Watercolour painting of a grey rainbow breathing unicorn by Laura Elliott of Drawesome Illustration

Unicorn Make Over

Unicorns have had a long history in mythology; with what started out as attempting to catalogue creatures from far off distant lands, later turning to something with a more magical quality.  Notoriously difficult to catch, they could once only be lured in by virgins; now they’re everywhere and everyone’s friend.  It’s a great thing to know that unicorns have finally decided to share their magical qualities with the rest of us, even becoming vengeful when called upon.

So yes, unicorns have been around a long ol’ while.  And as with any story, like Chinese Whispers, the details get warped from time to time.  I like to question and play with what is understood about this creature: why is it still white if its qualities are not so pure anymore?  What would happen if rainbows came out of its mouth instead of its butt?

sketchbook drawings of horses by Laura Elliott of Drawesome IlllustrationAs I form ideas about what I want my unicorn to look like, I start practising drawing horses.  Horses are notoriously difficult and after the first few wonky horses, I’d wonder why this was a good idea…  Despite this, my way of tackling challenging shapes is to draw them over and over and over again, so that each time, my hand to eye co-ordination comes to understand the shape and weight of a horse; the power, the gesture, the lines I need to communicate ‘horse’ to any viewer.

Once I eventually find the shape I like, I’ll trace it onto my watercolour paper, ink it up and head on in with paint.  Before I even touch the main image with paint, I’ll always have a test sheet nearby or use the corner to make sure I’m mixing my colours correctly.  You can see some of my tests with the rainbow effect for a rainbow breathing unicorn.watercolour painting tests on paper by Laura Elliott of Drawesome Illustration

Once I’m ready to go, I usually try to paint it in one sitting.  Watercolours can be quite unforgiving and personally, I find it works best if I work quickly, to make sure I’m happy with laying my paint down with different tones and blends before everything gets a chance to dry out.  I know other painters have a slower approach but this is the one that I find suits me.

There’s a lot of grey in the final unicorn, as you’ll see below.  One of the things I love about paint is that it allows me to only work with three paint colours: red, yellow and blue (in warm or cool palettes).  The grey, believe it or not, is made by just the right blend of red, yellow and blue.  No black, no grey, no white.  Amazing huh?

Maybe in a future blog post, I’ll talk about the magic of grey…

But for now, here is a bad-ass rainbow breathing unicorn:

Watercolour painting of a grey rainbow breathing unicorn by Laura Elliott of Drawesome Illustration


Dr Sketchy Bristol

You must be familiar with the concept of life drawing – it’s drawing naked people, right?  How about the Dr Sketchy version, where you get to draw not-quite-naked, but fabulously costumed people?  I’m pleased to say that this is how I spent my last Sunday afternoon.  The drawing that is, not being almost naked.

Ally Katte burlesque performer modelling for Dr Sketchy Bristol

Ally Katte burlesque performer modelling for Dr Sketchy Bristol - face pencil sketch















I’ve posted about going to Dr Sketchy’s classes before and had to travel far out to them, so I was chuffed to find one starting much closer to me in Bristol!  Hooray!

Poppy Raine burlesque performer modelling for Dr Sketchy Bristol - silk fans and veils

We worked with 3 burlesque performer models, Ally Katte, Poppy Raine and Didi Curv’e; 2 of whom treated us to a performance as well.  It was up to the audience whether they wanted to simply enjoy the act or get some movement drawings into their sketchbook too.  I was pleased to bear witness to Didi Curv’e playing the bongos with her boobs – I’ve never seen anything like it!


It was a lovely atmosphere as we were welcomed in (upstairs at the Stag and Hounds) and the class was started off with a few quick warm up poses of a few minutes.  As we worked further into the session, we managed to get our teeth into slightly longer poses of 10 and 15 minutes.

I really enjoyed drawing the models – I only wish I was able to capture more of the beautiful costumes, they were so intricate in places.  Note for next time, need to work on Go-Go-Gadget Speedy Drawing Skills. 


As a personal bonus, I thought I recognised a Lenore (the cute little dead girl) tattoo on Poppy Raine.  It’s been ages since I’ve read the graphic novel by Roman Dirge so felt a little like glimpsing an old friend!

Didi Curv'e burlesque performer modelling for Dr Sketchy Bristol - multi coloured pencil sketch of her face

I’ve posted my favourite sketches and can’t wait for more Dr. Sketchy action in September!

Cheltenham Dr Sketchy drawings that what I found

I realised that these hadn’t made their way to the great viewing platform called ‘internet’.  The models were Kitty Ribbons and Lexi Sexx, both wonderful to draw.

Kitty Ribbons posing with her balloons    Kitty Ribbons posing with balloons, this time pencil and crayon sketch

Lexi Sexx before her beautiful fan dance.  Pencil and crayon    Lexi Sexx before her beautiful fan dance