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What Do Unicorns Look Like?

One of the biggest questions surrounding the splendid and magical creature that unicorns are – “what do they look like?”. The reality is that the image of the unicorn has changed dramatically over time. Some people also believe that unicorns appear differently to every individual. Perhaps you have a special, unique unicorn out there somewhere!

In most cases, unicorns are shaped like very beautiful horses. They are slender and elegant, and they have particularly long, strong legs to help them run. Their manes and tails billow in strands of silk. They have just one horn, right in the center of their foreheads, and this glistens with power. They are usually purest white, or shimmering silver.

Looking to Draw One?

If you feel you do, it’s possible you want to draw your unicorn so you can see it even more clearly, or so you can play around with its looks and colors. If so, there are some great tips in the video below which help you get started.

Remember, you can adapt and change the video as much as you want to ensure the outcome reflects what your own unicorn looks like. Once you’ve finished, please feel free to share your unicorn with us! We’d love to see it and explore how it compares to our own ideas of unicorns!

Unicorns In Mythology

White unicorn with a goatee
White unicorn with a goatee – a feature that has mostly disappeared in the modern represenation of the unicorn.

The traditional image of the unicorn still exists today. These mythical beasts were stunning white, with white manes and white tails. One of the characteristics mentioned by Unicorns which has disappeared today is that they traditionally had a beard or goatee. This is perhaps because unicorns were considered a symbol of male power. Now that they are less associated with males, the goatee has mostly disappeared.

Unicorns in mythology were not winged like a Pegasus, though they are sometimes represented this way today. Mythological unicorns could not fly, and depended on speed and the ability to move between worlds to hide from humans.

These great beasts are often depicted in ancient drawings as enormously tall and powerful, with bunched muscles and wild eyes beneath streaming manes. They were a lot bigger than horses. While beautiful, these images also tend to reflect how dangerous people considered unicorns to be.

The Siberian Unicorn

The Siberian unicorn offers a very different look at unicorn aesthetics than most of us would expect. This creature really existed, and is an extinct form of the giant rhino. The picture below shows us just how different they look to the magnificent white beauty most of us associate with the term.

Siberian Unicorn Look quite different from our modern day unicorn.
The Siberian unicorn probably looks quite different from the image of the modern day unicorn you had in mind. Image source.

The Siberian unicorn was a heavy, hulking creature. It was a dull gray-brown in color, with a shaggy coat and a tail closer to a bull’s than a horse’s. Its stature at over 6 feet tall makes it bigger than even the most majestic unicorn, and it does not have a horse’s hooves or delicate legs.

Nonetheless, the Siberian unicorn is a breath-taking creature in its own right, and as good a representation of power as any Renaissance depiction of a unicorn. It might not reflect quite the beauty and purity which we look for when we think of unicorns, but it’s tragic that these great creatures no longer walk the Earth beside us.

Today’s Magical Unicorn

Today, unicorns have taken on a more versatile shape. Instead of long-legged and graceful or muscular and powerful, they are often shown to be cute. With rounded limbs and big, shiny eyes, unicorn toys are often aimed at children, and are certainly drawn to appeal to our sense of “adorable.” If you’ve ever looked at a modern unicorn toy and wondered how we got to it from the dangerous-looking creatures in old paintings, you aren’t alone!

Modern day cute unicorn.
Modren day unicorns have often taken a turn torwards the “cute” appeal.

Some modern unicorns are given wings, but generally they are shown without. Their manes and tails remain thick and rich, and they still closely resemble horses in size and shape. In most depictions, the element of “power” has been toned down, either in favor of cuteness or elegance.

Modern unicorns are sometime shown with a star on their flanks, or on their foreheads beneath the horn. This is a further reflection of the magical associations we give unicorns, and is occasionally exchanged for a heart to increase the “cute” factor.

What Color Are Unicorns?

Unicorns were traditionally white, of course, reflecting their purity and innocence. Now, however, unicorns are depicted in a whole range of colors, from pastels to bright rainbows. Pink unicorns, blue unicorns, yellow unicorns, and multi-colored unicorns brim on shop shelves, and wander through the pages of picture books.

Unicorn decorated by many colors and flowers.
Unicorn of flowers and colors – a modern day trend.

Rainbow unicorns have particular significance. Unicorns started to be associated with multi-colors only quite recently, perhaps because rainbows are also considered full of magic and wonder. It may also be something to do with the elusive nature of both, and the rarity with which they are seen. Rainbow unicorns are becoming increasingly popular, especially in children’s toys.

In a similar way, unicorns seem to have taken on sparkles and glitter. These perhaps reflect how magical the creatures are, and twinkling hooves and eyes add to the enchantment they offer, especially for young children. In terms of unicorn merchandise, it’s obvious that this appeals because it is so much more eye-catching and dramatic than plain white.

Even unicorns which have remained predominantly white are often shown with brightly colored manes or tails. Sometimes their horns are pearlescent or opalescent rainbow. This softer coloring seems to fit with the beauty and gentility of unicorns, while giving them an extra touch of the unusual.

They certainly look mystical and magical, but you do have to wonder how these creatures stay hidden in the forests and caves as well as their white ancestors. While white isn’t an easy color to hide, it is less eye-catching than pink or purple. On the other hand, if that makes it easier to spot a unicorn in the wild, I’m sure none of us feel like complaining!

Unicorns Are Evolving

It’s amazing to see how the image of unicorns has shifted over time. It has included the powerful, dangerous, and sometimes alarming creatures of the past; the innocent, pure, and demure white equines; and today’s rounded, often chubby and sparkle-eyed horses.

In all incarnations, unicorns are beautiful and magical to behold. No matter what sort of unicorn you see sneaking through your garden or creeping in the local forests, it will certainly be enchanting. We have to wonder what form the unicorn will take on next as it continues to accompany humans through history, leaving fame and admiring whispers in its hoof-prints.

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