Monday, 3 December 2012

Hands and Feet: Drawing Beauty and Complexity

Michael Whynot. Hand Study, c. 2012.

Michael Whynot. Foot Study, c. 2012.

Michael Whynot. Study of Feet, c. 2012.


"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." Leonardo Da Vinci



Nothing strikes greater fear in the heart of the novice draftsman than the prospect of drawing the human foot or hand. And, in fairness, they are somewhat more difficult to draw well than the rest of the body, owing to their beautiful complexity of form.

The feet can support the figure with a graceful delicacy, sturdy determination, or an awkward shuffle; among the many variations which can reveal the nature of a pose.

And the hands are, perhaps, the most expressive part of the human anatomy, rivalling the face as the most eloquent conveyor of emotion.

Needless to say, the complexity of these two appendages is the major factor in the difficulty encountered in their rendering. The hands, in particular, with the fingers ability to fold in upon themselves, poses unique difficulties.

With understanding of the form, however, the complexity becomes manageable, even if it doesn't totally disappear. In the initial stages of learning to draw the hands and feet, simplification is the key.
Construct the foot with a simple wedge shape, apply perspective, and build the details upon this. Learning to see the simple shapes comprising complex forms can be applied to any part of the anatomy.

When first drawing the hand, draw it with the fingers as a single mass, like a mitten. Once you understand the gesture of the hand as a whole, you can observe the gestures of the individual digits.

And the difficulties encountered in drawing hands and feet often lead draftsmen to invent ways of not drawing them. Ignoring a problem, however, is never the path to improvement. Persistent drawing and understanding of form is the path. Drawing must become an obsession - like a private religion, where line is your God.