Almost everyone remembers going through a “horse phase.” Whether it was sparked by a live encounter or from watching animal documentaries, it often leads to magical reveries of your own horse companion. So, why not put those fantasies to paper and practice drawing the horse of your dreams?
In this tutorial, we will go through the steps of drawing a horse head from three different angles—profile, three-quarter, and from the front. Then, for those ready to try something more advanced, there will be instructions on how to draw a full horse body. Want to give it a go? Then pick out your favorite horse pictures and grab your drawing supplies—let’s draw some horses!
Finding Reference Photos
It’s good practice to do a bit of research before beginning any drawing. In the case of horses, it’s especially important to have a few good photos handy, as they’re rather complex animals.
Since we’re drawing a horse in profile, be very selective. You’ll want to make sure that you have a good view of its features with no obstructions (i.e. people, other animals, foliage). As we start drawing, keep in mind that there are many breeds of horses with varying shapes of noses, so always look to your reference photo first, as it may differ from the example shown.
How to Draw a Horse Head From the Side
Step 1: Lightly sketch the foundation
First, you’ll want to draw the basic shapes of the horse head. Lightly sketch a circle for the head and a long, oval-like shape for the nose. Consult your reference photo to see if you have the basic proportions more or less in place, but don’t worry too much if it isn’t perfect.
Step 2: Place the ears, eyes, and mouth
This step continues to look at proportion as we place the horse’s most important features.
So, you’ll want to add two triangle shapes a little above the circle sketch, almost where it connects to the neck—these will be the ears. At the very end of the oval shape, you can denote the nostril with another oval, and a line for the mouth. Since this horse head is in the profile we only have to draw one eye, but make sure its placement is closer to the ears than the nostril. You’ll want the horse’s eye to be halfway in the circle, not the whole head.
Step 3: Add the mane
At this stage, you can begin to carve out the final outline of the horse head from the circle and oval shapes you already laid out. Always keep your reference photo handy to see if you are going in the right direction.
Afterward, you can reward yourself with a bit of creativity in designing your horse’s mane. Wavy, straight, braided—there are many fun possibilities to choose from. Searching places like Pinterest and Instagram will inspire you with many ideas.
Step 4: Erase your guidelines
Once you’re content with the final drawing, it’s time to erase the basic shapes from the first step. At this time, you can look over your horse and check with your reference photo to see if any adjustments need to be made. You can also add the pupil and lashes to the eye, as well as other finer details.
Optional: Add a border and decorative elements
Even if you’re only drawing this horse head for practice, why not take one more step and make it a complete illustration? To make an easy border, all you’ll need is a ruler or protractor. For a square border, measure a box around the horse’s face. Alternatively, use the protractor to draw a circle. You can then draw small dots along the curved line for a more delicate effect.
If you want to fill in the empty space, consider adding some flora, like wheat, trees, or another animal.
Step 5: Go over the drawing with ink and/or color
If you’ve decided to go over your drawing in ink, then pull out your pen collection and find a favorite. You can either go over the graphite lines with the same pen for a consistent look or—if you have pens with varying nibs—try using a bolder pen for the horse and a finer line for the extra elements. This way, the horse head will stand out.
Remember to take a few extra minutes to let the ink dry before you begin erasing, just in case. After enough time has passed, slowly erase any visible sketch lines and voila! You now know how to draw a horse head from the side!