Hands are a super important part of characterisation and expression – a character’s hands can tell us almost as much about their age, physical appearance and emotions as their face can!
Today let’s take a look at how to accurately draw hands for characters of different body types and ages.
How do hands change with age?
Hand, the same as any other part of the body, change with age. Hands are actually one of the parts of the body that are most useful for placing a character’s age!
Let’s take a look at some hands of all different ages, and learn about the characteristics of each.
Babies are chubby and soft – and this applies to their hands as well. Their fingers are short and chubby, giving the whole hand a rounded shape. Their nails are small and short, usually not coming over the edge of the finger.
Babies’ hands are very chubby and soft, and we often see a dent or wrinkle at the third knuckle in their fingers, where the finger attaches to the palm area of the hand. The soft fleshy finger and palm connect, creating this crease where the areas press together.
Child to young teen
As the baby grows into a toddler, their fingers grow a little, but the overall shape is still rounded, and the fingers and palm are still on the chubby side.
Mid teens to 20’s
The hand balances itself out, and the fingers become longer and slimmer. The skin is fresh and youthful, so we don’t see many wrinkles or definition lines. For women, we’ll see the finger nail come over the edge of the finger, giving it a gentle point at the end.
As the character ages, we see the skin lose some elasticity, and the knuckles, tendons and veins start to show in some places.
When the character reaches their 60’s and 70’s, we start to see some wrinkling along with even more definition around the knuckles and tendons.
The hand gets more wrinkled, as the fingers get skinnier and the skin loosens around them. We get a bonier appearance, and lots more veins are visible on the surface.
How do hands change with body type?
Along with age, body type is also an important factor in how hands look. Let’s take a look at how the hands change depending on body type!
Larger characters’ hands
The hands of larger characters with more body fat take on some of the characteristics we saw in babies and young children’s hands. We see fewer wrinkles because the hands are softer and more fleshed-out.
As for characterisation, characters with hands like these can be seen as warm, friendly, and sometimes funny characters, or reversely they can be used on short-tempered, stubborn or blockheaded types.
Muscly characters’ hands
Muscly characters tend to have visible veins on their bodies, and their hands are no exception. Their tendons also tend to be more visible.
These hands are used on characters who are energetic, active, and determined, or sometimes on characters who are overly emotional, violent or obstinate.
Skinny characters’ hands
Skinny characters’ fingers will look longer, as the palm is smaller and skinnier. Similar to older people’s hands, we see a lot more of the underlying veins, knuckles and tendons as there’s less muscle and fat to flesh the hand out. These hands can give characters a quiet, serious and peaceful image, but can also be used on characters who are fussy, over-sensitive and anti-social.
I hope you’ve picked up some good tips here that you’ll be able to use in your own work. Be sure to get lots of practice, and try drawing all different types of hands! Good luck!