Drawing Hands and Feet

How to Draw Hands and Feet

Grasshopper and Sensei eye drawingsMy daughter, Grasshopper and Sensei, wants to go to art school after she graduates from high school so I’ve been hard at work trying to figure out how that works.

Grasshoppper and Sensei XTreme Week at Mass College of Art

Step 1: Meet with a college counselor specializing in art colleges. She works with art college counselor, Jeanette Nyberg of Tiny Rotten Peanuts who attended Rhode Island School of Design.

Grasshopper and Sensei bone skeleton drawingsStep 2: Win art competitions.

Grasshopper and Sensei eye drawings

Step 3: Attend high school summer programs at art colleges you are considering.

Grasshopper and Sensei eye drawings

Step 4: Develop excellent technical drawing skills. Render beautiful and realistic hands, faces, and feet for your portfolio.

My daughter has been working on eyes which she drew in large-scale when she attended a vacation week at Mass College of Art.

I love her drawings and today I’m going to use drawing studies by John Singer Sargent to help her understand how to draw hands and feet that I found in the Rotunda at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

You can learn by just closing examining his drawings but another way to learn is to try to copy these drawings. It’s ok of you trace them too! You are just trying to learn by emulating.
John Singer Sargent drawings hands and feet

I love how John Singer Sargent can capture the form and muscles with just a minimum of strokes. Notice how he uses broken lines to find the form. Some lines are darker than others which helps to show the illusion of shadows. He also uses minimum lines to shade but the muscles are still quite distinct. You can tell that these were quick sketches.
John Singer Sargent drawing hands and feet Museum of Fine Art BostonWith feet, notice how he finds the shape of the toes hanging off a step. The foot is foreshortened — a tricky concept to capture — and he uses a minimum of lines and cross hatching to render the shapes into three dimensions. Masterful!

John Singer Sargent drawings hands and feet

John Singer Sargent drawing hands and feet Museum of Fine Art BostonThe hands look huge here, don’t they? Is it to show that the hands of the devil are oversized and therefore not human? The lower drawing really captures the clutching motion the hand is making. Ccan you feel the muscles straining to hold on?John Singer Sargent drawing hands and feet Museum of Fine Art Boston

John Singer Sargent drawings hands and feet

These two drawings capture movement and muscles. I think he had a live model posing for him, don’t you? Notice how he first starts with the blocky shapes of the hand in the upper drawing. The second drawing has the details of the fingers.

John Singer Sargent drawings hands and feetIn this full body drawing, the hands and feet are well rendered but the position of the hands and feet make it tricky to capture.

Rodin sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design Museum

Rodin sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design Museum

Here’s a 14 minute video on drawing hands that details the three steps of drawing a realistic hand.

Here’s a 23 minute video on how to draw feet (Part I).

This is my Art for Kids Pinterest board where I save art projects and drawing techniques for my daughter.


p.s. more related posts:

RISD Pre-College Program

Visiting California College of the Arts

Visiting Emily Carr Art + Design University in Canada

Visiting Pratt

Visiting California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

Top Art and Design Colleges

Applying to Art School: School of Visual Arts

Visiting West Coast Art Schools & Foodie Stops Nearby

Applying to RISD: Advice from Antonio Peters in Admissions

Tips for National Portfolio Day

Drawing Hands and Feet

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Fan! Tastic! I love that you set out looking for hands and feet to emulate. I’m a big fan of copying the masters (and tracing) to get a feel for proportions.
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…TONS of Coloring Pages For AdultsMy Profile

    • Hi Jeanette,
      She’s working on faces right now and a little on hands and feet so I hope this helps her. I noticed that my daughter can pick up a lot of drawing technique from videos if I sort of send them her way and then totally ignore whether or not she opens my emails.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…How to Draw Hands and FeetMy Profile

  2. I love that your daughter has found her passion and that you are supporting that!

  3. This sounds really cool! Good luck with your daughter! ;D
    Erik – TKRB recently posted…Perfect Picture Book Friday! Beach House by Deanna CaswellMy Profile

  4. Meng

    I love your blogs! Lots of good information and fun to read as well. My daughter is a junior and she’s also interested in art. I have a question: how do you find a college counselor specializing in art colleges? Thanks!

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