Horse Head Drawing Demo - Part 2

In Part 2 of this horse head drawing demo I attempt to create a feeling of light shining on the horse from the side. I want to get the values right so that the horse’s coat still looks like a palomino, but is not so dark that it looks like something else.

I start by establishing the shadow areas on the head. The dark areas on a light-colored horse will still be relatively light. There is also a strong contrast where the sunlight is hitting the horse’s face and back.

I work to create the feeling of the horse’s head in shadow, putting down many layers of pencil in various values. I’m using the 4B and 5B pencil for the shadowed areas of the head. Notice how the shadow helps define the cheekbone, and how putting a touch of deep shadow at the base of the ear makes it pop.

I’m not sure if my values are right so I leave the head and begin working on the body of the horse. It’s important to not get stuck on one area, or as my college art teacher used to say repeatedly, “don’t get married to one perfect spot on your drawing. You’re most likely going to have to change it sooner or later anyway!” Most of the neck and chest are the darkest shadow areas, so I work to make the overall value darker.

Boy, this has been challenging for me! I work back and forth, trying to get the value deeper without going too dark. I notice small things I need to change, like too much detail in the shadows. I went back to visit this horse and observed how the light and shadow played on his coat. There were few details in the shadows even from a short distance. So I came back and adjusted several areas where I’d gotten over-zealous with them.

Looking Back by Annette Randall
pencil, 12 x 16 inches ©2015

Done at last! This horse head drawing was a challenge as I said. But I believe in the 80-20 rule: If you’re 80% satisfied with your drawing, the last 20% will take care of itself. I hope you think so too.


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For Part 1 of this demo click here

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