The MLP Arena

Creativity => Customs => Topic started by: Griffin on April 10, 2021, 06:14:40 PM

Title: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Griffin on April 10, 2021, 06:14:40 PM
I've always loved seeing side by side comparisons, art improvement memes, etc. We've probably done this before on the Customs forum but not very recently! So please show me...   :biggrin:

1. Your FIRST custom and your LATEST one
(or an early one and a recent one, if you don't have pics of these exact ones)

and/or

2. Your BEST custom (or personal FAVOURITE) and your LEAST FAVOURITE --> please also specify why!

You can do both comparisons or just one of them, but please mark clearly which one it is! If you've done a lot of customs and it's too difficult to choose, you can do #2 several times sorted by categories (for example, your best and "worst" sculptjob / paintjob / Hasbro replica etc). As long as you tell me what it is that you're comparing, and what you consider successful or unsuccessful about them. :)

I'd also love to read some reflections about your improvement and journey as a customiser! :art:

(I'll add my own answers to the questions soon!)
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: BlackCurtains on April 10, 2021, 09:04:14 PM
My customs are too different to do this well :P

Earliest I have pictures for is my caterpillar.

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Most recent is... this one, I think.

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(I like the caterpillar better...)

My best and personal favorite is the same one.

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The sculpting on this one is really good. I like the colors I picked too. This one is also both Apoxie Sculpt (the tree) and Polymer clay (the birds). It's one of the few times I've been able to incorporate both (maybe the only time?)

My least favorite, or what I would consider my worst as far as mistakes and doing things wrong is my first Halloween swap custom. Spoiler for gore and spiders.

Sorry but you are not allowed to view spoiler contents.

So, why don't I like this custom? It was my first time using Apoxie Sculpt and I was in awe of it. I thought it could do anything! Woo! The web? There's no wire in there. It's just AS as is. BIG mistake. I'm still surprised how it managed not to get more broken in shipping. The spiders? The abdomens (or eyeballs) are okay, but the legs? Too slack looking. Again, I used nothing to brace them and they're just kind of laying flat. Spider legs don't work that way! The painting is just... too bold. There's a mess of colors around the hole (she has a hole in her rump where a spider is coming out) and I don't think it looks good. Sometimes subtle is better. I should have done more pus and less blood. I've often thought of redoing this custom for myself, but I don't know what her owner would think. I know her owner loves her - and that's the most important thing.
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Griffin on April 10, 2021, 10:07:04 PM
Yay, BC! Thanks for posting  :biggrin: Your Caterpillar is adorable! I love the bold colours! I like your skull custom too, those tiny skulls are wonderful. I agree your raven pony is your best piece, it's stunning! And sorry but I couldn't help laughing about your attempts at the cobweb without any wire armature. Well, it's a learning curve!

...

Okay, I've done some digging for pics! Trip down the memory lane!

1. Oldest vs. most recent

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Viljantahka (https://flic.kr/p/2kS95v3) by Haawan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/haawan/), on Flickr

My very first custom pony, Viljantähkä ('Ear of grain'). She still lives with me and I still love the design, even if the execution could be better! Painted with some very cheap off-brand acrylic paints, rehaired with off-brand doll hair I found at a craft store. I made the mistake of not removing her symbols before painting... not a good idea with the white FBR! The lines are shaky but not as bad as they could be, I was about 17 when I made this pony and I'd been drawing and painting since I was a kid, but it took me some years to really get used to painting with acrylics and on a curved/uneven "canvas". I sometimes still struggle with long and flowy strokes like the stalks here, but at least I have much better brushes  these days, and a better understanding of paint consistency! This was my first time rehairing, too. I used the knot method and thin iron wire on my first customs, it was horrible! The wire kept snapping and it was really painful too. Well, I still use the knot method on most of my customs, but I've subbed the wire with strong cotton thread and use the more efficient way of rooting two plugs at once.

