Howdy! My name is Sunny, and welcome to Dare! Dare is my brand new customization guide. I've had a lot of people who have checked out my customization ideas and have asked me how I came up with those customizations. Eventually I had enough people comment about it that I thought....Sunny, you really need to write another customization guide.
A few years ago, I had written a guide titled Encee's Guide to Style. But I left neopets for around a year, and a lot changed and most of that info eventually went out of date.
I have decided to write this customization guide differently than I wrote the previous one. The previous one, while important and containing lots of information, was more focused on current items and trends. I want this guide to focus on the METHODS of customization. Methods that should (hopefully) never go out of style.
This guide is called Dare because I am daring YOU to think outside the box when it comes to customization, and to approach it in a brand new way!
But first, let's ask the question, WHY CUSTOMIZE?
It's a question that some people, particularly those who are a little bit lonely for the old days, tend to ask. What's the POINT of customizing? Why do you do it? I've found there's a myriad of reasons for it, and in this section I'll be listing a few of the most commonly found reasons.
This is a reason to customize. Some people really do not like the boring and plain "stature" of pets that are not customized. I mean, sure, you have a blue shoyru. But there's also 2.3 Billion* people who also have blue shoyrus that look just like yours if they're unclothed. You want to make your pet look like it's yours. Not to mention you just can't stand looking at it anymore.
* 2.3 Billion is an estimate. It does not reflect the actual number of Blue Shoyru Owners in Neopia.
And honestly, this is a perfectly good reason to customize. The thing that's important for you to do though is not to throw clothes on that pet willy nilly. That will just end up with the pet looking even more awkward than it did before.
Someone is not pleased...
Reason #2: I have a character for this pet!
Sometimes you want a pet to look like the character that you've created for it. That's ok too. Sometimes customization items can even inspire new characters. Customizing because you have a character is just as good of a reason as any other, so don't let anybody tell you otherwise!Reason #3: I want my pets to look fab!
Hey, it could be that you just want your pets to look nice, and it seems like customization is a fun way to do that! Customizing just for the sake of customizing and making your pets look cool is totally okay!
How to Read the Guide
This guide is not meant to be read all the way through in one sitting. The goal of this guide is to cover major points in the art of customization, and to help YOU find the points you are struggling with so you can improve. If you go up a bit and look at the navigation bar on the right, you'll see a ton of topics I have covered. Find the topics that you feel you need help with and jump around between them!
The navigation bar at the top is to help you jump to the start of the major sections, in case you get lost.
Occasionally you'll see helpful hints, definitions or tips inside these little quote boxes. They're here to help you!
Of course, if you really want to read the guide 100% all the way through, do it! Just make sure you take breaks and rest your eyes. It's important to keep yourself healthy!
This is my personal list of resources that I commonly use when coming up with customizations. I recommend all of these sites to you without any hesitation!
General ResourcesColor Palette Generator/Eyedropper
I'm not going to point you to any specific examples because of TNT's rules about mentioning offsite places, but there's various places on the web where you can find eyedropping tools and color palette generators. What I like to do is eyedrop the color of a certain pet/item and then input that hex code into a color palette generator just to see what it comes up with. Sometimes this can help me to think outside the box when it comes to deciding on a color scheme for customizations.
A Visual Reference (optional)
If you're going to be creating customizations based off of real people, or characters from your favorite books, movies, comics, TV series' etc, you may want to find some pictures of those people so you can compare them to your customization. I've found this to be incredibly helpful!
Dressing RoomsSunnyneo's Dressing Room
The benefit that Sunnyneo's dressing room offers is the ability to REALLY filter all of the customization items. Filter them by theme, color, zones, etc. I like using this along with Dress to Impress so I can put together great previews.
The main thing going for JN's wardrobe is it's reliability. Sometimes Dress to Impress goes on the blink, or Sunnyneo's filtering system filters a little TOO much. Jellyneo is a really good "middle of the road" option when the other two aren't behaving. But the fact that saving outfits requires a JN account can be a little off-putting for those who don't want to sign up for an account.
Dress to Impress
Dress to Impress, also called "DTI" is my personal favorite wardrobe. Mainly because it has something that neither JN or SN can offer. And that is the ability to put previews of customizations on petpages. I also like it because of it's ease of use, and the uncomplicated design. Most of the customizations you'll see on this page are previews from DTI.
