Drawing is such a beautiful hobby.
You get to create characters from your imagination and infuse them with dazzling personalities.
With just a tiny tweak in face shapes and facial expressions, you can create a plethora of different human beings.
However, most of us artists fall flat when it comes to drawing hands.
Hands can signify so much emotion and character.
Think of a witch with a long bony arm pointing to a small child.
Or a huge giant with muscular arms lifting something heavy.
Drawing hands and arms in a cartoon style can be challenging. But if you understand how to draw a basic human hand and understand the dynamics involved, then you can change its proportions to make any hand you wish!
And you can draw hands in any pose too!
So, before we learn how to draw cartoon hands in various poses, let’s understand how to draw a cartoon hand first!
In this blog post, I’m going to show you how to draw a cartoon hand in all of these various poses!
Let’s begin, shall we?
What is the difference between drawing a realistic hand and drawing a cartoon hand?
A realistic hand drawing will have more definition.
It will have more marks and edges, more lines because we are drawing the hand in explicit detail.
However, when you are learning how to draw a cartoon hand, you don’t need to add that much detail. You can reduce the finer details and make it more “cartoonish.”
There are of course so many levels of drawing cartoon hands. You can make it super cartoonish by removing more details as shown below.
I prefer drawing my illustrations in more of a comic style because it is a nice balance between cartoon and realistic.
How to draw a simple cartoon hand? Step by Step Tutorial
The best way to learn how to draw anything (especially human beings) is to understand what basic shapes go into drawing an object.
You may think that anatomy isn’t important when drawing people in a cartoon style. As a self-taught artist, I tried skipping studying anatomy in the beginning because I assumed drawing in a cartoon style would be easy without it – but it wasn’t.
To draw in a cartoon style, you’re actually breaking the rules that go into drawing human beings.
If you don’t know the rules for drawing anatomy, how do you break them?
That’s why, to learn how to draw a cartoon hand, you need to have a basic understanding of how to draw a human hand and what are the shapes that encompass it.
And trust me, drawing cartoon hands becomes less and less intimidating with more practice.
In this tutorial, we are going to study hands in order to draw them.
I’m going to start with a simple photo of my hand. Let’s study what shapes this hand is comprised of so we can draw it easily!
Okay, let’s take the largest shape we can see in this hand. It’s more like a trapezium with one side longer than the opposite side.
Memorize this shape. And practice it as much as you can.
Because you will be using this basic shape to draw any hand pose. Next, let’s draw a mitten shape.
For this, draw 2 straight lines from the trapezium and a curve from the index finger to the pinkie finger. This is a simple mitten shape. And this is used worldwide to draw hands.
There are several points to note about the mitten shape you’ve just drawn:
- The four fingers aren’t the same size. (We can easily forget this when we’re in the midst of drawing, so it’s best to keep a note of this)
- The curve is highest around the middle finger because the middle finger is the longest.
- The fingers are pointing outward and stray away from each other when you hold your hand out. (It is the opposite when you make a fist)
- The length of the longest finger is the same length as the palm.
These trapezium and mitten shapes (curve) will form the basis of all your hand drawings.
Now, let’s take it one step further: divide the mitten shape into 3 almost equal proportions by drawing 2 more curved lines.
The 2 lines we’ve just drawn will cross the joints of the fingers. Using this simple structure as a guide, you can draw your hands in any pose!
However, the thumb works a little differently and is unusual compared to the rest of the fingers. It has a small circular muscle like this:
Memorize this circle because it will help you draw the thumb in various hand poses as well!
Now, draw lines to indicate the fingers.
Now, draw circles where the joints are. This step isn’t necessary but I used this in the beginning because it makes drawing hands so much easier!
You now have the basic structure of a hand.
Before we start drawing the outline of the hand, let me go over 2 simple concepts to help you draw fingers.
How do you draw a cartoon finger?
Take a look at figure 1.
Notice how the outer side of the finger is straight but the inner side is slightly lumpy.