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HolyNightDS (https://flic.kr/p/2knXfzH) by Haawan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/haawan/), on Flickr

My most recent, Holy Night (Holiday swap custom for SunPony), 15 years later. This is not the best example of my FBR skills (the body repaint and gradients on this one were a pain!) but a good example of my detail painting. And of a certain kind of confidence in my paintwork, I guess? I love painting tiny little details on ponies. :lol:

2.1 Doing this in two parts. First up, my worst and best custom when it comes to technique.

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Baby Cranberry (https://flic.kr/p/2kSbzwG) by Haawan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/haawan/), on Flickr

Baby Cranberry (one of the very early ones, 2005). The bait was a Cotton Candy with some issues and for some reason I decided to only paint the problem areas... She kind of looks like a fancy pants pony but that was totally unintentional.  :lol: These pics were taken some time later and you can already see the red paint bleeding where the body is not painted. That's why I prefer full body repaints, although I occasionally work with the original body colour. I try to use primer under the painted parts to prevent bleeding but it's not always possible when the details are very fine. I'd love to hear from those who own my customs from years back, has there been any bleeding or other issues? :)

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Venus (https://flic.kr/p/2kSbAcQ) by Haawan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/haawan/), on Flickr

Venus (made for OkamiAmaterasu in the Famous Painting Swap, 2012). I think I made some of my best work around 2011 and 2012. I mean, I've continued improving since then, but in those days the custom board was super active so there were lots of great artists around whose work inspired my own; swaps with elaborate themes, and a growing number of commission requests pushed me to try something new and exciting. Venus is probably one of my best customs when it comes to skill. Minor repose, sculpted hair, and countless working hours poured into the detailed painting. With this custom I also discovered the Army Painter brushes - I had to go to a store that sold brushes for figure painting because my old brushes weren't fine enough to do Venus's face! To this date, I love their 'Psycho' and 'Insane Detail' brushes, though I rarely need either. For most customs their 'Precise Detail' is small enough. :P

2.2 My favourite and least favourite - customs are not all about technical skill, after all!

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Ruby Glow (https://flic.kr/p/2kSc5m8) by Haawan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/haawan/), on Flickr

Starting with the least favourite. Ruby Glow, my second custom ever... (2005). I don't even remember what happened to this pony, I don't have her anymore... perhaps I gave her away to a friend or something? Or even sold her. This custom was a disaster. Purple and red is a very difficult combo to pull off, IMO, although it can look great when done right. Not this muddy shade of purple, however... I was still working with the cheap paints and didn't have access to quality hair. Her red hair was harvested from a cheap party wig so it's very stiff. The plastic jewel doesn't look that great either. She has some nondescript swirls for symbols on both sides. I sometimes toy with the idea of redoing this custom, just to see whether I could make the concept work. Or maybe it's just a bad concept.

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Talvenmarja (https://flic.kr/p/2kSaNbc) by Haawan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/haawan/), on Flickr

Had some difficulties choosing but I think this must be my personal favourite among my work.  ^.^ Talvenmarja 'Winter berry', for kaoskat (Holiday Swap 2014). Ironically, she's in the same pose as my least favourite one. I'm happy with the colours, she looks cute and elegant, and I love reindeer (and red accents against white or other pale winter colours). I remember it was very hard to let this one go! But I know she has a great new home :heart:

I realise now I didn't pick too many examples of sculpting. Sculpting is fun and there has been a learning curve there, too. But painting is my passion and I guess my choices reflect it. :blush:
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Ponybookworm on April 10, 2021, 11:31:33 PM
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 (https://www.hqg1c.com/gallery/Personal-album-of-Ponybookworm/radicalriffs1-pic_209.htm)
Name: Radical Riffs
Date made: 2008
Base: old lavender Lace I upgraded, leaving this one to Customise. She was faded & marked & her hair was messy & SHORT.
What I love: She adds a pegasus to the Rocking Beats. She's neon yellow, & I love neon colours, which go well with Rocking Beats.
What I hate: that HAIR!!! It's kanekelon, not the nylon stuff I love working with now. I'd love to find a bright blue & neon green nylon to replace it but I haven't got round to that.
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 (https://www.hqg1c.com/gallery/Personal-album-of-Ponybookworm/applebobber1-pic_185.htm)
Name: Apple Bobber
Date made: 2019-2020
Base: one of five white G3 Babies sold as a bait lot. All had short hair & bad symbols, but perfect bodies, making them ideal for dyeing.
What I love: The white streaks in her hair glow in the dark, as do her rumpmarks. Her colour was such a happy accident I made baby tootsie with the same dye-batch. I love dyeing with Dyemore, & have managed to get things to work with the dye.
What I hate: Oh boy the NECKS of these Ponies!!! massive bit of glue in a head with a tiny neck opening so the head has to be cut into to remove it, or just getting the head detached from the body was a pain. Also, I may need a magnifier for fine detail painting...
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: skig on April 11, 2021, 03:23:08 AM
First. Done with cheapo supplies because I wasn't sure whether or not customizing was something that I'd enjoy and didn't want to sink a ton of money into something I might hate.
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Latest. Completed in 2019. I haven't had time or motivation for any others.
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Favorite. Probably these girls. They were a huge experiment, but I love how they turned out. Wish I'd kept them for myself.
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Least Favorite... I have a few that I really hate, but I'm not going to say which. I work hard on every custom I make, but I've kept only a few (one only recently came back into my possession). Most have been swap customs or the few commissions I took, so I don't want their owners to feel like I didn't work as hard on them as I did on the ones that I've loved.
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Griffin on April 11, 2021, 09:21:28 AM
Least Favorite... I have a few that I really hate, but I'm not going to say which. I work hard on every custom I make, but I've kept only a few (one only recently came back into my possession). Most have been swap customs or the few commissions I took, so I don't want their owners to feel like I didn't work as hard on them as I did on the ones that I've loved.