This guide is a good estimate for current NC item values if you're going to be doing NC trading. While some people complain about value guides, it's best to remember that they are needed to keep people from being ripped off. Just make sure you don't take it's word as law, and you should be fine.
This guide is another alternative value guide. Sometimes it's good to compare these two to each other. Most NC chatters agree that /~Clara is the most complete, however both can be used as a reference.
Created by the owner of /~lyl, this database compiles recent NC trades, showing item for item comparisons!
This large section is dedicated to the very fundamental components of customization. These concepts are the building blocks that will help you to be an amazing customizer! Don't worry, they aren't all that hard, and I'm going to do my best to explain them all to you! Ready to dive in?
The Basics: Color
Color is something that is very important, not only in art, but in fashion as well. The colors you choose to wear can reflect your personal style, and your personality as well. The same can be said of your pets.
Now, for our section of color, we're going to go a wee bit into the world of Color Theory. Don't worry. I'm not one of those really scientific people who's going to explain to you exactly why we see the color red, or what-have-you. We're just going to get into the very basics of color schemes.
In the visual arts, color theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual effects of a specific color combination. TL:DR; It's about choosing colors in color schemes to make them look good.
Monochromatic color schemes are color schemes that focus on various shades of one color. So if you see a pet that's dressed up in various purple items, you may just be seeing a Monochromatic color schemed customization.
This is an example of a monochromatic color scheme in a color palette.
There's a lot of customizers (myself included), who really like monochromatic color schemes, particularly when it relates to how that color looks with a certain neopet's base color. The example below is a pretty good indicator of that.
In this case, it's all shades of a purple-blue, which compliments the base color of this stealthy ixi.
When two colors are across from each other on the color wheel, they are Complimentary colors. Complimentary colors are good for making things POP, but if not managed correctly...they can be a little bit too strong.
Examples of two complimentary colors...
Examples of complimentary colors in a simple customization...
As suggested by the name, Adjacent colors are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Adjacent colors are often found in nature.
Here's an example of Adjacent colors...
And here's an example of adjacent colors in a customization!
A unique spin on complimentary colors. First, find two complimentary colors (Ex: Yellow and Purple), then instead of using one of them (ex: Yellow) you use the two colors that are NEXT to the one you decided to use. (In this case, orange and green.)
The benefit of this color scheme over the complimentary color scheme is that it provides the same contrast without being as shocking to the viewer.
Triadic colors are colors that are arranged in a triangle on the color wheel like so:
Triadic schemes are known for their vibrancy, even when you use very light or dark hues! Here's an example of a triadic color scheme:
An example of a customization with triadic colors.
Tetrad colors are colors that form a rectangle on the color wheel, with each color being a "point" or "corner" of the rectangle, where two complimentary pairs are formed. It's a very rich color scheme, but it can be difficult to balance out if you're not experienced.
I think I'm just going to stick to this as an example, because I doubt I have the abilities to show you a really 100% perfect Tetrad color customization.
When customizing with color, not only is it important to think about how the colors work together, but it's also important to think about what different colors communicate! Certain colors tend to make us think of certain qualities, here's some examples:Yellow/Gold:
Wealth, Prosperity, Sunshine, Cheerfulness, Summer, Hope, Fear.
Anger, Passion, Love, Luck (in some cultures), Blood, War, Courage, Energy.
The Ocean, Peace, Hard Work, Understanding, Coolness, Spirituality.
New Life, Growth, Luck, Nature, Healing, Inexperience, Safety, Greed, Envy.
Royalty, Luxury, Ambition, Wisdom, Mystery, Magic, Evil, Rarity, Creativity.
Fall, Harvest, Tropics, Sunsets/Sunrises, Endurance, Energy, Halloween, Excitement, Good Health, Hazardous.
Purity, Faith, Innocence, Goodness, Safety, Cleanliness.
Evil, Power, Elegance, Formality, Death, Mystery, Respect, Authority, Fear, Grief.
Feminine, Love, Compassion, Tenderness, Playfulness, Nuturing, Friendship.
Don't forget that there's also cultural differences too! Certain cultures have different meanings for different colors as well:
The Basics: Base Color
Guilty confession time. Ready? Here we go. I'm a Pound Chatter. Yep. You'd expect someone who's as customization crazy as I am to hang around the customization chat, or the NC chat. And while I've lurked those boards a time or two, the Pound Chat has always been my home board. And sometimes, those poor PC'ers (I love 'em to death) are very confused about why White Kacheeks are popular. The answer is simple. It's a matter of Base Color.
Base Color refers to the color of the skin/fur/hair/scales/feathers/etc that make up a neopet.
If you're a general customizer, and you want to dress one pet up in a lot of outfits, you'll want a pet that has a base color that doesn't clash with a lot of customizations. White Pets, Desert Pets, (some) Island Pets, Brown Pets, etc are typically preferred in these cases. It's best to try (if possible) to avoid crazy colors such as starry, split, custard, snot, glowing, etc.
One example of a good base color pet.
An example of a base color that didn't exactly work out with the same customization.
Now, if you're a character customizer, chances are the pet already has a set color. So here's a few tips for customizing pets with more...difficult base colors.
The main pieces of advice I can give you are these. Embrace the oddity, hide what you don't like if you can using customization items, and worst comes to worst, go for irony. It's a lot easier on you if you try to add the colors featured in the base color to the customization instead of fighting against it. If there's a part of the pet's pattern/body that you don't fancy, perhaps trying to cover it up can help you in the long run. And, for the pets pets that are more...themed, well, irony makes great customization material, and can get a good chuckle out of your neofriends.
Now, how about a glass of lemonade before the next section?
I DON'T WANT YOUR DARN LEMONS.
WHAT THE HISSI AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?
I'M GONNA BURN YOUR NEOHOME DOWN.
WITH THE LEMONS.
The Basics: Shape
One of the things any artist will eventually learn is that there are different body shapes and sizes. There's people who have thin and lanky builds, and others who have more muscular builds. There's some who have high waists, and others who have low waists. Even though clothes are made in many sizes, there are some clothes that fit different body shapes better than others. This concept also applies to Neopets.
Notice how different the same two items look between these very different body types? This is a good example of that. Sometimes if you like how an item looks in the item preview, but hate it on a certain species (ex: ixi), then it might be worth it to try it on another species before you entirely give up on it.
The Basics: Zones
Zones are the areas where customization items can be placed on your neopet.
This section is about where you start when you customize. The inspiration for your customization is just as important as the final product. You see, there are different kinds of customizations, and what type of customization you are trying to make will impact how you go about customizing.
The type of customization really does matter. Here's a few examples of how different types of customizers choose different items items:
Character Customizer: Everything doesn't have to match, but everything in the customization needs to tie into the story and "make sense".
Theme Customizer: The pet must match the theme, so only items that match the theme or lend to the completion of that theme will do.
Real People/Characters Customizer: The pet must be easily recognized as a tribute to that person or character, so the items must look as close to the "real deal" as possible.
Artistic Customizer: The cost of the items doesn't matter as long as they all look good together, and the customization looks beautiful!
Economic Customizer: The look has to be cheap, but effective as a customization as well.
Character customizations are some of the hardest to do, and there's a good reason for it. The reason is, TNT cannot possibly enter your brain and come up with the perfect set of clothes for every character that pops into your head. Even MORE so if you are an artist who loves to come up with clothing designs of your own.
Your starting point is really going to depend on how the character idea is framed. Is this character living entirely in your head at the moment, or have you managed to draw him/her? If you've managed to draw him/her, the challenge will be to try to find neopian items that will be as close to your drawing as possible.
If the character idea is rough in your head, then that's where it really starts to get...interesting. This gives you a bit more freedom to experiment. Let's give this a shot with a quick example.
Meet Provost. She's one of my ixi, and and the mayor of White River, Meridell. "Provost" has a lot of different meanings in different countries, but I chose to focus on the Scottish meaning, which is "Mayor". With her customization, I wanted a look that not only looked like a mayor, but also embraced some Meridellian qualities.
Since I think Meridell is based off of ye olde england and scotland, I felt that the Flowy Scaled Skirt was a good place to start, as it not only looked very scottish, but it was elegant as well. I then added the AAA Host Shirt and Jacket to give her a bit more of an official look, and then added the Simple Autumn Infinity Scarf as an accent.
Since the scarf suggested colder weather, the Autumn in Meridell Background seemed perfect for the job. I added a MiniMME17-S2b: Whimsical Governess Wig and Hat and a pair of Smart School Girl Eye Glasses to add to the perception of a prim and proper mayor, then finished it up with a Magical Quill and Book. The perfect item to record projects for the town.
Now, if you're in the rough stages of developing a character, particularly when focusing on their clothing, you'll want to think through a couple of things, so here are some questions to think about in terms of characters and clothing in general. (These can also be applied to customizing.)
Is it hot, cold, just right, windy, rainy, snow-filled, grassy, sandy, steep? How would that affect what clothes they wear?
* Is there a culture in place that has certain traditions or "cultural norms" regarding certain clothes?
For example, I'm from Texas. Boots and a Cowboy Hat are rarely out of place. But in other states or other countries, they're quite rare to see. What are the traditional clothes in the place your character is from?
Different cultures mean different clothes!
* Does your character prefer certain styles of different clothes?
Do they prefer tank tops over long sleeved tees? Skinny jeans over shorts?
* Are there any specific articles in their wardrobe that are sentimental/important to them?
A favorite/lucky hat? A shirt given to them by a relative that's gone now? Perhaps an inherited watch?
If you MUST know, my mother gave me this hat!
* Does your character have the resources/means to have more than one outfit?
Are they rich and they have many, or poor and just have one?
* Does your character have a casual look for everyday?
You know, just for hanging out with buddies.
* How about a formal look? Does your character have one of those?
You know, really fancy outfits for nice occasions.
For a lady, every journey out requires a formal look!
* Does your character's favorite color/pattern appear often in their wardrobe?
Blue and plaid appear often in mine. Whoops.
* How does your character's occupation/hobbies affect their wardrobe?
Construction worker boots, or a nurse's bag? Maybe an apple for a teacher?
I honestly suggest that if you have neopian characters you try to come up with at least two different customizations for them. Even if you NEVER use more than one. Coming up with different customizations for different situations can help you develop your characters further!
Need any other pointers on characters? Seems like you may need a trip down to White River, Meridell to The Character Hat. Charrie always has some advice when you go to his hat shop.
Sometimes you'll see theme games on the boards, where you have to dress up a pet according to a certain theme. (Ex: Pirate, Exotic, Adventurer, Cute, Spooky, etc). Or maybe you're just one of those people who likes to put themed pets onto certain accounts. Regardless, theme customizing can be easy or difficult, depending on the THEME involved.
For example, if you wanted to make a pet Pirate Themed, well, that's a lot easier than a pet that's Western Themed. TNT has a world based off of pirates (Krawk Island), but not a world based off of the American West. So customization items for pirates might just be a bit more plentiful. It's not to say that it's not possible, but you may have to get a bit creative with how you search for items. Here's a few tips on customizing theme pets:* Sunnyneo is your friend.
If your theme is a common one, it's filtering feature is really handy for narrowing down items to use, and you can even filter the search further by zone, if it's NC/NP, if it fits your pet's species, and so on.
*Know your Items
As best as possible, it really helps to have a good memory of the NC/NP items that are out there. Even if you only have a very rough idea of what item you're looking for (ex: Knowing that there's a plaid pencil skirt like item) is better than nothing. It'll give you a rough springboard to start with.
* Get Creative with Searches
Say you have a "spooky" theme. Just searching for "spooky" items might get you some results, however, there's many other keywords you could use, such as "ghostly", "haunted", "scary", and other words. Try to get creative and think out of the box. This is another reason Sunnyneo is such a helpful tool, because if you pull up the "Spooky" theme in their wardrobe, it has many items that you wouldn't be able to find with a few keywords alone.
* Don't be afraid to use items that are not entirely in the "theme".
Sometimes items that are labeled/classified as one theme can also be used for another. For example, take the "Ruby Carolling Dress". It's typically thought of as a christmas/holiday themed item, correct? Take a look at this example customization:
The dress perfectly matches the eyes and the bottom part of the wig on this ixi. It also provides a "neovian" style charm that adds to the spooky/haunted theme, EVEN THOUGH IT'S A HOLIDAY ITEM! Don't knock an item as a potential part of your customization just because of it's name/theme.
Sometimes I deliberately start customizations by trying to start and focus on one item, and building the rest of the customization from there. Maybe I see a really neat new item on DTI and I try to play around with it, but it can be really interesting to try to build an entire customization off of what goes well with one item. Here's an example:
So how do you create customizations based off of real people/characters? I mean, say you wanted to make a customization based off of someone from your favorite movie, or perhaps a character from a comic book. How do you work within in confines of the neopian world to create something that looks similar to something in real life?
The first thing I do is I look for a reference image. Let's start with an example, shall we?
This is Oliver Queen, also known as "Arrow" from the (amazing) TV series "Arrow" by CW. I had the amazing fortune to find "Arhow" stuck in the pound as a green ixi, and he zapped glowing. So of course, a great customization had to be made. I started by grabbing reference images, like the one above, so I could get a rough idea of what I was looking for. Thankfully, TNT had some items that worked.
Let's break this down item by item, shall we? I chose the Hero of Neopia Frame/Background, because I wanted to honor the fact that "Arrow" is based off of DC Comic's "The Green Arrow". Since it's a comic book character brought to life, it only seemed appropriate.
The Ixi Forest Hood was the perfect "green hood" to hide the secret idenity of this vigilante hero. Throw in the green Holiday Bandit Mask, which matches the green mask worn by Oliver in the show, and you've got a scary looking combination.
The jacket/hoodie was hard to replicate, and the closest item I could find that was green and looked somewhat padded (like armor or leather gear) was the Commander Valka's Collector's Armoured Shirt. I threw in an Ixi Bandit Leather Pouch so Arhow could hold his gear. Add in a pair of Basic Green Trousers to continue the green uniform, some Adventurous Ixi Boots to keep Arhow's feet safe, and of course, an Ixi Archer Bow so there's actually something to fire those arrows with!
The goal with real life customizations is to get as close as possible so that others can recognize the character/person. Sometimes it can be pretty difficult considering the items here in neopia. Here's a few other examples of real life customizations:
In order: Link from Legend of Zelda, Mrs. White from Clue, Mr.Bean, and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
Tricks and Tips
This section contains various methods for how to "get around" some of the frustrating aspects of customization, along with tips on layering foregrounds/backgrounds, how to find alternative items (for cheapskates like myself), and other cool tricks and tips for customizing well. Think of it as a personal section on how I manipulate the customization system. ;)
There are certain problems that can pop up when you customize, due to issues with how objects fit on neopets. Thankfully, we have a method to help take care of some problems using the idea of layering.
Layering: Using two items that occupy the same area on a pet's body, but are zoned differently.
One of the problems that lots of owners of four legged pets can attest to is the problem of short dresses. By short, I mean short in the front, such as this one:
Now, there's a few commonly used methods to deal with something like this. Sometimes folks will try adding a necklace, boa, or some sort of collar item to help make that area a little bit more busy...
I've done this myself a few times, but one method that I've hit on is something that I like to call "Dress/Jacket Layering". Basically it's about layering another item on top of certain parts of a dress so that it looks a bit better. Like this example:
The benefit to something like this is the ability to hide low necklines, as well as creating a very interesting look. The key is that the bottom layer is in the "Dress/Shirt" zone, and the top layer is in the "Jacket" zone. Now, there's also some cases where you can layer two dresses on top of each other because there are a few select dresses that are layered as jackets.
In this customization, I once again ran into the issue of a dress being a wee bit too short in the front. Thankfully this dress is zoned as a jacket, and thus we can add another dress under it to give this poor ixi a bit more modesty.
This concept is the most important in ALL of customization when it comes to UCs and their allies. Without good foreground/background layering, your customizations for UCs and other hard to customize pets will fall flat. It's also a major component of customizing normal converted pets, so let's get started with a bit of theory:
When painting scenery, digital artists have a unique advantage over those using canvas, paper or other real mediums. They can put different sections of a painting or landsape into different layers, thus keeping certain parts seperate. Some layers will be positioned "in front" of other layers, giving the viewer a sense of depth:
See the example of these layers stacked on each other?
The same sort of effect can be used in customization. There are various "zones" in front of and behind your neopet where objects can be placed to give the illusion of depth. Let's start by talking about the different zones that have to do with the background and foreground.
First we have the Background layer, which contains the background itself. The majority of backgrounds take up this layer only, although there are some that do manage to take up more zones if they involve the pet sitting in something or have some other effect to that nature.
Notice the difference between the two backgrounds? The first doesn't have anything really "jutting out" in front of the pet, unlike the second. The second background takes up the Lower Foreground Item zone, along with the Background Zone.
The next zone above the background zone is the Background Item zone. The Background Item zone is for special items that can be added to your customizations in the background to add some...extra interest. For example:
See that piano behind me?
The Altadorian Grand Piano is a background item that was added to this ixi version of myself. Now, with this customization it goes well, but let's show you the same item with another background...
YEESH. That looks horrible. With background items, they're pretty far from the viewer, so you have to be very CAREFUL about when/how you use them, because if they are not used wisely, you will end up with a disaster!
The layer above that is the Higher Foreground Item layer. It's primary purpose is for floating trinkets (ex: Faerie Dolls), garlands, string lights, and some foregrounds.
The Lower Foreground Item zone is the zone primarily reserved for "trinkets", although there are some foregrounds, frames and other items that do tend to occupy this layer. Think of it as the zone at your pet's feet. The great part about this zone is that it's "under" the next zone we're gonna talk about.
The Foreground zone is the closest zone to the viewer, and overlays all of the other zones. It's primarily used for frames, showers, special effects, some foregrounds, and wiñdows. (Pardon the special character. Filters and all. :D)
So, in case you are still needing a little help, here's the layers in order from farthest away from the viewer to closest.Background
Higher Foreground Item
Lower Foreground Item
If you can manage to layer these items in just the right way, you can have stunning customizations like this one!
Hint: I'm also a cheaper alternative to New Years in Shenkuu!
The Fireworks Background sets the stage, followed by the Background Item which is the Large Gong, followed by the Higher Foreground Item which is the Wooden Shenkuu Doorway Frame. On top of that is the Bamboo Forest Foreground as the lower foreground item, and the Shrubbery tops the entire customization of as the Foreground item.
This type of layering really helps with UC pets and their allies. So if you have a lot of UCs, mutants, babies, etc, you may want to practice this ability!
This is another type of layering that occurs when two zones overlap. Okay, so there are lots of different facepaints, contacts, glasses, makeups, and other items like that in neopia. Now, here's the fun part. Some of these items are in the Glasses layer, but some are in the Markings layer.
Now, the markings layer is a very interesting layer, because it's really designed for objects that are marked onto your pet, such as makeup, body paint, etc. So the "markings" layer itself can go from the head all the way down the body of your neopet.
Take a look at this space hippie customization I made for this eventide ixi. Notice her eyes? Two different items make up that unique effect. First, the Light Faerie Eyeshadow which is a NP item that goes in the Glasses zone, and then the Sun Princess Facepaint which goes in the Markings zone.
The best way to figure out how to do this sort of layering is to use a wardrobe app like DTI and just search items by zone and try to mix/match them. Goofing off and just trying combos is honestly the bset way to figure out new ideas.
Years ago I ran a site that talked in-depth about this subject, but due to the deflation of certain items due to Dyeworks and other things, it seemed like TNT was actively trying to address the issue of alternatives, so I felt a full site wasn't needed anymore. Regardless, I will still talk about this issue a little so you all can get some ideas and try it for yourself.
Neocash trading can be a pain in the rear to be honest, particularly when one item skyrockets in popularity, causing it's value to rise. Take for example, this item:
Balthazars Bag of Bottled Faeries goes for 300+ mystery capsules.
Now take a look at this amazing item.
This bag of Mystery Capsules? Just over three mystery capsules.
For a good two hundred plus caps less, you can get a very similar item that has the same "idea" as the Bag of Bottled Faeries without having to pay as much. And the great thing is, sometimes the alternatives can even look better than the thing they're replacing. For example:
I personally don't know about you, but I actually like the second one a bit better than the first. Because not only is it much cheaper, but I really love the columns and the flowers going all the way back. Not to mention, the second customization has only one NC item. Yep.
Now the question is, how do you find alternatives? Well, there's a couple of questions I tend to focus on when trying to find alternatives for high end items:* What are the "selling points" of this item that make it so popular?
* What is the shape of the item?
* What are the major colors in the item?
* Are there any "effects" that this item adds to a customization?
* What sort of theme/idea is this item going for?
As always, I'm going to use an example to help you all:
Here we have an alternative for Cyrodrake Temple Garden, and the item itself. Both are set against the same background. Now, I'm going to give you all an insight into my thought process when I created this alternative. We're gonna apply some of those questions to this alternative. :)
First, the selling point of the Cyrodrake Temple garden is simple. It's a shenkuu themed foreground item that looks good and has cherry blossoms, which makes it a popular choice for customizers who love Shenkuu themes. The shape of the item is a semicircle with a few cherry blossom branches sticking up streight on the edges. The major colors are grey, pink, and a few bits of green here and there. There's no effects, and the theme is obviously shenkuu/cherry blossom.
