This inspiration for this series started with one of the early homework assignments for my Vertebrate Illustration course - creating a horse head illustration which showed the both the skull and some of the muscles under the skin. I instantly knew I would have some fun recreating this!
I have always been a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi, so my first thoughts when working on the initial assignment was - 'What if this was a unicorn instead? How might that look different?'
Since I wasn't portraying the entire animal, I decided to keep all of my subjects to mythical horses that would be distinct just from their heads, so no Pegasus!
The first, and most obvious choice for this project was the most well known mythical horse -
The Unicorn - Greek mythology, European folklore
Often portrayed as fair and angelic, this unicorn is a soft pink. The closest relative to the horse, the color of the muscle and bone varies only slightly. The bone is white, but with pale blue tones, instead of yellow. The muscle is a natural pink, but is more vibrant and purple. Shimmery silver, blue, and purple strands make up its flowing mane.
The Kelpie - Scottish folklore
The kelpie is a darker creature both in terms of color and mythology. It is described as a black horse that lives in bodies of water in Scotland where it lures victims to drown. Due to it's watery habitat and overall creepiness, the hair of the mane is black and stringy with weeds throughout. The rest of the body isn't quite black, but instead a deep, very dark green that would surely look black to anyone who may have the misfortune to encounter this creature in the night.
The Hippocampus - Greek mythology
Half horse and half fish, the hippocampus inhabit the sea and are best known as the steeds that pull Poseidon's chariot. It's body coloring is that of a fish: Dark on top so it is camouflaged by the shadows of the water when viewed from above, and a light underside to help it blend in with light filtering through the water so when viewed from below. Instead of a mane, a fin that runs down the back, helping it cut through the water while swimming at high speeds. The muscles take on a bright green hue due to it's diet of seaweed and kelp.
The Helhest - Danish folklore
The horse of Death, the helhest's head anatomy is always on full display. More of a spirit, it's body is made up of dripping black ichor, seeping from it's bones. The bones are a pale grey with hints of bloody red in the shadows and silver highlights that seems to catch the moonlight in dark evenings.
Each piece was created using a technique of layering colored pencil on top of gouache.
If you like these pieces, there are stickers and sticker packs available in for purchase! Check them out here!