AmberDust

♦ Amber's Guide to Finding your Cutie Mark ♦

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(edited)

Hello everypony! Amber here.

I've been running an OC help thread for some time now, and I've noticed that a lot of people get stuck on the same thing--their OC's cutie mark.
So, I decided to scrounge up all of my thoughts and advice and post it here for everyone to use. Here's what I've gathered, on the topic of Cutie marks. :)


 

~Meaning~

Most people will tell you that a Cutie Mark is supposed to represent a pony's special talent, but really, it can mean a lot of different things. The mane six are a good example of that! Cutie Marks are meant to represent anything that makes a pony stand out from the rest. Here are a few ideas for you.


A Natural Talent post-29013-0-42741300-1432133424.gif

A talent is anything that someone is naturally good at. In the case of the Mane Six, Rainbow Dash best represents a pony who's Cutie Mark is all about talent, which she unlocked saving Fluttershy with the Sonic Rainboom. A case could also be made for AJ and Twilight's marks.


post-29013-0-21108800-1432133403.gif A Passion

Pinkie Pie's cutie mark appeared when she discovered her passion for party planning and making people smile. Sure, she's honed her skill over time, but this cutie mark appeared on her very first party, when she didn't really have any skill or talent for it.


post-29013-0-98320600-1432133410.gif Destiny post-29013-0-62750800-1432133430.gif

Yes, Twilight Sparkle's cutie mark was, in fact, a premonition. Really! Sure, she's a very powerful magic user, but what her cutie mark really represents is her position as the Element of Magic--and the Princess of Friendship. AppleJack's cutie mark may also be related to her Destiny, as she got it when she returned back home.


post-29013-0-93695500-1432133417.gif A Special Ability post-29013-0-31577800-1432133394.gif
Aah, Rarity. So many people (including whoever made "What my Cutie mark is Telling Me") forget that her Cutie mark has nothing to do with sewing or fashion or anything like that--it represents the spell she spontaneously discovered. A specialized freebie that allowed her to find gems. This Cutie mark isn't directly related to her talents, but it sure does help. Fluttershy's Cutie mark is also related to a Special Ability--her ability to speak to animals.


cmc___trotting_pixel_pony_pack_by_creshoA Skill

The difference between a skill and a talent is that talents come naturally, whereas skills must be developed and honed over time. I place the CMC in this category because they spent almost the entire series obsessing over cutie marks, and throughout season 5, they began honing their skills in helping others with their cutie marks. (Trouble Shoes, Diamond Tiara, etc.)

sig-3773472.sig-3773472.sig-3773472.sig-A personality aspect

Something about a character's personality that makes them special. This could be their astounding kindness, their wild imagination, their will of steel, their social prowess, or anything in between! In Amber's case, it's her resonating hope, although hers could also be considered a skill, as she's honed it and used it to accomplish goals.

 

~Design~

A Cutie mark's design is very important. Not only must it match the meaning, but it also has to blend well with the pony's colour scheme and has to be simple enough to distinguish when drawn on a rather small space. Common designs include Bunches of three (Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy) or one larger mark. A cutie mark can be portrayed in one of two ways:


Near Literal: Rarity's cutie mark is a good example of a literal design--she has the ability to find gems, so her mark is...gems. Simple enough. The same goes for AJ, who specializes in working with apples.

 

Symbolic: Marks that aren't quite literal, but are pretty easy to guess at. Pinkie Pie and Twilight have symbolic cutie marks. Balloons=parties=party planner, and Star=Magic=Element of Magic (=Princess of Friendship/Harmony).

 

Abstract: Cheerilee's Cutie mark is a good example of an abstract mark--you really need to have it explained to you in order to understand it. This type of design is often used for Cutie Marks that are hard to translate into simple drawings, and require the use of slightly more complex metaphors and symbols. My main OC has this type of mark, but the symbology is a bit obscure because it's symbolism is personal to her rather than widely accepted. Other symbolic cutie marks would be the CMC's, and Rainbow Dash's.

