30 October 2010

Hands and Feet

Here are simplified, rotatable solids for feet and shoes. Sketch your own versions to populate your mental library of SRSs ("Simplified Rotatable Solids").

When the heel is raised, the ball of the foot and toes will be pressed firmly down. Study how the smaller toes react to the stress of having weight put on them. It’s absolutely necessary to periodically draw some feet from photos or life to study them. This can help you avoid amateur errors like drawing the four smaller toes as identical little square Chiclet things, or having the ends of the toes lined up all in a straight row.

Feet are superimportant. It takes a long time to get feet to touch the ground believably, in perspective, and longer to get them to look like they are supporting weight.

Skip down to the bottom of this post to see helpful foot pointers from Jack Hamm.

Hands are too flexible and complex for us to get much use out of out our SRSs (simplified rotatable solids). We must resort to a more situational set of observations. Let’s bullet back to basics to review things we know about hands. There are a few you may not yet know to keep you on your, uh, toes.

• Half the length of the hand is palm, half fingers.
• Palm is a wedge shape (Look at its outer edge).
• Outer edge of palm is straighter in women and kids, fully curvaceous in dangerous, muscular men like Dan Cooney and me.
• No set of knuckles exists in a straight line. All are arrayed along curves, with the middle finger’s knuckles most advanced.
• The fingers only taper in the outermost two bones (toward the finger tips). This is seen most clearly in a fist, where the base bones of the fingers--the punching surface of the fist--are parallel (though of unequal length), and the last two bones of the fingers taper and crowd together near the center of the palm.
• Straight wrists and straight fingers make poor gestures for talking characters. The result is a distracting “spear hand.” Great for the Silver Surfer firing a bolt of energy, pretty awful for a conversing human. Much more natural to have the wrist bent a bit and each finger bent a bit more than the one next to it. Usually the index finger will be the most extended, the pinkie the most closed, in such progressions.
• The poses of each of the four fingers should be closely related. The center two fingers are the most passive, echoing the index finger. The pinkie is more of an outlier, naturally bowing out the most and sometimes posed in a way that’s more extended than its mates, especially in feminine poses.
• Study smoking poses; they are natural and graceful.
• Don’t bend the outermost knuckles (the ones closest to the nails) more than a little bit--it suggests arthritis.
• To place a hand believably, very quickly and lightly sketch the whole arm, even outside the panel. Does it look like the upper arms and forearms are proportional? Is the elbow in a natural position, or is it awkwardly in front of the torso?
• When trying to fit hand gestures into a closeup panel, consider that some gestures look more natural close to the face than others. (Most of our gestures are roughly in the vicinity of the chest or shoulders, not the face.)
• GOOD: Drawing fingers with a mix of curved and straight lines and really deciding where the knuckles are.
• NOT SO GOOD: Drawing fingers with all curved lines, which makes them look pudgy and soft.
• KINDA BAD: Drawing female hands that are too angular, that lack a graceful, continuous “flow.”
• BAD: Drawing fingers whose individual poses are unrelated to the closest finger(s) and whose knuckle spacing and fingertip shape vary. Fingers should look like they are shaped the same as each other, and cooperating--imitating each other a bit.
• Please don’t skip the lines between fingers to give them that fused look. This is a silly affectation, not a cornerstone of your style.
• To draw hands better, get reference or a mirror and sketch some studies every couple years!


P.S.: Here attached, some better material on feet and legs, courtesy of the great Jack Hamm.