What Colours to Use When Drawing a Bay Horse in Coloured Pencil | Colour Recipe

Feb 16, 2024
What Colours to Use When Drawing a Bay Horse in Coloured Pencil | Colour Recipe

What colours I use to create a rich and vibrant brown colour, when drawing animals, is probably one of my most asked questions, which is why I’m sharing my colour recipe for this bay horse and sharing a couple of tips and techniques along the way.


This piece is approximately 10" x 9”, is drawn on white Pastelmat board, and I put a bit of a background in for this one so I’m going to quickly share how I created the sky before I share the colour recipe for the horse.

For the sky, I used a Sky Blue and a Cold Grey 1 Pablo to give it a little bit of a dull feel, because it isn’t a bright blue sky, and as I drew this piece on Pastelmat it meant all I did was very gently go round and round in circles to put all the pigment down and then used a cotton bud just to gently smudge and blend it together. It worked really well and is a nice simple technique to create a bit of a background for your drawings on Pastelmat.

When you look at the horse, some areas are a lot lighter and more orange and then areas, such as the shoulder, that are darker in colour due to the lighting, so I used different colours and that’s important to remember. Just because this is a bay horse, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same shade and require the same pencils all through its body.

In those darker areas, I used Burnt Sienna and Caput Mortum Violet to create that beautiful dark reddish brown and in the really dark areas I used a little bit of Dark Indigo. Adding Dark Indigo is amazing to incorporate on top of browns because it leaves you with that lovely deep chocolatey brown, but you have to be careful when working on top of orange as it can turn green. It’s one of my favourite things to do when working on brown animals.

In the lighter areas of horses this colour you tend to see some yellows and pinks in there as well, so in this piece, I’ve used a couple of pinks and they are Granite Rose, which is a Pablo, and Cherry Blossom, which is a Holbein. They’re very similar colours but I used them both because the Pablo is really good at going in over other colours to add details and the Holbein is very soft so it works beautifully when blending. I have also used an Apricot Pablo in the lighter areas as it’s a bit more orangey and again works incredibly well for this colour horse.


If you want to hear me talk you through all this with the use of the drawing, then make sure to watch the video at the top of this blog. I also have more colour recipes for drawing different types of brown fur and hair in my Colour Recipes Guide, which you can download for free here.

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