Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Birth of a Kitsune

I got the honor to build a realistic fox/kitsune fursuit partial to Stanfar. The character is called Saki and I was excited to make the head when he asked me. I've never built a fox before so I started my work with a few quick realistic sketch studies. I used some Google image search results as references. Unfortunately I lost the sketch paper so I couldn't take a picture of it. xD

Character (c) Stanfar, Picture (c) Nautilusta
This time too I started to build the head in a slightly new way, and I think this is the best way I've built a base so far. I think I'll stick with it in the future too! At first I couldn't find the right shape at all, but eventually I had a fox base in my hands.

I had fun with sculpting the details, those are my favourite parts when making fursuits. I used resin eyes from my earlier cast (the same eyes were used for Lei's head) and hand painted them with acrylic Game Colours. I love the result and the colour! It stands out so nicely from the black fur. ^_^ The nose was a bit harder for me to sculpt, but I think it looks nice anyway. I used Apoxie Sculpt for it - a very handy material that dries in the air. And I also sculpted something I'm really proud of - a realistic canine jaw set! The upper jaw is only partial because the teeth won't be visible despite the front teeth and canines. I think they look really nice and they match perfectly! The brown paint around the gums make them more realistic. I also added some gloss to them for the effect of saliva.

I glued the sculpted parts on the head with hot glue. The ears are not yet attached.

I have now figured out how furring the head is easiest to do, and I thought about sharing pictures of the process in case you are curious how I do it!

1. First I wrap the head in cling film. Many other fursuit artists don't do this, but it makes things a lot easier! It prevents the tape from tearing the foam and when you cut out the patterns the tape won't tangle with itself and all the fur. Remember to leave the mouth open, especially if you are building a moving jaw!

2. Next wrap the head with duct tape. I've found it's the best tape for this since it stays in shape and is easiest to attach evenly. But in this case, as you can see, I run out of duct tape and had to use packing tape for the rest of the head. It works just fine. :) You can also leave the nose and the eyes without tape, but I find it easier to cut those part out later.

3. Draw the fur patterns on the head. I draw lines for different coloured markings and also different fur fabrics (in this the slim pieces on the cheeks are for long pile fur, the rest for short pile). Also draw the fur direction with small arrows. You don't want the fur to go to the wrong direction or the head will look funny! If you're not sure which way the fur should go, look at pictures of real animals. They'll help you out! :)

4. Cut out the patterns! They don't look like anything after you've cut them out, but believe me, this will work out.. :D

5. Now you have to copy the patterns on your faux fur fabric. I usually use chalk for this. Because the base is not flat you will have to make small cuts to the round parts so that the pattern will lay flat. For this head I had to cut the face pattern in half for the best result. Remember to check the fur direction on your patterns and the fur fabric before drawing!!!

6. Check for the 10th time that the fur is going to the right direction before cutting out your pieces of fabric! Carpet knife is the best for this. If you cut with scissors you will damage the fur and get some ugly edges.

7. Time to vacuum-clean! At the factory they cut the fur fabrics and leave a lot of loose hair on them. If you look at the edge of the fabric you can see how damaged the edges are. That's why you don't want to cut your patterns straight from the edge.

8. Next you should sew the patterns together. I know everyone doesn't do this, but believe me - you'll enjoy your fursuit head a lot longer if you sew the parts together instead of just gluing them down. The end result is a hood that you can just pull over your base. I usually leave the hood open from below the jaw so the fur is easier to get on the head.

Finished hood, all patterns sewn together.
I tested the hood on the base before gluing.

9. Use hot glue to glue the fabric on your base. Be careful around the edges (lips, eyes and nose). By folding the fur just a little bit and gluing it down doubled over makes the edge look nice and clean.

10. Time to trim! I use a simple pet trimmer to get fur on the face trimmed down. I see many artists trimming with scissors, but I don't find the result as smooth as with a trimmer. If you have not trimmed before, you should try it on a small piece of fur first before attacking the head. If your trimmer goes to the wrong angle it might damage the fur and leave bald spots on your fursuit - no one wants that (but it does happen even after some experience with the trimmer..)! The trimmers have different kind of blades for different lenghts of furs, so you can switch them as you trim shorter and shorter. I only have one metal blade with mine and the plastic ones just won't work with faux fur, so I start with a 1-3mm blade right away. It only means you need to be more careful. :D I usually trim the head 4-5 times.

After the first trim.
Trimming in progress. The fur hasn't been glued down around the edges (eyes, lips and nose) yet because it's easier when the fur is shorter. And yes, you'll need to keep your vacuum cleaner close by!
11. This is optional, but I think it makes the head's features more expressive - time to airbrush or paint! I use acrylic paints and paint brushes for small details. For lighter fur colours I would add more details, but for black fur the amount of details is quite limited. In this case I can just make the line between white and black smoother. Later, after I took pictures just before shipping Saki to his new owner, I noticed I should have added more shadow to the white part of the fur. The white part stands out so much that the muzzle looks really long even when it's not, oh noes! ;__;

After this I added the neck piece and the head was finished! I realized the snout is too low and the head is not completely symmetric. I think the head looks more like a wolf than a fox because I underestimated the thickness of the faux fur fabric (again). This means that even though the base looked good, the fur made it bolder and the more delicate look of a fox disappeared. I like the over all look of this head, but there are still many things I'd like to change. Maybe I'll do those little changes when I see the head next time in a fur meet. ;)

If you have some other comments or critique, feel free to write them! I'm always looking to improve and receiving critique is the best way to notice my mistakes. ^_^

The insides of the ears and the tongue are made from fleece. I dry-brushed them with acrylic colours.

When the head was finished all I had to do is make hand paws and a tail for the partial fursuit. :)

Close up on how the paw pads are sewn on. It's not the prettiest option, but more durable than other techniques I've tried.
Doesn't the paw look adorable in this picture?!
This is the biggest and fluffiest tail I've ever made! I love it so much I wanted to keep it for myself!
Have fun with your first fursuit, Stanfar! ^_^

Olia just had to photobomb this time too. "Rawr! The kitsune has little dogs for breakfast!" 


  1. Wow you are so talented! Making a fursuit seems so complicated, I really admire people who can do it! *w* It looks great!

    One day I might ask you for a commission if you don't mind.. x)

    1. Thank you~ It takes time to learn how to do it, and even now I have so many things to improve with my fursuits. But they're getting better by each head, yay!

      Woaah, of course I wouldn't mind! I'd be honoured to be commissioned by someone as talented as you! ;w;

    2. Yeah, I can imagine that it takes long to learn and even longer to master!

      HNNG thanks! ;A; I have some design ideas of what I want but I'm curious how much you take for a partial fursuit commission, similar to the one on this post? :')

    3. Oh cool~ My partials start from 250€ (simple colours, toony or realistic, moving jaw).
      Oh, and there's one thing: I can't work on new fursuits until I'm back from my exchange in December. >__>

    4. Okay thanks, I'll keep that in mind! :'D

  2. RAAAH, am I gonna do this same thing about the Sandokan?! RAAAAH! *already know what you're going to aswer*

    You're gonna have one brat student :'D

    1. You'll have to do all this + all the other things I didn't even write on my blog! Welcome to the world of fursuiting, my dear student <3