The horse is an element that recurs very often in a lot of artistic compositions. Worlds that borrow a lot from medieval times which are so popular at the moment have made it more probable for you one day to be tempted to tame the beast. So, what are the tips to improve your drawing of a horse ?
Tip n°1 to draw a horse more easily : understand its bone skeleton
To understand how any animal can be drawn, knowing about the skeleton is the basis, because all the rest of the animal works in relation to it : muscles, organs, postures. Therefore to draw a horse correctly, you have to to focus on the animal’s skeleton. However, no need to draw all the ribs and tiny bones of the legs and hoofs : the rib cage can only be roughly sketched, the same for the neck vertebras, and so on. But, this point clarified, there is nothing like practise : you may want to sketch horses in many different positions – in profile, facing you, from behind – find the points where all lines meet by sketching the skeleton as fast as possible, draw the skeleton over a picture of your choice.
Tip n°2 to draw a horse more easily : study the key postures
Knowing how to draw a horse, it is also being able to draw it in a realistic posture. It may seem silly to say, but one often makes the error of only focussing on the animal’s anatomy, leaving aside the other aspects : it is the surest way to draw unrealistic postures (where, for example, your horse seems to lose his balance) or to make mistakes with the proportion ratios (especially if you add other elements next to it like a horse-rider). So begin by finding pictures of horses in common postures : when walking, trotting, galloping (see below), resting, kicking, etc. Then, begin drawing them, memorizing the way everytime the body is placed, especially the hoofs.
Tip n°3 to draw a horse more easily : get to understand how the muscles work
Contrary to most cats and dogs, horses don’t have a thick fur but a hide of short hairs which lets show the muscles. It is therefore a must to know about their muscle anatomy, especially for realistic drawings.
Tip n°4 to draw a horse more easily : always begin by making a sketch of it
The horse is a most complex animal : even with a realistic skeleton, a plausible posture and an efficient suggestion of the muscles under the hairs of the hide, it is still possible to miss the point. To avoid typical errors, begin by sketching the main parts before going any further. Always think of these parts as volumes (see things in 3D and not 2D).
Tip n°5 to draw a horse more easily : have good references at hand
Documentation is often one of the conditions to be able to create a quality drawing, especially when one tackles a topic one is not too familiar with. So, before anything, make your own personal collection of pictures of horses. The easiest solution is of course Internet (Google Images is your best friend) but there is nothing better than a good book of pictures in which you will find high quality images with a neat finish, which will prove very useful for you to get a good grasp of the animal’s volumes (especially of the muscles). For this purpose, we do recommend you to see Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s work on the topic which is excellent.
For more details, refer to his book on Amazon : Horses
For a more personal work, do not just copy the pictures of your own personal collection but use them as guides to draw your own horse’s posture and validate your work. No doubt these pictures will help you make a better drawing and at the same time reach the result you had in mind.
To develop your knowledge of the topic…
There are several books that are likely to help you make better drawings of horses. The technical book we warmly recommend you is Drawing : Horses by Walter Foster. Complete and very affordable (a bit more than 8 dollars), it tackles all the basics of the animal’s anatomy with a highly artistic and pedagogic approach, develops the points mentioned in this tutorial and includes tips for colorization (shading and painting techniques) for a better grasp of lights and volumes. Walter Foster’s book also focuses on the different types of horses (thoroughbred, Arabian, draught, etc.) and the way to deal with each. Overall, the book is an efficient tool to make big progress in your drawing of horses.
Discover the book on Amazon : Drawing: Horses (HT11)
With a more global approach, The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature (by Ken Hultgen) is also a very useful book for animal drawings (of dogs, cats, horses, bears, large felines, etc.), giving precise and concise guidelines for a convincing result. The explanations are detailed enough for you to learn quickly about the different animals’main characteristics to be able to reproduce them. A further peculiarity of the book, which has a lot of illustrations, is that, in addition to making it possible for you to improve in common drawings of animals, it also gives advice on other alternative ways. Caricatures and types of drawing like in animation cinema (stressing the main lines and dynamic postures) are also treated with talent.
Refer to Amazon for more details : The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature