Activities Hobbies Drawing Lesson: Sketch a Running Horse Share PINTEREST Email Print Hobbies Fine Arts & Crafts Contests Couponing Freebies Frugal Living Astrology Card Games & Gambling Cars & Motorcycles Playing Music Learn More By Helen South Helen South Artist Helen South works in graphite, charcoal, watercolor, and mixed media. She wrote "The Everything Guide to Drawing." Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 01/30/20 01 of 11 Sketch a Horse The horse sketch in progress. D. Lewis Learn how to sketch horses following this step by step tutorial by Dan Lewis. Dan shows you how to use traditional sketching techniques to draw the main directions and find the big shapes of the composition to create a lively sketch. This is a little different to the photo-realist approach of starting out with an outline. For this tutorial, you need to learn to trust your own eye and hand. You can draw from Dan's reference photo or follow his example using a picture of your own horse. 02 of 11 Running Horse Reference Photo The horse photograph used as a reference for this tutorial. Dan Lewis Here is a horse photo that we'll be using for this lesson. A large, crisp image is really important. This one had a busy background, so I've cleared all that away so you can see the horse very clearly. If you want to draw your own horse or a different photograph, it's very easy. Simply try to follow the idea: capturing the basic structure, shading, and so on. Finding Horse Photographs Using your own photograph or one that is public domain is really helpful when drawing horses. You want to be able to share your work online, publish, or sell it without any copyright restrictions, as well as respecting the photographer's ethical rights. Use the advanced search in Google Images to search for images that are free to share and modify. If you plan on selling work, use the 'commercial use' option. You can also search on Flickr for Creative Commons licensed works, as well as on Wikimedia. For example, take a look at these horse pictures on Wikimedia commons. 03 of 11 Composition and Boundaries The outer boundaries of the horse's silhouette. Dan Lewis I have tried to indicate more of the early stages of this horse drawing as everything else hinges on the start. It might look a little odd if you're used to drawing an outline first because we start off by looking at the overall proportions. The more careful and accurate you can be in these first stages, the easier things will fall into place later on. Draw very lightly; these images are darkened so they will show up on your computer monitor. The first step in sketching the horse is to get a general feel for how the entire image will fit on the paper. Try to visualize the finished image and indicate where the outside boundaries will lie.Work from the largest shapes and gradually “whittle” them down to the smallest. 04 of 11 Sketching the Horse's Structure Continuing to work on sketching the structure. Dan Lewis Don't get distracted by details at this stage. While finding these big shapes, also look for the main angles that are making up the big shapes.Indicate the area across the shoulder, rump, and legs.Also, indicated the height for the belly. 05 of 11 Correcting the Structure Correcting the structural sketch. Dan Lewis Right away, I’m noticing my initial neck and back lines feel too high. This is the point to correct these big shapes. You want to get them right before you find yourself too far into detail. The details will never be right if the big shapes aren’t correct. I tend to move around the picture a lot at this point. It's almost like trying to “feel” my way around it while double checking proportions, angles, plumb lines, etc. At this stage, it feels a little like sculpting in two dimensions. I sort of push and pull things around a bit until I get a good feel for the shapes involved. 06 of 11 Finalizing the Structure Finalizing the structure of the horse sketch. Dan Lewis At this point of the sketch, the structure is almost complete. From here the horse will rapidly come to life because we've taken the time to get the structure right. Adjust the angle of the horses back and brought the top of his neck down a bit.Indicate more angles in the legs. 07 of 11 Looking for Edges Tightening up lines and looking for edges. Dan Lewis Start tightening up some of the lines you're comfortable with.As you do this, begin to find some of the bony prominences in the shoulder and legs. They “feel” like they need to be sharper lines than the more rounded soft parts.Learn to look for where you think there should be hard and soft edges. 08 of 11 Add Shading Begin the shading lightly. Dan Lewis Now we're going to start shading the horse sketch. At this point, I’m just starting to color shapes in. Start light with your shading. Be patient and you’ll be amazed at how it builds up. 09 of 11 Continue Shading Shading broad masses. Dan Lewis Start by looking for your darkest and lightest tones and find a middle tone.Shade in masses. Be careful to not get wrapped up into detail yet.Squint your eyes as this will make it impossible for you to see too much detail too soon. Remember, patience is a virtue! 10 of 11 Developing Values Developing values. Dan Lewis Continue working throughout the entire sketch comparing values (lights and darks) with neighboring shapes. At this point, it’s entirely up to you how much you want to work on details and what kind of a finished look you want to go for. Use a kneaded eraser to help pull subtle lights out from your shadows.Look for reflected lights and if things aren’t quite looking right, double check with another good squint of your eyes. Often times, when we get into the detail work, we fail to see the whole picture and our values can get a little off. 11 of 11 The Completed Horse Sketch The completed horse sketch. Dan Lewis Ta-dah! Now, look at what you did! The completed horse sketch does not have too much fussy detail. Yet, with the key shapes drawn very accurately, the sketch is full of life without being sloppy.