So I started by looking for some stone foregrounds that had that semicircle shape. I tried a few out, nixed them because they weren't exactly what I wanted, then found the NP item Old Stone Wall Foreground. Not only did it have the semicircle shape, but it had various shades of grey, and some green mixed in, just like the temple garden!
Now I had to find an item that would add the cherry blossom element to the foreground. Now there's quite a few cherry blossom themed items, but not that many that are foreground/background related. The MiniMME14-B: Cherry Blossom String Lights didn't look enough like cherry blossoms, the Large Cherry Blossom Tree was too far back from the foreground, the Cherry Blossom Garland was way too expensive for an alternative, and all of it's dyeworks are the wrong color, so I ended up with a Snowy Cherry Blossom Side Tree. I actually like it better than the cherry blossom branches in the Cyrodrake Garden because their shade of pink is a bit more purpleish and not as soft.
Sometimes certain colors of pets have certain faces that they make. And when you pair those faces with the right items, they can add another demension to a customization, like so:
I felt that the grey ixi always had a very hopeless face, and so I wanted to capture it in a customization that really told a story. Here we can easily imagine a greving widow getting some dire news. Or how about this example?
Uh-oh. Looks like one of the librarians is very cross with you. The pirate lenny's natural mood looks perfect for this customization. Some examples of pets that have interesting moods are some types of royals, pirates, greys, elderlies, and a couple of halloween pets. But seriously, take a look at the rainbow pool and see what natural faces different paint colors make.
There's also another method to switch moods that can provide some interesting results if you're fine with your pets being sick. Some people do this for customization or character reasons.
There are a few colors that have both "boy" and "girl" versions. Mainly Elderly, Royal, Usuki, etc. These colors come with a very odd ability that can be unlocked if you have the lab ray scientist as a challenger. This ability is the ability to be turned into a gender swapped pet, such as a female royalboy, a male elderlygirl, etc.
The way to do this? Paint the pet when it's one gender (ex: male), then battle the lab ray scientist to have him swap the gender of your pet. (Resulting in a pet painted with a male paint color like royalboy, but with a female gender.)
The benefit to this? The eyes of the pet change. Yep!
The second ixi is a female royalboy ixi. Now, you may recognize those eyes if you know your ixi.
Basically, a female royalboy is just a female gendered pet who is painted the royalboy "color", and has the eyes of a royalgirl. This gender swapping can work to create some very interesting looks for pets with male/female base colors!
UCs and Allies
Unconverted pets are a bit more challenging to customize than regular pets. After all, they are limited to background and foreground items. Mutants, Babies and Fruit/Vegtable Chias also have issues, as they only have certain items that pertain to their colors that they can wear on their bodies. What advice do I have for you when customizing these special pets? Glad you asked.* Use Foreground/Background Layering to add depth, but don't go too crazy.
Using the right combinations of foregrounds/background items can totally make your customization shine, but an easy mistake to make is to use too many items, thus cluttering up the customization.
* Just because your pet has clothing options, doesn't mean you have to use them.
This rings particularly true if you are a character or theme customizer and none of the current items seem to fit your pet's character or theme. Sometimes just letting them show off their natural beauty is all you need.
* Just because your pet is a certain color doesn't mean it HAS to fit into a certain customization "box".
I get it, babies are cute, mutants are gross, and fruit/veggie chias are just odd. But your pets don't have to have those themes in your customizations! You could have a totally evil supervillan baby who calles themselves something like "Stormageddon: Dark Lord of All", or perhaps a really sweet mutant pet. Maybe your fruit chia is a nerd, and never even told you!
Did we ever tell you about the time we memorized all of the digets of pi?
This is just a general section with a few tips on how to economize on customizations, particularly in the NEOCASH department. We all know that if possible it's best to try to save some money when possible, I mean, we all have some other use we could put that money towards. (Says the broke college student. ;D)* Create a "lookbook" on a petpage to store customization ideas.
Look, I'm not going to tell you to avoid DTI or other wardrobes at all costs in order to "save money". That's not going to happen. Customizers don't have that sort of self-control. Instead, create all your customization ideas in DTI, and put all of the ideas you know you won't use into your lookbook.The benefits to a lookbook?
* You get to show off the customizations you come up with without having to trade for the items for every customization.
* There's no limit to your budget or the pet you work with. You can even create outfits for pets you don't own.
