Drawing Hands with Steve Huston


All right, let’s do some hands here. I’m working on oatmeal paper. I’m using a fountain pen with sepia brown
ink, it’s really a brown ink, and a fine nib, very fine actually. This is a Waterman Paris and it’s what I do
in a lot of my sketch books. So let’s get going with some hands here. Generally, whatever I’m drawing, I’m dealing
with the parts as a joint to joint proposition. So I’ve got the hand… Here’s the heel, kind of karate chop area
of the hand. The highlight’s going to go here. And so what I’m looking for are these jointed
connections, and we’ll notice here with this hand, in this position it’s really easy to
see that you’ve got this series of planes and each one at the knuckle joints is going
in a different direction and then the wrist is taken off this way too. So this transition here… And it goes on and in those fingers is of
interest to us. And we want to make sure even in a subtler
pose, as we’ll do in our next drawing, we want to pick up those major plane differences
in some way. Maybe not every single one of them, but most
of them and certainly, back of the hand to wrist and then back of the hand or palm area
to the fingers. You want to show those two major transitions,
those two major corners. Corners give you structure. Corners give you a sense of the real and so
the more we can show how things break in space. So I’m sketching, and even in a finished painting,
I’ll just correct. That’s a bad line and so I’ll correct. I might correct that three or four times and
who cares? It’s just a sketch. But like I say, even in my finished painting,
I’ll want to do that. Now, fact is, we’re slightly underneath this
wrist and so when I pick up the fleshy folds where the palm and the thinner elements over
here, the karate chop area there. As we make that transition down here, I want
to feel that underneath-ness. And that means whatever detail I pick up,
at the center, that detail will tend to be higher and at the sides it will tend to be
lower and we’ll feel that. So if I can find that information, not on
the contour, but moving… So not down the form but moving over the form,
then I’m going to feel in my drawing a certain and actually, a great deal of three dimensional
truth to it. So I’m always looking for how to move the
eye over the form, so when I pick up this, I’m really looking at that as a simplified
shadow shape of what’s going on there. That shadow shape is also a corner that moves
me over, so notice I can move over the form like a box, over the form like a ball or cylinder. Then if I take that back of the hand or palm
of the hand and break it this way, that’s going to tend to make us feel like we’re on
top of the wrist with that hand. I want to feel like we’re underneath, that
it’s going this way. And so I’m going to play up this overlap here,
put the hand behind the wrist, and that’s going to make a big impression on our audience. Now, it’s all about consistency, having kind
of a game plan and being consistent. And so, in my world, in this case, every time
the form turns down or to the right, it gets darker. So this little area turned down and to the
right and it got darker. This went down and to the right, it gets darker. And as long as I’m consistent with that, I
can have quite a bit of liberty with how I design those, what I leave in, what I leave
out, as long as I consistently show that truth there. I could even have a little notation here so
when I do my big, massive mural on the side of Rockefeller Center, I’m going to have that
hand drop off in value and fade away. So I’ll do a little crosshatching. And I particularly love pin and egg because
you’ve got a crosshatch, which means you have to use line to suggest tone, to suggest value. And that’s an interesting idea is that since
I’m the draftsman more than the painter, I love line and so I sneak in that idea and
I understand the painting truth through the drawn truth. That’s how my mind works. And so I like to pick up those little light
is. And it’s quite all right if the hatching goes
off into the environment. It might suggest that I’m going to set that
into a middle value dark environment, that kind of thing. And even how thing’s are left unfinished can
be a suggestion on how I vignette out. So I’m always trying to picture make, trying
to create something that even though it’s just a sketch, it’s potentially a piece that
will deserve a painted reality. And the shadows are shapes, they’re designs
that I can exploit and make beautiful or challenging or interesting. Usually I’ll have a side of the paper… I’ll have hatches where I’m testing my brush
with oil or my pen with ink to make sure that it’s still making the mark I want it to make. It’s not drawing out or globbing up or something
like that. And when I do highlights… I’ll just do a few here just to make a point. So when I do highlights, they’re going to
be on the corners and then they’re also going to be… So that’s structural. They’re also going to be gestural. How do I get off the palm and into the wrist? Here I’m going to have a little fun dance
to get down over those wrinkles. I’ll stylize them here. I’ll maybe go over the… And it might be lost and found. It might show up, fade out, show up again
as it bumps over those guys. Maybe the highlight here is hot and here it’s
less hot and it fades out or something like that. So let’s take this one now. Okay, so what the hand in particular creates
opportunities and problems, but this is true throughout the body. It’s a pretty consistent set of truths on
how this stuff is… This information is collected and put together
and its functionality. The joints work in certain ways, the muscles
