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How to Draw Horses

Learning how to draw horses is a skill that most budding artists think they'll never master, at first.

It's the flow and grace of a horse on the move that makes it such an appealing subject to draw or paint.

But from experience with students, I know it's this very flowing movement, combined with all the perceived complications of leg joints and muscle mass that makes many of them break out in sweat at the thought of drawing a horse!

Yet, learning how to draw horses isn't at all difficult if you follow the steps in this simple tutorial.

Contrast the diminutive Shetland pony to the mass of the Shire horse. And compare the beautiful Golden Palomino to the jet black coat of the hardy Ariegeois of the Pyrenees in South West France.

You can go from a blank page to a realistic image of any breed of horse you like in just four easy steps!

Sure it may take a little practice and several attempts - but what is worthwhile in life that doesn't take some effort?

All you need is a pencil, eraser a sheet of paper and a little time to yourself.

For now, let's look at the basics of how to draw horses. And talking of basics, have a look my article on using basic shapes to draw anything you want.

When learning how to draw horses, to start off, all you need to draw are a few triangles and an oblong.

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How to Draw Horses - Stage 1

Just remember to draw your construction lines in quite lightly. These will be erased after you've used them to get the proportions of your horse accurately.

Couldn't be easier! Read on...

Lightly draw the oblong for the body and add the triangles for the head, neck, legs and so on.

To make this even easier, the pale blue lines in the sketch give you a rough indication of measurements. So in this view, the horse's head is about the same width as its neck. (A-B and B-C).

How to draw horses - 1

In turn, the length of the horse's body is about twice the combined width of the head and neck. (A-B+B-C x 2 = C-D).

Similarly, the top of the head to the underbelly (E-F) is approximately the same as the length of the legs (F-H), with the knees about half this length (F-G).

Obviously, not every breed will conform exactly to this theory. Nevertheless, for now, it'll help you get an outline that will give you the confidence that you're on the way to learning how to draw a horse.


How to Draw Horses - Stage 2

This is where you'll start to believe that you really are learning how to draw horses!

Still quite lightly, round off the oblongs and triangles so they are more 'horse-like'. I've done it heavier, so you can see what I mean.

Refer to How to Draw Horses- Stage 4 if you need something to copy from. Print this sketch as a reference if it helps you.

How to draw horses - 2

Take particular note of the shape of the legs and the detail around the head. If you get it wrong, rub out and go over it again - lightly! - till you're satisfied.

How to Draw Horses - Stage 3


At this point, you should have a completed outline of a horse.

Stand back and check to see that the main areas are the correct size and shape. If you're not sure, go back to the 'How to Draw Horses - Stage 1 and check you proportions.

How to draw horses - 3

Once you're happy, erase all the construction lines to leave the outline of your horse.

Tidy up any small areas as necessary.


How to Draw Horses - Stage 4

Finally, start adding highlights and shadow to give your horse a three-dimennsional look.

The easiest way to do this is to lightly shade over the whole horse with your pencil.

Where you need to add shadows, go over this area with your pencil until you've got sufficient depth of shading. 

How to draw horses - 4

Where you want highlights, use your eraser to lift them out.

A kneadable putty rubber is ideal for this job as you can mould it to a fine point or wedge shape, ideal for this task.

So there we are - how to draw a horse in just four easy stages!


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