Monday, May 23, 2011

Animation/Drawing 101: HANDS

Drawing from my sketch book: Ball Point Pen

    HANDS: Second only to the eye's, they mirror a person's emotion the clearest. A bad hand pose in Drawing or Animation can silently KILL your art. This is a huge overlooked concept. This info was passed on to me and now I shall do the same. Big thanks to Pixar for their education.

     The hand is very specific and has thousands of ways to be drawn and posed. It a very hard part of the body to master, that's why you see a lot of artist draw hands over and over again in their sketch book. (and if you don't draw hands like a manic.. well START DRAWING HANDS) When hands are overlooked they look like this...

     Horrendous.. I know.. So before I get you to some juicy knowledge I'm going to try to give you a VERY BRIEF 101 on hands.
-These are the natural paths of fingers. They radiate and curve in relation to each other.
-CG hands look like bricks and rakes when you first load them.. you must pose them into organic believable shapes.

-Simple and Complex hand shapes-
      A simple hand shape has an easy silhouette to trace with your eye and have a simple over all shape such as a square or a triangle. Complex shapes have busy outlines and take too much time for the eye to take in the information the hand is trying to convey. Always go for simpler hand shapes so that the viewer can spend more time on the focal point of your work (which should be the face)

     They must ALWAYS reflect how the character feels or suggest the prop they are using. It can interact with itself, some one else, or with a prop. Live action never has bad hand poses.. So we have no excuses for choosing bad hand acting. That's why Animation is a bit harder than acting, you have to get GOOD ACTING and convince the viewer they are watching a real HUMAN with real habits and poses..

-Hands can interact with themselves and your body- hand to hair, relaxed, fingers crossed with each other, etc

 -Hands can interact with props- and show their purpose. He's not holding a basball bat.. He's holding a gun.. The hands make nice silhouette with the gun that if darkened in, would seem as an extension of his body
-With in the hand pose individual fingers must have a purpose. thumb supporting lower bottle, index finger is gripping the lower bottle as well as supporting the top bottle and the remaining three are gripping the top bottle.
        -With small props you grip them a certain way and
        with in that grip you can still show personality.     
-How you approach interacting with a prop can also reveal a lot about the thought process.

Bad Hands-
      Bad hands come in drawings and Computer Animation. I tend to always talk crap about football games while I play them. If they would only focus on the little details they can become that much more believable. 10 years of edition after edition of Madden and they cannot seem to get the physics right. And if you look at the photo below you can see that the same hand pose generally used on every hand. The fingers look like rakes and in real life it would take WAAAy to much energy to constantly keep your hands in that pose than to be expressive with them. The hand does not naturally want to keep the fingers apart, the fingers always want to rest on each other, especially when griping something. I learned that when drawing a hand, to check if I can see the purpose of the hand, is it moulding to the form of the object, does it look like the thumb and the wrist are connecting and flowing into the hand at a believable angle..

      The hands should support the emotion and the cues the face or character is giving. The hands should never steal the show unless it's on purpose. Do not always move them around with each pose. (Meet the Robinson's: when the black hair kid is first seen is a good example of over acting) watch that movie and you will see what I mean. Do not over use the hands. but use them responsibly and with specificity.

-PERSONALITY is all about the hands. Here are Cool hands
 -Here are hands that intend force and dominance
           -Sadness through hands
-multi tasking hands to show busyness...

-Here is some acting with the hands... over acted for my tastes  but VERY VERY WELL ANIMATED..

     There is hardly any OVER acting or bad posing with the hands in most Live Action film. So when looking for an answer on what to do with your hands, Watch people and watch films. Draw hands as much as you can, there are two perfect modelled hands in front of you! You never have an excuse of not having NE thing to draw... DRAW YOUR OWN HANDS,

     Hope this helps a little. There is so much more on hands that one can speak about with hands. Whether you are drawing them or animating them, think about the hand pose you are choosing and what does it say.. you should be able to tell the mood of your character just by looking at their hand. 

-Daniel Gonzales


  1. I'm currently studying a bunch of hand drawings from this page:
    I feel that page is gold for old school hand fundamentals.

  2. Oh, and thanks for the informative post. One can never learn too much about hands; specially when starting out.

  3. Thanks for the comment. Hands are widely ignored or forgotten in student films, they take it for granted that it's Modelled like a hand so it must look like a hand. which is wrong, the un-posed modelled hand is as off model as a badly drawn hand.

  4. Just discovered your blog, much needed knowledge this is for me. Thanx