Thursday, July 9, 2015

Horse Head Sculpture - Drawing the Horse, Points of the Horse, and Relative Measurements

horse head points, points of horse head

Drawing the Horse

1. Use reference materials. Some people work better from live, animated objects while others work well from photo references, magazines, or books. Artist anatomical books like "An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists" by W. Ellenberger show the bone structure, muscle structure, and other important aspects of the horse and other animals, as well as more in depth key relative measurements.

2. See with your eyes, not with your memory. You may be tempted to change parts of the horse based on what you remember. Once you have enough experience with the subject your working with, there is more room for experimentation. But when starting out, try to work within the confines of realism in order to gain a better perspective of the subject.

horse head points, points of horse head, horse head parts

Points of the Horse

The picture to the left names some of the more important points of the horse's head and neck areas.

Laying Out The Drawing

Once you have your reference materials, lay out the drawing with the main positioning and muscle structure outlined. Keep in mind that this drawing will be your main guideline for the sculpture, but don't add too much detail here.

horse head measurements, planning horse head sculpture

Relative Measurements

The following measurements are very close approximations. These measurements are slightly different for different breeds of horses, but are a great general reference.

A (head), D (neck), and E (the distance between the withers and the point of the shoulder) are typically equal in length. In draft horses, D is slightly shorter (larger head, thicker body, shorter neck)

B and F are typically the same length, and are approximately 3/5 the length of A, D, or E. In english thoroughbreds, B is slightly longer (longer face, thinner neck). C is approximately 2/5 the length of A.

planning a horse sculpture, sculpting a horse out of clay

Actual Measurements

Once you have your drawing, you need an idea of how the sculpture will be put together. The first step is to decide what the actual dimensions of the sculpture will be. Keep in mind that clay shrinks when it is fired, so the measurements you use to build your sculpture will end up larger than the finished sculpture. A good average for figuring clay shrinkage is approximately 10-15%. Any clay that you buy should have a description of its firing temperatures and the shrinkage. The measurements in the image are in inches.

sculpture armature, building horse sculpture, clay horse armature
For more in-depth instructions for building an armature, visit the
see the armature for a panther sculpture.

The Armature

The armature consists of (1) a wooden base, (2) a 1" pvc male adapter attached to the base using a 1" metal female adapter, (3) a 1" pvc pipe cut to size - in this case approximately 9.5", (4) wadded up newspaper shaped to form the basic structure using masking tape. The newspaper and tape are used to build up the form (clay sculptures cannot be built as a solid form) because any newspaper that cannot be removed before firing will burn away in the firing process.  When constructing larger sculptures, a thicker pvc pipe can be used for added strength.

1. The pvc pipe (3) must be a couple of inches short from where it intersects with the sculpture, otherwise when the piece starts to dry, the pvc will break through the clay.

2. When building a sculpture with such a heavy overhang (the head being so far away from the pvc pipe) it is advisable to build the top of the sculpture with thin walls. Clay sculpture walls should never be thicker than 1", otherwise the clay won't dry properly and is more likely to have air pockets, either of which will make the clay explode in the kiln. In the case of a sculpture like this, build the bottom section all the way up to the crest of the neck where the pvc pipe intersects with the clay with thicker walls (approximately 3/4" to 1"). This will add weight to the bottom of the sculpture to help it to stand upright. Build the head with thinner walls (about 1/2 of an inch, no thinner than 1/4") to keep the weight down for the top portion of the sculpture. This has two benefits: 1. When the sculpture is finished it will not be top heavy and 2. When the piece is almost finished it is less likely that the head will droop or fall off of the neck, thus wrecking your work.

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