Hand-Scapes Pencil Drawing

Submitted by: Cecilia Laureys, Marywood-Palm Valley School, Rancho Mirage, CA
UNIT: Drawing - Observation and Fantasy
Lesson: Hand-scapes
Grade Level: middle school through high school


Objectives - Students will:

  • Draw hands from life - careful observation

  • Combine realistic hand drawing in fantasy "scape"

  • Utilize elements of design - show good composition skills/principles of design - value shading


Anatomy books
White Drawing Paper.
Saral Transfer Paper. (optional)
Drawing Pencils., Colored Pencils.. (optional)


Note: Hand-scapes was the last project for Cecilia's 7th – 12 th graders in their first year of "Foundations in Art" program at MWPV. It is important to note they had covered Line, Value, Color, / Balance and Contrast pretty heavily. This was a review and a final assessment. Click images for larger views.


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  1. Optional: Introduce students to hands in art - look at expressive qualities.

  2. Demonstrate careful drawing from observation.

Introduce Surreal/Fantasy art (through PowerPoint, slides, Internet or books).
Note: Cecilia had them look into Dali, Rene Magritte, Brad Holland, (blatant fantasy imagery) and then the Pre-Raphaelites etc. like John William Waterhouse, Rossetti, Mucha (atmospheric subtle fantasy). They used books in the classroom, and then researched on the Internet as one of their home assignments.


The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali.
The Temptation of St. Anthony by Salvador Dali
Swans Reflecting Elephants by Salvador Dali
Son of Man by Rene Magritte
L'heureux Donateur by Rene Magritte


Salvador Dali. - Two large-format hardcover volumes in a slipcase. Painter, sculptor, writer, and filmmaker, Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was one of the century's greatest exhibitionists and eccentrics and was rewarded with fierce controversy wherever he went.

Magritte: Attempting the Impossible. - In Attempting the Impossible we have a new definitive Magritte monograph, replacing David Sylvester's volume of the early 1990s. Featuring more than 300 works, it contains much unpublished material and includes chapters covering Magritte's photography, drawings and influence on German and American contemporary art.

  1. Demonstrate transfer process - review shading


1) @ 1- 2 Days

The projects began with students drawing their own hands. After, drawings were reviewed in a class critique. Group discussion concluded the main challenges were:
A) A majority of hands seemed made of rubber or paper, lacking sense of structure/ support like their own appendages.

B) Had not seen correlation- thus did not apply - basics learned when drawing subjects prior to anatomy.   For example: when drawing, say, the knuckle of a thumb from the side, or the finger bent and foreshortened - they didn't see overlapping in practice… nor the use of line emphasis and contrast to pull shapes out of the page...

2) @ 2 days

Next we researched anatomical reference from various art and anatomy books. Students were to use materials to  build the hand up in 3 sequential drawings… NOT be from life.  I wanted them to reconstruct an existing anatomical study in three steps, same ‘pose’.  I keep a library in the art room chock full of great life study books and more for reference:

- First they drew the skeleton of the hand,

- Then the skeleton with muscles and sinew,

- Third drawing was to be the hand as we see it.

Instruction concentrated on facilitating students ability to see how many principles and elements they learned. These were applied to creating any illusion. Students record shapes first, then break shapes down (receding or projecting out of page) using overlapping, emphasis of line, size disparity, etc.


Note: For students struggling with above correlation, I had them put down the hand assignment. Then I addressed and applied the same concepts, while I drew just their nose.  After this demo, that incorporates all of the above and more, they drew mine. An epiphany every time!

3) @ 2 - 3 days

Next, they again drew their own hands equipped with all the above criteria. So now, each student has:

- 1st attempt drawing,

- Anatomical studies, and

- 2nd drawing of their hands after anatomy studies. See examples below.

hands       hands


4) @ 3 days

They have max of 3 days to come up with ideas for an environment in which to place drawing of their hands that:

Must portray the hand as a prominent, totally unusual & unexpected ‘character’ in its environment. Show hands interacting w/that environment… passively, or actively.

5) @ 4-5 days

They execute the finish... This phase from sketch to final includes lessons in how to transfer a drawing with light box, or graphite sheet, how to selectively keep or discard elements of a sketch, how to size up or down for a final... etc...

6) Final critique


Assessment Rubric adapted from rubric by Marianne Galyk


Assessment Rubric

Student Name:

Class Period:

Assignment: Fantasy Hand-scape

Date Completed:

Circle the number in pencil that best shows how well you feel that you completed that criterion for the assignment.




Needs Improvement

Rate Yourself

Teacher’s Rating

Criteria 1 – preliminary sketches of hands - observation skills


9 – 8


6 or less



Criteria 2 – composition - originality - use of design principles


9 – 8


6 or less



Criteria 3 – pencil rendering - value shading


9 – 8


6 or less



Criteria 4 – Effort: took time to develop idea & complete project? (Didn't rush.) Good use of class time?


9 – 8


6 or less



Criteria 5 – Craftsmanship – Neat, clean & complete? Skillful use of the art tools & media?


9 – 8


6 or less



Total: 50 x 2 = 100 (possible points)






Your Total

Teacher Total


Student Comments:

Teacher Comments:

National Standards (depends on how much discussion there is)


1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions.

3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas.

5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others.

Students select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices.

Students generalize about the effects of visual structures and functions and reflect upon these effects in their own work.

Students integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in their artworks.

Students compare multiple purposes for creating works of art.

Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

Students employ organizational structures and analyze what makes them effective or not effective in the communication of ideas.

Students use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

Students analyze contemporary and historic meanings in specific artworks through cultural and aesthetic inquiry.


Students select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.


Students describe and compare a variety of individual responses to their own artworks and to artworks from various eras and cultures.


National Visual Arts Standards Courtesy of Kennedy ArtsEdge



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