Things you will need to draw a horse
The basic requirements are:
- A blank sheet of paper/sketchpad
- A drawing pencil
- Pencil eraser
- Colored pencils (optional)
- A hand-drawn replica of a horse (optional)
Understanding a horse’s anatomy
Spending time studying its anatomy is the first step in drawing a horse. You can look at an existing hand-drawn replica of a horse to understand its different body parts. The drawing can also be used as a reference piece when you are ready to draw your own horse.
A horse has a unique build designed for speed and agility. Long legs, thick neck, muscular torso, sharp hooves, angular face, flared nostrils, a broad chest, and a bushy mane are some of the main characteristics of a horse’s anatomy.
Once you have familiarized yourself with each physical feature of a horse, including shape and size, you will have a basic idea of how to go about drawing the horse.
There are several ways to begin learning how to draw a horse step by step:
- Start with the horse’s head
- Make a loose sketch of a horse
- Draw the torso
1. How to draw a horse head
If you are starting your horse drawing with the head first, there are several ways to do it.
- Use a U-shape
A U-shaped arc is used to lay out the horse’s muzzle. The angle of the shape depends on the position you want to draw the horse in.
If the drawing will be of a standing horse, the angle trajectory of the U-shape can be more downwards. If the horse will be in motion, the angle of where the shape points can be a bit wider, trending to the east or west depending on the direction of your drawing.
- Draw downward lines from the open end of the U-shape to create the horse’s neck.
- Use small triangles at the top to indicate the ears of the horse.
- Draw small curves at the closed end of the U-shape to start making the mouth and chin.
- Add the nostril and eyes.
- Use a series of smooth, flowing curves over the face and neck to draw the mane of the horse.
- Keep adding details until the horse head is complete.
- Use circles
Construct the horse’s head starting with one large circle for the top of the head and a smaller circle for the lower end of the snout. Where you place the circles will determine the angle of the face in relation to the rest of the horse, so keep that in mind.
- Draw a straight line to connect the outward surfaces of the circles. Draw another line connecting the underside of the circles but make it more curved to indicate the horse’s jawline.
- Now that you have the basic outline for the horse’s head, you can start adding details.
- Draw a short curve where the outer connecting line meets the smaller circle to start forming the nose of the horse. Add another small curve below the one you just drew.
- Draw two more small curves or humps to cover the front area of the small circle to complete the horse’s muzzle.
- Add a short, straight line with an arrow-like tip trending towards the back of the small circle to indicate the mouth of the horse.
- Use a sketching motion to create the horse’s nostrils.
- Move to the top of the larger circle and draw a curved line to begin the top of the head and neck.
- Draw another flowing line below to create the under portion of the horse’s neck.
- Add details to the larger circle to indicate where the horse’s eye should be and the starting point for the ears.
- Now that the basic outline of the horse’s head is in place, you can erase the circles you started.
- Use a combination of short lines and curves to construct the horse’s ears.
- Draw several connected leaf-like shapes over the front of the face, top of the head, and down the neck to indicate the horse’s mane.
- Keep adding details until the mane is completed.
- Keep adding details until the ears are completed.
- Create the eye of the horse using a small triangular shape with a circular shape inside.
- Use additional strokes and curves to add more detail to the horse’s eyes, snout, ear, mouth, chin, and neck.
- Using several basic shapes together for the horse’s head
You can also use a triangle, circle, and rectangle to create the head of the horse.
- Start with a large right angle triangle that is tilting over. The direction of the tilt depends on whether you are drawing the horse to face the east or west.
- Draw a circle that intersects the triangle to create the jaw.
- Draw a rectangle, with one side touching both the circle and triangle. This will be the horse’s face.
- Add a wide arc across the top section of the triangle to form the back of the neck.
- Sketch a series of short curves on top of the arc to create the horse’s mane.
- Draw a small ellipse in the front of the circle for the eye of the horse.
- Use small curves at the end of the rectangle to make the chin and nose of the horse.
- Draw a line for the mouth and a small, flared curve for the nostril.
- As the head of the horse takes shape, you can remove the construction lines from the starting shapes.
- Keep adding details mentioned in the previous step until the head of the horse is complete.
- Once you have a completed head, you can move on to constructing the rest of the horse.
The horse’s head is now complete and you can continue drawing the horse by using one of the steps below.
2. How to draw a horse from a sketch
The sketch is used to create a loose outline of what the horse will look like. The way you hold your pencil and move your hand affects the smoothness of the sketch.
- Move your hand in short, swift strokes to construct each line that makes up the angles of the face, feet, tail, and neck. Use more deliberate, elongated strokes to frame to the torso areas and spine.
- Keep your eraser close by so you can remove lines that seem out of place. Keep perfecting the different parts of the drawing until you have the right outline that you want to use to construct your horse drawing.
- With the sketch complete, you can now focus on adding stronger details to finish drawing the horse.
- Draw defined and straighter lines at places where you want to highlight the horse’s muscles such as its chest, neck, thighs, feet, and shoulders.
- Use smoother lines for parts of the horse that are more relaxed.
- Be mindful of line weight. Use stronger line weight for the main striking features of the horse.
- Use softer line weight to capture the more nuanced details.
- Draw accentuating marks to make the horse look more realistic. If your drawing is indicating a horse in motion, you want to add additional pencil strokes along the mane and tail to indicate movement. Darken pencil marks around the eyes and nose to give more depth to the horse’s facial features. Add sharper jutted lines to the knee joints and hooves to give the horse a more powerful look.
Erase sketch lines as you go along.
3. How to draw a horse body
One of the most common methods for drawing a horse is to use two circles of similar sizes for the horse’s body and a smaller circle for the head. If the head is already drawn, you can simply focus on the torso.
- Use upright and lateral construction lines to decide the height and width of the circles. The circles don’t necessarily have to be perfectly round. Be careful not to draw the circles too far apart as this will result in the drawing looking elongated.
- Draw lines above and below to connect the circles. These will form the horse’s spine and belly.
- Draw a short flowing line on the rear circle to indicate the horse’s tail.
- Sketch four lines below each circle to indicate where the legs will be. The length of the lines depends on how tall you want the horse to look. Draw more angled lines for the front leg if the horse is in motion.
- Add supporting lines to make the legs more defined.
- Remember to draw the hind legs broader at the top than the front feet.
- Erase lines where the legs intersect to show only the portions of each that are visible.
- Add short and soft curved lines to the line at the rear to form the tail.
- You can now erase the circles as the horse’s body outline will be complete.
- Draw the head of the horse onto the body using one of the steps mentioned earlier.
- Keep adding details to the different body parts of the horse until it is complete.
Finish drawing your horse by adding details such as spots, stripes, and patches. You can also use colored pencils to add even more life to your horse drawing.