Two things happened that led me to make this illustration. One of them was that I have recently collaborated with a society specializing in Equine-Assisted Therapies. It was great to be in contact again with horses (I used to go horseback riding when I was 12). I enjoyed it a lot, and all the experience made me look forward to drawing horses!
The second thing was that I saw the Princess Mononoke film again. I love that film, and I am fascinated by the gorgeous animation and the environments. Every time I see it, I get stunned at the very beginning, when we first see the main character. He is riding an elk among some trees, and the sunlit through the leaves cast shadows on them as they move forward. I wanted to draw something similar, with that kind of incredible lighting!
So I started to sketch in Photoshop some horses, and when I added a human figure, everything quickly fit. I decided to leave the line and work in it simultaneously as the colors for a whole paint-liked appearance. Initially, the colors were easy to grasp since I chose to go with a green and orange-red palette, which I know works pretty well. But the problems came with the illumination. It took me a lot of tries, references, and multiples layers to figure out the global colors, the sunlight, and the ambient light. It was a good decision to add the branches and blur them in different ways to add depth. Also, I struggled a little bit with saturation, which is higher than I used to work with, but I think it is worth the effort.
Now, I am fairly happy with the shadows and the ambient. The colors are bright and saturated, and everything leaves the impression of a warm afternoon in a quiet green place. Perfect for summer!
I hope you enjoy it!