What I love most about drawing is that it lets us picture unreal things as if they were real. If you want to feel the thrill of creation, in this tutorial I will show you how to draw a realistic unicorn. These creatures were not just "horses with horns"—they were described as similar to goats, with cloven hooves and a donkey-like tail. Their horns were said to have magical powers, but since the animals were so timid, you'd need the help of a gentle maiden to capture one.
Today, unicorns are no longer believed to be real, but you can bring one to life with art. You don't need to know how to draw horses, or horns—I will lead you step by step! But if you want to be better prepared, try this tutorial first:
What You Will Learn in This Easy Unicorn Drawing Tutorial
- How to sketch the pose of a unicorn
- How to draw a unicorn's body
- How to draw a unicorn horn
- How to add the final unicorn drawing touches
1. How to Sketch the Pose of a Unicorn
The first step in this easy unicorn drawing tutorial is the sketch. Start with an oval for the chest. It doesn't need to be a perfect oval, and feel free to correct it as many times as necessary. The lines I'm showing you here are clean so that you can see exactly what I'm drawing—normally they would be much messier!
Add the rump. Its size and distance from the chest will define the shape of the body. If this were a real horse, you'd need to be careful to achieve the right shape, but unicorns aren't really horses—they're considered a different species, often smaller/slimmer. So don't worry if yours looks different than mine!
Add the neck and head. Again, you can use my proportions or modify them for something more original.
You can choose any pose you like for your unicorn, but it will be the most realistic if you borrow it from a horse. Check my tutorial about drawing horses to pick a pose. I've decided to use a frame from a canter—it's a fast but very graceful running gait.
Finally, add a tail to your easy unicorn drawing sketch:
2. How to Draw a Unicorn's Body
Next up in this unicorn drawing tutorial is the body. Now we're going to add shapes characteristic of a horse's body. Draw the head and the muzzle...
... then connect them with two lines and add the ears on top of the head.
This will be the eye:
Add some details on the head and start building the hooves. Adjust the direction of lines to the angle of the legs. Normally, the hooves would be larger, but in my vision unicorns are quite similar to deer in this manner.
Finish the hooves:
Add the wrists and heels. No, these aren't knees!
Add some details to the heels. The bones are really showing in this area, and they create a typical horse look.
Add the thigh and the arm.
Connect the parts of the legs with gentle lines.
Before we draw the neck, it's good to add some guide lines: the back of the shoulder blade and the width of the neck.
Now you can finish the outline of the body.
3. How to Draw a Unicorn Horn
This is the most important aspect of our realistic unicorn drawing. Here's how to draw a realistic unicorn horn. The horn of a unicorn may look complicated, but there's actually a simple formula for it. Start by defining its length and direction with a line.
Cross it with diagonal lines, skewing them more and more as you get close to the tip.
Add a copy of every line below, keeping a little distance from the other line.
Connect each line with its copy with an arc.
Draw concave arcs in between.
4. How to Add Final Unicorn Drawing Touches
We've seen how to draw a realistic unicorn body and how to draw a unicorn horn. Now, what would a unicorn be without its fabulous mane? Add some beautiful hair here and there. Traditionally, unicorns have been pictured with tufted tails, but feel free to use a normal horse tail if you want.
Your unicorn drawing looks very dirty right now, with many lines crossing and covering each other. But that's normal! To create a clean picture out of this, you can use one of these tricks:
- Create a new layer, if you're drawing digitally.
- Scan your drawing, lower its lightness/opacity with a program, and then print it with the sketch barely visible.
- Draw over the most important lines with a ballpoint pen or a marker. Put a new sheet of paper above the sketch—the dark lines should be seen through.
Remember: tracing your own unicorn drawing is not cheating!
Continue drawing on the new layer/printed sketch/new sheet of paper. This time, be more careful with lines, because they're the final ones. You can again use my tutorial about drawing horses to add realistic details, but you can also finish it with your own style. It's also always good to use a reference for this part:
Your Fabulous Unicorn Drawing Is Done!
Here concludes our tutorial on how to draw a unicorn. Unicorns may not be real, but you have just created one! Is there something else you'd like to learn to draw? Explore more cool drawing tutorials below!
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Editorial Note: This post has been updated with contributions from Maria Villanueva. Maria is a staff writer with Envato Tuts+.