(This is part 3 of a 5 part series originally published on Artists Beware)
This guide is part of a series. Please consider reading the following guides before this one:
- What is a Fursuit: Types, Styles, & Padding
- Buying a Fursuit: Is a Fursuit Right For You?
- Buying a Fursuit: Pre-mades vs. Commissions, & Finding Maker Contacts
Start With a Character Concept
Do you have a concept you’d like to see as a fursuit? What is it?
It can be detailed, like a fursona or original character. Or it can be vague, like just colors or a species. But it’s important to at least have an idea so you can find a maker that can best express that idea.
If you have a detailed concept of what you want, then you should invest in a character sheet. A character sheet has at least a front and back view of your character. For fursuits, it is best to have 3 views: front, back, and a side view. You can commission an artist to make a character sheet for you, or you can draw one yourself. If you are not an artist, there are many free references available that you can color in. Here are some from the FurAffinity account Free2use, but this is not the only place that offers such resources.
Take note, that if you have a specific character or detailed concept, you will not be able to buy any pre-made suits, and must commission one. The more colors and complex a design is, the more expensive the fursuit will be. Also, a minority of fursuit makers require a character reference sheet from a specific artist before accepting a commission from you. Double check this before requesting a quote.
Vague concepts are best if you do not want to commission a custom fursuit. Meaning, you would like an artistic liberty suit (the maker creates what they feel like given your vague outline) or you would like to buy a used or pre-made suit. You can always check FurBuy and Dealers Den for fursuits for sale, but if you choose a preferred maker beforehand, you can follow when that specific maker sells pre-mades instead.
Buying a used, pre-made, or artistic liberty suit is often more affordable than commissioning a custom one, so in this way, a vague concept or design can be advantageous.
Along with your character concept, you should have at least a vague idea of what type of fursuit you would like. Do you want a toony, semi-toony, or realistic suit? Do you want digi or planti padding? Do you only want a head, tail, or other single piece? If you don’t know what any of these terms mean, take a look at the “What is a Fursuit: Types, Styles, & Padding” guide.
Some additional considerations are:
- Resin or foam base?
This is the construction of the head – resin is hard with some padding on the inside for comfort and is typically used for realistic suits. Foam heads are constructed from foam and typically have a balaclava sewn into the inside.
- What type of eyes?
Mesh – vision through the eye itself, typically used in toony suits
Resin – a hard eyeball similar to taxidermy eyes. Vision is typically through the tear ducts.
Follow Me – a 3D effect in any type of eye that allows for the eyes to “follow you,” meaning the pupils will always point toward the camera/viewer, instead of directly in front of you.
EL Wire, LEDs, in-head fans, etc.
- Machine-washable heads?
This is rare, but offered by some makers. Without this, a fursuit head is typically spot-washing only.
Gather a List of Makers
The next step is to gather a list of makers which fit your specifications for a character.
You can start by searching for photos of fursuits that are similar to your character. This is especially helpful if you have an uncommon species. You can search for fursuit photos through any social media, but the easiest would likely be through FurAffinity.net and Twitter. FurAffinity has a “fursuiting” category, or you can simply search for “fursuit.”
You can also search for “fursuit” on Twitter, but other tags to consider are “FursuitFriday,” which is used to share fursuit photos on fridays, and “SmallMakerSunday,” which is used to promote newer fursuit makers. Most of these postings should have the fursuit maker right in the descriptions, but if not, some research may be necessary. Yyou can always contact whoever submitted a photo and ask if they know the maker of the fursuit if the maker isn’t credited.
The Makers Database on Tumblr can be used to look through examples of Makers’ work and search through some tags, as well. However, this resource has not been updated in quite some time, unfortunately.
More pictures and makers can be had on FursuitReview.com, but we will talk more about this website later. Getfursu.it is another site we will expand on shortly. It does not have pictures, but it does have feature lists you can search through and filter.
Review Your List of Makers
Hopefully, you’ve found lots of makers in the last step! Now you should figure out your disqualifying factors – that is, who you absolutely cannot buy from.
Some things to consider:
- Your budget
Are the makers you like within your budget? Will you have to save for them or can you afford them currently?
- Your eligibility
Are the makers you’re interested in even offering the type of fursuit you want? Will they make your species? Do they take commissions or only sell pre-mades, etc.?
- Your time frame
Can the makers you’re interested in realistically deliver a fursuit in the time frame you want it?
- Maker Reliability
Is the maker reliable? Do they have any bewares on them? Is their queue a mile long? Are their reviews overwhelmingly negative?
Research Your Potential Fursuit Makers
Use Getfursu.it to determine if the makers you are interested in:
- Are open for quotes/commissions
- Offer the type of fursuit you want
- Is in a country you are willing to buy from
- Has reviews on FursuitReview.com
You can also use Getfursu.it for links to the makers’ social media or webpages. Follow the makers on social media. Look through their past posts, their past projects, their current WIPs and queue. Do you like what you see? If the maker you are interested in does not have any reviews on FursuitReview, find some past customers and contact them! Ask them about their experience with this maker and let them know you are interested in potentially commissioning them. See what they have to say. And if they answer you – do you like their answer? Do you still want to do business with this maker?
Use FursuitReview.com to see:
- What time frame makers usually deliver in (completion time)
- The price range the maker has operated in
- Whether past customers recommend this maker to others (YES / OK / NO ratings)
- What exactly these past customers say about their experience in the reviews – context is very important!
Additionally, you can work backwards from this site – Let’s say your first priority is price. You can filter reviews by price to see what makers operate in this range and what results are typical for that range. If you prefer to work this way, here’s a list of useful pages to consider:
- Commission type (fullsuit, partial, etc.)
- Completion time
- Style & Padding
- Year Made (to get an idea for how long a fursuit holds up over time, or how long a maker has been making fursuits)
If you find a fursuit maker on FursuitReview, clicking the maker’s name in the “About The Maker” section of a review will take you to that maker’s information, such as their social media. Getfursu.it is just a little more intuitive with this, however.
Repeat These Steps as Necessary
You don’t have to narrow it down to one or two makers. In fact, it is best if you still have a group of makers to choose from at the end! This allows you multiple opportunities to buy from the makers through pre-made sales, auctions, or commission openings. But do keep in mind what you’d like to see in your fursuit, and if the makers you are interested in can actually deliver those features.
Remember, new makers enter the community all the time, so you can always add or revise your list of potential fursuit makers!
Interested in buying a fursuit? Check out the other guides in this “Buying a Fursuit” series: