A Palomino Horse Head Drawing (part 1)

The idea of a palomino horse head drawing against a black background has been rolling around in my head for awhile now.  This lovely palomino gelding provided me with the perfect inspiration. He had one of the prettiest heads I’ve seen, and his deep, almost caramel-colored coat with the long ivory mane and tail were just too good to pass up.

After working out the composition, I had to figure out how I was going to lay in the black background. There were several options, all with drawbacks, but I had to choose one.

As you can see from the photo, several dark textures resulted from my quick thumbnail sketch. The problem with filling in a big area of black is the resulting sheen that comes from pressing hard with a soft-leaded pencil. The first option I tried was a charcoal pencil. Charcoal is great for really black blacks, and it doesn’t reflect light. But overall, I didn’t like the texture and it was a cool black vs the warmer tones of 9B pencil.

Next, I opted for my big black 9B graphite stick. It’s great for covering large areas with a smooth, black finish. I also used the Ebony pencil with similar results. But both of them put off a lot of sheen, which can be distracting.

That annoying graphite sheen!

The last pencil I tried was a new one for me. It is a wax-based, but very dark pencil by Cretacolor, the Nero extra soft #1. Bingo! It was the perfect blend of smoothness and had much less sheen when applied in layers.

getting started

As the Nero pencil is new to me, I had to practice a bit before I dared put down permanent marks on the actual drawing. I began by making random patterns with the pencil, followed by laying down several more layers until the area was saturated with pencil and no white showed through. One thing I learned – Nero doesn’t like to blend with the finger! As you can see, I wore my pencil down to a nub and used most of another one before I was done.

Now it’s getting to the fun part. They say the eye is the window to the soul, and horses are no exception. For this drawing the horse’s eye really is the focal point. And this horse had the most expressive eyes. I hope I was able to convey that as I establish where I want the viewer’s eye to go first.

Join me tomorrow for the rest of the demo!



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