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Two commonly annoying subjects to learn to draw are the human hands and feet. They’re not shaped all too weird, but if you mess up any tiny detail the whole drawing looks wrong.
Learning to draw hands & feet can be frustrating. But with the right books by your side you can learn a lot faster and avoid common beginner mistakes. Take a look over the list below and see what you think!
Drawing Dynamic Hands
Artist Burne Hogarth is known for his many niche art books. Drawing Dynamic Hands is one of these books dating back quite a few decades.
The book spans 144 pages of linear step-by-step exercises. You’ll see plenty of live examples and illustrations made by Hogarth to illustrate his points.
This is a book that you can come back and re-read many times over. The information is dense and clear enough that it’ll prove useful for generations to come. Hogarth’s approach to proportions and visualization makes it even easier to see hands properly.
One nice feature is that Hogarth mixes between drawing from imagination and drawing from life. This gives a much more natural feeling to the artwork and to the artistic process. Later chapters get into hand motion and how the aging process affects a hand’s shape & texture.
Bottom line this is one hell of a book. If you’re looking for the artist’s definitive guide to hands then Hogarth is tough to beat.
Drawing Hands & Feet
Another artist+author that I greatly respect is Giovanni Civardi. He’s written many art books on specific topics including Drawing Hands & Feet.
This one is much more recent than Hogarth’s book, but it’s also a lot shorter with only 64 pages.
However this also isn’t made for complete beginners. This book is more like a guide to how hands are shaped, how they move, and how you should render the toes/fingers properly. And with only 64 pages I’m surprised how much is here.
I recommend this title to semi-experienced artists or beginners who feel comfortable working from examples.
It’s also great for artists who stopped drawing for a while and now wanna get back into it.
Drawing Hands(With Over 1000 Illustrations)
Drawing Hands is not an instruction book or a beginner’s book. It’s more like a glossary and showcase of illustrations to help artists study hands on their own.
The book is pretty old dating back to the 1940s. But the drawings are still very high quality and the print job is fantastic.
You’ll learn by studying on your own and looking at diagrams of the hand’s bony landmarks, the primary joints, and how the skin lays on top of this. There are no specific exercises so you will need to take the initiative to practice.
But this material is valuable in the hands of a practicing artist(excuse the pun!)
You certainly won’t master hand drawing just by studying this book and drawing a few copies. But if you spend enough time practicing and digesting the information you’ll notice considerable improvements in your work.
Draw Real Hands
This paperbound 80-page book takes a look at the shape, size, and shading of human hands in art.
Draw Real Hands by Lee Hammond offers a step-by-step approach for a variety of hand styles and sizes. You’ll learn how to draw hands of the young and old, men and women, and in a variety of poses.
Her process focuses a lot on realism and the approach to shadows in the hand. Through these lessons you’ll learn how to properly see hands like little pieces of a great big puzzle. When you can see it all together with shape and value then you’ll be able to render them properly.
This book is definitely made for beginners and it’s full of great drawings you can study from. Lee’s suggestions and techniques are excellent for new artists just trying to find their foundations with drawing hands.
Yes this is a fairly old book but it’s not just a gallery of hand drawings. Bridgman goes into great detail explaining the behavior, size, shape, and structure of a human hand.
This book works like a “hundred hand challenge” where you’re tasked with the role of drawing 100 different hands in different positions. It reads just like any other tutorial guide except it doesn’t treat the reader like a complete beginner.
Because of this you probably do want some prior experience with drawing. It may not come easy but these exercises will help you improve.
And by the end you’ll be amazed at how much Bridgman understood to be able to draw and fully explain the details in this book.
Drawing the Head and Hands
Another masterful artist is the late Andrew Loomis. He has dozens of incredible books out there on a variety of topics, one of which is Drawing the Head and Hands.
Note that the Kindle version of this book is very poor quality so if you get a copy then definitely grab the print edition! It is pricier but the quality isn’t even comparable.
Also this book is the complete opposite of Bridgman’s book.
Loomis does not offer a step-by-step approach or include any exercises. Instead he writes about the head & hands by viewing them as subjects of art. He discusses anatomy, texture, size, proportion, and techniques for approaching your drawings.
This book will give you a deep-seated understanding of heads and hands. But to execute that knowledge you’ll need to practice hard.
I recommend picking up this book alongside Bridgman’s book. These two should offer more than enough to help any beginner improve their hand drawings.
Vilppu: Drawing Hands and Feet
Everything I’ve ever read from Glenn Vilppu has been astounding. His books were sold on his website prior to Jan 2017. But his store has permanently closed so all of his books are now much more expensive.
It’s such a great resource and it has so many incredible details about the anatomy of hands & feet, along with tips on how to render them from life.
Unfortunately the price is far beyond reasonable since this book is now officially out of print. If you can find a cheap copy then I highly recommend nabbing it. But sadly I think this book may fall into the realm of a rare relic at this point.
The cheapest book from his collection that I think is worth the money is the Vilppu Drawing Manual. It covers figure drawing for beginners and it’s one of the best guides you’ll ever own.
However this book is not a complete beginners book. It’s merely a guide to anatomy for hands and feet for absolute beginners. Over 130 pages the author Robert Fairley teaches how to properly analyze hands and feet in real life.
Your job is to then go out into the world and draw. You can use your own hands/feet, work from others or even use HD reference photos like on Proko’s website.
But this book is a nice starting point for a beginner who has no idea how to even start practicing. The early chapters will hold your hand a little. But most of the onus is on you to sit down and practice(using this book as a reference).
In time I guarantee you will notice improvements in your rendering skills and your knowledge of human anatomy.
This book spans 190 pages covering tips for aspiring manga artists. You’ll learn through example sketches and exercises that force you to practice hands & feet from many different angles.
Early chapters cover bone structures and how the anatomy works. As you progress through the book you’ll find more examples of hands & feet in “action poses” which you can then copy and study.
Over half the book focuses on hands with maybe ⅓ of the book covering feet bones & anatomy.
Still this is one of the few(if only) books on the topic of hands & feet for manga/anime artists. If that’s your goal then you’ll definitely want a copy of this guide.
How to Draw Hands and Feet
Lastly we come to the newest release in this post. How to Draw Hands and Feet by Susie Hodge was first released in early 2017 as a short intro for new artists.
The book only has 32 pages but it fully demystifies the complex process of learning hands and feet on your own. Susie has almost two decades’ worth of teaching experience so she knows how to write a book for beginners.
Different exercises focus on different views of the hands and feet. You’ll work through six different stages of drawing to capture hands and feet at different sizes and positions.
If you’re new to anatomy or just need a refresher on hands/feet then this is an excellent resource. It’s short, cheap, and offers plenty of value as a reference guide.
But no matter what your skill level or how often you practice I guarantee all of these books can help you improve.
My personal favorite is The Book of a Hundred Hands by Bridgman since it gets into so much detail with challenging exercises. However this book does not cover feet.