100 Hands – December 2014 Edition

Long-haul readers of the blog will recall that I have a habit of drawing 100 Hands every now and then, thanks to an exercise set by my mentor Eben Matthews ages ago . Last week I finished my annual pilgrimage, which I now present here for your viewing pleasure. References include: Pixelovely Reference Tool, Animopus Hand Reference Post, and the inimitable Jordi Lafebre.

I like mixing photo reference with work by artists I admire (especially animators) since it keeps me thinking in terms of what can be simplified and exaggerated. There are so many masters to learn from, and the mechanical act of replication plus an awareness of form can work wonders on your technique.

To everyone who looks at this exercise and says “Wow, I could never do that!”, remember that a) all you have to do is draw one hand at a time, and b) even though this batch was drawn in a handful of days, this practice is a process that was set in motion over a decade ago. I really wish I had scans of the very first set of these I ever did in 2003, ’cause lemme tell you they didn’t look so good back then. Heck, they still don’t look so good to me right now, but they’re better. And better is what matters. Here’s some from a little over two years ago, here’s some more from two and a half years ago. Now: a little less stiff, a little more expressive.

Next year? Let’s find out.


Sketchbook Update

This week I revisited an exercise given to me by my awesome mentor Eben Matthews almost ten years ago.

In one of our early meetings Eben asked me what my least favorite thing to draw was. Like any budding 13-year-old artist I immediately pulled a face and said “hands.” He smirked and told me to come back with 100 of them drawn by our next session. I glowered and grumbled, but truth be told it was a deeply valuable exercise that stuck with me for a long time (even after he made me draw 100 feet the following week, the scum!).

While recently looking at lots of inspirational animation captures of beautifully rendered, expressive hands, I realized how long it had been since I’d drawn those first 100 and decided to do it again. I sketched a lot of them during classes, but also used various photo references and even some of the animation stills to get an idea of how to effectively simplify the anatomy.

Rather than a week, this took me about five hours altogether. It feels so good that I may have to start doing it more often. A decade is a little too long.

As you can see, I devolved a little at the end there and started drawing eyeballs and classmates — one of whom happens to look an astonishing amount like the female protagonist of Dylan Meconis’ spectacular comic, Family Man. Who knew?

And, to round things out, here are a couple quick sketches of puppets from the amazing John Frame exhibit currently showing at the Portland Art Museum. Strange, fascinating stuff if you get the chance to go see it.

That’s all for now! I’ve got some really exciting news and projects on the horizon, but I can’t share them quite yet, so I’ll try to keep the little illustrations coming.