 

~Keeping it canon~

In the world of MLP, there are some restrictions regarding what your character can have as their "Special Talent"...Make sure that your OC's mark is within the possibilities of the show. Here are some helpful tips that you should consider,


Pony Race: A pony's race (Unicorn, Pegasus, Earth Pony) should be considered when deciding on your cutie mark. If you want your pony's special talent to be water-bending or some other form of magic, you'd better make sure they're a unicorn. If you want it to be gardening, they'll need to be an Earth Pony. If you want them to be skilled flyers, well...you get the idea. There has never been a pony in canon who's mark contradicts their species' ability.


Context: In a world filled with magic and love and friendship, it's very unlikely that your OC will get a mark for inventing the nuclear bomb or assassinating the royals of a faraway land. Equestria is not a place where characters like mercenaries, assassins, or ghost-hunters would thrive.


Power: It's important not to use a Cutie Mark as an excuse to overpower your character. Your character's Cutie mark should never grant Alicorn levels of power--that's just not how it works...especially when you consider that ponies get their marks when they're still rather young.

Rarity's Cutie Mark Power is a simple spell that a grown unicorn with a bit of talent could easily imitate. The only difference is that Rarity got hers without needing practice.


Age: Cutie Marks are pony puberty. A full-grown blank flank isn't something you'd see in canon, so it isn't something you should do for your OC. A foal born with a cutie mark is even stranger. If your reasoning for making your OC a blank-flank is because you couldn't come up with anything else, don't worry! Just keep working at it and thinking and an idea will eventually come to you.

 

~Story~

The last step--figuring out how your character actually earned their mark. The Mane Six had a variety of different stories for us to learn from!


Just like that: Both Unicorns in the mane six got their Cutie marks via magic outbursts. Rarity's was entirely random, and Twilight's happened when she was straining her magic. This works best with Unicorns whose Cutie marks are related to a specialized spell or ability.


Epiphany: Pinkie Pie and AJ both got their cutie marks when they made life-changing personal realizations. Pinkie discovered her love for making ponies smile, and AJ realized that she belonged at home with her family. This kind is my personal favourite, because it shows personal, emotional growth.


First Try: Fluttershy got her Mark when she discovered animals for the first time, and found out she had an affinity for speaking with them. Easy-peasy.


Overlimit: Rainbow dash got her Cutie mark when she was put in a situation that really tested her limits of flying, and she proved herself capable. Twilight's mark was also a result of pushing her limits. My OC, Amber Dust, got her mark like this, too, although her situation was emotionally intense rather than physically intense.


Mastering: Consider it a level-up...this type of story works best with skill-based marks, and would be achieved when a pony finally becomes really good at something. The CMC usually try and get this. ^^'

 

~FAQ~

These are some of the more common obstacles I've seen people face, and how to surmount them.



My OC has more than one talent! Yeah, a lot of people have this problem--their OC is a jack of all trades. Well, remember, Cutie Marks aren't always about talents. It's about what makes your OC stand out from he rest. If you just can't pick what their best talent is, than pick whichever one they like the most, whichever one they're most proud of, or whatever one they're best known for.
But really, your character shouldn't be too talented. Make sure they aren't boredering Suedom. ;)

My OC is based off of me! Ponysonae are also hard to tag Marks onto--usually because the people who make these OCs aren't sure what they're going to do with their lives--but fear not. Even though this character is based off of you, remember that they grew up in Equestria, and had access to different things than you did. You'll find that it's easier to think up a cutie mark when you think of your Ponysona as a "player character" rather than a carbon copy of yourself. Also, remember...cutie marks do NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT A TALENT. Tired of hearing that yet?

Is my cutie mark too common? So, maybe your OC has a talent for art or music. Yeah, these are pretty common, but you can still keep your cutie mark your own by customizing the way it looks. Instead of going with a plain music note or pencil or something, why not use something a little more personal? An image of your first masterpiece? Your first obstacle? Your instrument of choice? The possibilities are endless, especially if you choose to go Symbolic.

 

But I want my OC to be conflicted about their destiny! Why can't my adult pony be a blank flank? If a conflicted mindset is what your after, then consider giving them an abstract cutie mark. Both Diamond Tiara and Trouble Shoes were confused with regards to their destinies, but still had cutie marks. In fact, I think having a confusing cutie mark might even have more potential for story than not having one at all! Just try it!



