I got into the furry fandom about 6.5 months ago. Ever since I joined I always wanted to have a fully drawn out fursona, Tippy (Deer/Buck), but I’ve never had the art skill to do so. I recently have been super interested in getting a reference sheet via commission. But, I have a bit of a problem, I have no idea what I’m supposed to say/do when it comes to telling them how I want it to look. I don’t wanna be to vague so it doesn’t look right or way to complicated to the point where they don’t know what to do. If you have any advice about the proper way I should communicate my thoughts into their drawings I’d be so grateful!
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Good question, and thanks for submitting it. This is how I handled communications with the ref sheet artist for Grubbs. When talking with the artist, think of the drawing in terms of what the fursuit maker will be sewing. Figure out all the things the fursuit maker will be doing and then describe those to the ref sheet artist.
First, decide the overall feel of the character. Are you going for a highly realistic anthro, or something cartoony?
Do some research on fursuit makers based on fursuits you've seen and what appeals to you with a maker's style. If you have already chosen a maker, point out some of the fursuits they made that you want the ref sheet artist to emulate (artists have their own style, of course, but a good artist can emulate other styles). You can also suggest looks you like from movies, TV shows, and cartoons. For example, when I was coming up with how Grubbs should look, I told the maker, Beastcub, that I thought the bear suits in Disney's The Country Bears were superb and I wanted something along those lines.
What is the overall personality/occupation you are trying to convey? Is this going to be a fat furry? Skinny? Will clothing be worn or will the fursuit be skyclad (naked)? Perhaps armor will be worn because it is a warrior, or a wizard's robe, or there will be jewelry or native wear. Maybe your fursona is a tomb raider or a gamer or an athlete. Maybe they are a musician or skateboarder (maybe you want inline skate wheels installed in the feet! I've seen that... cool!).
Pick out particular features that you want. Do you want realistic eyes made of glass or acrylic, or do you want cloth mesh? Do you want horns or wings or something animatronic? Do you want soft claws or perhaps something made of polyurethane that looks real. Where do you want the zipper (back or front)? Do you want a detachable tail? Should the ears wobble or be static? Do you want a moveable jaw so you can appear to be talking? Should the fur be shaggy or short or felty? Or do you need claws or feathers? Hooves on the feet but human hands? See if the maker has options for how the head is constructed (there are various approaches to head construction (foam heads are more typical of cartoony heads, while resin is often seen in more realistic heads). Ref sheet artists often don't go into mechanical details, but if you can get them to sketch out a lot of the specifics, it can be helpful to the maker.
The ref sheet should, obviously, have a color palate. Make sure you are clear on everything from fur color to paws to claws to eyes to nose to inner ear, etc. etc. etc.
A ref sheet is essential because this is where you work out all the details of your fursona before it goes into production (much cheaper to correct things in a drawing than after it has been sewn!). So, take your time and make sure you have exactly the look you are going for before you give the okay to the maker to start sewing!
Hope this answers your question!
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