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Hip's Tips to Making a Decent OC


hip-indeed
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...So this was originally going to be a reply to this thread, but it became so long and I figured a lot of the younger posters and anyone else who has trouble with OC's I see around could probably get some use of it. I'm not claiming to be the ultimate master of OC making or anything, I only really have one I've ever visually designed (and a few others that are just concepts floating around my head) and I'm not even in the top 1,000 pony artists out there, but I think these tips I have here might just help guide you in the right direction for your OC.

I really try my hardest to be fair and nice when it comes to this stuff, but there's certainly a few ground rules that dictate my appreciation of others; OCs.. .and it's especially bad in the pony community not only due to its massive popularity but how easy it is to slap together an OC...

- Is your OC made in pony maker? If so there's a 99% chance it'll look awful, anywhere. Part of the reason is that that's the easiest way out and a lot of people who don't have much talent in crafting good characters will use it since it's a breeze. Other problems though include that it's a flat vector rather than art, and that the characters tend to be facing DIRECTLY right or left which looks very stiff and weird compared to the 3/4th views the ponies in the show are usually in, among other things. Don't get me wrong, Pony Maker's super great for a bit of fun and to play with some potential basic OC concepts, but generally not to really truly craft your pony to use as your avatar everywhere.  Drawing the pony yourself is a way better idea if you can.  Even if you are brand new to drawing, it'll make you look better to have at least TRIED to draw your pony than slapping it through pony maker.  It will show your conviction toward making a nice OC and your pride in having a pony original character that you spent more than 10 minutes working on, and even if it's the worse art in the world, we'll be proud of you for trying, and for putting effort into it.  (At least, I'll be proud of you.)  And if you truly can't, you might wanna request a friend or an artist (who takes requests); there are TONS of pony artists out there in every little corner of the fandom and chances are you know at least one of SOME skill level that wouldn't mind drawing a simple pic of your OC.

- Did you use a bad or clashing color palette? When you're younger or know nothing about art this question might seem rude, like I'm some stuck-up snob that requires everything to use the absolute perfect set of colors that interact brilliantly with each other etc etc., but the simple case is that certain colors slapped RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER look horrible and make most people's eyes scream (and not for ice cream!); this is MOSTLY only a real problem if people use VERY, VERY LOUD, VIBRANT, WILDLY DIFFERENT COLORS RIGHT AGAINST EACH OTHER which is for some reason really popular to do with pony OC's. Like NEON GREEN NEXT TO NEON PURPLE or whatever. Or of course stark black pony with a SUPER BRIGHT RED outline and BRIGHT BLUE HAIR. This might be cool for just playing around and being silly but it's NOT great for your main OC that you put everywhere. If you're really having trouble with this, I suggest looking at Fluttershy. Look at her colors. Is her hair CRAZY BRIGHT PINK? Is her body INSANELY YELLOW? No, they're nice, classy and subtle, and even though pink and yellow might not seem to 'flow together' at first you can look at how well they do with her if you just take a lighter, calmer approach. And of course keep in mind how her body and hair outlines are simply darker versions of the main color itself. Either do this or use a black outline (or if you INSIST on an ebony body, use a less-loud outline color like Nightmare moon's lavender).

- Did you put garish, unfitting accessories or TOO MANY ACCESSORIES on your pony? A pair of sunglasses is fine. A scarf is fine. Earrings are fine. Various types of clothing or hats can be fine. But don't load up your pony with tons of these at once or things that just don't look right on a pony at all. That good old saying goes very well here; "Less is more". The mane 6 are fantastic paragons of character design that we all know and love and except for now and again they generally have NO accessories at all other than Applejack's hat.

- Is your cutiemark ridiculous and makes no sense in the poniverse? Does it look awful up against the pastel colors of a pony's flank? Seriously, I love video games as much as the next guy but putting a realistic looking xbox controller on your pony's butt makes no sense; even if some video games do apparently exist in-universe I don't think it makes a lick of sense to have a specific console's controller as your talent, maybe a simple joystick or something if your pony's like Button Mash. And seriously, make sure the shape and color fit. Don't make it bigger than any of the cutiemarks you see on the show -- unless your name is Luna it will fit squarely on one flank with plenty of space around the perimeter of said flank (and even then, apparently the black splotch on Luna's butt isn't even part of her cutiemark as we found in the S4 finale). And most importantly it needs to LOOK NICE on your pony's hindquarters. If it's TOO detailed or the colors don't match at all on your pony's flank something's wrong. Again, look at the show for guidance here (and not that idiotic 'grumpy cat' cutiemark they put on the guy in Rarity Takes Manehattan, that was pitiful.)

- Is your OC an alicorn? If so, try again.


tl;dr: Use pony maker to have fun and test out simple ideas but try your best to draw your OC yourself or get a friend to if at all possible. Use colors that work well together and lean in favor of a smoother, subtle color palette (Fluttershy for inspiration!). As far as accessories, less is more. Make a cutiemark that makes sense visually and thematically. And most importantly, DO NOT MAKE AN ALICORN.

Or just make a griffon or a dragon or something, lol. We need more of those, they're awesome in FiM style!

 

P.S.:  If any of you other ponies out there have tips I missed or more to add feel free to do so!  I won't consider it a thread hijacking if you help too, even if you help by taking apart my own tips and explaining them better for our younger friends or anything like that.

Edited by hip-indeed
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First, I must congratulate you. This is a very good, detailed writeup on how to create an MLP OC properly, and everyone who plans on creating an OC should read this. I just want to elaborate on a few points you made:

 

- I do agree that using Pony Creator to create an OC, only to use that as your OC's picture is not a good idea. However, using Pony Creator to get a general idea of what you want your OC to look like isn't a bad idea. Once you have a good idea of what your OC will look like, then get a commission or request, or break out the Inkscape, Ponyscape, Photoshop, Illustrator, or GIMP to actually create a good picture. Pony Creator can serve as a good foundation, but should not make up the whole building.