Oh yes, I stopped for a while to consider this possibility when I wrote the OP... I certainly hope everyone here has enough sense not to bash customs that were designed by someone else or made to fit someone else's liking. With swap/commission work I guess it would be fine to discuss the technical side (least favourite because of struggles, cf. BC's pony under spoiler tags above) but it's also totally ok not to share!

Thanks everyone for sharing your pics and stories, I love them. :hug: Please keep them coming!
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: RoseNoire on April 11, 2021, 12:16:52 PM
I have some improvements to share. ^^
Back in 2014, I had made this custom with air-dry clay, nail polish and gouache. This was a horrible crumbly mess. You couldn't touch her without flaking the paint off. It was a miracle that I managed to keep her for 4 years.

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One day, I decided it's time to improve on her, so I used the correct materials and made her into my OC.

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I then changed the hair and wings so here's her final form now and I love her. ♥

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I have a second improvement to share. It was also around 2014 where I tried to make my girl Muff-Muff. Still with gouache though. The paint is a mess. Streaky, uneven and she's hairless. I couldn't manage to make the wings either.

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And then, around 2019, I turned her into my beautiful Alonia. Unfortunately, I gave her away to the wrong hands and now I will never see her again. That breaks my heart. She was beautiful and very dear to me.   :( God knows what happened to her. I hope she's okay, I hope to see her well again, but it will be impossible, I know..

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Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: AnnaPommes on April 12, 2021, 12:48:57 PM
Love to see everybodies journey!! You guys made very pretty customs then and today!
I feel that the material upgrade made the most difference for most people?

Oookidokiii, i dived in and searched for my first custom. XD

well, my first or second custom i made in 2007:
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yes, kanekalonhair! and why no light reflection in the eye? XD



and my latest will be from 2021:
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this might not truly show my skill, since they have different styles. ;) my last "full body custom" might me this:
http://mlparena.com/index.php/topic,398772.msg1816856.html#msg1816856 (http://mlparena.com/index.php/topic,398772.msg1816856.html#msg1816856)
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a lot has changed since 2007 for sure! I now have a collection pile of nylonhair! But also i do mostly rehairs than complete customs. ^^

Now i am looking to see more posts from others like this! ^^
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Griffin on April 12, 2021, 05:09:41 PM
RoseNoire - what an incredible journey with your first custom! The starting point and the final result look like they're from different worlds entirely! :wow: I'm sorry to hear what happened to your Alonia. I remember when you first posted her, she's very pretty. I love that hair! I hope you'll get to see her again one day.

AnnaPommes - oooh I know that last one  :P Looks like you were a pro from the start, though, even your early custom looks great! Of course your paintwork has become even more refined over the years. Love seeing some brand new work from you!

Good materials are definitely one big factor that can make or break the custom. And by 'good' I mean suitable, more expensive does not always equal better... I personally prefer craft acrylics over artist acrylics, especially for FBRs, as they have this slightly chalky feel that's perfect for dry brushing. In any case, a lot of trial and error goes into the process! Some of the most exciting results come from wild ideas and experiments.
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: BlackCurtains on April 12, 2021, 05:36:49 PM
Good materials are definitely one big factor that can make or break the custom. And by 'good' I mean suitable, more expensive does not always equal better... I personally prefer craft acrylics over artist acrylics, especially for FBRs, as they have this slightly chalky feel that's perfect for dry brushing. In any case, a lot of trial and error goes into the process! Some of the most exciting results come from wild ideas and experiments.

