Colouring a horse: step by step

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Tired of painting portraits of humans? Try something different this time! Due to the different shapes, sizes and colours, animals can make for very interesting and fun subjects to draw and paint. Also, let’s not forget how cute they are!

Horses symbolize the nobility of virtue, spirit, companionship and fortitude during hard times. Often times, those who hang paintings of horses, they do so because these paintings capture and reflect the above mentioned qualities. While painting a horse can seem somewhat daunting, it is not impossible. You just have to take it one step at a time to learn how to paint a horse.

What you will need:
Camlin Canvas
Camlin Pencil
Oil Pastels
• Reference image of a horse

Here are steps to teach you how to paint a horse for beginners:

Step 1: Use a reference image

Pick a simple reference image of a horse to begin with. Pick a close-up image of a horse so that it’s not too complex to paint the horse, allowing you to learn gradually, without overwhelming you.

Step 2: Sketching the horse

Lightly sketch the outline of the horse, as per the reference image you picked. Avoid making bold strokes with the pencil. Hold the pencil firmly but make sure that when you sketch, the tip of the pencil lands softly on the paper. This way, you will avoid making dents on the paper that can’t be hidden using oil pastels.

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Step 3: Getting the under painting right

Since this horse is brown, start by colouring a base coat of the colour brown. You can use a light shade of any colour depending on the colour of the horse.

Step 4: Shading in

Start colouring the edges of the horse’s face. Where the light hits the body of the horse, make use of lighter colours such as grey, light cream and brown mixed with white. If you notice carefully, this horse has multiple colours on its coat, so you will have to use a mix of all those colours to make the painting look as realistic as possible.

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Step 5: Highlighting features

Blend the darker colour with a lighter colour to bring out the depth in the face of the horse. Draw thin strokes with the crayons to draw the hair along the nasal bridge of the horse. Then, colour in the eyes. Make sure to use white with a darker shade to give the eyes a depth. The jaw line, the ears and the nose of the horse should begin to stand out at this stage.

Note that while colouring in straight lines can be used to highlight the bone structure of the head and the nose very well, colouring in circles can help in painting the jaw of the horse.

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Step 6: Shaping the features further

Once you have roughly coloured the different parts of the horse’s face, focus on each feature (the ears, eyes, nose, etc) to further sharpen it. Focus on creating a natural contrast by bringing out the play between the light and shadows.

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Step 7: Accentuating the horse’s head

Once you have finished highlighting each feature of the horse, colour the background of the horse. If the background is made up of a dark shade as shown in the image above, be sure to colour the border of the horse’s face with a lighter shade.

Step 8: Finishing touches

Make sure that the subject of your painting does not merge with the background. Add a light border to your subject to separate it from the background clearly.

After you are satisfied with the details of the horse and its background, focus on the foreground. In the reference images, the horse is inside a stable. If the colour of the horse is a darker shade, then use a lighter shade to colour the stable. This will ensure that the subject stands out.

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Once you are done colouring the foreground, go back to every detail and check if you would like to change something. It is possible that you might change your mind about a certain colour or you might simply realise that you need to add something that you missed before.

After a thorough check, compare your painting to your reference image. Once you are satisfied with the result, you will know that your horse painting is ready to be hung.

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Did you enjoy learning how to paint a horse with oil pastels? Do let us know in the comments section below!

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