Welcome back to this series about making a miniature drawing of a horse. Although the subject for this demonstration is an art trading card (3-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches), the methods I’m describing work with any size colored pencil drawing.

I’m also drawing a horse, but the method works equally well for landscapes, still life drawings, and any other subject you want to draw.

Last week, I showed you how to add color to the background.

This week, color work begins on the horse.

After a brief side trip into the background!

How to Draw a Horse in Miniature With Colored Pencils - Adding Color to the Horse

A Few Changes to the Background

As sometimes happens, the next time I worked on this drawing, I realized the background needed a little more work.

So the first thing I did was layer Prismacolor Soft Core Apple Green over the lighter parts of the background and Dark Green over the dark places. I used medium pressure with these two colors, then used heavier pressure to add Peacock Green, Chartreuse, and Light Green.

TIP: Don’t be frustrated if you discover an area you thought was finished one day needs more work the next. Looking at a drawing later in the day or the next day often reveals areas that need improvement.

Adding Color to the Horse

For the initial color work on the horse, I went back to Verithin pencils. I layered Verithin Goldenrod in the lighter areas around the eye and behind the ears. For the middle value colors, I chose Orange and Orange Ochre. Indigo Blue was used in the mane and forelock and in the darker shadows around the eye and muzzle.

Light to medium pressure was used with each color (3 to 6 on the 10-point pressure scale). Directional strokes mimicking the patterns of hair growth and the contours of muscle mass were also used, although in some of the darker areas, I used whatever strokes were necessary to get the right darkness.

I worked around highlights as much as possible, but especially on the head and shoulder, where the highlights will be the most prominent. Goldenrod (the lightest color) defined the highlights the most.

With each subsequent (and darker) color, I left a little more margin between the edge of the color and the highlight. By the time the drawing is finished, I’ll have the range of colors often seen in chestnuts and red bays.

How to Draw a Horse in Miniature With Colored Pencils - Adding Color to the Horse


I developed coat color by layering Terra Cotta, Goldenrod, Orange Ochre, Dark Brown, and Crimson Red. With each layer, I worked around the highlights.

Black and Indigo Blue were in the darkest areas: muzzle, eye, mane, and forelock.

Each layer was applied with light pressure (2 to 4 on the 10-point value scale). Directional strokes with well-sharpened pencils were also the order of the day.

I also shortened or lengthened strokes according to the area I worked on. Longer strokes in the forelock and shorter strokes in the neck and head, for example. Around the muzzle and eyes, I switched to very short or circular strokes.

How to Draw a Horse in Miniature With Colored Pencils - Adding Color to the Horse 2


Other Notes

With only two rounds of work in place, the horse is already beginning to look three dimensional. The sooner you develop the appearance of form, the better. Working around highlights and paying attention to shadows is the best way to do this.

I’ve always found it best to work with light pressure and multiple layers until color and wax buildup make heavier pressure necessary. Then, I increase pressure only when necessary and only as much as necessary.

If You Want to Follow Along

If you want to follow this demonstration with your own drawing, here are the materials I’ve used so far.

  • Rising Stonehenge paper, 90lb, white cut to 3-1/2″ by 2-1/2″ (if you want to do an ACEO)
  • Graphite pencil, 2B or softer, to shade the back of the drawing for transfer. Any non-greasy transfer paper will also work.
  • Umber Under Drawing
    • Prismacolor Verithin Dark Umber pencil. I use Verithin pencils for the first stages of most drawings because they have a thinner, harder pigment core. That means they hold a point much longer and they make a thinner mark. They also contain less wax binder, so they don’t fill the tooth of the paper quite as much.
  • Adding Color to the Background
    • Verithin Pencils
      • Dark Umber
      • Goldenrod
      • Terra Cotta
      • Apple Green
      • Grass Green
      • Olive Green
      • Peacock Green
      • True Green
      • Canary Yellow
      • True Blue
      • Non-Photo Blue
      • Ultramarine
    • Prismacolor Soft Core Pencils
      • Apple Green (light areas)
      • Dark Green (dark areas)
      • Peacock Green (blending color)
      • Chartreuse (blending color)
      • Light Green (blending color)
  • Adding Color to the Horse
    • Verithin Pencils
      • Goldenrod (light areas)
      • Orange (middle values/base color)
      • Orange Ochre (middle values/base color)
      • Indigo Blue (dark areas and blacks)
      • Terra Cotta
      • Dark Brown
      • Crimson Red

Next week, I’ll finish the drawing.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the process so far, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Other Articles in This Series

How to Draw a Horse in Miniature With Colored Pencils

How to Draw a Horse in Miniature With Colored Pencils – Adding Color to the Background