It’s been quite some time since painting horses and ponies! I used to draw a lot of them before since my boyfriend photographs a lot of polo matches, and I would accompany him sometimes. With covid measures, though, events have been cancelled so horse paintings got cast aside unfortunately. It was then when I came across some Instagram photos of Dally and Spanky, I had to go back to them. And what better opportunity for some digital art practice!
Who are Dally and Spanky?
The true story begins with a horse trainer in the U.S. who rescued a pony called Spanky. The pet puppy, Dally, got taken to her and began jumping on her for a ride. Inspired, the trainer then had this brilliant idea to train this pony with the puppy on the back! I thought it was such a cute concept that I so had to sketch it and make it even more kawaii by adding a teddy bear riding on the puppy! And so the pencil sketch ensued, followed by tracing over with a Tech Pen for a more solid outline.
I initially made the background pink so that it would be easier to paint Doggy white. A variety of mediums and brushes were then experimented with for this piece. First I painted Pony with Medium Airbrush, adding a different layer for each the body, mane, eyes and mouth. Doggy and Teddy were then filled in with Waxstick Crayon, each with separate layers. So far so kawaii!
Texture and Shading
To give our characters some dimension, I firstly worked on shading. Clipping Mask is a very handy tool for this, as it was for incorporating texture later on too. Sparkles, for instance, were sprinkled on the mane and lashes. Then I worked on the background by initially adding a new layer and moving it down to the bottom. Random marks were doodled around using a variety of texture brushes, many of which I had recently purchased as add-ons. So much fun to explore the myriad of possibilities!
Making Them Even Prettier
At this point, though, I was not happy with the background. Pink is indeed my favorite color but it did not look right here. I then switched to teal, a color I’ve yet to use as background. And it worked so well! All I had to do was doodle further around; I added some bright green and drew a white flower with gel pen. More texture was further introduced on the characters: hair on the horse, sparkles on the saddle fringes and glitter on Teddy. And now we’re talking!
Another fun and inspiring go at digital painting! Experimenting with new brushes and exploring more possibilities make it all the more exciting. I also enjoyed painting a pony again, especially when inspired by Dally and Spanky. We missed having them, and they will definitely be painted about again soon!