In this blog drawings of horses in a group was my subject. I wanted to show the viewer how I create a pencil drawing that has a lot of contrast from bright sunlight shining from a low angle.
The inspiration for this new drawing came when I was at a local team roping event. A group of cowboys gets together here in Morgan every Thursday during the summer. They come from the surrounding areas to get a chance to team rope with various partners. Some bring horses they’ve been training to give them experience or tune them up. Others bring their regular seasoned mounts.
Everyone throws their entry money into a hat, names are drawn and the roping begins. There’s lots of action and everyone has a good time.
I saw this group of three horses tied to a trailer with the dramatic late afternoon light hitting them and had to get some reference photos.
My first step is to lay in the background and trailer, making sure to keep them less important than the horses, which are my focal point. The first horse is a bay, and I use my 5B to 9B pencils to get those super dark values in the legs, tail and shadows. It takes a lot of layering to get the effect I want.
I think what I liked about this composition was the color of the three horses and the value contrast in their coats. The second horse is a buckskin, with a much lighter coat, yet he has the same black legs, mane and tail.
This requires the use of harder grade pencils. In this case I used my HB, 2B and 3B pencils for the light part of his coat. I liked how the buckskin's tail was lifted, catching the breeze.
On the dark parts like the black tails, the highlights are actually darker than the main color of the buckskin horse. It's all relative.
Here's a closer look at some of the detail in the saddles. You can also better see the highlighting I was talking about in the black tails. Getting the values right is what makes it look believable. I really liked how the lighter coat of the buckskin contrasted with the dark coat of the bay.
Now on to the third horse. This horse is a sorrel, darker than the buckskin but not as dark as the bay horse. His mane and tail are different too, the same value as his body. I use my 4B and 5B pencils for this horse. Again, getting the values right makes him appear as a medium-colored horse.
His saddle is more complicated and takes a long time to get it right. I'm looking forward to finishing this drawing as it's headed to the American Quarter Horse Association's annual museum show and the deadline is looming!
Finished at last. I know I keep talking about color when it's a pencil drawing, but in my mind I actually do think in color when I draw. It's all about values. In this drawing I think I was successful in demonstrating the three shades of coat color on these horses.
Click here to see the finished drawing or to purchase prints. Thanks for viewing my artwork!
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