Sketching Animals: How To Draw a Realistic Horse
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Sketching Animals: How To Draw a Realistic Horse

August 11, 2019


Hi guys and welcome to this week’s video! Today I’ll be showing you some tips for
how to draw a realistic-looking horse alongside some examples of common mistakes that detract
from a realistic looking outcome. As always, these opinions are my own and you’re
free to draw however you like to. These are just things that I’ve learned
to pay attention to whilst drawing to ensure a more accurate result. If you’d like to follow along, a link to
the original reference is in the description box down below, along with a link to the edited
version I used for my drawing. So starting off with the “what not to do”
side, I’m going to begin by putting down an outline. I’m going to build up the structure of this
horse using some regular-looking geometric shapes and I’ll do very little to mesh them
together or alter the structure around them. Here I’m also not carefully considering
the actual quality of the shape that I’m putting down- I’m not really taking my time
or controlling my line, I’ll put down multiple shapes overlapping and hope that one is workable. I’ve noticed a lot of beginner artists use
generic shapes to build up a foundation. And it’s not necessarily a bad way of doing
things, but you need to watch out and make sure to refine the foundation enough afterwards. Consider the anatomy of the animal rather
than rigidly sticking to regular geometric shapes. It may be helpful to think of this as a scaffold
for your drawing rather than a foundation. On this side you see that my outline is very
boxy-looking and angular. The jaw is far too circular and I’m missing
some nuance in the anatomy in some places, whereas other areas are very exaggerated. Moving over to the other side now- I’m going
to start off by putting down a grid on my paper. I like to use a 3×3 grid as it’s quick and
easy but you can use as many squares as you like. I have an identical grid laid over my reference
photo and this means that I can more easily transfer the image onto my paper. On this side I’m going to be really paying
attention to my reference photo and judge the subject matter by breaking it down into
angles and lines- or curves- as well as shapes and negative shapes. I want to just make clear here that horses
come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, so the way that I draw a horse here
might not apply for say for example an Arabian horse or a Shire horse. It’s important to pay attention to your
specific reference. The tips I give here aren’t hard-and-fast
rules, but these things that can be helpful to look out for and pay closer attention to. You can use whatever support you’d like
when sketching- I’ve made a whole video about different techniques you can use to
check and improve the accuracy of a drawing, so I’ll leave a link to that in the cards
and description. I personally like to use a grid as this helps
to break down the subject matter into sections which makes it easier to check distances and
lengths. Today I’m be drawing on the smooth side
of Canson Mi Teintes paper with Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils. I like to use a couple of different colours
when sketching as I find that it helps break up the image further. You can see that I’m taking my time putting
down individual lines and I’m moving my pencil more slowly and deliberately- compared to
the other side where I rushed to put down just a few overlapping shapes in hopes that
one was ok. But that isn’t to say that the sketch has
to be perfect from the very beginning- I’ll be refining things the whole way through-
but I find that a cleaner sketch is much easier to judge and correct. As I work, I’ll also blocking in shapes
of shadows and highlights to help build up a feel for the anatomy and this is where using
multiple colours can really help. I like to use at least a dark and a light
colour to make a distinction between highlights and shadows. Unfortunately, my white pencil doesn’t show
up very well on this paper, so I didn’t use this pencil as much as I would’ve liked to. You’ll also see that I take a lot longer to
draw this outline, and that there are many more pauses between pencil strokes. This shows how much I’m observing the reference. I’ve also used a much lighter hand because
there’s no need to reinforce the “correct” lines- I’ll just erase away the ones that
are incorrect as I work. Thick and heavy lines are difficult to erase
and cover over in the colouring stage, so it’s best to avoid them where possible. Now working on the ears, again rather than
actually study the reference, I’m going to glance at it and just draw what I think
I see. So for instance, the ears could be simply
described as two pointed ovals, so that’s what I’ll draw. I won’t actually consider the form or thickness
of the ears, or their direction or placement. On the other hand, here I’ll break the reference
down into sections. I’ll judge just how much of the ear is passing
over the grid line and where it intersects. And I’ll also observe how much distance
there is between the ear tip and the edge of the page or image. Similarly I’ll use the negative shape between
the ears to help position them on the paper, along with an indication of the mane. Back on over the left side of the page, I’ll
start working on the eyes. I’ve noticed that a common mistake when
drawing animals in general is to draw the eyes too large and too far up- and additionally
here perhaps a little too front-facing. So that’s what I’m drawing here. It’s also common to draw eyes to appear
