A Horse is a Horse . . .

First horse model with a draft collar, shaded, posed, and ready to be hitched to the farm wagon.

Almost all of the man-made objects and foliage are done, so it’s time to start on the final, most challenging part of the scene. Modeling organic shapes is not something I have a lot of experience at. Time to address that.

First up: The draft animals needed for our two-horsepower farm wagon.

A cube is subdivided and reshaped, then polygons are extruded to create the horse’s legs.

We turn to Silo, my favorite subdivision modeling app and, beginning with a cube, begin roughing in the basic shape.

The reference images are from Dover’s An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists, which includes fine horse drawings, including drawings of the bone and muscle structure, in each of the three dimensions. (The book also includes drawings of other animals.)

More subdivisions, more detail. The polygon edges are oriented to follow the muscle groups.

A few iterations later we’ve added a head and subdivided the mesh, reshaping the polygons and edges to follow the main muscle groups.

Except for the inevitable tweaks, the main mesh is done.

More edges are added and redirected where necessary. Ears, eyes, nostrils, mouth and hooves are finished up. The mesh is then saved out so it can be reopened in Maya, where the mane and tail will be added.

Horse collar showing the hames (vertical posts) with rings for the harness straps, and leather body.

The horse collar is based on historical photographs and also a nice set of images from eBay, where I found a vintage 1900s collar for sale. In the process of modeling it and the rest of the harness I learned some new terminology and a little bit about how everything worked.

Base harness parts, from left: bridle with blinkers, collar, backpad, belly band, quarter strap, spider, and britchen.

As with most things, there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye.

Final farm wagon assembly showing draft team, complete harness with traces, pole straps, and reins, and a load of apples.

The model is shaded twice to create a pair of draft horses that are moved into position next to the tongue of the farm wagon. The rest of the harness is then modeled to connect all the pieces.