The last two posts in this series involved adding color to the landscape for a large colored pencil pastoral. It was a two-step process in which I established the basic colors, then enhanced the color and developed details.

I also did a little work on the mane and tail of the horse to avoid losing those areas to the background. This is how the drawing looked when I finished with the landscape.

Adding Color to Umber Under Drawing Step 10


How to Add Color to an Umber Under Drawing – The Horse

As with the landscape, adding color to the horse involved two steps: establishing the base colors and details and developing color and value ranges.

The final step with every drawing is reviewing it as a whole and making whatever adjustments to color, value, and detail may become apparent.

How to Add Color to a Horse Using the Umber Under Drawing Method

Establishing Base Colors and Details

The base color for the horse was drawn with a combination of Yellow Ochre in the lighter mid-tones, Pumpkin Orange in the mid-tones, Dark Umber in the shadows, and Cloud Blue in the reflected highlights. Each color was applied with light pressure and a sharp pencil. Wherever possible, I stroked in the direction of hair growth. When that wasn’t possible, I worked around the contours of the horse’s body.

TIP: The base color is the foundation for everything else. Use small strokes placed close together or the side of a well-sharpened pencil to create smooth, even color.

Adding Color to Umber Under 1rawing Step 11


Once the overall color was in place, I used Slate Gray in the light areas and Black in the shadows of the muzzle and black areas. Color was applied with tiny, circular strokes to the muzzle and with directional strokes in the forelock.Adding Color to Umber Under Drawing Step 13


Next, I worked on the legs and muzzle using Black and Slate Blue, darkening values and drawing detail.

Mineral Orange, Dark Umber, and Red Ochre were used in the body, neck and head.

For this round of color, I again worked throughout the horse with light pressure.

TIP: At some phases of a drawing, you can spend a couple of hours working without appearing to make much progress. Be patient! Your work will be rewarded if you stick with it!

Adding Color to Umber Under Drawing Step 14


I layered Mineral Orange, Sienna Brown, and Burnt Umber over the body, legs, and neck, then added Black to the legs and darkest shadows of the body. Limepeel was used to draw reflected light on the under sides of the belly, chest, and legs.

Next, I added Orange throughout the horse, shading over some of the highlights that had been protected up to that point and working around others. I used my computer reading glasses for the work so the work was slightly out of focus. That helped me avoid getting too detailed too quickly. I also applied color mostly with the side of the pencil.

Then I layered Sienna Brown and Henna over the brown parts of the horse using broad strokes and following the contours of the horse. Except for the smaller areas or tighter details, I used the side of the pencils.

The browns were getting a little too bold, so I toned them down with a layer of Peacock Green, which I also used on the black areas.

To darken the blacks and darker shadows, I next used medium pressure to apply Copenhagen Blue, then glazed Henna over all of the horse except the blacks.

At that point, my goal shifted to building up color and value as quickly as possible toward a finish. Toward that end, I layered:

  • Tuscan Red over all of the horse but the brightest highlights and the reflected light areas
  • Ultramarine on the legs and in the darker shadows in the head and body
  • Dark Brown over almost all the horse
  • Bruynzeel Full Color* Permanent Orange over all of the browns

All colors were applied in medium length parallel strokes except in the tighter, smaller areas and when I needed to create a directional pattern.

Adding Color to Umber Under Drawing Step 15

That concluded work on the first round of work. The basic colors and details are now in place. It’s time to finish. We’ll tackle that all important step in the next post.

*The Full Color line of Bruynzeel pencils is no longer available. I’ve read that the Design line is the same basic pencil and that the colors are the same, but I have yet to give them a try.

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