This series will show you how to draw a horse’s face in colored pencil. I’ll be using the umber under drawing method, 90lb Stonehenge paper in Pearl Gray and Prismacolor pencils, but the method will work with most drawing papers and colored pencils.

It is a long demonstration, but it covers the process from start to finish, includes changes I made along the way and, in one case, how I solved an unexpected problem.

Shall we get started?

How to Draw a Horse's Face in Colored Pencil

About the Subject

Sometimes, an image is so intriguing, it worth revisiting.

If you’ve been following the Horse Painter blog for the last few years, you may recognize this photograph. I used a cropped version of it to create Buckles & Belts, a 6×8 original oil painting.

Buckles & Belts Reference Photo

The level of detail in the original photograph, shown above, is the sort of thing I love painting. It was perfect for a painting in oil. It’s ideal for colored pencil.

The horse also fits a goal of focusing on Quarter Horse art in 2012. This sleepy fellow was a pony horse at Mt. Pleasant Meadows, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. When I recently came across the 8×11 enlargement of the photo while looking for a new project, I decided to do a colored pencil version of Buckles & Belts.

About the Drawing

I’m using 90 pound Stonehenge drawing paper in Pearl Grey with the colored pencil variation of the Classical painting technique. I’ll also be using Prismacolor Verithin and Soft Core pencils, unless otherwise noted.

As mentioned above, however, you can use this method for any subject, on any good drawing paper, and using the pencils of your choice. The results may vary.

How to Draw a Horse’s Face in Colored Pencil

There was a drawing already in existence for an 11×14 oil painting that never got off the ground, so all I had to do was transfer the drawing to paper, clean it up a little bit, then assemble the working mat and it was ready to go. This is the transferred drawing.

How to Draw a Horse's Face in Colored Pencil - The Line Drawing

Transfer was accomplished with studio-made transfer paper. Soft graphite layered with heavy pressure over a piece of 8.5×11 typing paper. I’ve been using this type of transfer paper for years because it’s easy to recharge, it’s a lot cleaner than some commercially produced transfer papers, I can make any size sheet I wish and, of course, it’s inexpensive.

Because the drawing was so complicated, I took my time transferring it. The details need to be as complete as possible from the beginning when I’m working with colored pencils. Taking a couple of working sessions to do the transfer was worth the time and reduces the risk of agonizing over missed details late in the process.

The working mat assembly is made up of a minimum of two layers of mat board and a layer or two of corrugated cardboard. Each piece is cut to 16×20 (the outside dimension of the mat). The drawing is also cut to 16×20, the layers are placed together and bound to a mat with binder clips. It makes for a solid, stable, and lightweight working surface that protects the paper and serves very well as a ‘laptop’ drawing table.

Click the links below for the next steps.