I prefer craft acrylics too, well, and then I have airbrush paints. Polymer clay is like this too. You don't want the stuff aimed at kids but you don't have to go for the pricier stuff either. I also keep a bunch of cheapo brushes on hand for things like sealer (Triple Thick for eyes, for example) so I don't ruin my good brushes. It's certainly a balance! And sometimes you realize you're just working with the wrong thing... like me and Apoxie Sculpt :P
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Colorscapesart on April 24, 2021, 06:56:29 PM
These are great!!  Very inspiring.  Trying to get back to customs is quite humbling after a four year break (my eye sight seems to have changed as I hit 40) and seeing this post is giving me courage.

2008 My first custom:
Fleur
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 (https://flic.kr/p/2iNqcHc)fleur1 (https://flic.kr/p/2iNqcHc) by Kimberly Johns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/187822797@N03/), on Flickr
Not too bad, it was a strong start with several less than ideal projects to follow.  I pushed through this phase.

My latest custom after hiatus (2020)
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Hand dyed hair and a test for my rusty detail painting skills.

My least favorite custom (2008)
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 (https://flic.kr/p/2iNouZj)baby melody1 (https://flic.kr/p/2iNouZj) by Kimberly Johns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/187822797@N03/), on Flickr
I really struggled on execution.  My paints were also old and chunky.  Every time I see this baby I shudder.

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 (https://flic.kr/p/2iNmaz3)IMG880_zps1e1cbaae (https://flic.kr/p/2iNmaz3) by Kimberly Johns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/187822797@N03/), on Flickr
My most technically complex project was a working carousel with one reposed and sculpted pony from each generation.  It was run off a fairly normal music box spring mechanism and that was my first mistake.  I had to use grease and a ball bearing track to light the load weight.  Getting that track balanced was very tricky.  And we aren't even to the fun of sculpting and reposing! 

Personal favorite: (I LOVE  yellow and rainbows)
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 (https://flic.kr/p/2iNq8R4)2015-03-29 11.55.04_zpsv5cxomqi (https://flic.kr/p/2iNq8R4) by Kimberly Johns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/187822797@N03/), on Flickr
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Kanthaka on April 25, 2021, 05:29:19 AM
What a cool thread! It's awesome seeing everyone's improvement and reading reflections, and there are a bunch of gorgeous ponies in here that I've never seen before (and a few beauties I remember, like Venus!). 

The only pictures I have of my own ponies are the collages I've uploaded to DeviantArt (RIP my old laptop that died before I thought to back it up)... sorry for the cluttered format, the small images, and the... well, the lack of recent work. I'm working up to it, and threads like these are super inspiring.


First Custom

Frankenstein's Pony (https://www.deviantart.com/darlingv/art/Frankenstein-s-Pony-181018794)

I think this was actually my second custom? It's... fine. There was an effort, and the "good" eye is pretty tidy even if it's fairly expressionless. When I started, I had no idea what kind of style I wanted to adopt, so I largely went off of Hasbro's eye design.


Latest Custom

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 (https://flic.kr/p/2kULo25)

This girl is from way back in 2015 when I thought I was getting back into customizing (little did I know...). The two ponies I made that year were both very, very different from what I'd been doing. Her eyes turned out well, and her symbol was a nice practice in detail painting. I don't know how much technical improvement it shows, but I definitely became better at working with the materials I had (everything but the hair was super cheap from 2008 to 2015) and found an eye style that I liked.


Least Favorite Custom

I'm going to admit right now that I dislike almost everything I make the moment it's done. That's why I don't hang on to my own work -- every time I look at it, I see something else I wish I had done differently or better. I'm unhappy with most things, but there's one custom that I actively regret sending out as she was...

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 (https://flic.kr/p/2kUMuea)

This pony HAUNTS me. I made her for a trade with the much-missed Popgirl in my ~signature style~ at the time, and I tried to go big because I wanted her to be perfect. She ended up sort of... overworked and cluttered. Everything's done nicely, but it's too much. I think this one bothers me because she could have been great. I was at the top of my painting game, she didn't suffer from questionable color choices like some of my other customs from the time... ugh. Sometimes getting it almost right is worse than failing completely, especially when the pony is going to someone you admire!


