Ask any animator: Hands are not their favorite part of the human anatomy to draw.

“Hands are difficult to animate because of all the digits,” said John Canemaker, an acclaimed filmmaker who also is the head of the animation program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

“Mickey Mouse only has four fingers,” he said.

Even so, Canemaker — who won an Academy Award for his short film “The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation” (2006) — decided to make a character’s hands the focal point of his latest directorial effort.

“Hands,” which will have its world premiere Thursday at the Wexner Center for the Arts, is drawn from an episode in Sherwood Anderson’s short-story collection “Winesburg, Ohio” (1919).

Both the short story and the film revolve around Wing Biddlebaum, a mild-mannered man who is judged by society to be too demonstrative in expressing himself with his hands.

“This character ... who earlier in his life was a schoolteacher, expressed his creativity through touch — through not gross touching, but touching someone on the shoulder or rubbing the hair of a student,” said Canemaker, 76. “But it was misinterpreted by the people in the town. He was almost killed and run out of town.”

The 17-minute film includes text by Anderson read by actress Estelle Parsons, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her work in Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967).

“Sherwood Anderson was a great inspiration for Hemingway, for Faulkner, for Fitzgerald,” said Canemaker, who will be present for the Wexner Center screening Thursday. “I wanted to respect the writing. ... I rearranged some of it, I cut some of it, and I tried to put as much in that would not overwhelm the visuals.”

In dreaming up imagery for the film, Canemaker allowed himself free rein in visualizing metaphors or inner thoughts.

“You can become an emotion in animation,” he said.

A native of Elmira, New York, Canemaker was introduced to animation in the same way as many youths: by watching television.

“Walt Disney — Uncle Walt — used to show how he made animation,” Canemaker said. “Some of the ‘Nine Old Men’ — some of his great animators — appeared on those shows.”

After serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, Canemaker enrolled in Marymount Manhattan College, where an enthusiastic nun encouraged his interest in animation.

“(She said), ‘Why don’t you go out to Disney — they just opened an archive out here,’” Canemaker said. “In 1973, through writing letters, I was allowed to go up to Disney, to the studio that I had seen so many times on television, and was just enthralled.”

Concurrent with interviewing and writing about great animators of the past, Canemaker began making hand-drawn cartoons, including “Confessions of a Star Dreamer” (1978) and “Bottom’s Dream” (1983). His work has been featured in live-action pieces, including the feature film “The World According to Garp” (1982).

Canemaker began sketching the earliest storyboards for what became “Hands” in 1979, but the project was tabled for decades. Then, a few years ago, the Wexner Center stepped in with support.

“When (Wexner Center film/video director David Filipi) learned that I was doing this and I needed money, and it was also something that had Ohio in it, he said, ‘Well, why don’t you apply for a grant here?’” Canemaker said.

“Hands” was completed after Canemaker was selected to receive a 2016-17 Wexner Center Artist Residency Award.

“It really was a lifesaver in terms of the film and in terms of getting this on the road seriously,” Canemaker said.

The animator hopes that audiences take away a simple but potent lesson from the story of Wing Biddlebaum: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

“I think the world will be saved by animators because we are so empathetic,” he said. “You have to be the characters. ... You have to be an actor with a pencil.”