Our page banner is a detail of the pencil shading technique used in our drawing of a horse
How to Draw a Horse in Pencil
Our lesson on how to draw a horse in pencil is a demonstration of the various steps and techniques involved in creating the horse drawing above. The model for our drawing was 'Whistlejacket', the famous racehorse originally painted by George Stubbs. Pencil is the ideal medium for rendering both the form of the animal's powerful muscles and the soft textures of its gleaming coat, mane and tail.
Drawing a Horse: Step 1
Sketch the basic shapes in line.
THE LINE DRAWING: The first step in this drawing is to concentrate on rendering the basic shapes of the horse in line only. You are trying to discover the various relationships between the lines, shapes and proportions of the image.
TECHNIQUE: At the start of any drawing you should always sketch lightly and loosely as you search for the shapes and proportions of the image. It is very important to have a light touch when you are sketching as it is easier to erase your errors. Artists seldom get a drawing right first time. Therefore, it is normal to chop and change the position and proportions of lines and shapes at this stage of a drawing.
Drawing a Horse: Step 2
Loosely shade in the darker tones.
APPLYING DARK TONES: The second step in this drawing is to apply some dark tones in order to create the form of the horse. Your aim, at this stage, is simply to establish those areas where you think the darkest tones should be.
TECHNIQUE: Your drawing technique should still be light and relaxed at this stage. Some basic tones are applied using a mixture of loose hatching and cross-hatching techniques.
Drawing a Horse: Step 3
Refine and strengthen the darker tones.
DEVELOPING THE DARK TONES: The third step in this drawing is to start to develop the areas of dark tone to enhance the muscular details of the horse.
TECHNIQUE: You need to modify the dark tones of the horse by both strengthening and blending them with carefully graduated shading. The aim is to steadily increase their contrast and unify their texture in order to emphasise the strong muscular form of the horse. This is a gradual process where you concentrate on and build up each separate set of muscles on the horse, trying to keep a balanced tonal contrast throughout.
Drawing a Horse: Step 4
The Final Image
UNIFYING THE FORM: The final step in this drawing is to unify the form, tones and texture of the horse by deepening the shadows and and increasing their contrast.
TECHNIQUE: In the previous stages of the drawing you developed the image of the horse by concentrating on the separate elements of line, shape, tone and texture. In the final step you have to unite all these elements to define the overall form of the horse. This is done by applying deeper layers of shading over all the areas of darker tones. It may be that you lose some muscular definition in the darker areas but you gain a stronger unity of form which increases the dramatic character of this magnificent creature.