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The Various Proportions Of Human Hand, Fingers & Arm

If You Struggle With Drawing The Hands, Knowing About Their Proportions Will Help You A Lot

I can’t hide my excitement for getting this part of the series. Drawing hands has been one of the things I struggled with a lot as an artist. It’s a common issue many of us face. I wouldn’t be surprised if most artists found the hands to be the hardest part of humans to draw, if not the hardest ever.

The relatively complex structure of the hand is part of what makes it hard to draw. Another reason for this struggle is the lack of proportions skills. Just knowing & studying the different relationships between the palm & the fingers, as well as the relationship between the hand and the rest of the body, can give you a huge boost in drawing them. Enough to be able to draw very acceptable hands, at least. Knowing the hand anatomy & practicing some of the tricky lines in the hands are two other aspects you could focus on later to improve even further. In this post, I will mostly focus on the human hands proportions I plan to write about drawing hands in more details in the future.

You Need To Learn To Draw The Hand Right One Step At A Time

Since we are focusing on the proportions, more than anything else. It’s totally okay to draw hands that are not fancy or detailed for the sake of practicing. At the beginning, we will try to do a hand drawings that look like the one below, mostly drawn with straight lines. The hand won’t be accurate, but the proportions will be right:-

The hand above may not be perfect, but it’s better than most beginner artists.

Then we can take our time to draw way better hands, with better lines, as well as some details:-

Then we build on that to make the hands look as beautiful & realistic as we want:-

We do this mainly to divide the learning process. It’s one of the things that makes it easier to improve at drawing.

That’s why many drawing courses teach you to draw the finger as 3 cylinders.

With the stuff I explain in this post, you will be able to draw the first hand above. But you will be totally able to draw the other two hands with some practice.

The Various Proportions Of The Palm & The Fingers

Let’s take a look at the palm & fingers proportions. Since hands could be different from a person to another, the proportions mentioned here are approximate.

There are many notable proportions that can help you draw the hand right. The most notable one is how the fingers have the same length of the palm itself. This can be seen easily in the following hand:-

It can also be seen in this closed hand:-

Demonstrating this relationship between the palm & the fingers using arcs makes this easier to see:-

Bear in mind that these relationships won’t always appear in some poses. In the following hand pose, the fingers appears to be longer because of foreshortening:-

Many others poses can make the fingers appear smaller or larger because of foreshortening or because they are bent.

Now, notice how the palm has a unique shape, which can be drawn separately, even without the fingers:-

Studying this shape can make you draw the palm in any position, then adding the finger one by one afterwards.

The Relation Between The Hand & Arm

When you draw the hand, you will often draw it as part of one of your figures. You wouldn’t want to draw the hand right, but end up making it too big or too small in relation to your figure. Fortunately, there are reliable proportions between the two.

Basically, the arm is longer than the extended hand by %61.8 . This is percent known as the golden ratio, which exists in multiple parts in the human body, including the fingers themselves (I talk about that later in this post.). As well as many places in nature. You can see that here:-

I plan to write about The Golden Ratio in a future post. Just keep in mind that this ratio is 1.618.

Another way to make sure the hand you drew isn’t too large or too small is by comparing it to the face of your figure. As the length of the hand can cover most of the face. This is useful in case you’re not having a whole figure in your drawing. You can try covering your face with your hand to see that in action:-

The proportions & relationships of the fingers:-

Since I talked about the golden ratio, and how it exists in many parts of the human body. Let’s take a look on how it exists in the fingers as well. Basically speaking, each of the small part of the finger is %61.8 longer than the larger part. You can see that in the extended finger in the following hand. Notice how long the middle part of the finger is compared to the longer part, which was indicated using the blue bar:-

When it comes to the difference in length between the fingers. One way to go about this is to take a look how taller each finger is compared to the thumb. You can see that clearly in the follow picture:-

Some interesting proportions you can notice in the picture are:-

    • The thumb is the shortest finger in the hand, so we used it as a reference.
    • In this particular example, the pinky finger is a little longer than the thumb.
    • The Index finger comes next, and it’s about 20% longer than the thumb.
    • The ring finger is about 25% longer than the thumb.
    • The middle finger, the longest one in the hand, is about 35% longer than the thumb.

Because of the difference of length between the different fingers, they make a skewed arc between them, which can be seen here:-

The skewed arc is also there when the hand is closed:-

This is happening because the thumb is much shorter compared to the other fingers. The thumb makes a unique shape at the side of the hand. Which you can draw separately if you like:-

When the fingers are spread, the angles between them are not uniform. They look uniform for the 3 middle fingers, but not for the other ones. The thumb finger has the furthest angle:-


Because if the complexity of the hands, it can be considered a figure on its own. And just like the human figure, learning the proportions of the hand is only one step into getting it right.

There are many other proportions to look at besides the ones we covered here, depending on how you may want to draw it, but I hope I covered the most important ones in this post.

While this series about proportions mainly focus on improving your proportions skills. Learning the stuff presented here will reflect on your overall ability to draw hands. Another series dedicated to the human figure can give this topic its due respect.

I hope you found this post useful, and see you in the next one.

See Also:-

I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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