Saturday, January 22, 2011

How to Draw a Horse -- The Short Version

Note on Facebook, and thread:  Get your team-leader to hire me to supervise the horse jobs. Why? When your movie comes out w/badly-drawn horses, it says to the female audience "This crap is good enough for YOU," and WE DON'T SHARE THE MOVIE WITH OUR FRIENDS. Girls go on WORD OF MOUTH. Can we say "TITANIC?" or "TWILIGHT?"

Okay, quick horse-drawing course: 
"A horse is a box with a leg at each corner."
Its front "knees" are its wrists; its back "knees" are its heels (hocks). 
It's walking on its fingernails. 
The neck is a springy flat curve.
The head is a parallelogram, w/long crocodile jaws inside (joint under the ears, not under the chin). 
The tail has bone & meat in it, like a dog's tail.
It has a big belly, viewed from above. 
It can take 10 lbs out meat out of you at a bite.
The hind-leg kick releases the same level of energy as a hand-grenade explosion (the leg extended by a movement of the upper hip-joint, lashing out the entire limb).

With this in mind, go watch moving horses on YouTube, and see if you don't improve.  Send me your pictures or links and I'll post 'em here.

Okay?  No more excuses, like that mess in the movie Beowulf.  And THEY had real horses, for crying out loud, and they still managed to produce marshmallow horses.  

First submission, from Wendy Parker, an old friend, army buddy, and now civil engineer assigned to obscure posts in the snows of Alaska:

Wendy's notes: 

"I know you are not supposed to teach us dweebs about drawing  for free, but since you gave some advice, I attempted to do what you said.
"Here it is after three hours of erasing.  The hardest part was the head, and the legs, getting them the right length. Not sure how I did on that.  Anyway, here is my horse with a stick up his butt.  I think I did his tail okay though....from the spine."

My critique:  "Your first horse?  Nice, solid weight on the earth, excellent work on the feet.  And yes, that IS the hardest part, getting the legs right.  The head is very nice.

Remember there's a dog-like tail under that hair.  And that everything a horse does with the ears and tail is a language, and they have many different positions.   The heavy, straight hair flows around the tail as it whips about.

I'd say this horse is calm, but with some ambivalence; that ear and the slight switching of the tail telegraph emotion very well."

I should point out Wendy has owned horses; being around real ones helps.  All these notes may help you understand your own process of learning to draw.

Next step:
Wendy:  "I did what you said and looked up a page on drawing horses.  My goal was to draw a horse with his head down like he was sniffing for grass. I found this site that dealt with the horses muscles and skeleton. Anyway, it still took forever, and, I'm not sure about the legs.  They look better than they did because they reminded me of Gumby or that super hero that stretches lol!. I don't think any of your friends would believe that I couldn't draw a decent horse before.  I thought maybe the neck wasn't long enough, but the way the horses head is tilted meant it should look shorter because she is looking this way.  Am I right?  I thought about the back leg, and it occurred to me that it looked like a leg bent at the knee and the hoof was a foot.  So when I approached it that way, it came out better.  I know I have a long way to go, and I'm not sure I will even go there, but I did what I did.  Nifty eh?"

My critique: "Here's another drawing hint:  stew a chicken, then slowly pull off the meat, paying attention to all muscle masses and bones.  Most muscles and bones are the same -- evolution is a very simple tool-box we all dip back down into (we have a lizard collar-bone, for example). The neck is exceptionally well done for a first tie.  Pat yourself on the back! REMEMBER; the horse walks on a single fingernail and the hock is YOUR heel, and the knee is up against the body.  The rest of the leg is "buried" in the quarters.  Remember there are bones under these forms.  Think of them as rebar.  To draw a hock, feel your own heel and ankle."


Mel said...

I love my horses. Every word you say describes how to depict them with love and respect. I adore their power, shyness, kindness, stroppiness and manipulativeness. I am smitten with the way I'm seen as herd member/boss/food supplier/reassurance/parent and child. Such complicated people (and I do see them as people, just different from bipeds) and so communicative. Thanks. Hoping others pick up on the info and get their depiction right.

Donna Barr said...

I dunno if I "love" horses. I have no illusions about them, because I know how powerful they are, how hard-headed and arrogant for reasons of survival. I'll never be one of them -- but they're so generous to include us. I once saved the life of a horse (and myself) and an abused, angry mare suddenly transformed me into herd leader. Of course, it then meant she never watched where she put her feet after that, and made ME do ALL the driving. Then there was my sister's ancient mare, that fell asleep under me -- AT A CANTER. Nobody believed me until another guy up here said, "Wow, I thought I was the only one had that happen."