Similarly, if you look at figure two, you’ll notice that when you bend your finger, you can draw the outer sides with short, straight lines but the inner side is even lumpier!
This is because the muscles contract on the inner sides when you bend your finger.
You can practice drawing fingers by looking at your own hand!
Now, take a look at this:
If you look at the first image, you’ll notice that the finger is drawn curved. Doesn’t it look odd? This is not how fingers typically look.
When drawing fingers from a side perspective, make them more square before curving them downwards. This will make your fingers look more organic.
Another thing to note is that fingers have their own personality. You can easily look at a hand drawing and tell if it belongs to a female, male or special character like a witch.
- A female finger is more thin, curved and delicate.
- A male finger on the other hand is more clubbed, and squarish. The fingernail is squarish too!
- When drawing special characters like a witch’s hand, you can draw long, crooked fingers (with more wrinkles) and a sharp, pointy claw.
Okay, now you have a decent idea about fingers and drawing them realistically.
So, let’s go back to drawing the cartoon hand.
We’ll start with a simple outline first, using the guide we’ve already created.
I’m going to color the hand and then draw on some fingernails.
Now, you can add finer details like some wrinkles and skin folds around the fingers.
I do not add these details in my illustrations when I’m drawing hands because I like to keep my cartoon hands simple.
And now, we’ve learned how to draw a cartoon hand from a simple top view.
Let’s try another pose!
If you’re enjoying this tutorial and would like to learn how to draw hands and legs, you can think of purchasing this book. It really helped me understand anatomy.
How to draw a feminine hand
Okay, let’s use the previous exercise to draw a feminine hand in a different position.
I’m going to draw the same trapezium structure. This time, however, I’m going to add a little depth because we are now drawing a human hand from a different view (not a top view) – it’s no longer 2D.
Now, let’s start drawing the fingers one by one. The mitten method won’t work here because the fingers are in different positions.
Take your time to draw all the fingers. It’s okay to erase and draw it multiple times. This is how we learn and get better at drawing!
Notice that the pinky finger is merely a bump because it’s right at the back.
Now, to draw the thumb: Just like before, we start with the circle and use that as a guide to draw the thumb.
Now, let’s draw the finer details like the fingernails and the wrist.
And now that the rough sketch is complete, I’m going to lighten this layer before drawing the final outline of the cartoon hand.
And finally, we can add color to the hand and fingernails.
Et voila! You’ve learned how to draw a feminine cartoon hand in this pose!
If you’re keen on learning how to use Procreate, you can pick up this lovely book.
Okay, I think you’re getting the hang of this now.
Let’s try another pose!
How to draw a cartoon hand holding something
Okay, when creating comics or drawing cartoons, it’s very common to draw hands holding something. Whether it is a bag or a device, it is crucial to understand how to draw a cartoon hand interacting with another object.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to draw a cartoon hand holding a phone.
Let’s start with the shape of the phone first, this will make it easier to draw the hand holding it.
Okay, and now, we begin once again with the basic trapezium shape.
Whenever you are drawing a hand, remember to always start with this basic trapezium shape. This really makes drawing hands easy!
Remember: The index finger and thumb is always on the longer edge as compared to the pinky which is on the smaller edge!
Let’s draw the thumb now. Use the same circular shape as before to draw the thumb finger.
Notice how the thumb and the muscle holding the thumb overlaps the edge of the phone. This makes the hand holding the phone look more organic.
Let’s draw the fingers.
The fingers are mostly behind the phone but the tips are visible because they’re overlapping the opposite edge of the phone. Since it’s slightly curved, the perspective will vary too.
Okay, now that we have a good guide of the hand holding the phone, let’s draw the outline.
Remember to erase all the lines behind the phone since it won’t be visible.
And now, I’m just going to add some color to this illustration to bring it to life!
We’ve learned how to draw a hand holding a phone.
Next, let’s cover another important concept – a closed fist!
How to draw a closed fist – step by step
Okay, in this tutorial, I want to show you how to draw a closed fist.
Drawing a closed fist is very different from drawing an open hand because the fingers are closed and biting into the palm.
