Before we get into the depths of design, I think it’s important to answer a couple of questions first.
- What is a Furry?
To use the dictionary definition; “An enthusiast for animal characters with human characteristics, in particular a person who dresses up in costume as such a character or uses one as an avatar online.“
- What is a Fursona?
A Fursona is an anthropomorphic representation of yourself – – combination of the words ‘Furry’ and Persona.’ An identity that is used within the Furry Fandom/Community.
For some beguiling reason, people coming into the Furry Fandom often struggle with how to make their Fursona – and stick with it – often swapping out their original creation in place of something else or even having multiple Fursonas to represent different aspects of themselves; this is fine, but I can only imagine how draining it must be to change face every change of whim. Outlined below is the process in which I used to create my First (and only) Fursona; Jenn.
This is a fairly simple process in the creation phase, but one that should be addressed first and foremost in the process. A series of easy questions about what they are like as a person/furson.
- Are they going to be just like the ‘real’ you? (only in animal form) If they are to be different from yourself, how are they different?
- What gender are they? (There is absolutely no reason that you cannot have a fursona that is a different gender identity to yourself)
- What do they like and dislike? Do these tastes align with your own?
- Do they have any hobbies or things they like to do regularly? Again, do these choices mirror your own?
What we’re trying to establish here is their personality, their common traits.
My own Fursona, Jenn shares some similarities with myself, my gender, my tastes. Yet, there are some distinct differences also, fashion choice, which I shall touch upon more in my next step.
If you feel the need, you can do really in depth with this stage and find character personality questionnaires via google – a quick search pulled up this one for me and it seems pretty good.
This step plays a big part in my creation process, which is why I have placed it so high-up in the Fursona design process.
- What sort of clothing are they going to wear?
- Do you have a particular clothing aesthetic in mind?
- Are they casual, alternative (goth), extravagant, bohemian, etc.
If you are uncertain on which aesthetic you’re going to pick out for your Fursona, don’t worry! This is a fantastic blog post for giving the basics of clothing aesthetics.
I have Pinterest Boards for all of my furry characters and their different aesthetics – I refer back to these boards every time I draw any of my main characters as their fashion choices play a big part in how they are represented.
I highly suggest that you make a Pinterest board for your Fursona that you can refer back too, even if you only use if during the design process.
Jenn on the one hand is a self-styled 00’s goth and has a fascination with Tripp Pants – whereas the real me hasn’t owned a pair of these fascinating trousers since 2005.
Zsa Zsa is a high-end fashion character, she wouldn’t be seen in a simple pair of jeans and crop top brought from Primarch.
Pinterest can be a bit of a time trap though, so be careful. I recommend around 20 -30 pins. That should be enough to get a good idea of what sort of clothing your Fursona should wear.
Now that you’ve started on your Fursonas attributes, personality and clothing choices, it’s time to get some colours set up for them.
Head over to a website that you can create colour palettes on. I highly recommend colour lovers. And make a couple of mixtures that really resonate with you.
What you’re looking for here, other than a palette that excites you to your core, is something that you can transfer appealingly to your fursona – a main body colour, one or two marking colours, hair colour and embelishments.
It’s often best to keep things simple – which is why I suggested colourlovers as their palettes only allow for five colours. I’ve attached an couple of examples below.
With Colourlovers, you can also upload a photograph and create a palette from this – so if you have a photograph or piece of artwork that you really like, you can create your fursonas palette from this. I would heavily caution against using a picture of someone else’s character/fursona though as this will only upset all parties involved when caught.
Finding your inner animal.
You may be wondering why I have left this step until so late in the game – considering it’s usually the starting point for most Furrys. While working on all of the other steps above, this will have been on your mind – after all the end result is to come out with a Fursona.
You may have already decided that you want to be a casual, dress wearing, hyena. Or a Wolf that enjoys playing the same sports as you do.
If you’ve not been thinking about it or got an animal in mind, then refer back to the colours that you’ve chosen in your palette.
- Have you picked warmer tones of brown that are the natural colours for a pine marten? Or have you leaned more towards the vibrant colours of a parrot?
Use what you have already decided upon to inform your choices here too.
Undoubtedly, this is the hardest step of finalising your Fursona, you may try a couple of different animals that work with your chosen colour palette, that’s only natural – experiment and see what you can come up with.
Here are a few questions to guide you further.
- Do you wish to play into stereotypes and cliches? If you’re not sure what I mean by this, this journal by stuntyaftermath is a great run down.
- Do you want to stick with the ‘common’ choices of Fursona (Fox, Wolf, Cat, Dragon) or branch out into something more unusual? Remember with the amount of animals out there your imagination is the limit – why not cross a swan with a horse, if that’s what speaks to you.
- Does your colour palette work well with the clothing aesthetic that you have chosen? (eg, Does your vibrant colour palette work with the goth clothing in your pinterest board?)
There are a plethora of resources out there for the beginner when it comes to Fursona creation.
Firstly, you’ll need an art program if you’re going to create your artwork digitally/on the computer. All of my artwork is created using FireAlpaca, so naturally I suggest this. Another popular alternative is Paint Tool SAI, which offers a free trial.
If you’re going to create your fursona with traditional media – pens, pencils, paint, etc. Then go for it! That stuff is magical!
You’ll also need to find a base for your Fursona; unless you’re able to draw your own character yourself – which is even better than using a base and I couldn’t encourage this more.
I am a rather big fan of this base by LockWorkOrange, which is extremely reasonable for the price.
However, if you’re looking for a free base with a lot of choices then I suggest this one by celestialsunberry
Regardless of what base you choose, you’ll probably have to do some editing/drawing in order to get your character looking how you envision them. Like, colouring them in, for example!
This is another tricky bit in the design process. What they’ll look like coloured in, but hey look! We’ve already done a lot of the hard work with picking out your colour palette! The next step is to ask if you’d like your Fursona to have natural style markings or something completely made up – regardless of the colours you have chosen.
You’ve already picked out your animal and colours, now it’s a case of putting your colours onto your chosen species in a way that appeals to you.
I have attached some examples of my own characters below – with their colour palettes.
As you can see, some of the designs match up naturally with their chosen animals, others don’t. Some may not look like a natural animal at all!
Do not be afraid to simplify your chosen species markings to match up with your character design – in the case of ZsaZsa, she is a Red Panda, but her body is entirely white; unlike a real Red Panda.
Likewise, do not be afraid to add more embellishments if you feel the design doesn’t fit the aesthetic/fashion & palette choices; example given below. (No Glow)
Decide upon a name for your Fursona.
Again, you may have given this some thought or know their name already, but this is hands down the hardest step in the process. The big question is;
- Do you want your Fursona to share the same name as you?
If not and you’re having difficulty choosing a name for your Fursona, then head over to Thesaurus.com and look for alternatives for your favourite words and see if any connect with you.
For example, you like like wearing rings, so a thesaurus search for the word ring might bring up some alternative words for ring that ‘click’ with you.
Don’t be afraid to play around with these words either. Using the above example, Brim sounds interesting but doesn’t make for a good name. A simple play brings out Brin, Bryn, Brynn, etc. You can then put this name into a baby name search site for alternatives if it’s still not quite what you’re looking for.
Another way is to look for different names of your favourite things.
I love using this as an example; Rambo is a type of apple!
So there we have it, the process in which I used to create me first – and only – Fursona. I hope this guide helps you to create your Fursona too and most of all that you have fun during the process.