Let’s have a show of hands!

Studies in drawing and construction of hands from Drawing Dynamic Hands book by Burne Hogarth. (Click a thumbnail to see a large version.)

I think hands are so important in figure drawing. At times more important for the expression than faces. Yet when drawing a hand of a model I am always guessing, have no idea what’s on the other – invisible – side. This book teaches how construct a hand, in any position. I am thrilled to know, not guess or suppose, where to attach a hand to a forearm, how to position fingers, how to curve them. Amazing how everything has a logical geometric explanation to it – the fundamentals. Burne Hogarth is a genius.

I have more hands drawn by now, but am too lazy to do more scanning. I will draw more still, am not done by any means. These are basic forms, measures and construction blocks. Later in the book he is getting into stresses, actions, foreshortening, communications, gesture and behavior. Fascinating. I have my work cut out for me.

Graphite, sketchbook

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9 thoughts on “Let’s have a show of hands!

  1. These are wonderful, Alex. I studied this method and still end up with boxy hands and go back to my old sight and continuous line method. You have captured the “gist” of what Hogarth does. I have found his approach most helpful on foreshortening. I will draw a shape for a tip of a finger that comes at me and design the rest by what I see around it, or a foot as so often happens when I draw from life. I think we all take different paths to achieve an end result because we, as artists, see differently as well as render differently. Your studies are spot on! Love them. All of them.
    I don’t know if you have come across it in life drawing, as yet, but there was a point that I learned it is crucial to know when to start and stop a line. Some cut into the form and are not always seen but they are there in the dip and curve of the body. I don’t know if you have experienced that or not yet, but that was one of my biggest “light bulb” moments and I still don’t always get it right.

    • I am in love with Hogarth! I have several of his teaching books from the “dynamic” series and am planning to study more. His way of explaining works perfectly with my overly analytical brain. I always thought that it takes a tandem of teacher-student to get somewhere. It doesn’t work so well if either or both are good individually, it takes a synergy between them, if such exists, to get the teaching/learning done right. I feel such synergy with Hogarth, it matters not that he is dead. I am so disappointed that he didn’t do a book or a long chapter on feet. Do you know any good teaching reference materials about feet?

      Yes, I know what you are talking about when discussing starting and stopping a line on a life figure. Somehow I understood this point from early on. Hogarth BTW is making his illustrations very clear, even exaggerated, drawing them. My difficulties with life drawing lie elsewhere – determining proportions on sight is eluding me so far.

      • I am horrible with the proportion of the head, especially when working from life. That has been my major struggle. I use a lot of negative space when life drawing I don’t just draw the negative space but visualise it. I generally work from the part of the form on the figure that is closest to me and draw into the rest of the forms as they relate to that first one. Otherwise mine will lack proper foreshortening. Foreshortening poses are, by far, my favorites.
        I know of no book on feet. Most of what I have done has been from life drawing sessions.

  2. Wonderful hands and a subject that most struggle with. I work with an artist that creates great figures, but just cannot seemed to master hands and feet. I struggle with heads and faces. I guess we all have our struggles.

    • I’ve been struggling with hands and feet a lot. Especially when drawing from a live model. My hands and feet come out like strange appendages, mostly resembling sea vegetables :(. This is the reason I am doing these studies. Do you know of a good tutorial (book? reference material?) that would help with constructing feet?

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