How to draw a horse outline in 5 steps

How to draw a horse - final product

Prerequisites – Find your reference image

In this article, we’re going to look at how to draw a horse outline, using a reference. One of the best things you can do as an artist at any skill level, is use references, and lots of them! Never ever think that it’s cheating to use a reference. It’s very difficult for the human brain to remember and reproduce the exact shape of complex objects.

First, let’s find ourselves a nice free to use reference image. Don’t be naughty and violate someone’s copyright!

Wasechun tashunka [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Now that we’ve got a reference image, let’s start!


Step 1 – Find your proportions

How to draw a horse - figuring out proportions

Start off by roughing out the very basic structure of the horse. We’re very concerned with the proportions at this stage. Try to figure out the ratio between the body and the neck, as well as the body and the legs. We don’t want the neck to be disproportionate to the body or we may end up with a giraffe! At this stage, proportion is vital. We will have a much harder time changing our proportions later on if we decide we’ve screwed up.


Step 2 – Block in simple shapes

How to draw a horse - simple shapes

Once we’ve got our proportions nicely mapped out, we can give the horse some shape. Use basic shapes. I noticed the body looks kind of like a bean – two large connected circles. There are a lot of angles going on with the legs and neck, so rectangles and triangles work well for this.


Step 3 – Rough out the outline

How to draw a horse - refinement

Happy with the way things are going, I start to give the horse some detailed lines. I keep it pretty rough at this point. I don’t mind so much about tidiness; I just want to quickly get the general shape down. All the while, I’m looking at my reference picture. I use the basic shapes I blocked out as a guideline.


Step 4 – Add more detail

How to draw a horse - further refinement

Nice. Adding a bit more detail here. Things like the eye, noses, mouth, and hooves. I also fix the positioning of the tail. I erase some of the reference lines from previous stages which are no longer helping me.


Step 5 – Finalise

How to draw a horse - final product

Happy so far, I neatly and cleanly redraw my lines on a new layer, and add a little more detail to the head, mane, and tail. I want to make sure my outline is unbroken, as I’ll be using it later on to add some colour.

Remember, don’t be afraid to erase parts of your drawing that don’t look quite right. However, it’s much better to fix things early on. Things are harder to fix later!


And that’s it – how to draw a horse outline in five steps. If you found value in this article, please share! Check out part two: How to paint a horse in 7 steps.

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