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Hands in Pockets

Liz Mosely: So, what exactly is it that I do as a comic character?
Greg: Well, let's see... You'll play video games, drink as much soda as you want, comment on whatever you feel like, go wherever you want, and do as you please.
Liz Mosely: Holy cow! There's absolutely no downside to this job!
Greg: Well, there is the limited hand mobility, but you'll get used to that.

Strictly speaking, any outright avoidance of the Lazy Artist to actually draw a particular thing. This is usually self-admitted and if it carries an apologetic tone, the implication is that trying to draw a difficult scene element would result making the work uglier. Extremely common with amateur artists. Can get extremely glaring with something the audience is expecting to see; hands, in particular, are often seen to be very difficult to draw.

A hand is a mess of overlapping and foreshortened digits, odd wrinkles, and tendons poking out in the strangest of places — plus, while there are only so many different positions that, say, arms or ears or eyes can assume, hands can be found in an almost infinite variety of poses holding an infinite number of things. And considering people tend to naturally focus on hands, one minor mistake can ruin an entire picture. There are entire sections in art libraries and entire university courses devoted only to hands. Bare feet have a similiar problem.

Do not confuse with playing pocket billiards.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Tite Kubo's apparent aversion to backgrounds, especially when you compare later chapters to the first ones, has become somewhat memetic.
    Tite Kubo: Backgrounds can tell you where a character is, but I don't think it's that important. I don't want to draw a background if the focus is on the character.
  • A much more minor example: Ken Akamatsu has stated that the reason that Chachamaru is in her loli form for a good chunk of the magic world arc in Mahou Sensei Negima! is because it's easier to draw than her adult form.
  • Similarly, in Wish angels and demons shrunk to chibi forms during the night or day respectively, or when sprinkled with a certain potion was at least in part a work-saving measure for the chief artist.
  • Odd example: Pokémon has no qualms about drawing characters' hands filling the screen, but except for a handful of early episodes (and inconsistently in later ones), fingernails are never seen (running contrary to the art style of the games, which has no such qualms). Inverted starting with the Kalos arc; since then, fingernails are properly drawn.

    Arts 
  • The founder of the Museum of Bad Art has noted this as one of the common features of paintings in its collection. One example is Sunday on the Pot with George, where, although the artist painted George's hands, he extended George's legs in order to avoid having to paint his feet.
  • The reason why so many images of Napoleon or George Washington tucking in their hands inside their coats was because of this. Most painters, even the best ones, had difficulty drawing hands of a realistic size and ask their subjects to tuck in their hands.
  • It is known that Francisco Goya charged extra for every single hand he had to paint.
  • Many other portrait artists charged their clients extra for the inclusion of a hand. This was the case of all limbs for most artists. They would charge for each limb actually visible, why many portraits have the subject standing behind a desk or thier hands behind them: no limbs is cheaper. Therefore the origin of the phrase "an arm and a leg" for the cost of a more expensive portrait.

    Comic Books 
  • The infamous Rob Liefeld, among other anatomical habits, keeps characters' feet obscured or off panel. And when they are on the panel, they're always standing on their tip toes, sometimes always for no apparent reason. He either refuses to or can't draw feet in a normal standing position. There was at least one occasion where the characters didn't have any feet, their legs just ended in flared stumps. Which would have been just fine if the rest wasn't in Rob's normal "I actually think this is what real people look like" style. Hence, the ever infamous Worst 40 Liefieldisms. And its sequel.
  • Gotlib is making fun of this trope in one of his comics about cartoonists: a (fictional) comic book panel drawn by a "cheating" artist is supposed to show the exciting and terrible battle of Waterloo... but most of the panel is occupied by a big cannon and a pile of cannonballs.

    Comic Strips 
  • Scott Adams has admitted that he likes putting hats on Dogbert (from Dilbert) because he finds the top of Dogbert's head hard to draw. He also saves time by "drawing only the feet of dead people". He also only draws the lens-end of TV cameras because he doesn't know what they look like from behind.
  • Referenced in one Peanuts strip where Charlie Brown commented on a picture of a man drawn by Linus:
    Charlie Brown: I note that you drew him with his hands behind his back. This is because you, yourself, have feelings of insecurity.
    Linus: No. I did that because I, myself, can't draw hands!
  • Gary Larson (The Far Side) has admitted that the reason most of his characters have either Eye Glasses or Eyes Always Shut is because he has trouble drawing eyes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Wings, Casey reveals that she can only draw people as caricatures, and always draws skis on them because she can't draw feet. Video
  • One sketch on Saturday Night Live pokes fun of the infamous Unibomber police sketch by having the actor playing the sketch artist claim that he's not good at drawing eyes or hair. He then pulls out various sketches of the Unibomber with the same sunglasses and wearing a variety of silly hats.

    Video Games 
  • ZUN, the creator of Touhou, is known for drawing characters in poses where their hands are obscured, as well as never drawing ears (typically with plenty of hats). Since he is the single programmer, artist, and composer for the entire project (and his music is generally praised), the fans giggle, but they generally forgive him for it. The reason for the ears (almost) never being drawn has since become fairly clear: He draws them looking Pointy.
  • Official artwork has shown that Tails and Amy from Sonic the Hedgehog lack toes. The same can be assumed of other characters
  • Fire Emblem Awakening character models have no feet. According to the developers, this was because they were uncertain how many joints the 3DS could render and animate.

    Web Comics 
  • Occasionally cited as a reason why Funny Animal comics are popular with amateur artists. The Uncanny Valley is less defined than in people, so it's much easier to get away with not actually drawing different facial expressions.
  • Real Life Comics (of which a fair amount is a so-called Cut and Paste Comic) avoids hands, and the author does a few Lampshade Hangings about the characters' habit of keeping hands in their pockets.
  • Questionable Content rarely shows its characters' feet (mostly just because of the composition of the shots). One poster featuring full-length views of several main characters was captioned "proof that I can, in fact, draw feet".
  • Subverted in a strip of Sam and Fuzzy. The character's hands are continually hidden, looking like this trope at first, until it is revealed he actually doesn't have hands.
  • Done only by Naomi, for the sake of a joke in The Last Days of Foxhound, she gets called out by Grey Fox/Cyborg Ninja for doing this. She cites the cold for this habit.
  • Chainsawsuit: "I like this guy's art, but you can tell he hates drawing hands and feet." The superhero in the comic has his hands obscured by a lamp, a chandelier, a pelican, newspaper, and a roof. And even the pelican's feet are obscured. Probably a Take That at Rob Liefeld, above.
  • Kaja and Phil Foglio, of Girl Genius fame, seem to avoid drawing Von Pinn's legs and feet. When you see a full picture of her, you understand that these are hard and time-consuming to draw.
  • Strewth! shows you how it's done.
  • Done literally with Emmit the shuttle pilot in Station V3.
  • Most of the characters have limited hairstyles in The Walkyverse, due to the artist having a hard time drawing hair. Lampshaded in the comics and in his commentaries. One early plot of Shortpacked! had Amber getting a makeover, including a fancy new hairstyle, which only lasted the arc (the excuse being "curing is expensive" (it's not); real reason, "curls are hard to draw"). Amber did at least get a newer hairstyle from her inception, though everyone else is pretty much stuck with their character model hair.
    • Word of God is that's why most characters with glasses are rarely seen with them off; he generally starts drawing their heads with the glasses as the reference point and has to adjust majorly to draw them without them.


GIS SyndromeLazy ArtistInvisible Anatomy
Hand SignalsHand TropesHand Stomp
ChainsawsuitImageSource/Web ComicsMagic Feather

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