Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sketching the Hand that Sketches

2/20/15 Private Reserve Velvet Black ink, Stillman & Birn
Gamma sketchbook
I’ve occasionally seen sketches that people have made of the hand they are supposedly drawing with, and I’ve always wondered how they did it. Was it nothing more than reversing the image digitally? Did they take a photo and draw from that? Or did they actually find a way to do it from life (with a mirror?)?

Last year for Greg’s Valentine card, I needed to sketch both hands, so first I sketched my right hand (that’s the one I don’t draw with), and then I tried sketching its mirror image right next to it. This task was much harder than I’d imagined, but it was as close to sketching both hands from life that I could think of.

2/20/15 Private Reserve Velvet Black ink, Stillman & Birn
Gamma sketchbook
For my 1,000th blog post, I decided I wanted to sketch my left hand, but I didn’t want to repeat the mirror image attempt again. I couldn’t think of another practical way to do it from life, and I also didn’t want to simply reverse the drawing digitally – at least not as the final sketch. So here’s what I did:

First I made a rough drawing of my right hand. This, too, was harder than I’d thought, as the “model” didn’t look natural; it doesn’t usually hold a pen, so it felt and looked awkward. I kept having to look at the pen in my actually drawing left hand to see what it looked like, then switch it back to look at it in the right hand. (I also discovered how asymmetrical my two hands are!) When the rough drawing was finished, I reversed it digitally, printed it out, and then drew it again from the rough drawing.

Drawing from a reversed copy of a drawing isn’t drawing from life, but it worked. Next time I need a sketch of my left hand, I’ll try to think of a different way to do it. Why? Who knows! I suppose stuff like this is what keeps me blogging for one-thousand-plus posts!

P. S. The Sailor fude pen in my hand isn’t nearly as long as I made it look in the sketch! I guess I was working so hard to keep my hand in proportion that I forgot all about the pen.

3/7/15 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
P.S., part 2: Practicing sketching my hand, which I did a lot of a few years ago, does come in handy, as it did just this morning at the Burke Museum. A volunteer was using a small drill to remove rock from a dinosaur bone. Of course, it’s always different when the hand keeps moving, but the practice still helps.

1 comment:

  1. You did a good job on the right and left hands! Thanks for explaining how you sketched your non-dominant hand.


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