 

- That last point. It is a point of serious contention in this community, and opinions vary dramatically on whether it's okay to create alicorn OCs. Personally, I find myself in the camp of those who don't really care what race an OC is, as long as said OC makes sense in the context of the roleplay, story, or fanfic (s)he's a part of. Plus, there are fanfics, roleplays, and other fan stories that develop alicorn OCs well, so creating an alicorn OC is okay, but doing so mandates increased scrutiny and detail in creating the character and his/her backstory to ensure that (s)he doesn't come off as a "Mary Sue" or out of place. Creating an alicorn OC just for the heck of it isn't the best of ideas.

Edited by skbl17
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The line about the Alicorns made me LOL. Coming from an artist and a writer/roleplayers perspective, Alicorns are best avoided. Particularly if you want to remain true to show canon, because canon basically mandates your Alicorn must be an absolutely exceptional pony on the level of Twilight Sparkle, and a royal. There's a grand total of one OC here on the forums who pulls this off with any degree of success.

 

Also, many commissionable artists will gladly design an OC for you based on a verbal description or concept. I loved doing this back when I took commissions, character design is one of my favourite things to indulge in. By choosing a good artist for this task, you not only get a nice piece of art at the end, you also get the assurance that the colours will work and the character won't be totally over-the-top.

 

@@hip-indeed

Perhaps you could include some visual examples of palettes good and bad palettes in this little tutorial?

Edited by Kay Dreamer
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@@hip-indeed

Perhaps you could include some visual examples of palettes good and bad palettes in this little tutorial?

I think that's a great idea but I'm not sure I'm even the right guy for that job.  I like to think I know what works and what doesn't but I'm really a newbie to concepts like 'color theory' and whatnot  and if you look at my dA you'll notice that like all my stuff is still pretty basic and pastel and most of it's just fanart of the established characters.  I could try, but I actually feel like someone like you who's apparently quite an accomplished artist with much much MUCH more mastery of color would probably be better for that.  I think my Fluttershy example's just about the best I could do for now, but I could maybe try a very simple visual aid for it going by my words in that paragraph.

 

I also think of course that COMMISSIONING an artist is of course the ideal if you can afford it, but I'm talking about free art for the kids that'll be most likely to have these problems, y'know?  Of course if you're old enough to have a job and some extra spending money or whatever then by all means.  Of *course* any artist out there would love to draw a nice simple easy pic of your OC if they're getting paid to, lol.

 

skbl17, I feel like I did try my best to infer that pony creator is fine to 'get an idea', just not to use for your avatar functions and whatnot everywhere.

 

And as for the alicorn thing, yeah, sure, just a horse with a horn and wings as opposed to one or the other or none isn't a big deal.  I'm just saying that if you're the type of person who even NEEDS any of these other tips at all, you are *not* the type of person who could pull off a good alicorn OC, most likely.  Not to sound like a jerk to any prospective alicorn players out there, but it's a race that in MLP is as powerful, legendary and amazing as a unicorn would be in every other fantasy setting besides MLP.  They should be taken seriously and only handled by people who are very skilled with these things and really know what they're doing; if you just make one willy-nilly you're gonna seem like some power-player kid who only wants to be the biggest, bestest, specialist thing there is, and that's not going to send very good signals.  As with all the rest of these tips, try to exercise a bit of restraint.  And hey, there's something fun about being something that's NOT the 'best'; it makes you think of your character's weaknesses and flaws and do something more interesting with them.

 

Of course most of that paragraph sounded more like I was giving RP character creation advice rather than OC visual art advice like the thread was more or less meant to be for.  I mean, if you have an awesome-looking alicorn OC and want to take advantage of the fact that they tend to have the taller, more slender bodies or whatever from a purely visual standpoint for your character, go right ahead; just know that many fans will, again, assume you're just one of those kids who want to be "THE BEST THING" unless you're good at convincing them otherwise.

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Perhaps you could include some visual examples of palettes good and bad palettes in this little tutorial?
 

I know this isn't exactly what you're looking for, but have this!

tumblr_n7u13zdOqU1qlwxojo2_500.jpg

tumblr_n7u13zdOqU1qlwxojo1_500.jpg

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I will say this about ponymaker; it's good as a reference pic for when you require arts of your character. I use it myself for that, for example, if somepony replies to my request shop with just a description or a handdrawn picture, and I need to get the actual colour pallette.

 

I will also add this. I can't draw vectors and I don't have a scanner. However, I do manage to make arts of ponies! How is this miracle achieved? Why, by using bases, of course! There are hundreds of bases you can use that you can find on dA, and there's even MS Paint-friendly ones.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I like drawing my own ponies, but the Pony Creator is a great way to find the colors you want (and to see if they go together) and to get a general sense of what you want.  As I am scanner-less for now, I have to rely on it to get a quick and easy avvie until I can unearth my tablet and get drawing myself.   But there's nothing wrong with using it as a starting point and building off of it.

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Amen! These are all pretty good tips, and I agree with the Alicorn thing. I've seen it work, but those are the exceptions not the rule and for a first OC an Alicorn is almost always going to rub people the wrong way.

 

 

 
I know this isn't exactly what you're looking for, but have this!

 

 

That's pretty snazzy, I'm saving that one for later.

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This information is certainly helpful. I myself am in the process of finding someone to help me bring my OC idea into reality, but I do not personally know that many artiists, and am one of the worst drawers anyone will ever find, but I refuse to take the easy route and just use a pony generator.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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