panel that could be really boring: two characters kiss. But it’s the little details, especially the hands here that make it so much more interesting and give you tons of insight into what’s really happening in the moment.


Moral of the story: Think about hands when you draw.

3 thoughts on “Sketchbook: This is Handness!

  1. I love that comic illustration, not only are her hands awesome but the expression caught on his face is so cool. Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words.
    Your hand is so determinedly holding the shampoo bottle! I feel like maybe you are heading to wash some very resistant hair!
    I feel like the harder I try with hands the worse they get. My first pass will be tolerable and then I try to clean it up and they start looking deformed. The way fingers attach to hands is mystical!

    1. Roz, I share your frustration with hands. They’re really complicated, malleable bits of anatomy. But it’s really fun to study them and figure out how they work.

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