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A Study of Mosaic Hands

Creating a realistic mosaic of the human body is challenging. There are shapes, angles, bone structures, wrinkles, shadows, not to mention the variety of ways the body moves. But for now, let's take a look at how hands have been portrayed in mosaics.  

In religious scenes, the hands are very important as they can represent prayer, 

holiness, and are often depicted holding items. 
Notice how shadows and outlining help show the shape of hands.

 

The palm is about as long as the middle finger.  Remember that the fingers are never the same length or perfectly straight. What sells this is imperfection. The middle finger stems straight from the middle of the hand. Our fingers vary in length and since the middle finger is the longest, you can use it as a reference to find the height of the other 3 fingers. The fingers become cylinders and the joints become spheres.

 

 

Paying attention to these proportions will help you ensure your hands look natural and accurate. You want to capture proportion, perspective and volume. Shadows, shading, highlights, outlining, and the placement of the tesserae all contribute into creating realism.

Also consider the age of the person. Details like wrinkles and creases in the hand should be shown more in older adults. Don’t forget about the fingernails. 

Hands should have some highlights to show they are not just flat. 
 
Study, really look closely at how other mosaic artists create mosaic hands - from ancient mosaics to more modern. When you do, it will help you create your own mosaic hands the way you want to depict them using shape, shadows, 

 

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Image Sources:

"Disney - Cinderella Castle Mosaic Selective Coloring" by Express Monorail is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/jp/?

"Jewish Church" by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/jp/?ref=openverse.

"Fiat Voluntas Tua" by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/?ref=openverse.

"Hands Raised in Prayer" by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/?ref=openverse. 

Rich Gibson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

"St Vitale receives the Martyr's Crown" by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/jp/?ref=openverse.

"God's Creating Hand" by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/jp/?ref=openverse.

"Mosaic Hand" by feral godmother is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

"Moses" by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/jp/?ref=openverse.

"Albania-02660 - The Albanians" by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

"St Nikolaos Greek Orthodox Church Havana Mosaic Handing Over Key.jpg" by Alexander Klink is licensed under CC BY 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0?ref=openverse.

"Roman Philosopher" by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/jp/?ref=openverse.

"Mosaic, National Gallery" by carolyngifford is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=openverse.

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