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How to Draw Anime Hands, a Step-by-Step Tutorial – Two Methods

Anime hands studies by Gvaat.

In this tutorial we are going to learn to draw anime hands. It’s anime, it’s hands, and hands are hard to draw –  there’s really not that much more to say. Let’s break down drawings of anime hands together, fight through the struggle of anime hand drawing, and find ways to make them easier to draw. 

Drawing anime hands depends on your ability to simplify knowledge of anatomy of the hand, as well as your ability to turn form in perspective. Drawing anime hands also heavily depends on your visual library. To draw anime hands well, we will cover the basic  anatomy of the hand, as well as basic shapes and proportions. We will then go over two methods for construction of anime hand drawings, the Glove/Mitten method and the Simple Form construction method.

For a simple answer on how to draw anime hands:

Use your knowledge of anatomy and your ability to simplify complex form into basic shapes, to construct a hand drawing that uses the visual language of Anime and Manga. Use either the glove/mitten method or the basic form construction method to finish your drawing. 

Note that Anime refers to moving images on the screen, while Manga traditionally refers to drawing still images, like a comic strip. For simplicity, in this article the two are used interchangeably.

Without further ado let’s get to it.

Creating a mitten or a glove shape and drawing over it can help you get proportions right.

Understanding basic hand anatomy to draw anime hands

I published a very detailed tutorial that covers drawing and anatomy of the hand. This tutorial can be found at the following link

Below, let’s cover the very basics we need to understand about the structure of the hand for anime and manga drawing. 

Metacarpals circled at the palm. Gvaat’s study.

The metacarpals create the palm of the hand, fingers stem from these bones.

Phalanges circled. Gvaat’s study.

Phalanges are the bones of the fingers, notice how each finger has three joints – one at the knuckle one in the middle and one closer to the tip.

Notice also that the thumb has only two phalanges. The third joint is at the metacarpals back at the wrist area. This will become important when you draw the thumb, as it will have only two visible joints compared to the three for the fingers.

Drawing Anime Hands – start with a general shape, work general to specific

In both method we will cover below to draw anime hands, the glove/mitten method and the simple form construction method, we will start with a very basic shape for the palm of the hand.

It is a boxy and concave shape. Check the diagram above, then try to make different hand gestures and observe your own hands as well, and observe how this shape changes from one gesture to the next.

Drawing Anime Hands – proportions

If you’re familiar with my tutorials, you know that I am not a big proponent of learning exact proportions for everything. Proportions will change depending on what you want to draw.  Proportions change given the perspective and foreshortening of the subject. Over time you must learn to gauge proportions and correct based on what you are drawing. However, there are a couple of rules that are very helpful in drawing the hand and we can use them for drawing anime hands.

1 – Finger length and hand length proportions

The length of the middle finger from its tip to right before the knuckle is equal to the length of the hand.

2- Finger joints proportions

The first joint of each finger is equal to the last two joints of that finger in length.

Drawing Anime Hands – joint divisions

We looked at the phalanges in the skeletal structure of the hand at the beginning of this tutorial. The phalanges define the separations or the joints between different parts of fingers.

Note that each finger has three joints, one starting at the knuckles and two more down the length of the finger. Indicating these joints in the correct place will provide solid structure to your drawing of anime hands.

Drawing Anime Hands – Shapes of fingers

Created by the skeletal structure of the phalanges, the joints break up the finger. Each section of the finger looks a bit like a bean in profile view.

Profile view of a finger. It is easier to draw anime fingers when each section is broken up as if a bean.

Drawing Anime Hands, a Step-by-Step approach 1 – the glove or mitten method

Creating a mitten or a glove shape and drawing over it can help you get proportions right.

The glove/mitten method stems from the fact that most of us can better imagine and draw a glove or a mitten than a detailed anime hand.

You don’t have to worry about drawing in fingers. With this method, you only worry about the general shapes. Controlling general shapes is basis for all good drawing. That is to say, every great drawing starts with the artist having full control of the general shape of what they are drawing.

Start drawing anime hands with a simple boxy shape of a glove or a mitten. With this type of simplification fingers are indicated with one rectangular shape, then the simplified form is drawn over with more detail and by adding divisions of the fingers.

Glove/mitten approach to drawing anime hands from left to right. Study by Gvaat.
Glove/mitten sketch simplification on the left, drawing over it on the right. Gvaat’s study of anime hands.

Above is a good example of how the glove/mitten method works.

When you draw the simplified form, think about the general shape of the hand, its proportions, the general gesture. Worry about the details on the second pass.

Glove/mitten sketch simplification on the left, drawing over it on the right. Gvaat’s study of anime hands.

Above is an example of a very simplified form drawn for the fist. Note that, although the fingers twist down, I was able to draw that in later.

It was easier to draw because the general shape and perspective of the drawing was resolved in the simplified and boxy under-drawing on the left.

Palm shape outlined on the left, then details and fingers drawn on top.

Note that all of the drawings of anime hands I made for the tutorial start with the general shape of the palm.

Anime hand. Gvaa’t study.

Here is another example of the glove/mitten approach. Start with very simple shapes. One shape for the palm, another for the fingers, and another for the thumb. Then work your way into the details of the drawing on top of the framework you already established.

This seems like a very simple trick, but it really works. It works especially well for drawing anime hands. By simplifying the drawing, you subdivide the workload of the entire drawing into stages. By separating the workload, you make the drawing easier to achieve.

First draw the boxy mitten/glove shape, then the details. When you try to draw everything at once, it often becomes too much. You have to worry about the shape, the proportions and the details together, and therefore the drawing is harder to complete well. By dividing the workflow, you identify the shape and proportions first, and details are drawn on top second.

Below are two more examples.

Anime hand. Gvaa’t study. From right to left.
Anime hand. Gvaa’t study. From left to right.

Drawing Anime Hands, a Step-by-Step approach 2 – the basic form structure

Gvaat’s study. Invention of simplified anime hand drawing.

If the glove/mitten method does not seem to work for you, you may want to try the simplified form construction method. This method can be used to invent more intricate posing of the hand.

Anime hand drawing study, drawn with the simplified form construction method.

Our second approach in simplifying hands to draw anime, is to draw the very basic forms first. Think of boxes and cylinders.  

Using this approach to draw anime hands, I’m going to draw a curved box for the hand, indicating the dip in the structure at the palm. Then, I’m going to identify the joint for each finger and then I will draw in cylinders for fingers extending from the hand. See the results below:

Conclusion – Drawing Anime Hands, final thoughts

Creating a mitten or a glove shape and drawing over it can help you get proportions right.

Drawing anime hands is not an easy task. There is a lot of complexity involved in producing stylized images that are also thoroughly grounded in reality.

Hands look different from various angles, and there is just so much movement in the hands. However, this is also the reason why hands can be extremely expressive, and therefore a great tool for a mangaka to help communicate with the viewer.

Think about what you want to say with a specific pose, (what does it say about the anime character you are drawing?!), then find the right gesture in the hands before you finalize your drawing.

Although not easy, drawing anime hands can be a lot of fun. The process of simplification is rewarding – while difficult at first, over time it creates a huge time-savings while still providing the ability to communicate what is important to your audience.

This is because most Anime and Manga simplify the complexity and detail of the human figure, gesture, and anatomy to its most basic (and most beautiful) elements.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Now it is your turn to try drawing anime hands! Try using the techniques in this tutorial and let me know what comes of it! Good luck!