Watercolor Horse Painting Tutorial – How to Paint the Mane

Watercolor Horse Painting Tutorial – How to Paint the Mane


hey guys welcome to my channel! Horses
have always been one of my favorite things to paint and draw so I’m excited
to share with you my process for painting a realistic mane on a horse- in
this case, two horses! I’ve been getting lots of requests for real-time videos so
this one is all real-time, no sped up footage. Before we get into the tutorial
hit that subscribe button and turn on notifications so you never miss any of
my new videos and please leave me a friendly comment. I’m always looking for
ways to improve my channel and bring you the best watercolour instruction
possible. Okay let’s get started! For this beautiful pair of horses today I’m going
to be using a couple of key colors: Daniel Smith indigo and burnt umber. I’m
going to start with the horse over here on the left. Since I am right-handed I
want to work left to right and i’m going to wet the paper inside of the horse. With hot pressed paper you do have to
work pretty fast because it dries really fast. It’s not super absorbent. So I’m
just filling that in with clean water here. I’m using my size 6 Rhapsody
Kolinsky Sable round brush- this is a natural bristle brush- one of my
favorites, just holds a lot of water and disperses the paint really well. Ok
everything is glistening wet ready for paint so we’re going to start with the
first layer. This is just a watered-down indigo. When you mix indigo and a little
bit of brown you get a really nice neutral grey. Because there’s kind of a
merging of these two shapes here between the horses heads I’m going to start to
paint into the mane of the other horse a little bit while I’m blocking this in.
Working fairly loosely here just using quick swiping brush strokes and I’ll intensify this color as I go. You’ll notice I’m leaving a little spot
of light here that’s poking through the mane and the shadow of the mane comes across
this horse’s nose so I’m painting in the first suggestion of that. So while this
is drying I’m going to wait for that to dry before I come back into that area,
I’m going to start adding a first layer to my second horse. In the reference
photo the mane is a little bit matted and I’m just going to kind of smooth
that out in my painting a little bit just to help it look a little more
elegant gracefully draped across the horse. Our first layer is dry enough we
can come back and start adding some more paint I’m going to begin by doing some
detail work here in the mane. We need to darken it all over- it has this nice
indigo hue to it and so I’m going to just start with a nice dark wash of
paint over the top of that initial layer, maybe neutralize it a little bit with
some brown and then let’s begin to pull that dark indigo color into the mane. I’m basically painting a rather imperfect
flat wash here where the mane is- I say imperfect because I’m not too
worried about it- it’s not like a sky or something like that where you have to be
really careful. This is a first wash because eventually
I’m going to go over it with black to create the inner shadows separating the
pieces of mane and I’m going to start using the tip of my brush to just add a
little bit of wispy strands of mane hair coming up at the top here. We don’t
want that to be a flat unnatural looking edge so it’s important to just add those
little details to make it look more real. I’m negative painting around some of
these strands of mane that are crossing over this horse’s head from the other
horse. All right you can see how light that’s
already drying but that’s okay. We are going to add some black details once
that’s dry. If your paint isn’t flowing smoothly on the paper you probably
just need a little more water so when you see me grabbing water up here that’s
what I’m doing. I’m just loosening up the paint so to speak so that it flows
really easily on my paper. This really just takes practice and experience.
There’s no shortcut to learning how much water to put on your brush and on your
paper- just have to practice a lot. If you’re enjoying this video and you would
like to see more, click on the link in the description for my full-length fully
narrated version of this tutorial along with my reference photo and sketch.
Oh and while you’re there grab my free guide on watercolor basics and I’m
adding new courses to my website every month. My goal is to help you take your
watercolor skills to the next level! Okay let’s get back to the video! You’ll
notice I’m not painting these two shapes separately. I’m trying to merge
them as I paint and that’s because I don’t want this horse to look cut out
over the top of this one. They’re kind of becoming one in this image and so it’s
important to paint those shapes together merging the mane into this shadow shape
on the front of the nose. I am switching to my silver black velvet size 4
3000S round brush and I’m going to be doing some more details in the mane and
in the mouth so that’s why I’m switching to a slightly smaller brush. All right
I’m gonna actually use lamp black. Alright so let’s start over here and just start
painting around some of the highlights in the mane. I would say don’t articulate every
single strand of fur especially if you want it to look expressive. Use the broad
side of your brush to create long sweeping motions that aren’t so fine
tipped and detailed and that’ll help balance out the shapes in the
composition. I’m going to leave that highlight there. If your paper is dry enough you can rest
your hand on it to support your hand. You do want a steady hand when you’re
working with details like this. I’m going to take a wash and cover over this
entire area just to darken it and kind of smooth it out a little bit. Not the
focal point. So I don’t want it to be too detailed. And darken up this mane, and then a few
of them I’m just pulling down and out cuz they’re a little longer. Let’s just
add another wispy of mane fur over here. I’m just gonna do a wash just like I did
on this side over the entire thing. I want to make sure my base layer is dark
enough before I add the very very dark details. This side again it’s going to be a
little bit made up because I didn’t really care for the way the shapes
looked in the actual photo so I’m going to adjust those as needed. I do want to
preserve this white spot on the side of the horse. I do think that’s very
beautiful and there’s one strand of fur coming across. I’m just kind of moving
its position on the horse moving it down a little bit but I’m gonna put that in.
Paint quickly so that no hard edge forms when you outline something like
that. All right lovely so let’s add some details to the white side of the mane
here where the white part of our horse is in the sunlight which actually it’s
almost entirely in sunlight. The mane has a yellowish cast to it so let’s just
paint on some light strands of white fur over here- not too detailed with this- not
the focal point so don’t go too detailed. And now I’m switching back to my black
velvet size 4 round brush to do the details in the mane. I still have this
incredibly rich mixture of burnt umber and indigo, it’s just about black, and
then begin adding our darkest details to the mane. Here along the ridge where the
mane folds over on the other side is a very very dark shadow. I’m beginning by
blocking that in with an almost straight line, not perfectly straight of course
because that wouldn’t look very natural, and then connecting these curving mane
details up and over. Allow some of those highlighted areas to
show through. Don’t paint on a mane completely black it’s not going to look
real. And here’s where I’m modifying the
design a little bit and making the mane just a little more filled in than what I
see in the photo and just overlaying this with a nice
flat wash of dark gray because as I go in with my very darkest black details I
can see overall the mane needs to go darker, too, even in the highlights, so
that’s where adding a flat wash after it’s dry can really help darken the
whole thing up without losing your details that you so carefully painted. And now I’m pulling in dark black
strands of mane fur. They’re not perfectly straight lines but you can
just use a long swiping motion with your brush. Something you can do if you’re not
confident with your brush control is to take a scrap piece of paper and just
test out brushstrokes on that just to see how thick and thin your brush can go.
That’s something you can try if you’re afraid of- if you’re afraid to ruin your
painting especially once you’ve gotten this far. Don’t be afraid!
You can always paint it again and chances are if you mess it up and you
have to paint it again the second one will be even better,
so there’s nothing to be afraid of. Just give it your all and if it didn’t turn
out like you hoped just try it again. With every painting you should be
learning something new, practicing your skills, and just getting better and
better. There’s no limit to what you can accomplish! If you enjoyed this video
please give it a thumbs up and check out these other videos on painting realistic
animals. Thanks for watching!

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