Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Animation 101: More on Hands..

Using hands to enhance the emotional poses of your character is possibly one of the most rewarding results of being able to draw hands. I'm shocked at how often people use their hands in going about daily life and communication... hands seem to always be in the picture! matter of fact, unless a character is carrying something or being deliberately robotic, you can pretty much guarantee that hands will be up and around their head doin' stuff!They can act as a protective element that heightens the feeling of that character is hiding him/herself from the world, or the situation.They can be maniacal.. plotting.. thoughtful.. when they are interwoven (another really satisfying thing to draw.. what's better than drawing one hand? TWO hands interacting!). When interwoven hands are low, the character will appear more passive, protecting the heart. But when the interwoven hands are high near the face, they will appear to be concealing something.Hands can express motion SO WELL.. I would be lost half the time if i didn't have the guidance of drag/follow thru created by hands attached to arms. Hands like to "drag" when the character is tired or lethargic. hands "lead" when the character has a bit of spring to them! the key thing to remember is that hands are HEAVY things! if you severed your hand off and weighed it i think you would be surprised how heavy it is. An average adult human hand weighs over a pound!
Just some personal observations I've made about hands:

-Hands are bigger than you think (heads and feet tend to be smaller than you think) often times this is because of perspective and camera angle.. hands have a way of "sweeping" toward the camera, where as heads often are receding, especially in lower angle shots. There's nothing more gratifying that stickin' a big ol' hand into the frame so it covers the shot as it sweeps by!! hands LOVE THE FOREGROUND.. put them there as much as possible! Also, remember to exaggerate how tiny a hand is when it's away from the camera. Perspective often demands exaggeration!!

-Avoid cliche hand poses.. my personal un-favorite is the palm out, pinky up.. you see it everywhere and it's time now for it to go away.. i may die next time i see it. Hands have many parts to use to make a variety of interesting poses, experiment and find configurations that you've never seen before. Also, each character will move and pose their hands differently according to that characters personality.

-Fingers spread out to accent or anticipate an action.. the fingers almost mimic effects lines in this case. use it! If a shocked or surprised character is reacting with hands up, those fingers will be splayed wide!-when drawing (or as i like to say "sculpting with line"), think of the hand as a single unit.. the straight line of the back of the hand will reflect the position of the fingers, the placement of the thumb should relate to the openness of the palm,, etc.. it's a single unit that works very well together, sometimes the fingers don't even have to separate. good luck!


  1. Might I add: don't draw your characters with their hands balled in a fist anytime they're standing still! Learn to draw that relaxed hand hanging at the's very rewarding once you've mastered that pose and makes your character MUCH more appealing in a very subtle way. They're not all coked up action characters about to sucker punch the guy next to them. =D

  2. Thanks for these Animation:101 posts and for the attached artwork. I am new to the site (forgive me for that) and am enjoying my stay and loving the opportunity to learn/understand another's perspective.


  3. yeah plummer.. thanks for the comment. especially rad coming from you. the hands you draw are amazing.