Step-by-step: Paint outside the fantasy box
I block in some of my evil unicorn’s form in a rough sketch. Typically, unicorns are shown as standing around looking pretty and serene, so I give my subject a more dynamic, charging pose. Reference will always help you out when deciding upon a pose or gesture. I tend to use Flickr and Pinterest, or I shoot my own.
I pay attention to the setting, which is key because it gives context to the subject. I want it to be an isolated, cold environment, which is different to the cosy woods where a unicorn may usually hang out. A sweeping snowscape would complement the tone of the piece, along with some ominous-looking storm clouds.
When detailing your subject, think about your choices when it comes to iconic or recognisable elements of it’s design. For this unicorn’s horn. I look up some reference for different types of animal horns, and chose one that’s less streamlined, jagged, and perhaps a little more fit for impaling a gnome or two.