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 beautiful, 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:
1. Sketch the Pose of a Unicorn
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:
2. Draw the Body of a Unicorn
Now we’re going to add shapes characteristic for a horse 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. Yes, 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. Draw a 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. Finish the Drawing
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 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 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:
Unicorns may not be real, but you have just created one! Is there something else you’d like to learn to draw? Let me know in the comments!