Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Hey gang. This is Deke McClellend. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. Today, we're going to draw a hand in Adobe Illustrator. We're going to take this sketch that I drew with a pencil on a piece of paper, and then we'll take it into Illustrator and trace it, complete with variable width strokes. Now you may ask, why are we drawing the back of the hand? And, why is it clenched in a fist? Well, our ultimate goal is to create this four square hands graphic right here. Perfect for the next time you want to illustrate the inspirational power of corporate team work.
Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right. So, as you know, this is the effect we're going for. We're going to start off with a single hand which is going to be this upright one over here on the right-hand side. So, I'll switch over to the starter document. And you can see that I've got this arm here, that I've drawn in advance, just to save us a little time. And it's pretty simple. We've got some corner points down here at the bottom, a couple of points up here at the top, and one smooth point right here at this location. And it's a very thin arm. The reason being that thin arms are going to better accommodate fists wrapped around them.
I also, if you take a look up here, have this independent layer called Detail Lines. It's turned off. If you turn it on, you'll see that I have drawn a bunch of Detail Lines in advance. And we'll come back to them in a moment. But first, we're going to trace that hand. So I'm going to go ahead and turn off the detail lines layer. I want to create a new layer to accommodate the tracing template below the arm layer. And the easiest way to do that is to press Control Alt L or Command Option L on the Mac. And you can see, that goes in and puts that new layer below. I'll call the layer sketch because we will be tracing from a play sketch in just a moment.
And I'll change the color really to anything, but I'm going to go with light blue up there at the top of the list. We're not ready to turn this into a template yet because we have to make some modifications to the placed art work. So just go ahead and click okay for now. Then, click off the arms to deselect it. Make sure that sketch layer is active there inside the layers panel. And then go up to the file menu and choose the place command. If you're working along with me, locate this file called Hand Sketch dot PSD. Make sure the link check box is turned on. Leave template and the other check boxes turned off for now.
And then, just go ahead and click the place button. And you'll load your cursor, as you see there, at which point, just go ahead and click in order to place that very large sketch inside the document. And the reason it's so enormous is because it's very low res. It's only 72 pixels per inch as you can see up here in the Control Panel. So, we're going to reduce the size of the image using the Scale tool. So, go ahead and get the tool or you can press the S key and then you want to Alt click or Option click in the upper left corner of the image.
Set the uniform value to 33%, and then go ahead and click okay. Now we have a much smaller version of the template. And you can see that that increases the resolution as well to 218 PPI. So we have a little more to work with here. Now, go up to the View menu and a couple of things. Make sure Smart Guides are turned off for now, because otherwise they'll kind of get in our way. And then also make sure the Bounding Box is turned off, so if it reads Hide Bounding Box, go ahead and choose it to make that bounding box go away. And that way, you can go ahead and press the V key, to switch to the black arrow tool.
Or, of course, you could select it from the top of the tool box. And then go ahead and drag the bottom left corner of the image like so, until it snaps into alignment with these guidelines right here. And that way we got the hand in the proper location. And of course i figured this out through trial and error. So I've done some of the grunt work in advance in other words. Now, let's convert this guy to a template by double clicking on an empty portion of the layer to bring up the layer options dialog box. Just turn on the template check box, dim images to 50% is fine. So click okay.
And we now have a template. And we're now ready to trace it, of course, using the Pen Tool is what I'm going to recommend. So I went ahead and selected the Pen Tool. You can also go to it by pressing the P key. And then you want to click on that arm layer, so that you can actually draw a little bit inside the document. And I'm going to zoom in even farther. Farther, now this guy right there is the corner point, so we can just add to it by dragging, like so. Then I'm going to drag another point up there. And I want to be able to modify the points as I go. So I'm going to press the A key to switch to the wide arrow tool, and then I'm just going to drag this control handle out a little bit, so that there is more of an edge to the wrist bone.
And then I'll press the P key to switch back to the pen tool. It's got an asterisk next to it, which tells us that it's ready to create a new path. So, we need to activate the existing one by dragging from it like so. And then, you want to drag somewhere around here. And this, by the way, is the edge of the palm. We're seeing the back of the palm, of course. And, it's being flattened a little bit, it's being spread outward because it's clenching that arm. So we want some extra roundness going on here. And then you want to go ahead and drag right about there and then press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, in order to move that control handle independently of the other one so that we can create a kind of knuckle.
And now I'm just going to drag right about here. And this time I'm not going to create a cusp point. I'm just going to leave it a smooth point like so. And I'll go ahead and zoom in a little and draw a knuckle at this location and another one right about there, let's say. And let's say I want to move this control handle. Then I can press and hold the Control key, or the Command key on the Mac, to get that last used Arrow tool which happens to be the white arrow, so I can move the Control panel independently. Then I'm going to take this guy back because he's way too close to the other finger. Now I'll go head and drag right about here.
