How to Make a Horse Head Sculpture

Updated February 21, 2017

A longtime companion and useful help to humankind, horses are also a common source of artistic inspiration. If you're more inclined to create a sculptural bust of a horse's head than a human's, you may be less familiar with the necessary shapes involved. Plan a clay sculpture according to basics of proportion and anatomy, working from large and rough toward a detailed finish.

Lay out pieces of clay for the different parts of the horse's head. Select two pieces, one for the neck and one for the head, with the one for the neck being twice the size of the piece you use for the head. Pull a third piece of about half the size of the head to use for sculpting the extra features of the model.

Shape the largest piece of clay into a cone. Roll the clay first into a ball, then flatten one side of the ball by pressing it against your work station. Tip this shape on its side and form the cone by rolling it back and forth beneath a flattened hand, applying more pressure to the non-flattened side, pressing harder as you get to the tip, to form a narrow end. Adjust the pressure and rolling to make a thick cone, but one with a gradual taper.

Form the piece of clay for the head into an oval shape. Roll it into a ball, then make the ball oblong by rolling it back and forth under your hand for just a few strokes.

Attach the oval piece to the cone to make the rough shape of the horse's head. Fasten the oval piece to the side of the cone near to the top (so that the top of the oval piece is just below the point of the tip). Fold the tip of the cone over the oval and blend all of the clay into one solid piece.

Add the ears. Look at the tip of the oval and imagine the horse's nostrils there (look at a photo of a horse to use as a guide, if need be). Pull two pieces of clay large enough to encompass the nostrils on your model if they were spread flat. Shape these into ovals, then flatten them between your palms. Attach the flat ovals to the head and seal the clay into place.

Refine the shape. Run your hands down the left and right sides of the neck to slightly flatten them, then form the groove between the neck muscles by running the tip of your finger down each side while applying pressure. Form the horse's nose area by gently squeezing the front third of the oval head to narrow it. Use the sculpting tool to carve out holes for the nostrils and eyes and to cut a groove for the mouth.

Sculpt the final details. Pull two small balls from the extra clay you set aside, just big enough to fit inside the eye holes. Press them into place, then carve the shape of the pupils into the eyeballs. Sculpt the horse's hair from the rest of the extra clay by making a series of tiny, long thin snakes. Texture the hair pieces by carving lines on them with the sculpting tool.

Things You'll Need

  • Modelling clay
  • Water dish
  • Pointed sculpting tool
  • Bladed sculpting tool
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About the Author

Lauren Vork has been a writer for 20 years, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "The Lovelorn" online magazine and Vork holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from St. Olaf College.