I’ll bet you never thought your hand had anything in common with a bunch of bananas! But if you’ve ever drawn them, you will recognize the similar challenges they present.
Let’s start with overall form. Both are complex overall forms made up of simple geometric shapes. They are connected to a single point (on the bananas it is the stem, on the hand it is the wrist), with articulated joints that allow individual parts to move independently from one another (the fingers and the individual bananas). The biggest difference is that the hand has the palm area between the fingers and the wrist, whereas the individual bananas connect directly to the stem. However, if you study them, you will notice the individual bananas overlap in the area closer to the stem, this area can be thought of the same way we think of the palm of the hand.
Because of their unique structure, both bananas and hands present us with unique challenges in gesture, perspective and proportion. Let’s start with gesture. As noted, both fingers and bananas have the ability to move independently of one another even though connected to a single point. Because of this, they can stack, point, overlap and separate–that’s a lot of potential movement and positioning to capture! To understand it, try doing quick, gestural studies of them in different positions. Focus on the movement and relationship of one part to anther that creates it. Don’t get hung up in detail, study the overall form.
When it comes to perspective, the bananas and the hands both present challenges with foreshortening, depth and position in space. One approach that can help you to better understand them is to use negative space to get the overall form blocked in, then, look at the individual parts and their relationship to one another to understand and capture the correct angles of each finger or banana. Use a one directional spotlight to create shadows that create strong negative shapes that truly define the overall form. This will also serve to create interest and depth as the individual fingers or bananas cast shadows onto one another.
Getting the proportion of each finger or banana correct to the others is key in making your drawing believable. Compare the width and height of each individual piece to the others. Use placement of the tips of the fingers or fruit to check alignment and size of each individual segment. On the hands, use the alignment of the knuckles and joints to guide proportion and placement of each finger. The bananas have a smoother curve to them, so use the curves to create the sense of fluid movement in their form.
Try drawing both hands and bananas directly from life. For the hands, use your own hand if you don’t have a model. As noted, both of these subjects have unique challenges, don’t give up easily or get frustrated if you don’t get it right the first time. Practice and study, regardless of subject, are what will increase your confidence and drawing skills!