Let’s draw a closed fist step by step!
Start with the basic trapezium shape first!
Now, let’s start with the thumb – draw the circular shape as before and then the thumb. Remember, the thumb overlaps all the other fingers.
Now, let’s draw the fingers one by one.
Okay, but what do you notice here?
Pay attention to the drawing above.
- Notice that the fingers closed are not in the straight line. The pinky will fold extremely inward as compared to the index finger when you make a fist.
- Additionally, the fingers move inward and closer together when you make a fist. But if you keep your hand open, the fingers move away from one another.
Let’s get back to drawing the first.
Using the guide we’ve already created, let’s draw the outline.
It’s very easy to draw an outline for the cartoon hand once we’ve finished drawing a template.
And now, all that’s left is to add some color to this closed-fist illustration!
We’ve just learned how to draw a cartoon hand in a closed fist pose!
How do you draw a hand for beginners? Using references!
It’s okay if you don’t know how to draw hands and legs.
Please understand that drawing hands and feet comes with practice.
Unless you go to art school and study anatomy, you have to learn these basics from scratch.
The best way to learn to draw a cartoon hand is to use reference photos and then analyze how the hand is positioned and then replicate that hand pose by constructing the hand using several shapes.
All of the above tutorials I just covered simply and breakdown a hand in shapes.
Once you identify the shapes behind the hand pose, drawing a hand becomes very easy.
Let me show you what I mean.
Let’s say I want to draw a cartoon hand holding a pencil from an aerial view.
I’m going to take a photo of my own hand holding a pencil.
And then I’m going to break it down into shapes so that I can draw my own hand. Let’s once again start with the basic trapezium shape. Since the hand is on its side, I will be drawing the trapezium from its side.
And now, we have to identify the circular base from where the thumb will originate.
And we’ll draw the fingers, one by one.
We’ll now add the pencil and the wrist of course.
Now, we have the template and we can draw the hand outline.
All that’s left now is to color it!
And we’ve learned to officially draw a cartoon hand holding a pencil!
What to do if you can’t draw hands?
Practice, practice, practice!
Nobody is born with this skill. It is a skill that gets better with more practice!
You can also speed up your learning by getting the following books:
- Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton
- Morpho: Hands and Feet: Anatomy for Artists (Morpho: Anatomy for Artists)
- How to Draw People: Step-by-Step Lessons for Figures and Poses
I would also suggest, getting this course to help you speed up your learning: It will help you draw people from your imagination.
Keep practicing different hand poses till you get comfortable with drawing hands.
Conclusion + Resources
I hope this in-depth tutorial was helpful to you, and you were able to learn how to draw a cartoon hand from scratch.
Of course, this tutorial will help you get started. You do have to practice drawing hands a bit before you become a pro.
Learning human anatomy does take time. So, don’t panic if you don’t get it right away.
Every single artist you see online that draws people has practiced drawing faces, arms, legs, and bodies over and over again in their sketchbooks till they got to a stage where they can draw from memory.
It’s a skill – a muscle that needs to be trained till it becomes muscle memory.
If you keep practicing drawing hands in various poses, you’ll soon be able to draw from memory.
And remember, if you ever get stuck drawing a hand, you can always take a photo of your own hand and draw a cartoon hand using your hand as a reference!
The more you draw, the easier drawing becomes!
You can make things easier by picking up this Character Drawing Toolkit.
If you want to see more tutorials on hair and people, just leave a comment down below. You can check out my other People Tutorials to learn how to draw people and clothes.
I will be adding more body drawing tutorials to this blog, so keep a lookout.
If you are looking for books on drawing people and figures, check this out!
If you’re looking to improve your drawings faster and want to really draw as a hobby or even pick up drawing professionally, I highly recommend picking up this beautiful online course that teaches you how to draw female cartoon characters.
Use code STRAYCURLS-10 to get a 10% discount!
This class will teach you how to draw a female character from scratch!
If you are just getting started with ProCreate, I highly recommend this course: Procreate for Beginners: Digital Illustration 101