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Easy Watercolor Horse: Painting The Secretariat

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Step 1: Proportions Of A Horse And His Jockey


To start off, frame your paper using artist’s tape. The tape will create a clean white border around your painting, setting it up for possible framing purposes later. When you’re done, you can begin translating the reference photo into a simple sketch.  

Start with drawing the jockey. In terms of composition, try not to place him and the horse dead center. Instead, shift them slightly forward to give room for painting speed lines in later. Working from his head to his body, arms, and legs, make sure to keep his unusual pose in proportion. Remember to include some details such as his goggles and the checkered pattern on his uniform.

Next is getting good guidelines for your watercolor horse. Use the jockey’s head as a visual relative to Secretariat’s mane, and for other proportions. Move on to draw his chest and body, then the front legs, taking care to get the joints and angles in proportion. Add the details for the horse’s mask, taking care around the eye area.

For the back half, measure the length you need to fit in the tail without drawing off the paper. Note the angles of the back two legs and hooves, where they point, how high each one is relative to the ground and to one another, etc. Finish up the composition by drawing the ground, the railings, and the rest of Secretariat’s racing gear. If you do happen to make a mistake, don’t feel as if you have to erase it. Simply draw a new line, and cover the mistake with paint later.

Below is a close-up of Bill’s sketch: