Action Sketching: Hands holding sporting equipment

While learning the anatomy of hands is very useful, when drawing action figures, rarely are hands empty or leisurely posed. Instead, hands curl, splay, and are often wrapped around something.

This tutorial shows how to view and ultimately draw hands holding equipment even though you might be too far away from their action to actually see them.

Hand holding a football - by Karen Little of Littleviews

Man holding a softball - by Karen Little of Littleviews

Illustration of man holding a tennis racket by Karen Little of Littleviews

Like with drawing full bodies in action, hands can be interesting subjects themselves. They hold poses generally no one sees unless they watch ultra slow-motion video or see photos.

Likewise, the only way you’ll ever know what hands do is to refer to photos as videos seldom refer to them.

To build your own reference library, attend games or practice sessions and take close-up photos of people holding equipment. If you need to capture hands holding baseballs and bats during, say, basketball season, however, visit a sporting goods store with a friend and take  picture there.

Make an effort to organize your photos. Review them prior to attending a game if you plan on sketching while you watch the plays. Your memory of what you saw will help you capture what “is” that you can’t really see.

My next Action Sketching blog will be how to create abstract hands when sketching full body action where hands are simply a fractional part.


Note that most online tutorials specialize in drawing empty hands in various positions. The information is very useful but relies on you having to imagine an anatomically correct hand holding something.


This article was written by Karen Little as part of an ongoing series of blogs on Action Sketching. Published on January 15, 2020.

Reproduction of this article is free to non-commercial websites (or other media) with permission and attributes to and the article’s author.

All material on Littleviews (with noted exceptions) is copyrighted on the date of publication.

Questions? Ask Karen Little at