Top 5 Resources For Hand Drawing Reference Photos
Hands are just plain tough to draw. Maybe your hand drawings are a little messy, or maybe you just want to nail down hand anatomy.
Whatever the problem, practice is the answer.
And the best way to practice hands is by drawing from reference. It’s easy enough to save your own photos but where do you look for them?
This list should help you out featuring the absolute best photo reference sites on the web.
If you’re looking for general poses you might also like our list of gesture photo sites to study from. Although if you’re just looking to practice fingers & hands then you’ll find everything you need right here.
1. Google Images
It may seem obvious but Google Images really does have a ton of great photos.
Many of these photos are copyrighted so you can’t republish them or claim them as your own. But if all you need is a set of references you’ll be good.
The cool thing with Google is that you can find really specific types of photos just by searching. So you could do a search for hand poses or you could look for close-ups of fingers, or bent hands, or supinated/pronated hands.
Tons of variety out there if you’re willing to search. Not to mention Google has the largest search index on the web so you’re bound to find plenty of great stuff.
I recommend saving some of your favorites into a folder on your computer. This way you have local access to photos you can practice with time & time again.
And if you aren’t finding much on Google then try other search engines! Many exist.
I’ve always recommended Proko for artists because it’s one of the best learning resources on the web. This definitely includes digital artists & illustrators too.
And while the Proko video series rocks my socks off, there are other resources on that website worth looking into.
The Proko hand model photo pack includes 1,500 images all in high-quality and HD resolution. You’ll be staring at hands from multiple angles in various poses holding many different objects. Perfect for practice time.
And really, this pack is probably the largest you’ll ever find on the web.
You could spend days searching through Google Images and still not curate a pack larger than the Proko hand photos. They do cost money but in my opinion they’re worth every penny.
This single pack is more than enough for you to spend months(if not years) practicing your hand anatomy, quick sketches, and hand gestures. They work great for traditional drawing or for posing in your digital art software of choice.
Also worth mentioning Proko’s incredible anatomy series which does include a massive section on the hands.
This is a pricier course and it doesn’t have a ton of photos per-se. But it does have lots of instructional videos that you can follow along with on your own.
We did a review of that course if you want to learn more. It’s one more option for studying hands with the help of an instructor instead of teaching yourself.
When I think of image-based search I think Pinterest.
It has to be the largest social network with the most visual media on the web.
This may actually be a better option than Google Images because Pinterest users are dedicated to sharing images.
If you do a search on Pinterest for hand photos you’ll find hundreds of results. Maybe thousands.
Some of them will be drawings, others will be photos of real-life hands. All of them can be used as reference material.
And best of all you don’t need a Pinterest account to browse. But it does help a lot since Pinterest will keep bugging you to create an account the more you look through the site.
An account is totally free so there’s no harm in signing up. Then you could even create a custom board dedicated to hand photos.
This could be private or public depending how you want to use the site. Either way it’s a nice option to curate photos online and save them locally to your computer.
If you’ve never used Pinterest before then check out this guide by Lifewire. It’s a nice intro to the social network and covers all the basics of how to get started.
This beloved art community site has its roots back in the mid-2000s and it’s still running to this day.
Yes there are many similar websites but nothing comes close to DeviantArt. And while many people think of DA as an art/portfolio site(which it is) there’s also a lot of real photos mixed in.
If you visit DA and search for something like hand reference you’ll be surprised how much you can find. Some of these photos were taken from elsewhere, some are owned by the artists. But there’s a lot in here if you’re willing to look around.
The cool thing with DA is that it really feels like a community.
You can leave comments on posts asking for more info about a photo you find. Or you can direct message someone asking if they have other similar hand photos.
Not to mention all the DeviantArt groups you can join that focus on human anatomy, hand/feet drawings, or just reference photos.
If you don’t already have a DA account then definitely get one. It’s totally free and it’s a great place to share your artwork without worrying too much about quality.
Many artists even share their practice work on here because it doesn’t need to be any kind of professional portfolio. DA feels very much like a community for artists, by artists, and there’s a lot of hidden gems to be found.
5. Line of Action
One of my favorite gesture practice sites has to be Line of Action.
Totally free, easy to use, and it offers tons of custom tools for artists.
You’ll find figure drawing generators and auto-slideshows for gesture poses along with more specific settings you can target based on the kinds of models you want to draw.
The site has a hands & feet tool which lets you practice drawing hands or feet(or both!) right from the site.
Just select what you want to draw(hands, feet, or both) along with the model’s sex and a time interval. You can have each photo rotate automatically with a range from 30 seconds to 10+ minutes.
Or even set a custom number if you’re practicing hands on a faster routine or a slower one.
This tool is phenomenal for anyone studying human limbs. Hands are really tricky to draw so this link should be saved in your toolbox for future reference.
Also if you’re struggling when working from photos then you can always try drawing from other artist’s works.