work in certain ways. They’re either contracting or they’re not. You’re either fighting gravity or giving into
gravity. It’s passive and active, that kind of thing. And so we want to see those transitions. And so I really notice this. I want to feel how the wrist moves into the
hand, and so I’m going to stylize this a little bit. And so I notice this kind of contour developing. That’s little corners, and it could certainly
be done with curves. But every time there’s a change in direction,
it’s suggesting a change in action. And in this case, and the audience will help
you figure this out because they know hands better than they think they do, it’s how the
wrist moves into the hand. So that’s a joint that flexes, or I don’t
know if that works for you but does that. So I want to feel that and maybe even play
that up, depending on my style or my lesson. The life lesson I’m learning in this class
right now is to draw hands and to make wrists fit in. And that wrist works as a wedge and makes
this lovely transition. If it was a Renaissance painting, it would
be an egg shape in here that the Madonna would have, is her hands wrapping around the little
belly of the baby Jesus or whatever the imagery is. And notice these hatches could move in exactly
the same, if not contoured, direction of that simplified structure, that box logic, or they
can go any way they want. You can make the hatches follow the form and
actually track over the form as if they’re laying on the surface like it’s a fine fabric
stitched over, or maybe not so fine fabric stitched over, and laying over that wrist,
like a cuff or something. Or it can just be stylized. So I’m looking for interesting shapes. And you can see this… It wouldn’t really do it in this simple sketch
probably, but you can see this little vein here in the reference. I’ll highlight that. But notice how that goes from wrist to hand,
and that’s what I’m going to be looking for is, particularly in the hands and the feet,
I want to feel… And we did a little bit of it over here, right
here. I’m looking for how the hand becomes the wrist
and how the wrist becomes the hand. And notice also we have this strong shadow
shape that I’m, again, changing around a little bit, as I like to do. And that lets us know that that back of the
hand is not just this boxy shape, but it actually rolls. And so what I like to think of is like a slice
of a cylinder. This would be where the fingers attach, like
so. This rolls over so it’s going to roll out
of light and that shadow will be here, here, here, can be any place along that… I scooted it over just a little bit, but anywhere
along that would be great. So I’m going to be interested, each place
I work, I’m going to be interested in the character of the part, you know, what kind
of architectural idea is it, and of course there’s other ways to approach that problem,
but that’s the way I tend to do it and maybe we’ll talk about it. What’s that simple architectural shape? It’s not a finger, it’s something instead
of a finger. It’s an idea that I’m going to use to replace
the finger. In this case, this is going to be a series
of little cylinders with maybe a little spoon shape or conical shapes on the end or whatever
I conceive of. And this… I’m going to simplify this out for time’s
sake. So I’m just looking for shapes to replace,
ideas to replace the label. When you say it’s a hand, it doesn’t mean
anything. It doesn’t give any context, any emotion,
any truism. It’s just objectified and it adds no value
to our life and to the discussion about life. But if I say “cylinder”, now at least it has
an architectural truth and that gets me started. Then I may well have some religious or psychological
poetic truth. So that might not just be a thumb. It might be the thumb that we’re under. We’re under some tyrant’s thumb or something. And so it can become a metaphor or an idea
or something like that. But it starts as a problem solving. So almost all my marks are going down the
long axis. Because I do those, I’m thinking about how
it moves across the short axis. I’m drawing this and I’m thinking that, so
I’m kind of multitasking. And notice how… Let’s continue this on here. Notice the value of breaking a contour inside,
going from outside to inside. When you do that, that’s an opportunity. That overlap or interlock is an opportunity
to give us that three-dimensional idea. We’re starting to now say that this is a separate
structure than this. So by having that intrude into it, it’s doing
a lot of work for us. It gets us in front of that a little bit and
then we have the opportunity to see how it bumps against… Unless it perfectly blends in, which isn’t
often, it bumps against that and where we have that bump, now we have a movement over
the form that gives us a lot of good stuff. So that’s what we’re doing here, is I’m inserting
the wrist into the hand here. Let’s do it this way. And by doing that, we’re getting these things
locking together. But anyway, by locking, breaking that down
inside that, it does a tremendous amount of information. One of the problems we have as realists, whether
we’re stylists or not doesn’t matter. The realist’s problem is getting that idea
of three dimension on a two-dimensional surface. And specifically, the problem is how to feel
like we’re moving over the form. Notice when we look at a contour or an object,
most of the apparent information is that contour shape, is how the edge meets the environment. And notice it on a figure, most of the contours
are all on the sides. There’s very few ins, and when you do get
an in, it goes around and not over. So when we can get anything that moves over
