AI’s Achilles Heel: Why AI Image Generators Can’t Get Human Hands Right

Ever since AI drawing tools came to life, its users noticed a significant fault in their output – no matter how specific or vague the users’ prompts are, the AI bots simply can’t get human hands right. The issue is so prevalent that it turned into an ongoing joke in the AI community.
Even the most popular and advanced tools present the same faults. And it’s quite fascinating, really, that AI tools such as Midjourney or DALLE can generate a picture of a cowboy robot as an anime character baking muffins on Mars, but at the same time generate an extra set of fingers or distort the image completely when asked to render a human hand.
But what makes AI fail so miserably when depicting human hands? And why are the hands, and not other body parts such as noses or ears, the issue?

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AI Can’t Render Hands

Illustration: Milica M.

Similarities Between People and AI Bots

Art class is the favorite subject of talented people. But, for those unfortunate students whose art would always end up looking like a mere attempt at Juan Gris paintings, art studies weren’t as appealing. But regardless of our interests and talent, there’s one thing we all have in common – we can all agree that drawing realistic hands is a mission impossible. Even the artistic kids would often struggle to get them to look right and would need to invest a considerable amount of time to get the desired results.

In reality, it’s not the lack of talent or dedication that makes us terrible at drawing hands. They’re challenging to depict due to the numerous bones, tendons, and muscles in each hand. But despite the complex anatomy and subtle details that make hands so challenging to draw, a realistic depiction of hands is possible with regular practice.

If you’re one of those people who can’t draw hands – welcome to the club! And if you need something to make you feel better about your artistic skills, or lack thereof, you’ll love the absolute disaster of AI art.

Despite people praising AI and its superiority to humans, we’re more alike than you would have thought. Regardless of how advanced they might be, AI tools are also terrible at rendering human hands, oftentimes feet, as well.

You’ve probably seen it somewhere before – a detailed image of a human that has all the facial features and details to convince you that the drawing was made by hand, and then suddenly, you’d notice the hands and realize that the art was made either by a surrealist, or an AI drawing tool. It could look something like this:

A woman peeling oranges

Source: NightCafe

 Or this:

A man knitting a sweater for his dog

Source: NightCafe

These examples show that AI is quite good at generating outputs resembling human faces and other body parts, such as the shape and length of arms, collarbones, or neck. It’s even advanced enough to recreate a skin texture and show the signs of old age on a person.

But when it comes to hands – it’s an entirely different story. And what’s even more fascinating is that one of the reasons AI can’t render hands correctly is, well, their complexity. So, essentially, the same factor that makes us terrible artists with no future also affects AI’s ability to generate a realistic picture of human hands.

But what better way to learn about the complexity of AI than by asking AI itself to solve the mystery? And although ChatGPT is technically a chatbot, DALLE is its half-brother, so it was worth giving it a shot.


Hands have a wide range of possible positions and shapes, and their appearance can vary greatly depending on factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, and individual characteristics. Additionally, the structure of the hand is intricate and includes many small details such as wrinkles, creases, and veins. Creating realistic hand drawings with AI involves not only accurately modeling the hand's anatomy but also capturing the subtleties of movement and gesture that convey meaning in human communication.

The chatbot also added that “AI algorithms rely on large amounts of training data to learn how to recognize and replicate human hand movements. However, there may be a limited amount of high-quality training data available for this task.”

Another theory is that AI doesn’t “know” what it means to make something realistic. Which makes sense, as AI bot is a program which can do a lot based on the training data, but not understand context, connotations, and intentions.

AI Can’t Render Hands: What’s the Issue?

I’ve mentioned earlier that some people see AI as a superhuman with all these extra abilities. But that’s far from true. Yes, an AI bot can generate a painting or write you a school play in a matter of seconds, but artificial intelligence programs still have many flaws that we’re yet to overcome and conquer. On the other hand, with all the new options and AI creators competing amongst themselves to see who’s going to deliver a better tool, we’re undoubtedly amidst the AI boom. Of course, we would only expect to get the best of the best.

All things considered, we have very unrealistic expectations of machine learning. And once we find a fault – which, let’s be honest, we always do – it’s suddenly a big deal, as if we weren’t given a tool that allows us to generate a picture merely based on a single prompt. Of course, some faults shouldn’t be tolerated, but is AI generating a wonky pair of hands a disaster of abnormal proportions? I don’t think so.

Regardless of where we stand on that topic, there’s no doubt that intricate AI outputs need improvement. People in the AI community are trying to solve this issue, but it might still take some time before AI can reach enlightenment and understand human anatomy. Until then, enjoy this picture of a group of friends kneading dough on the train and laugh all you want about the complex beauty of AI-generated hands.

A group of friends kneading dough on the train

Source: NightCafe

Jelena is a content writer dedicated to learning about all things crypto. Her hobbies are playing chess, drawing, baking, and going on long walks. During winter, she usually spends her leisure time reading books.