Girls Horse Club Blog

How To Draw a Horse – Part 1 of 2

Published by • Mar 29th, 2008 • Category: Arts & Crafts, How It's Made

by Mustang_Heart, age 13


From the earliest forms of cave drawings, to Leonardo Da Vinci, and to today’s modern artists, you’ll see that horses always seem to find their way into an artist’s work – and who could blame them? With so many different breeds, personalities, gaits, postures, and uses, an artist could spend her whole life creating nothing but masterpieces filled with horses. Maybe you too were inspired by the amazing horse, and picked up a pencil or a paintbrush and tried to imitate the horse’s unique body shape, only to walk away disappointed, feeling that you have no artistic talent.

Now, ask yourself this – did you ever think you just had the wrong approach to it? Over the years, dedicated artists learn secrets and tricks to help them pour life, body, and soul (not to mention correct anatomical features) into their artwork. It’s easy to see how newcomers to the world of art often leave feeling disappointed, and it’s a shame. While I am far from an accomplished artist, I think I might be able to help you create a piece of art you’ll love to look at and be proud of. Since it’s always a good idea to start out simple, this tutorial will only cover the basic steps to sketching a horse. Now, before we begin, a few rules and tips should be established:

1) This is THE most important rule, and you should always remember it – NEVER stop trying because you think it’s too hard or your picture looks ‘ugly’. If you aren’t satisfied with your image, get another piece of paper.

2) NEVER throw ANYTHING away! One day, you’ll wish you had it –I promise! You can always learn from your mistakes. Look back at old art and try to see if you can spot anything that made the picture look ‘off’ or ‘bad’. If you feel inspired, try to re-create the image, and it might come out better!

3) EVERY SINGLE PERSON that is a great artist had to start somewhere. Try not to get discouraged, and be confident. Over time, you will get better, and learn how to do things correctly the first time around.

4) Just because this is how I do my art, it DOES NOT mean this is how you must do yours! Try every tutorial you find and practice, practice, practice. As you get better, your own way of drawing, painting, etc, will emerge.

5) Learn to ask for and accept constructive criticism with a smile. There is always someone with more experience than you who can point out flaws and defects in your art that can be fixed with a simple stroke of a pencil. Constructive criticism is not meant to put people down, or to make you feel bad about yourself, but instead meant to improve your skills.

6) When sketching, it’s a good idea to stop periodically and hold your picture up to a mirror. The mirror gives your sketch a new perspective, and you’ll see flaws you never would have seen otherwise.


So, are you ready to get started? Scrounge up these materials around your house and have them handy, just in case;

1) Paper: Find a few pieces of paper, preferably unlined white paper. Printer paper is an option if you don’t have any sketchbook-like drawing paper around.

2) Eraser: Find a big eraser. Pink erasers work perfectly, but I personally prefer white plastic or kneaded erasers.

3) Pencils and a sharpener: I tend to like .5 mechanical pencils as they let me have thin, neat lines, but any kind of pencil will do.

4) A Reference photograph or image: Most beginning artists cannot draw an animal from memory, so it’s a good idea to use a reference photo or image to look at while sketching. Look for a picture you like from a book or the Internet. If you get a picture from the Internet, always make sure the photographer has given the OK for you to use the image. It’s the polite thing to do, and can help you avoid problems later. Once you have selected your reference image, it’s time to pick up that pencil! For this tutorial, I have selected a beautiful photo with one of the easier views of the horse, the side view.

Reference Photo
Thanks to housden photos for use of her beautiful photo!

STEP 1: The Head and Neck

We’ll start by first mapping out where the head, face, neck, shoulders, and hindquarters will be placed (a horse map!). This is the most basic beginning to a sketch that many artists like to start with. Even though the examples in this tutorial show dark, relatively neat lines, (so that you are able to clearly see the lines) this first layer needs to be done very lightly as most of it will be erased, and you don’t have to worry about making it neat.

Take about 2-3 minutes to analyze your picture. After you’ve studied your reference, ask yourself a few questions about the picture such as: Where is the horse looking? What gait is the horse traveling at? Where are the ears pointing? What hooves are touching the ground? What hoof will be the next to touch the ground? If you can’t answer these questions without looking, go back and study the picture some more. It sounds like a total pain, but it will come in handy in the long run.

Now go ahead and glance back at the reference photo for this section of the tutorial. The horse’s head from the nose to the poll is pretty much a straight line, so on your paper, draw a straight line. At the end of the straight line, draw a small circle for the muzzle of the horse, and at the poll area, a larger circle to serve as a jaw. For the neck, use a simple rectangle shape to show the angle and width you want your horse’s neck to be.


STEP 2: The Torso

Take some time to look back at the reference photo. Notice the proportions of the shoulder, barrel, and hindquarters. The first thing you will want to do is draw an egg-shaped circle for the shoulder area, then you can add some lines or an oval to serve as the stomach and back for your horse. Next, you will want to draw a circle that will become the hindquarters of the horse. This part can be tricky to get just right, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come out on the first try.


STEP 3: The Legs

The last step in creating your horse map is to add the legs. For this step, you will want to keep glancing back at the reference photo, because the proportions of the horse legs are tricky. For the front legs, draw a straight line for the horse’s forearm. A circle should be used for the knee because horses’ leg joints are very prominent. A straight line should also be drawn for the space of leg between the knee and fetlock joint, and last, a triangle shape should represent the hoof.

A common mistake for beginners is to make the back legs look just like the front, but if you look back at the reference photo, you can clearly see that is not at all the case. When drawing hind legs on most animals, it is best to think of it as someone walking on tip-toes. If you stand in front of a mirror with one foot flat on the ground and the other foot on tip-toes, you’ll notice that by standing on your tip-toes, it forces your knee to bend forward. Compared to a horses back legs, you’ll see that the heel of your foot resembles the hock, and your knee the stifle. On your sketch, if you start at about the middle of the hindquarter circle, you’ll draw a straight line until you reach about where the stifle is, and draw a circle. From this first circle, you’ll draw another line until you reach where the knee should be, and again add a circle. From this second circle, a line should be drawn until you reach the fetlock, where you will draw the last circle and add a triangle for the hoof.


Way to go! You’ve completed your horse map and part 1 of the tutorial! Keep your eyes open for part 2 to appear on GHC!

CLICK HERE to download a printable version (pdf file) of
How to Draw a Horse – Part 1 of 2

2 Nickers »

  1. it works

  2. Is there anyway that I could become a blogger?