Welcome back to our ongoing series on using the umber under drawing method to draw a horse in the landscape. If you missed the previous posts, here are the links.

This week, I’ll show you the under drawing for the horse. I’m still using primarily Prismacolor Light Umber (soft core), but I’ll also be using Verithin Dark Umber for some of the darker values and finer details.

Let’s get started.

How to Finish an Umber Under Layer


First Umber Layers

Beginning with the grounded hind leg, I started shading the horse, working from the top to the bottom of that leg, then working out the other hind leg and up into the body. I used the point of the pencil and very light pressure to establish and darken the shadows.

For broader areas like the rump, barrel, and neck, I used the side of the pencil, making long, sweeping strokes or shorter strokes following the contours of the horse.

For the tail, mane, and forelock, I used heavier pressure and the point of the pencil. Strokes followed the direction of hair growth, but I used a variety of lengths of stroke to fill out both areas and especially the tail.

Umber Under Drawing Step 5


I worked on the horse’s head with Verithin Dark Umber, beginning with the muzzle. I used the pencil point for detail areas and the pencil side for broader applications.

I also worked a little Prismacolor Light Umber into those areas to darken them a little further. The forelock, mane, tail, and ears were darkened and are now finished at least until the rest of the first under drawing is completed.

Umber Under Drawing Step 6


I worked all over the horse, with no particular organization or direction. Values were darkened in the legs, head, neck, chest, body and rump. I used the side of the pencil to lay in broad layers of color, then smoothed some of them with a folded tissue.

I wanted to redraw the front hoof so I used the digital reference on the computer enlarged as much as possible. The existing hoof was lifted with sticky stuff, then I used the Light Umber pencil to redraw the pastern and hoof. I had to do that twice, but ended up with a much better sized and shaped hoof.

Umber Under Drawing Step 9


I used Light Umber in the front leg, chest, neck, shoulder, body, and rump, laying in a thin layer of color. Between each layer of color, I blended with tissue paper.

In a few areas such as the eyes, forelock, and mane, I added touches Dark Umber.

By the time I finished the session, the first under drawing was complete.

Umber Under Drawing Step 10


TIP: The first umber layer is complete when you’ve established the major values and defined necessary details to your satisfaction. Sometimes, all you need is a single umber layer. The drawing could have advanced to color at the stage shown above had I wanted to do that.

The Second Umber Layer

The second layer—and subsequent layers if necessary—build on the foundation of the first layer. A lot of the work involves deepening values and bringing details into sharper focus.

So I worked throughout the horse when I began the second umber layer.

The most attention was given to the opposite front leg and the back legs, all of which I darkened to  increase the value range. I also worked on the shoulder, chest and body, reshaping the contours as necessary and adding contours where I’d previously missed them.

I had to lift some color on the rump, particularly the back edge, because in comparing it with the digital reference, I could see some errors in the drawing. I also worked on shaping the flank, too, since that had been rather shapeless up to this point.

Umber Under Drawing Step 11


I added a layer of color to the shadows, shading over some of the highlights to tone them down. Finally, I added a little more color to the grass in the foreground and to the trees in the background.

Umber Under Drawing Step 12

Umber Under Drawing Step 12 Detail


Now the umber under drawing is complete.

But not everything went as smoothly in this phase as this post may make you think. About half way through, I discovered a major problem with the head. A problem big enough to require removing a portion of the drawing and doing it over.

Next week, I’ll show you what the problem was and tell you how I fixed it. You won’t want to miss that.