~And last of all, remember this all-important fact...~




A cutie mark won't change you, no matter what you get.

Edited by AmberDust
  • Brohoof 26

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This is delightfully well written; thank you so much for putting this together!

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This is delightfully well written; thank you so much for putting this together!

*phew* 

I'm glad i could be of help!

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I'm having trouble with my OC Embers. It's important that she gets fleshed out because she is an important character in the fan fic she's in.

 

 

blog-0690459001430063750.png

 

 

(I need to get around to reworking the eyes... A more gold color would be more appropriate than just yellow.)

 

Her occupation is the head of the human resources department of a large company so she does.

 

Thinking about it, she is a leader. She's very firm in her principles (to a fault, actually) and charisma is key to her success. She very clearly understands the culture in which she works and live and to her, the line between intuition and experience is blurred as those two things co-develop. She pretty much grew up in the workplace and she has internalized a lot of experience.

 

She's the kind of person who values excellence. Pride is something she has a lot of. She works herself to the bone and expects everyone else to do the same if they are to have any bragging rights. Although her character is normally fierce (I think her color scheme gives that away), she does have a good enough idea when to approach a situation gently but she will not be seen as weak or a pushover by anyone. Ever. For the faint of heart, her expression and tone alone can be quite intimidating when she's being serious. Under the least amount of pressure, she can be coddling, humorous and pretty cheeky. As she starts getting upset, the coddling part is the first to go with her humor and cheekiness taking on a more condescending tone. Getting more upset, you can tell that you're being put under intense scrutiny. This is where she starts to put more focus in being in control of the conversation and over the years she's learned how to evoke guilt and even shame in ponies. This is where her intuition of the surrounding culture comes in handy as it gives her insight into the insecurities of other ponies. You also notice her voice becoming more lower and more tense. Over the edge, she can start yelling and really can't help herself at that point. She can say very hurtful things when in this state because it this point, she's taking out all of her stress on whoever was unlucky and foolish enough to push her off the edge.

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So, , you're having trouble thinking up a cutie mark for her?

Have you had any ideas? And did you consider the different types of cutie mark she can get?

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So, , you're having trouble thinking up a cutie mark for her?

Have you had any ideas? And did you consider the different types of cutie mark she can get?

It's really been difficult... Although there are a few points I've been putting focus on... At first I thought it could be a scroll and quill or something to signify that she's good at doing administrative work but that was a very impromptu decision with not much thought put in. This time I would like something more definitive of her.

 

 

 

She pretty much grew up in the workplace and she has internalized a lot of experience.
 

 

I'm thinking that would be the place she's gotten her cutie mark - on the job.

But the thing is, she's worked different jobs starting from her youth - a very wide range in fact. However, the common thread is that she excelled in whatever her tasks were and then some which often got her employers to brag about her to her parents. For any young filly/colt, making your parents proud of you is the best thing ever. With the different employers she's worked under, the points they tend to repeat is that she's quite proactive and her work ethic unparalleled. 

 

Well, I'm guessing what truly defines her is her work ethic so a cutie mark that reflects that would be great. To add to that, going into HR started out as a philosophical journey for her as there she would fully understand what being an employee is all about and what the image of an ideal worker is.

 

Something reflective of her industrious side... but how...?

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, you'd be best with something symbolic then. Perhaps a bee? They're synonymous with business and hard work, plus the yellow would match her eyes.

 

Or, you could think of the task she was doing and make it a sort of personal metaphor. What was she put in charge of doing? Is she living up to a legacy he parents started? There are a lot of possible personal metaphors you could whip up that would make great symbols.

Like, maybe she got her cutie mark by pushing herself to the limit, and when she recieved her first paycheck, she felt accomplished? And her cutie mark could be a few gold bits, representing how hard she worked for her money? Something like that?

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@@AmberDust, I've been wondering if a yellow silhouette of a fire ant would be fitting. Apparently, ants also symbolize the virtues of industry but her rather fiery character, her colors as well as her name Embers would make the fire ant more matching to her. Um, that's what I'm thinking anyway.

