Hey all, I decided to write up my top ten tips for customizers (generally for those new to the customs world but some tips may help veterans too!) and I'd love to see yours too!!!:D
(Update: Manamaiden reworded this to sound loads better, so with her permission I've updated the post- enjoy!)
Here are mine (with edits)
10. Research is a good starting point.
-If you are starting out, there are many great tutorials out there, from the basic "how do I prep a pony" to the more detailed. At the top of the customs forum there is a sticky thread about tutorials and where to buy.
The search tool is a good tool, but some times it’s not so don’t be afraid to just post a quick thread in the customs board asking a question. ☺
-IF you are concerned about the rarity of pony baits, identify your pony before starting to customize it! After you know who it is, do a search and/or ask if it's "okay" to customize that pony. If it so happens that you have a rare/sought after/worth a crap load of money pony on your hands, even if you don't care to collect, you could sell it off to someone who will appreciate it, and get some extra cash at the same time!
- Don’t copy other customizers’ original designs or styles. There’s a huge difference between making something “similar” to someone else’s, and looking at someone’s design and copying their personal style they’ve spent years developing with their own talent and practice. It is dishonest, and can be taken as a slap to the face by the original designer if you do not have their permission.
On the flip-side, using other customizers’ tips/methods can help you grow as an artist, so PM other custom artists and have a chat and see if they’re willing to help you.
But remember folks- when it comes to movie/song/anime-themed character customs (not designed by you) you run a high risk of your custom ending up resembling someone else’s, if your materials/methods are main-streamed. So don’t freak out if someone posts a Pikachu custom 2 days after you post a Pikachu pony.
9. Get involved in the pony community!
-Even if you are not a collector, either joining the MLP arena, MLPTP, joining DA and posting your work, is a great way to get your work out there. I also totally recommend (once you get some custom experience under your belt!) to participate in swaps and trades- they are great ways to motivate you! (and, pony people are the best people)
8. Always experiment.
- Variety is the spice of life, and so on and so forth! No really, trying new things is great- not only to expand your knowledge of customizing, but you may come up with a new technique that really works and that’s never been seen! If your experiment doesn't turn out like you had hoped its ok!
7. If you’re looking into sculpting, Apoxie Sculpt is most popular.
But remember folks- clay is clay and it all breaks and is delicate. So if you’re allergic to Apoxie Sculpt or it just doesn’t work for you, there are several other options of oven-bake clays located at Michaels, and air dry clays that can be found at Joanne Fabrics.
The magic about Apoxie sculpt that has everyone enamored over it, is the glue that’s pre-manufactured into it. It makes it smoother and easier to work with, but the same effect can be achieved with air-dry clay if you seal it with mod podge.
Sand paper is your best friend when it comes to smoothing out lumps or undesired textures in your sculpt work, regardless the clay you choose to sculpt with.
6. Experiment with paints over time as you customize, to see which kind/brands work best for you. Testors/modeling paints are quite popular and work well with airbrushes, but are mildly costly.
Acrylics are cheap, but if used well, will be your friends. Acrylics tend to be smoothest when combined together, and there are certain pigments that have a different texture from others. You’ll mostly find this among browns, and burgundies; you would be best-off to custom blend pigments to achieve these colors.
An assortment of paintbrushes are good to have on-hand so you can try out different sizes and materials to see what works best for you. No matter how big your brush is, as long as you keep the tip of it fine and moist, it will blend your paints and put them on as you desire.
(That is a challenge of all artists- can you paint smooth lines with any size of brush?)
5. Listen to something while working on customs.
- This makes time go by much faster, and makes customizing more fun. Listen to some music, podcasts, YouTube, iPad, TV, movies.
4. Experiment to find out which re-hair method works for you.
Re-hairing tool is highly recommended if you stick with the main original hair line in the mane of Hasbro ponies, but there are a couple other methods used that when done right, can be just as quick as a re-hairing tool- such as the wire/needle method. Floral wire is abundant in spools found at most stores, and a sewing needle can result in sore hands; so thumbtacks and giant safety pins get the job done without your hands suffering for it.
Main difference between the re-hair tool and wire/needle method is with the wire method you put mod podge (glue) on the roots of your hair plugs BEFORE rooting them into the scalp; re-hair tool, you push the plugs through the scalp then slap some glue inside the pony’s head and let it dry. Overall, it takes close to the same amount of time to do it either way.
3. Always seal your customs!
-Even if you just paint the eyes and the symbol, be sure to seal those. Options for sealants are as follows:
Artists Varnish (mainly found at Michaels Craft store), Testors sealant, and watered-down mod podge.
2. Always use lots of layers. (This is a sure way to make acrylic paints your friends.)
- Generally the first layer ALWAYS LOOKS LIKE GARBAGE!!! (especially when sculpting for the first time, or painting colors like white and yellow) So don't give up if it looks sloppy at first, just keep layering! (but make sure each layer is dry before putting down a new one!)
A common mistake, is people can’t get past that sloppy messy-looking first layer, and in consequence keep trying to layer over it before it’s dry; that is how you get sticky, lumpy full body repaints with tube-like brush strokes.
1. Take your time and take plenty of breaks.
- Never rush yourself on a custom and take breaks as needed. Be sure to step back, look at it, and don't stress out. At times you may feel you’re at odds with how your custom is turning out, and that’s okay! Take a step back, look at it, return to it later (heard of this as “looking at your work again with ‘fresh eyes’”) and adjust things as they come to you. You may at times have to just forget about the custom for a couple of days, before the “final finishing staples” of the design appear in your mind; but trust that it does happen and allow it adequate time.
So let me see your tips!!!
[stickied by pop-girl 5/1/11]
[un-stickied by pop-girl 6/18/11]