Just a little drag, in order to complete that first knuckle, the one for the pinky. And then I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, so I can move this control handle in an independent direction. All right. Now, let's add an anchor point right about there. And you kind of want a lot of anchor points when you are drawing knuckles because they're really knuckly. We don't want the effect to appear overly smooth. All right. So drag at this location, at the drag of that knuckle, and then I will press the alt key or the option key on the map in order to move it up. And then I'll create an anchor point right about there, let's say, maybe one right there to give the knuckle a little bit of an indent.
And then I'll drag right there and press the alt key or the option key on the Mac so I can move that control handle in a different direction. And right here, I'll go ahead and create another cusp point by pressing the alt or option keys so that we have a little bit of a duvet right there. And the reasoning is that this is a little bit of flesh on the index finger that's being pressed outward as the hand is holding onto the arm. And this was all sketched of course by looking at my own hand. Which is to say that we're working from real life here.
All right. I'm going to press the control key or the command key on the Mac and drag this guy down just a little bit, that control handle there. And then I'll just continue dragging right about there for example. And then we want a little bit of a cusp INAUDIBLE point right here and another one right here. So I'm using the alt key or the option key on the Mac as I drag in order to sever the relationship between the control handles. And now I'll go ahead and move this guy over to here someplace. I'm not exactly sure where that one needs to go long term, because this is part of the other guy's arm right here.
But it should work out. And then remember, if you don't put your anchor point in the right place when you first start dragging, you can move it on the fly by pressing and holding the space bar. I'm going to go ahead and release the space bar now. And then I'll press and hold Alt key or the Option key in the Mac, in order to create a cusp point at that location, so that the two control handles are moving in different angles. And then I'll go ahead and drag here. And I'm using the space bar in order to move the point on the fly. And I'll drag another point right about there. You can go your own way of course, you don't have to slavishly create the anchor points the way I am.
But I am drawing more anchor points more than I normally would. Again, because we want this rough hand that has all these sort of bony contours in it. And then you want to drag on the anchor of the top of the arm, in order to complete your hand like so. I'm going to zoom out a little bit here in order to take in more of the hand at a time. And also go ahead and turn on the detail lines so that we can see how they fit with the outline that I've now drawn of the hand. And at this point, just to get a better sense of what's going on.
We want to turn off the sketch layer and you do that by clicking on that little rectangle right there, and that'll hide it from view. And then we want to zoom in and I'm doing this by Control Space bar clicking, that's Command Space bar click on the Mac. I'll go ahead and grab my white arrow tool, the direct selection tool, once again. And I'll click on this point and move it over just a little bit so that we're more or less matching the contour of this knuckle right here. And then I want to make sure that these guys are sitting at the proper locations. So I'll go ahead and drag this point until it snaps into alignment like so.
And if you want to move this knuckle up a little bit, whatever, you can make any kind of modifications you want to imply here. And then I'll go ahead and move this guy to there. And you should see that white arrow head that's showing you that you're snapping the point onto another anchor point. All right. I'm going to go ahead and move this knuckle up a little bit and then I'm going to grab this guy right there. And I'm also going to press Control Y or Command Y on the Mac to switch to the outline mode. That way it's a little easier to see what I'm doing. And I'll go ahead and drag that guy to the desired position.
So, now I can press Control Y, or Command Y on the Mac in order to switch back to the preview mode. Let's go ahead and zoom out just a little bit. Now, the reason that I drew all these lines in advance is because they're pretty simple if you take a look at them. Some of them have three anchor points in them. Most of them have two. They're all smooth points. And I was just tracing the contours in my sketch right here. And obviously, I didn't trace all of them because I felt like that was enough. But, I do want to change them up a little bit. I'm going to turn that sketch back off.
I want them to have a little bit of variable weight. So I'm going to select all these detail lines by clicking in the upper right corner of the layer here inside the layers panel. And that'll select all those lines. They should all have green anchor points. Next, you want to go up to the control panel. Notice the line weight is four points, but we're going to switch this next option from uniform to width profile one. So that very first guy there. And we'll end up with this effect. Now, we have a few issues down here that I'm going to resolve.
Notice that this point right here is too high, this anchor point that I choose. So I'm just going to select it, and use the down arrow key in order to nudge that anchor point down. And now select this guy and nudge him down a little bit as well. So obviously, your results are going to vary because you're going to sketch things slightly differently than I have. But in the end if you're working along with me, you should end up with this final version of the hand and arm. And that friends is at least one way to draw a hand as a clenched fist here inside Illustrator.
Now as it just so happens, I captured that original pencil sketch using a cellphone and it looks pretty bad. We've got this blue junk at the bottom that's darker then the pencil lines at the top. So it takes a special approach in order to clean up this sketch in Photoshop. And if you want to see how that works, you can check out my follow up movie at Lynda dot com slash deke, where you can get a free week. If you're wondering about next week, I am going to show you how to create those four square hands, united and brotherhood solidarity and teamwork, because after all, alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.
Hellen Keller, ladies and gentlemen. As quoted by a guy alone in a booth. Deke's Techniques, each and every week. Keep watching.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
117 Video lessons · 43003 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 54323 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 14552 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 82916 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.