How to Sketch a Roman Chariot Horse

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to Sketch a Roman Chariot Horse
Every sketch begins with putting pencil to paper. (crayon image by Frédéric Daniau from

Horses are beautiful and majestic animals. They are inspiring to sketch because it is rewarding to express their beauty through art. The Roman chariot horse was a particularly beautiful and powerful animal. The challenge in sketching a Roman chariot horse is capturing the muscles and motion of the creature. Whether or not the chariot is included in the sketch, the sketch must convey the sense of purpose that the chariot horse embodied. The sense of purpose can be captured by shading with careful attention to detail.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Images of Roman chariot horses
  • Sketching pencils
  • Paper
  • Small clear ruler
  • Paper stumps
  • Eraser

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  1. 1

    Study several images of Roman chariot horses. Gain a clear understanding of what they look like and what distinguishes them from other horses. Use these images as a reference to get inspiration for your sketch.

  2. 2

    Use a sketch pencil and sketch pad to lightly sketch the layout of the drawing. Determine where the horse will be positioned on the paper and how much of the drawing the horse will take up. Define these areas lightly with a pencil.

  3. 3

    Break down the outline of the horse into a combination of different shapes. Start with the head and neck. Sketch the head as an elongated oval shape. The neck should be a triangular shape. Sketch the body as a large oval. Form the hind quarters of the horse with a smaller oval. Sketch the legs, making them gracefully thick to thin as you work your way down to the hooves.

  4. 4

    Start adding detail to the basic shapes. Gradually sketch in more and more parts until the basic shapes fade away. The eyes, nostrils, ears, mane, tail and hooves should all be sketched in great detail. These are defining parts of the horse.

  5. 5

    Determine the source of light in the sketch. The shading of the horse should be done according to the light source. If there is a question of how the shading would fall on an object, hold an object at the approximate angle from a light source that the horse is from the light source in the sketch. Hold the pencil at a slight angle to start shading the sketch. Shade areas to indicate the graceful curves of the body where the muscles bulge in and out.

  6. 6

    Use a paper stump to soften the shaded areas where necessary. A paper stump allows for many subtleties in shading. Use an eraser to further soften areas and define lines.

  7. 7

    Add the details specific to the Roman chariot horse. Lightly sketch the outlines of the harness, reins and bit. Add in more details and darken the outlines. Sketch in the chariot with light, smooth strokes. Add some details and make the outline darker. The basic carriage and wheels are sufficient; do not add as much detail to the chariot as the horse. The horse is the focal point, and as such has the largest amount of detail.

  8. 8

    Use an eraser to clean up any smudges or stray marks throughout the sketch. Sign and date the sketch in the bottom right-hand corner.

Tips and warnings

  • Create a series of sketches to depict different aspects of the chariot horse's role in the Roman Empire.

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