Most Favorite Custom

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 (https://flic.kr/p/2kULo2k)

There are exactly two customs I wish I would have kept and this is one of them (the other is this girl) (https://flic.kr/p/2kUMudZ). My disappointment with Cygnus made me step back and worry about composition as well as technique; prior to that, I almost never planned a custom out before starting the paint job. Cosmo might not be the most technically impressive thing I made, but I think she's the most successful.
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Griffin on April 25, 2021, 10:33:24 AM
Kanthaka, your Autra is one of all-time favourite customs! I did a personal trade with Roogna last year and I originally planned a vampire pony, but I took a look at Autra for inspiration and simply couldn't come up with anything as stylish yet original so I scrapped the idea completely. :lol:

If it helps, I don't think Cygnus looks overworked or too cluttered (I really, really love the left side of her face and the hair stripe which extends the design!)... But I know the feeling of getting something almost but not quite right, and yes, it's frustrating! I think something like that happened with the custom I painted yesterday. We'll see if rehairing makes her look better but so far she doesn't quite meet the expectations I had... Hmm.
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: BlackCurtains on April 25, 2021, 04:00:56 PM
Kanthaka, you're too hard on yourself :hug: I think Cygnus looks amazing and I'm sure her owner loves her :)

I do agree, though, about not getting things like you want in your head and I can relate to hating everything you do as soon as you're done (I suffer from the same thing).
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Kanthaka on April 25, 2021, 09:49:53 PM
Y'all are so nice. :blush: We're all ultimately our own worst critics. I love just about every custom I see that was made by someone else!

Kanthaka, your Autra is one of all-time favourite customs! I did a personal trade with Roogna last year and I originally planned a vampire pony, but I took a look at Autra for inspiration and simply couldn't come up with anything as stylish yet original so I scrapped the idea completely. :lol:

If it helps, I don't think Cygnus looks overworked or too cluttered (I really, really love the left side of her face and the hair stripe which extends the design!)... But I know the feeling of getting something almost but not quite right, and yes, it's frustrating! I think something like that happened with the custom I painted yesterday. We'll see if rehairing makes her look better but so far she doesn't quite meet the expectations I had... Hmm.

Hey, if you ever want to make something like Autra, go for it. Ideas are meant to be shared and honestly, the world needs more vampire ponies.

I hope that you either come to love your current project or find some tweaks to make that bring it closer to what you imagined!
Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: Twizel on May 22, 2021, 02:56:21 AM
What a cool idea! Here goes!

My very first custom, in 2008: Heath Ledger's Joker. I used a clone pony, paints, and felt and sticker accessories. The felt pockets are handsewn, the hair was dyed with RIT dye, in shades of brown and green. Sealed in Mod Podge. I still like how it turned out, although its obviously not my best work. It has attitude! I remember the RIT dye was very messy and smelly.
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My least favorite custom, another early one: Baby Aurora. This was my first attempt at a pearlized painted gradient, but as you can see my skills were not great. This is one of the last I sealed in Mod Podge, as in my climate Mod Podge gets tacky and causes paint to run. Now I use polyurethane varnish.
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My most recent custom: Ambrosia, my persona pony! Made from an HQG1C blank base, roses embedded along the crest of the mane, cute little braid, and a re-purposed bumblebee earring.
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My favorite custom: Hard to choose a favorite, but it has to be Jack Sparrow, who seems to be a favorite of everyone who sees my customs, he was so much fun to make! He was rehaired in yarn instead of nylon hair, and the mane is full of little beads, braids, and trinkets. I sculpted a pistol, sword, and compass, made a floppy pirate hat, and he's got a symbol on each flank.
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Bonus picture! Jack Sparrow has spotted his next village to pillage!
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Title: Re: Show Me... Your Improvement!
Post by: red_velvet_rose on May 29, 2021, 03:06:01 AM
Here is my first custom ever. I don't even remember what I named her. Spring Breeze? Spring Blossom? Something like that. I didn't even have a proper digital camera at the time and I had to put her on my scanner to get pics. Her hair is original. I painted her with artist-grade acrylics and attached the butterfly wings with super glue. The paint was a bit too thick and left brush strokes, but she wasn't bad for a first custom.

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The last custom I made was probably this one, which I made with the intention to take to DashCon to sell at my table in the merch room. I don't need to tell anyone how badly DashCon went, but I actually made a decent profit.

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My favorite custom is this lovely lady with her painted tabled and tea set!

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And my least favorite is this abomination. I think she was my second or third custom. The painting is sloppy and I used different kinds of hair for her, which meant none of it laid right or mixed nicely.

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