The problem of simulating deformations between objects and the hand of a synthetic character during a grasping process is addressed. A numerical method based on finite element theory allows one to take into account the active forces of the fingers on the object and the reactive forces of the object on the fingers. The method improves control of synthetic human behavior in a task level animation system because it provides information about the environment of a synthetic human and so can be compared to the sense of touch. The authors show that intrinsic properties of the method based on composition/decomposition of elements have an impact in computer animation. They also state that the use of the same method for modeling both objects and human bodies improves the modeling of the contacts between them. Moreover, it allows a realistic envelope deformation of the human fingers comparable to existing method. To show what one can expect from the method, it is applied to the grasping and pressing of a ball