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How to draw a clenched fist – 2 ways easy Realistic and Cartoon fist

Knowing how to draw a clenched fist can be an important skill for artists. There are two types of fists that you might want to learn how to draw – the realistic version and the cartoonish (anime) version. It is easy enough for beginners, but i’ll show you some tricks that will help make your drawing more realistic and for the second drawing of a clenched fist, make it look like something out of anime.

A clenched fist is an iconic symbol that has been used by many generations. The word “fist” refers to the act of clenching one’s hand into a ball shape, with fingers curled inwards and thumb folded over the fingers. It can be for emphasis or to show strength.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw a clenched fist in a few easy steps. The first step is to sketch a rectangular prism that we will use to outline a fist. Then we will sketch the shape of the clenched fist inside this. Note that we will have a smaller prism to fit the thumb.

In the next step, we will add some more shading, smudging some of the pencil marks and outlines that will define fingers, knuckles and shading for depth and dimension. No detail required in this step.

In the later steps, we will add details such as fingers and knuckles on your drawing while also adding some darker shading to your hand and more defined lines so that it starts to look more like a realistic clenched fist!

How to Draw a Clenched Fist – Realistic Version

How to draw a clenched fist
Final Realistic Clenched Fist

Start with a Rectangular Prism

Let’s draw a couple of rectangular prisms, one large one small. We we will use these as a basic box to help us shape what the clenched fist will look like and a smaller one where we will place the thumb.

Drawing a clenched fist is easy if you get this fundamental shape right.

Drawing a rectangular prism will also help us work out what angle we want the clenched fist to be. It can be front on, side on, from above etc.

The choice is yours. I’m going to go with my clenched fist with fingers facing me.

Note that the thumb will only slightly overlap the first finger so keep this in mind.

IMG 0231
Rectangular prism where the clenched fist will be and also a smaller one for the thumb

Draw some simple shapes to define fingers and knuckles

Let’s add some simple shapes to the box we drew in step one.

This will help us work out how thick our fingers and knuckles should be – as well as showing how long each finger is relative to its width.

Here we will also define where the thumb will go, notice where the tip of the thumb ends as most people have thumbs that do not go past the first pointy finger.

Also add a rough line for the palm lines and where the wrist will start. Sketch in a small wrist as well.

IMG 0232
Sketch in where the fingers and thumb will fit inside the rectangular prism

Add details for the clenched fist

We will now add in details for the clenched fist, how many wrinkles there are and how thick they should be.

We will also erase any guidelines we had drawn in from the rectangular prisms and tidy up some of the pencil work so that we see what now looks like a clenched fist.

Make sure you pay attention to where your knuckles end up when drawing this out as it can have an effect on how much detail is drawn into each wrinkle or crease.

Your hand is flexible so try not to make the lines too flat as it can affect how your fist looks.

Don’t forget about the thumb.

IMG 0233
Sketch in rough outline for fingers, thumb and palm

Add some rough shadow lines with a soft pencil like a 6B or with a pastel or chalk. Something that is easy to smudge and blend.

Also add a nail for the thumb. Note where the shadows are on your hand and block them in here as well.

IMG 0234 3
Sketch in where shadows will appear and some rough detail

What I like to do next is smudge those rough shadow lines so that tha pencil or chalk marks are smooth and start to look more like a blurred realistic hand. You can use an eraser to help highlight lighter spots if you need to.

IMG 0235
Smudge the shade lines and block in shadows

At this stage you can darken the shadows and also the deeper lines and add some creases in the knuckles and folds of skin around the palms and also where the fingers press into the palm as it creates a clenched fist.

Add some darker shadows around the wrist and edges of the hand to make it look more realistic. Smudge or blend your pencil more if needed.

That’s it! It is realistic enough for a clenched fist drawing.

IMG 0236 1
Final Realistic Clenched Fist – How to draw a clenched fist

Now for the next how to draw a clenched fist drawing, and this time it’s a cartoonish style clenched fist!

How to Draw a Clenched Fist – Cartoonish Version

Final anime clenched fist - How to draw a clenched fist
Final Anime Clenched Fist – How to draw a clenched fist

Start with a Rectangular Prism

I like to use the rectangular prism when drawing clenched fists, even for cartoonish or anime style. A rectangular prism is such a great building block for drawing human parts.

anime clenched fist start with a rectangle

Now draw an outline of where the fingers will be

Draw the outline of how you want your fist to look like. Remember, this how to draw a clenched fist tutorial is all about how to make it cartoonish (anime like).

Strangely enough, I find drawing cartoonish/anime style clenched fists harder than realistic ones.

The more time and detail you put into drawing what you see in front of you will have an impact on how realistic or unrealistic your final art product looks. So take some extra care with this step if that’s the style you are going for.

Note how I added the thumb and it’s not highly detailed. Neither are the knuckles or folds.

The reason I do this is because in the next step I am going to use an alcohol marker like a Copic marker or and acrylic Posca paint pen to draw the outline of the hand and fingers and wrist.

anime clenched fist initial outline

Let’s draw some details and ink in the outline

For cartoonish clenched fists, we tend to round out the shapes of the fingers more and exaggerate the length of fingers and thumb.

We also show less detail than a realistic clenched fist.

Flesh out how your fist looks. Because it’s not realistic, you can take some creative liberties here and add a little flare, maybe making it look like you just broke someone’s nose or knuckles!

For this drawing, I am keeping the fist looking simple.

I am grabbing my favorite marker which is a Posca paint pen and I am drawing the outline of the hand and some simple lines to denote the knuckles.

inked in anime clenched fist

I now grab another marker (you can use a pencil) I am using a Copic marker as it can apply a nice even color or shading without marker lines and I am marking out the shadows as per below.

Notice how the shadows for the right side and thumb are darker than the back of the hand and in between the fingers and also the shadow on the left side of the fist.

anime clenched fist with added shadows

I then use an eraser and remove the pencil lines so all that I can see are the marker lines of my clenched fist cartoon style!

Final anime clenched fist with shadows and have removed pencil lines

How to draw a clenched fist – Wrap up!

A fist is a powerful way to show how you are feeling. If your fists aren’t looking good, then neither will your final art product!

If you want to apply these techniques to other clenched fists, I have linked to shutterstock that has some different examples of clenched fists that you can easily copy and draw.

I hope you enjoyed learning how to draw a clenched fist whether it was the realistic version or the anime version of both!

Interested in more How to Draw articles? Check these out

If you have any questions, hit me up in the Contact me page or on Instagram.

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