I love horses. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. They were the first subjects I learned to draw well as I studied pictures of them and practiced drawing them every chance I had. And as I was working on character sketches in watercolor pencil (which I have not posted, but will soon), I got the urge to draw one of the characters with a horse… and this is the result.
The picture is loosely based off two horses that I used to ride. By loosely, I mean I learned the expression from them. One mare in particular is constantly hungry, always looking for a cookie or apple, especially if someone wants to ride her. I wanted to capture some of that expectancy in this piece.
As normal, I unintentionally made this more difficult than necessary. I wanted to draw a gray horse looking back at its rider and hoping for a treat. How complicated can that be?
Well, I haven’t drawn horses in a while (about two years, actually), and I’ve never drawn a horse in this position before, so I had a good bit of trouble with the neck. I also (brilliantly) decided to give the horse a mottled coat. This made shading tricky as the dapples are darker on his back and neck—the places where I typically would have placed highlights—and the belly is lighter. Thanks to several reference photos, I was able to figure out most of the tricky parts.
The entire piece, including the sketch, is in watercolor pencil. I like to use watercolor pencils for sketching, as they blend into the finished painting, but can be erased if necessary. That being said, I made the lines too heavy when drawing this with my maroon pencil, so some places still have a bit more red than I wanted. For the most part, however, I was able to blend the colors and neutralize the red with some blue.
In spite of all that, I’m really, really happy with the result. The proportions finally came together, and the shading mostly makes sense. The girl could use more detail, but I wasn’t really sure where to go with that. I was able to add some to the boots. I suppose I could have given her a patterned shirt as well. I’ll try to remember that for next time.