more human-looking- and distinctly almond shaped- perhaps too much white showing and
with a round pupil. Again, this has to draw what we think we’re
seeing rather than we actually see. It’s easy to assume that the eye is just “eye-shaped”,
rather than analysing the actual shapes its built up of. I’m also going to incorrectly draw in the
far eye, not taking into consideration perspective. On the “good” side I’ll start working
out the correct eye placement. I’ll do this by measuring and mapping in some
of the shapes that the shadows cast in the area around the eye, and that helps better
break up this large part of the face. The shape of the eye and the taper of the
eyelids it are important in conveying the plane that the eye sits on the head of the
horse. I’ll do some subtle shading to indicate
the form of the eyeball here- the highlight and where the eyelashes obscure the eyeball. Horse’s pupils are a horizontal oblong or
oval type shape- but often this isn’t clearly apparent because their irises are usually
dark coloured and hidden behind their beautifully long eyelashes. I ended up adjusting the eye a lot during
the process of this drawing- I think eyes are the most important part of a drawing and
they need to be just right in order to capture the desired expression. On the other side of the horse’s head there
is a sliver of the eye and eyelashes visible. The subtle dips and curves of the anatomy
around this section is crucial as it helps indicate the fact that there is an eye there
despite not being obvious. Now moving on down to the nose and mouth of
the horse. A common mistake that I see is the mouth being
described as either too boxy or too rounded- and here I’ll go for too rounded. Moreover it’s easy to overlook and simplify
the anatomy of the jaw and mouth- especially how the lower jaw attaches and interacts with
the upper part of the skull- so rather than look at the subtle folds and creases I’m
going to heavily line this area in. I’m also placing in the nostrils incorrectly-
here I haven’t considered the way the nostril is formed. Here I’ve also oriented the nostril in the
wrong direction- it appears more horizontal than vertical. I’ve also drawn the nostrils too far off
to the side and given each nostril a very distinct hood. I’m not considering perspective here, so
the nostril furthest away is too visible. On the other side of the paper, I’m going
to much more carefully look at the reference photo. I’ll build up the area by blocking in some
shapes and shadows to help describe the form. I’m also paying attention to all the subtle
variations in the outline- it’s not one singular smooth line. In the reference photo I’m using, it’s
hard to see here how the bottom jaw and bottom lip interacts with the rest of the face as
the bridle in the reference is obscuring it. But I can get a clearer idea by using other
references to help make sense of the small visible portions. Moreover, I’m not going to heavily draw
in the difference between the top and bottom lip. Instead I’ll indicate this with a subtle
difference in value. If I was to draw in a thick line here- like
I did on the left hand side- it wouldn’t help make sense of the anatomy, and the creases
and folds that actually make up the form of the mouth. Next up I’ll be drawing the bridle. Although I won’t be showing it so much here,
something I see often is the bridle being drawn to much higher contrast and detail compared
to the horse itself. On a similar note, it can be difficult to
get the bridle and horse look like they’re interacting with one another. Having corresponding light sources will help,
along with making sure that the horse has appropriate shadows where the bridle touches. Here on the “what not to do” side I’m
going to ignore the thickness of the bridle- especially on the far side of the horse’s
face, where the profile of the bridle should stand out against the horse’s silhouette. I’m also going to be careless and not pay
attention to how this bridle is formed, and miss out one of the straps that goes up underneath
the eye. Missing out one of these straps could become
a critical mistake if you’re using the distances from these straps as a form of visual queue-
say for example in where to place other shapes and lines in your drawing- and therefore could
have a knock-on effect for the rest of the image. I’ll also draw the ring near the mouth so
it appears too perfectly circular, which alters the perspective and makes the ring look too
front-facing. Building on some of my construction lines
I made earlier, I’ll refine the bridle. I will really take my time here as it’s
important to get consistent thickness along these leather straps- whilst considering the
way they move around the form of the horse. Any inaccuracies here will be more obvious
because of the straight edges. It’s also extra important to pay close attention
to the way the straps interact with each other- if this was a commission or a drawing for
a horse enthusiast, they’d no doubt notice if there was anything wrong with the bridle
as they likely have hours of experience using and handling this tool. The thick section that crosses the horse’s
muzzle- the noseband- has a good thickness and I’ll consider the way that it curves
over the nose. The parts that cross the horse’s cheek are
quite complex and have lots buckles and straps, but I’ll tackle this by breaking things
down using negative shapes and measuring the distances between sections. The cheek piece on the far side of the horse
is also slightly visible, and including a suggestion of this is important in describing