the form in three-dimensional idea, curving or stepping over it, going like a tube or
going like a box, now we have an opportunity, whether it’s wrinkles or nails, dirty fingernails
by the way. They’ll clean that up in Photoshop, they told
me. Then that gives us that coveted three-dimensional
idea. Of course, shadow does that too but notice,
again, shadow’s all going…most of the lines are going down the form. So any time we can break inside, and especially
move over, even that little bit is giving us a little bit of this thickness truth here. That steps over. All that’s valuable information that we need. When you do the highlights, you can just blast
it out. That doesn’t do you a lot of good but I’ll
use it to pick up the tendonous connections. These tendons, going over the metacarpals
and the carpals and such, can give me a chance to get off the hand and into the wrist, or
off the hand and into the finger. And that’s getting that connectivity, how
things flow together. It’s not a form but a complex of forms that
are tightly, carefully, and very specifically related together. So each of those contour shadow shapes highlights,
have the opportunity to add more structure, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, but
also more gesture, more flow, showing how we move beautifully, and often times fluidly,
into the next idea and not getting broken apart like a snowball or beaded necklace. So any time you make a mark, a series of marks
like that, you’re saying something has ended, something has begun and you can break it to
give it a little bit of style or because it’s a lost and found subtle form as like the Loch
Ness monster’s emerging and submerging. Or it can just be a little change. Any little mark like that, the audience gets
the idea. Notice that’s what’s happening over here too. It’s the idea that there’s complexity, that
there’s more going on than you’re stating and it makes you look smarter than you are. And you’re also then suggesting that structural
idea, even if you never get into the meat and bones of describing that structure, it’s
suggestive of volume and mass and complexity and organic. “Organic” just means it’s constantly changing. Notice the line never stays the same for very
long. I wouldn’t do a radial arc that would be the
same all the way around, or even a French curve which is progressive in some way. I want it to be organic, imperfect and a little
messy in its design. That’s going to suggest a fundamental evolution
of life, that life is in constant change. We’re in constant action. We’re in constant evolution. We’re getting older. Our species is evolving, at least let’s hope
so. Notice that the dynamic difference between
the back of the hand, and I’m going to suggest that dynamic difference by a tone. I’m just going to lay in a wash of tone, or
a hatch of tone, in this case, since it’s I’ve got the medium I’ve got. But now all of that is suggesting a down plane. Remember this idea and this, in my world,
in this case, anytime it turns down a little bit, it gets a little darker. If it turns down a lot, like it does in here
maybe, it gets a lot darker. If it turns back up, it gets lighter. Notice each of these overlaps, I’m making
them go back in space. So it’s this kind of logic that’s going to
help me feel the go-away-ness quality of that. And notice what’s wrong with this and this
and this and this and this is that looks almost exactly like that. That’s not organic. That’s not sophisticated. I’m not pretending to be smart when I do that. I want each of those little marks… Look at this mark, this mark, this mark, and
that mark. Each of those is different. It’s almost like different letters to an alphabet,
and yet they still have that fluid, kind of watery design that life demands. And then that wrist comes back into view and
gets lighter again. So maybe I’m going to make the fingers that
turn strongly into the direction of the light source the lightest. And the hand that turns down away from the
light source the darkest and maybe the wrist will
be the middle guy. I’ll do that. Darkest, middle, light. And notice over here it’s turning back this
way and so also in my world, as it goes to the left, it gets lighter. As it goes to the right, it gets a little
darker. That also then would have a logic. So I’m trying to world-build and picture make
even when it’s a little doodle. I’m trying to hold onto some fairly sophisticated
fundamental ideas. I’m not just observing, I’m translating. So you’re always trying to do it through… Not always, but we’re trying to do it here
through the lens of our understanding or our bias about the world. In my world, when you move over the form,
we get to talk about the depth and the character of the form in a certain position in space. And when we move down the form, I’m going
to talk more often about the gesture, how we flow or step from one thing to the next,
however that goes. So notice this fluid quality here, as opposed
to this boxy over here. Then when I combine them, I can get the boxy
and the fluid by curves and corners. So the more curves I put it in and the more
watery, alive, and sophisticated it seems, because the curve is sophisticated. It’s always changing direction. The more corners I put in, the more box logic
and I get the top against the side. I get the side against the front. And it can be a rounded side against a rounded
front or a boxy side in a manner, the character. But that creates a certain consistency. It shows how one thing separates from another. The curve shows how something groups with
another. All right. That’s it. To make sure you don’t miss any new videos,
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