First up some examples of Line of Action in the hand.
This one of Danny Devito is just great. As with the way you might make the line of action clear down one side of your characters pose and have all the detail down the other side, the same can be done with the hands. Look at how flat his hand is across the top, would you have the courage to draw or pose a hand like that?
Next lets look at some silhouettes.
Isn't it amazing how something as complicated and lumpy can be pushed into such simple shapes. More detail is not necessarily making your hand better, look at the silhouette and ask yourself if its an appealing shape.
Some examples of even and uneven spacing of the fingers. They both happen, the trick is to not fall into the habit of only drawing one or the other. I suppose a particular character may have a tendency to hold its hands one particular way, but subtle variations can make a huge difference.
Robin Williams can do both at once! Show off.These two of James Stuart are interesting. Look at how he has placed the hands so that the line of action flows into the prop, looks confident doesn't he?
Ok so now for some moving pics. Here is an awesome clip of Woody Allen. Watch how frantic his hand movement become as he gets nervous about the visiting guests. Try to keep a track of his hands when he struggles to put on his jacket (1 min and 30 secs in). They are flipping around all over the place, you can hardly see them at some stages they are moving so fast. I love the bit around 4 minutes 40 seconds too just after he accidentally flips the record out of its case, the short sharp little gestures really communicate his discomfort. There's a little bit there where he straightens his tie in about 4 frames. You can't straighten your tie that fast, that's not the point, he just has to keep moving, any excuse will do. Remember to watch the hands, if you get distracted by the stories in these clips, watch them a second time and just watch one characters hands.
From one extreme to another. Here Kevin Spacey shows how you can do so much with so little. The argument becomes really frantic, but then everything stops (about 1 min in), he moves slowly over to the plate of asparagus and hold for another second or two just so everything is stopped again, then he pops his hand onto the plat to pick it up with a short sharp movement. There is so much venom in the tiny little move. Everything is relative, because everything else in the scene is stopped, that little movement rings out with meaning and power.
Next lets have a look at Peter Lorre, you may know him as the "Yessss Maaaster" character from a whole bunch of old horror movies, but its a shame he isn't remembered in a broader context because he was a brilliant and versatile actor. He was first brought to my attention as a great actor to watch for reference by Brad Bird in a video taped lecture I got to see of him while working at Disney. I can't find the exact example Brad used, I think this clip cuts off just before that section. Its all gold, one nice bit is at 1 min 13 seconds in, the little waving gesture he dose with his right hand is beautiful.
Here is another one of Peter, this is all so great to watch. In particular I love the tiny subtle little gesture at exactly 1 minute in, he gets shouted down buy the other character, but just has to get his message across (you get to see why later). He dose this little shake with his hands, its in the half a second before he brings his fingertips together, the pent up energy and frustration in this tiny movement is amazing. Hands are cool.
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