Every Tuesday I critique the painting or drawing of one of my youtube subscribers. Today is a drawing from artist Andrea McManus. She has completed this horse drawing in colored pencil and a bit of pastels. The main things that I liked about this piece are the fact that I can tell by looking at her reference photos (shown in the video) exactly which part of the horse is from which photo. She isn’t just randomly drawing things from memory or not paying attention to her reference photo (something I see a lot with newer students).

Using several reference photos however can cause a few issues, especially for newer artists. I recommend artists start off with a single quality image to work from for at least their first 20 times drawing that subject matter. The reason for this is that we need a clear understanding of the anatomy of that subject before we can successfully combine several lesser quality photos.

Andrea has done a great job on her piece, but there are a few things that can be improved upon. The first is the ear closest to us. The shape and inner ear are not drawn out and shaded quite right. The reference photo was too dark to really see the detail needed, so this is a great example of the importance of using quality reference photos when starting off.

Next, the eye is not shaped or angled quite right. The eye is angled in this drawing too horizontally (that statement screams grammatical error…I think I need to submit my writing for critique somewhere haha). The inner portion of the eye should be angled slightly downward. The wrinkles under the eye are too over exaggerated, giving the look of a more human eye structure. The “eyebrow” should actually be a shadow, not a single line.

For the nose, the shape is very much like the first reference photo. I see exactly what the artist was seeing, however between the lighting and angle, it looks incorrect. It is not in the proper position above the mouth and the shape is wrong. Again, I totally see what she was seeing in that reference photo, but this is another example of the importance of learning and understanding the anatomy of the subject.

There are a few more adjustments that can be made in addition to those suggestions, like better developing the chin. Also, the cheek is a bit too rounded. The shading was great for creating depth, but this is an area that should look a bit more flat. Speaking of dimension, the reigns could use more shading and detail as well.

Andrea has done a great job. I love that I can look at the photo and see what she was seeing in each line in her drawing. With better reference photos I bet her drawings are going to be absolutely stunning!!