the horse’s form. The bit that goes into the horse’s mouth-
the ring- isn’t just a circle and I’ll tackle drawing this shape by using the negative
shapes contained within it. Usually, I also find it helpful here to draw
in the highlights and shadows of metal parts. Now moving on to the other side of the paper
again to draw in the neck, I’m going to draw it very simply here and give the neck
an almost sausage like appearance with no distinction in anatomy. It’s common to draw the neck in too long,
and also not consider how the spine attaches to the top of the skull.: On the other side I’ll block in some shadows
to help define the difference between the horse’s jaw and neck, and the neck’s form. The neck tapers and the shoulder of the horse
is also visible in the picture. Something I’d really recommend doing is
looking at anatomical pictures of the animal that you want to draw as you’ll very quickly
learn how the animal is built in terms of skeleton and musculature, and you’ll be
more aware of how to describe things in your drawing- especially if the reference photo
is ambiguous. Taking a look at the mane now, I’m going
to sketch this in by building up a section of fur by using lots of individual pencil
strokes. I’ll also not really pay attention to direction,
curve, thickness or taper of these lines. And the result is flat- the entire mane consists
of one single value- and the fur has a rough and stringy quality. On the “good” side I’ll break down the
mane into blocks of different value, or individual clusters of hair. Mapping in the differences in value and getting
the form correct to help indicate direction, is far more important in a base sketch than
trying to draw in individual hairs. The texture is something I can focus on later
during the colouring. And finally, finishing up the sketch by indicating
some extra anatomy, like veins and hollows in the face. And here I’m going to do this very quickly
with just some basic lines. So moving on to the other side of the page-
I don’t want to spend too much time here mapping in details and values, but I want
to give enough structure to my drawing that I’d find useful during the colouring stage. So, I’ll focus on breaking up the face into
different sections using my different pencil colours. I actually ended up spending a long time refining
things here because I didn’t pay attention to where my hand was sitting on the paper,
and I ended up smudging away a lot of the saturated areas and detail that I had obtained
earlier. I tried using another white pencil to give
a better indication of highlights, but that didn’t work out either. I would make the contrasts and details more
visible, but this is a sketch after all, and if I wanted things to be more polished I’d
focus on that during the colouring stage. Before we finish up I want to announce a new
winner of the giveaway- so congratulations to Rita Alarcon! Get in contact with me as soon as possible
using the e-mail in the description box down below, and use the same e-mail that you signed
up the competition with. And again, a new winner will be drawn in the
next video if the winner doesn’t claim their prize! So that just about summarises this video-
I’ve already done two similarly formatted videos where I show tips on how to draw a
cat and another dog. I’d love to hear what animal you think I
should make a tutorial on next! And of course, if you have any questions leave
them down below in the comment section and either me or a lovely viewer will respond
to your question as soon as possible. Thank you very much for watching, if you found
this video helpful please leave it a like! Don’t forget to subscribe if you’d like
to stay up to date with my latest arty videos- tutorials, reviews and art advice. Hope you have a lovely week and I’ll see
you in the next video.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Again this was very helpful! <3 if you take suggestions
    Can you do one with bears? I have a problem with drawing them realistically..

  2. I’ve always struggled with horses so I’ll probably be referencing this again, thank you for the lovely video and tips <3 I’d love to see a sketch of the entire horse, full body- as four legged animal anatomy always confuses me a bit. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Lovely tutorial.
    I had once drew horses, and they were horrible.. I had an artist to correct them for me. He told me horses drawing needs about 3 years of learning.. that included the anatomy studies. So, basically, I stopped thinking of horses and went on to something different.

  4. Another great educational video, Claudia! I like how you explain that you may not know the specific names for anatomy or accessories, however a viewer might know if something is off, so the artist can study the reference and way an animal moves to best create an accurate piece.

  5. Lovely, thank you.  My horse drawings are somewhere between the two you show here – gradually getting less childish looking.

  6. hey! this was great! i am an 11 year old one year ago i used to be soo good at drawing them but after a few months i started drawing other things and kinda forgot half how to draw the horse. thank goodness i learned from some of the mistakes i used to do in this vid! huge help tysm 👍🏼 i will practice horses regularly now😄

  7. Nice job in comparing the 2 different styles and great suggestions on how to improve one's drawing of horses. I've been drawing them since I was a kid. By the way, why do you say a horse has fur? They have hair.

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