Showing posts with label hands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hands. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


Geisel is, of course, the real name of the kids book author, Dr. Seuss. I love the way he used to draw hands. I've blogged about this subject before, but I thought it might be worth revisiting if I added photos of my own hands to help make my points.

Geez, this hand (above) is brilliant. It would belong in a cartoon museum if there was such a thing. What would you call it? A caricature of a hand?

Hmmm...well, not exactly.  Real hands (above) don't look at all like the kind Geisel drew. Geisel's hand has long, breadstick fingers and elegant sweeping lines. It's so different than a real hand that "caricature" doesn't seem to describe it.   

Here's (above) another Geisel hand. It looks gnarly and boney and...I'm searching for the word...deep-fried. It's less a caricature of a hand than a rethinking of what a hand is. 

A real hand (above) is a multi-purpose tool that can be used for pointing and a hundred other things. That's all fine and good but Geisel favors the hand that's tailor-made for a task, and so do I. Geisel's deep-fried hand is a specialty tool. It's meant for pointing and nothing else.  It would be no good for holding a spoon and sipping soup. 

In the course of a funny cartoon a character's hand design may change many times....yet, paradoxically, it still must recognizably be the same character's hand. Interesting, huh?

 Here (above) I'm guessing that Geisel just wanted to show how gnarly and ginger root-like a hand could be. Look at the joints and spots and wrinkles and hairs. Look at the weird bend in the thumb. Whatever the hand is pointing to is probably less interesting than the hand itself.

For comparison, here's (above) a real hand. How boring! In order to make interesting hands the Geisel way it might help to ask, "What is a cartoon hand for?" The answer is, it's for spilling and dropping, for scratching an itch, for insulting others with gestures, and for quirky, independent behavior that embarrasses its owner.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Milt Gross does terrific hands. Usually they're not as detailed as this ginger root with finger nails (above) but this is a close-up so it gets the royal treatment.

Here's (above) a knobby, pointy hand that manages to be more interesting than whatever it's pointing at. With funny hands like this to learn from why are we wasting our time drawing normal, boring hands? We're cartoonists! We're supposed to be inventive!

Here's a dandy's hand. Maybe it's a deaf dandy's hand because it looks like it's executing sign language. I wonder if sign language poses could be helpful for drawing funny hands?

I love this hand because it suggests a whole set of mannerisms and a character to go with it.

Sometimes interesting hands require interesting, quirky arms like the ones on this Ted Geisel drawing (above). It's great how a single hand can suggest the way a whole character should be drawn. That's because the hand was non-standard. Drawing standard body parts dulls the imagination.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I love to draw hands. That's because hands have a life of their own.

Hands are pretty good at revealing what their owner really thinks. A face may listen to a boring speaker with what looks like rapt attention but way down below the hands are playing with keys or tapping on the table. Sometimes the hands are more than just magnifiers of their owner's true feelings. Sometimes they have feelings of their own. Hands may be macho, gay, happy, sad, lecherous or virginal, even if their owner possesses none of these qualities (these thoughts cry out for drawings to illustrate them. Sorry, I didn't plan this post very well). I'd love to do a short, pencil-test film of an extreme version of this idea where a guy's hands, acting completely on their own, grope the people around him and get him into trouble.

Here's a drawing where the excitable hand is frightened and clings to the face, which is only mildly disturbed. At least that's what I had in mind when I drew it. The understory about the excitable hand is sometimes for the artist only. Sometimes you want the understory to be so subtle that the audience isn't even aware of it.
Most stories don't lend themselves to this hand theory and those I board the normal way, as above. Even so, it still works for the occassional scene. I'll try to find some examples.