 

Any thoughts on that idea?

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which she unlocked saving Fluttershy with the Sonic Rainboom

I think you meant Rarity. 

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(edited)

I think you meant Rarity.

No, that's not what I meant, either. I was thinking about the two boom she did that earned her her cutie mark--I guess she wasn't saving anypony at that time, eh?

@@AmberDust, I've been wondering if a yellow silhouette of a fire ant would be fitting. Apparently, ants also symbolize the virtues of industry but her rather fiery character, her colors as well as her name Embers would make the fire ant more matching to her. Um, that's what I'm thinking anyway.

 

Any thoughts on that idea?

Sounds great to me! But maybe not a silhouette. :/ perhaps just a yellow ant. Edited by AmberDust

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No, that's not what I meant, either. I was thinking about the two boom she did that earned her her cutie mark--I guess she wasn't saving anypony at that time, eh? 
 

 

The butterflies are what saved her.

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Very, very informative guide. My main OC doesn't have a cutie mark, however, because he still identifies as a blank flank even into his adult age, and because I'm developing him in parallel with my real life. If and when the time comes, however, I will take things like this into account.

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Heh, Two years ago, in July 2013, I came up with my Cutie Mark first, then in September 2013, I made my ponysona, Will Guide to go with it! I think I broke several of your guidelines before they even existed! 

 

947cdf90e3bfb605448434cbdbd0fbf7.png

 

 

 

Let's see how much of your guide I followed:

Meaning: The book and castle parts of my CM are my Passion for Knowledge and Disney, respectively. The Star and Heart parts represent that I am hopeful and caring, respectively.

 

Design: I'd say mostly symbolic since I had to explain it.

 

Keeping it Canon: This is probably where I had broken your guide, but I'll explain:

Pony Race: I specifically chose Unicorn so he could do Disney Magic, plus he's got a strong mind to work with it.

Context: Okay, I'll admit since they are no Disney characters in Canonical Equestria, Will Guide is unable to do much. Still, I was going for uncommon abilities.

Power: While the power levels are high, I tried to balance it out by having little to no other abilities outside anything Disney-related.

Age: Due to unusual circumstances of how he first came into Equestria, he started out as an adult blank flank with memory loss. He would get his mark to appear piece-by-piece as he gets his memories back.

 

Story: Basically, he was roped into some Disney Villain's scheme where they caused him to lose knowledge about his past and used him as a pawn to attempt to over Equestria. Throughout his story, he gets his Cutie Mark to appear piece by piece, mostly through epiphanies about his past. Ultimately, he would defeat the Disney Villains, breaking the spell on him completely, and in doing so, fully restore his complete Cutie Mark.

 

I allowed another member to rank him and it came out with a D-. Yeah, he mostly wouldn't work in official canon. But Will Guide and his CM are MY vision, for better or worse.

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Very, very informative guide. My main OC doesn't have a cutie mark, however, because he still identifies as a blank flank even into his adult age, and because I'm developing him in parallel with my real life. If and when the time comes, however, I will take things like this into account.

He "Identifies" as a blank flank? What does that mean?

Identifying as a child doesn't stop puberty from happening

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He "Identifies" as a blank flank? What does that mean?

Identifying as a child doesn't stop puberty from happening

He never gained a cutie mark and that does not bother him. He doesn't know what he's going after in life. He's a late bloomer and he accepts that.

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He never gained a cutie mark and that does not bother him. He doesn't know what he's going after in life. He's a late bloomer and he accepts that.

