How to Draw Hands Using Colored Pencils


Posted on July 5, 2014 by


This tutorial will explain step-by-step how to draw hands using colored pencils. However, before starting our drawing, I want to take a step back and discuss how to effectively use colored pencils for any sketch. Take note of the initial tutorials as they will be referred to once we begin drawing our hands.

Unlike graphite pencils, colored pencils cannot be erased, so it is very important to draw carefully, particularly in the darker areas. When using colored pencils, it’s best to draw tentatively, start lightly, and if it looks good, color over the same area pressing down harder. The choice of color pencils is also important to the sketch quality. Buy good brand of colored pencils and smooth paper. We recommend Polychromos 36 Pencil Metal Tin Set by Faber-Castell.


Colored pencils make it difficult to create a smooth drawing, even when you draw on the smoothest of paper. You can use a colorless blender or, as in this tutorial, a white colored pencil. In the image below we demonstrate how a normal red pencil looks without blending (left) and after adding a layer of white pencil over it (right). You can see that the sample on the right is smoother than that on the left:




Mixing Colors:

Some areas in a drawing should be blurry, for example: things in the distance, reflections in water or something in motion. These areas cannot have sharp edges and should be blurred by drawing the colors into each other. In the image below, I’ve shown you an example of such a drawing. As I drew with the green pencil, I gradually reduced the pressure. At the same time, from the other side, I drew with a blue pencil toward the green reducing the pressure of my hand. This way I achieve the blurry edge between green and blue. The image below is an example, but can, of course, be done with any colors. Finally, blend both colors with a colorless blender or with a white colored pencil.


Drawing Shadows:

When creating the illusion of shadows, always use a darker nuance for making the shadow under anything. In my example below you can see I used the dark green for shadow on the light green. Try the same with other colors and use the darker nuances or press harder. Additionally, don’t be afraid to use a black colored pencil for shadows on brown or gray areas, just be mindful not to use black for shadows on other colors or the effect will not be realistic.



Hands Sketch:

Below is an initial pencil sketch of what my hands for this image will look like. I will not be coloring over this pencil sketch, but am merely using it as a reference sketch or guide for my work when moving to colored pencil.




Let’s get to the sketch now.  Starting with a dark brown pencil, draw the parts of the hands that are in the shadow. When drawing the edges, press lightly as in the next step we’ll draw with a lighter shade. Make these colors blended into each other as you can see in the “Blending” tutorial at the start.


With a lighter shade of brown, draw all the parts that appear next to the areas in shadow. With white colored pencil or colorless blender, blend the edges between the 2 nuances of brown; they should blend into each other gradually. This should be done as in the sample in our introduction where the green and blue colors blended into each other. If you don’t have many colored pencils, or different shades of brown, you can use the same pencil, but exert less pressure.  Several nuances can be derived from one pencil by controlling how hard you press. Logically for the lighter nuances press lightly, and draw over the area with white colored pencil to lighten further.



With a cream or champagne colored pencil, draw the rest of the hands. Try to avoid using orange toned pencils to draw the skin. When drawing with a cream pencil you can go over the darker nuances and make them blend into each other gradually. For the highlights of the hands, don’t press hard because they have to have a light cream color. For the parts that have a stronger shade of cream and/or they are directly beside the darker brown parts, draw over them a few more times to get a darker cream color.


As a next step, draw the highlights on the skin with white colored pencil. Draw over the champagne color pressing hard over the areas that are meant to be almost white, until you get the absolute light cream color. Blend the edges between cream and light cream color so the highlights don’t appear too harsh.

For an even better result and a 3D look, choose a darker, contrasting colored pencil around the hands. This way the edges of the hands will look much brighter and realistic. I have demonstrated this in the image below by choosing a background color of dark grey to highlight the cream shades in the hands.


To demonstrate the hands are hovering over a table or surface, and to convey a shadow, draw with a darker shade under the hands (a shade darker than that of the overall background).   The shadow can be achieved by following the “Drawing Shadow” explanation at the start of this post.

Here we have the finished product of our 2 hands on a grey background with a shadow.  Provided you focus on shading, shadowing and blending, you should be able to achieve a successful sketch using color pencils.  Be creative and try out your color pencils on variety of drawings. Have fun and get colorful!

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