Horse Head Drawings Blog - The Warmup Pen

I’ve wanted to do a horse head drawings blog and this black Quarter horse stallion was the perfect subject. He had such a presence about him - graceful and powerful, yet totally focused on his rider’s commands. Let’s get drawing!

First I got the sketch down, cropping the image and suggesting details. The stallion was jet black, and it was important to establish that dark value from the start.

I usually work from left to right so as not to smudge the drawing as I go. To see any image larger, just click on it.

The neck was the darkest part of the horse as it was in shadow. At first glance it seemed to be pure black. But light is reflected up from the light-colored sand below, creating subtle variations that help suggest the roundness of the neck.

I also finished the mane, which, while black, has a different texture from the coat, and the light falling on it makes it look silky, with movement.

Now on to the chest and shoulder. This is where I show the power of the horse, so it’s important to get the muscle masses and the highlights correct.

There is reflected light in the shadow of the chest too. The shoulder highlights were difficult because of the many variations in value.

Black is one of the harder “colors” to show in a pencil drawing because of drastic value changes. I also indicated the rider’s boot.

Things are shaping up. I finished the stallion’s legs and sketched in the reins. Again, correct values are key to making the horse look black.

We’re in the final stretch! On a right-facing horse I often have to do the head last, because smudging is such a problem.

So by the time I get here I pretty much have the values worked out and now the fun begins.

You’d think drawing the bridle would be simple, but it’s not! There are lots of little details which take a long time to draw.

The features on the horse’s face are so important, especially the eye. I take extra time to make sure I get them right.

So much of drawing this horse is about how light falls onto his black coat. I hope I’ve been successful at it. I’ve used up several pencils getting those darks in.

To see the final drawing of “The Warmup Pen”, click here. Thanks for stopping by!

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