Your cutie mark doesn't necessarily have to do with what you're doing with your life. *points up to the guide*

:please:

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Phew. Updated that a bit to include some frequently asked questions. I'll probably add some more later. ^^

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This is amazing! Thank you for making it! :)

 

I'm having a problem with my Ocs cutiemark as well. I have a design in mind but haven't a clue on the color for it or how to decide when she has gotten it finally. The style i picked was a remake of Twilights cutie mark but i turned it into a snowflake while the part That she has pink i drew the moon and some sparkling stars. The little stars she has are 6 instead of 5 and all snowflakes and kind of an intrecately detailed design. I drew it this way to represent her name but also to go with the fact she loves the night and snow but is also really good and in love with learning about magic. (Crystal Night is her name btw) Do you have any ideas? I'm in no rush for an answer and appreciate the help. :)

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Now this is really good. I was wondering something though. I have an OC who used to be a Phoenix  but due to a spell mishap became a pony. Should he be given a cutiemark or would I be okay leaving him without it? He lacks things like a mane and his tail is made of feathers, in fact his whole body is covered in feathers not fur. He still also does the burst into flames thing every 1,000 years. I feel like he should stay a blank flank myself but wondering what someone else's thoughts on the subject were.

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This is amazing! Thank you for making it! :)

 

I'm having a problem with my Ocs cutiemark as well. I have a design in mind but haven't a clue on the color for it or how to decide when she has gotten it finally. The style i picked was a remake of Twilights cutie mark but i turned it into a snowflake while the part That she has pink i drew the moon and some sparkling stars. The little stars she has are 6 instead of 5 and all snowflakes and kind of an intrecately detailed design. I drew it this way to represent her name but also to go with the fact she loves the night and snow but is also really good and in love with learning about magic. (Crystal Night is her name btw) Do you have any ideas? I'm in no rush for an answer and appreciate the help. :)

I'm not sure if I mentionned this is my original post, but it's important not to make the design overly complicated. It does only take up a small amount of space, after all.

Anyways, the colours all depend on the palette used for the rest of the character. Would you post a picture of her?

Now this is really good. I was wondering something though. I have an OC who used to be a Phoenix but due to a spell mishap became a pony. Should he be given a cutiemark or would I be okay leaving him without it? He lacks things like a mane and his tail is made of feathers, in fact his whole body is covered in feathers not fur. He still also does the burst into flames thing every 1,000 years. I feel like he should stay a blank flank myself but wondering what someone else's thoughts on the subject were.

Hmm...

To be frank, I don't think a Phoenix turning into a pony is at all realistic. I mean, even an Alicorn can't change a mare into a colt, so a species change seems entirely out of the questions unless it was a combined effort between all the Alicorns in the world, which is also very far-fetched. If you DO decide to keep this concept, I'd either leave him as a blank-flank (like a griffon would be) or make his mark a simple flame symbol.

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(edited)

Hmm...

To be frank, I don't think a Phoenix turning into a pony is at all realistic. I mean, even an Alicorn can't change a mare into a colt, so a species change seems entirely out of the questions unless it was a combined effort between all the Alicorns in the world, which is also very far-fetched. If you DO decide to keep this concept, I'd either leave him as a blank-flank (like a griffon would be) or make his mark a simple flame symbol.

Unicorn Twilight turned frogs into oranges. I don't think it is really out of the question. ._. There is also chaos magic, and let's not forget Flutterbat and Twilight making everyone breezies. Is it really that far fetched? 

Edited by Night Mist

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Unicorn Twilight turned frogs into oranges. I don't think it is really out of the question. ._. There is also chaos magic, and let's not forget Flutterbat and Twilight making everyone breezies. Is it really that far fetched?

Well, that depends. Is your OC best friends with an Alicorn Princess who specializes in magic? :P

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Well, that depends. Is your OC best friends with an Alicorn Princess who specializes in magic? :P

Nope but he is over 1,000 years old. =p

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Nope but he is over 1,000 years old. =p

Haha yeah

But still, turning a frog into an orange is in an entirely different league as turning one intelligent and powerful creature into another intelligent and powerful creature, and it's especially ridiculous when you say it was by accident. It doesn't seem plausible to happen in this world to me, so I can't really suggest a realistic cutie mark for such a creature. ^^'

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Haha yeah

But still, turning a frog into an orange is in an entirely different league as turning one intelligent and powerful creature into another intelligent and powerful creature, and it's especially ridiculous when you say it was by accident. It doesn't seem plausible to happen in this world to me, so I can't really suggest a realistic cutie mark for such a creature. ^^'

Well decided it was going to happen back in Discords reign. But I was just wondering if he should have one or not. 

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