Cartoon Hand Formulas
To be honest, just drawing hands alone is as complicated as drawing heads and figures. There’s a LOT to drawing hands. However, you can get away with not going too in depth with hands when you’re cartooning. Depending on how cartoony you’re drawing.
In this lesson, we’ll go over:
- Very basic cartoon Hands
- Hand Burger and Sausage
- Boxy Hands
- Hand Drawing Tips
- Applying The Formulas to Different Styles (Freddy Moore Style, Bruce Timm Style, Takahiro Kimura Anime Style)
- Turn Around
Very Basic Cartoon Hands
When it comes to basic cartoon hands, they can be drawn in just about any abstract way that you can think of. As long as they can be clearly understood to represent hands.
Here’s some fun crazy ways that you can have fun with hands:
If you want a bit more form to your cartoon hands, then you may want to try the formulas below…
Hand Burger and Sausage
I could have called this “The Mitten Hands” because that’s the core of what I’m going to show you here but “Hand Burger and Sausage” made me laugh.
This is a very traditional form of drawing hands. It’s really the way I drew hands for many many years. It’s really a very simple formula.
First you start by drawing a mitten like this:
Once you have that, you take the top part of the mitten and make figures out of them:
This method is straight out the Preston Blair’s drawing book: Cartoon Animation.
The trick to giving these hands a feeling of dimension, is to think about these these forms as if they are burgers patties and sausages. The palm area of the hand should be thought of as a slightly flat disk shape similar to a fat burger patty:
And of course, the forms of the finger should be like cylinders with rounded ends like sausages.
Thinking about the hand like this help give it volume.
…hmm, are you suddenly hungry or it just me?
If you want the hands you draw to be a little less cartoony and a bit more natural, it’s best to get boxy. It’s still helpful to first draw a mitten shape. But instead of drawing the palm like a burger patty and the fingers like sausages, you turn the palm into a flat box and the fingers like long boxes.
What this is doing is defining the hand shapes more clearly and giving it more depth:
This is helpful when drawing fingers because, if you notice, when you bend your fingers, the top of the fingers seems very boxy. This makes your finger drawing more believable.
No, finger aren’t boxes, but if you want them to look more natural, after you draw them boxy, then simply round the corner on the bottom half. And there you go…
The thumb is a unique part of the hand. You have to draw it as if it’s on a special hinge on the palm cover in skin:
Hand Drawing Tips
As I’ve said before, drawing hands if very complicated. What I’ve explained above is simply two approaches that simplify the hand. However, there’s a lost of other factors to be aware of when drawing hands. Below I go over some things to tips that will make you’re hand drawings a tad easier and look better:
Be aware that fingers aren’t the same size. This may seem obvious but when drawing hands in elaborate positions, this little awareness is one of the first things to go.
One of the reasons to draw a mitten shape is to force the size of the fingers to get smaller on the ends. However, you also need to follow this same curve on the joints of all the fingers and the top of the palm.
Bending the Hand
One thing you may not notice until you actually take a very close look is that the knuckles and the top “webbing” of the palm don’t line up:
The knuckles are located further down. They line up more with the top mid area of the palm instead:
Why is this important? Because when you’re drawing the back of the hand in any position, you don’t want to draw the knuckles too high up or you’ll lose the padding of the upper palm. Especially when you’re drawing the hand bending:
I’ve found that the easiest way to get expressive hands is to treat them exactly like a micro figure drawing. Since the first thing we do when we figure drawing is doing a gesture drawing, I recommend doing a gesture drawing for the hand you’re drawing first, then add structure to it after.
This way you get the benefit of seeing if the hand is working before you commit to the complexity of finish up the drawing:
Another finger drawing tip is to make sure to vary them up a bit. Don’t draw every single finger on a hand doing exactly the same thing. It looks unnatural:
You don’t have to have them ALL doing something different, that doesn’t always look good either, just make one of two finger doing something a little different.
Just doing that make the fingers look much more natural.
Use reference, like a mirror or take a photo
By far, the most help thing you can do when drawing hands is to use your own hand as reference. If you don’t know what the hand is suppose to look like in a certain pose, pose it out yourself. You can do this in front of a mirror, or you can simply look at it.
If you happen to need to look at the hand you draw with, then take a picture of it. It’s that simple:
Applying the Formula To Different Styles
Now that we have a basic formula, we can try “clothing,” the formula in different styles. Let’s use our go to styles: Freddy Moore, Bruce Timm, and Takahiro Kimura.
With Freddy Moore style, you can do the classic “gloved hand” and all it variations simply by using the “Burger and Sausage” approach:
- First, gesture
- Then you can add the structure
- And then finish off the drawing.
It’s a very standard cartoon hand. If you want it to be a tad more real you simply add the fifth finger.
With the naturalistic version, you’ll need to be more boxy with your structure. Male hands tend to be thicker, boxier and defined than female hands:
- Start with a gesture.
- Then add the structure
- Female hands have far less detail, tend to have less angles, are less square and the fingers usually end in soft points.
- Male hand tend to be boxier, with more defined fingers.
Here’s the turn around…
With this style, it’s boxier still. But only with male hands. The hands are also simpler and less detailed. Female hands are not depicted below since they are essentially identical to Freddy Moore hands.
- Start with a gesture drawing
- Add the box structure.
- In a 3/4 angle like this you will be able to clearly see the sides of the fingers. I chose this angle for that reason. Otherwise from the side, front and back, the fingers tend to be drawn completely flat, graphic and with the least amount of detail as possible. Almost as if they’re made out of paper, as you will see in the turn around at the end of this lesson. Also, the knuckles are drawn an “S” curve at the base of the fingers.
Here’s the turn around…
Takahiro Kimura Anime Style
With the Kimura style, essentially the same as a naturalistic Freddy Moore style except the finger nails are drawn in:
Here’s the turn around…
This is NOT a definitive lesson on hand drawing. It’s just the beginning. There’s a LOT more to learn. This is just a some information to let you get started.
The rest is up to you.