* You can save the BEST outfits you create for your actual pets.
* You can share your customization ideas with those lacking inspiration.
* Instead of showing off customizations on your pets, all you do is link users to one page where they can see all of your brilliant ideas in one place.
* It only takes up one petpage, and saves you tons of money that you would splurge on outfits.
These two sites in particular have some GREAT premade codes for lookbooks!
* A NP item worth millions is better than paying real money.
Yes, it will take time to save that many NPs, however it's better than having to pay well over two hundred dollars for some NC items out there. :(* A good majority of NP items deflate over time.
Items that used to be worth well over 100,000 NPs or more such as the "Beautiful Columns Foreground" and the "Sky Full of Stars" ended up deflating over time. There are actually only a handful of NP customization items that have held or increased their value long after their release. (Ex: Carved Walking Stick, Fall of Faerieland BG, etc.) But a majority of NP items, (particularly species wearables) will eventually deflate over time as more restock and are released to the public. So when in doubt, give it a few months to see if your wanted item deflates. :)* Use alternates if you can live with them.
If your pets can manage to survive using alternate items instead of that super expensive 35+ capsule item, then do it. Even better, do it while keeping an eye on the item to see if it deflates, is re-released, etc.* Don't be in a hurry/desperate to trade.
If you're desperate for an item, traders WILL take advantage of that and try to squeeze everything out of you. It's best to be looking when you don't /desperately need/ an item. That way you can say "no" if someone is looking for insane over-offers.* Don't overlook the "cap sale items".
Those items worth 1-2 caps in cap sales, or even 2:1 sometimes can actually be really great customization items. Don't write them off just because they're "common". If possible, try to use them as much as possible while limiting "popular" (aka expensive) items in your customization. I try to limit myself to ONE "popular" (ex: 10 caps or over) item to each pet customization at the maximum. Most of the time, I don't have a single one in the actual customizations my pets use.* Dyeworks is your friend.
Dyeworks allows users to "recolor" neocash items. They get a recolored copy of the item, while still keeping the original. This allows for a lot of cheap "recolored" versions of popular items that may go better with your customizations than the originals ever could! Keep any eye on what items are currently in dyeworks at the moment.
This section will contain step-by-step walkthroughs of my thinking process as I create some example customizations. This is to help you all apply the various methods I have listed here on this page, and to give you some insight into how I think as a customizer.
Example #1 - London
This customization was created for Londn, who is one of my permies. I wanted to create a look for her that looked like someone who lives in London in the modern day. My first step was to try to come up with some rough ideas of what people in London actually wear. (I'm from Texas, in the USA, and I've only been to London twice.)
Thankfully, I had a brainwave and remembered that I am a fan of a british TV show that barely anybody knows about called Doctor Who. There's often a lot of people milling about in the show, so surely I could get some fashion ideas from that.
Then I found this outfit, worn by Clara Oswald. Clara being one of the main characters in the show at the moment. When I saw her skirt, a little lightbulb went off and I said to myself "Hey, isn't there a customization item somewhat like that?
Of course, I soon realized I had been correct! I found the Smart School Girl Skirt, and quickly started to build the customization from there. :)
After I found the skirt, I tried to replicate the black jacket over that white shirt. I didn't find any jackets that seemed to suit, but then I recalled the Rebel Spyder Vest and gave that a try. It looked good, and I just needed to find an undershirt, which I found in the form of the Cream Eyelet Shirt. I wanted to deviate a little from the prim schoolgirl idea and since the Spyder Vest already added a little bit of a "bad girl" vibe, I added a Tattoo Sleeve to add a bit of red in that would tie in with the skirt.
After that, I chose the Trendy Aisha Hat and Wig because the dark color of it worked with the dark colors of the vest. Then I needed some gold accents to compliment the gold locks of hair, so I chose a Pretty Anchor Necklace and the Pirate Aisha Earrings. Add in a Sleuthing Background which has a skyline similar to London, some Wellington Boots for the rainy weather and you've got a nice customization that's perfect for a London born rebel!
Example #2 - Gong Keeper
This example has a lot to do with color and theme, along with talking about the concept of base color. You see, I personally am a big fan of the base color of stealthy pets. They are just so unique. So I was playing around in DTI one day and decided to experiment with a customization for a stealthy kyrii.
I started with the Nightmare Shenkuu Dress, liking the way the red complimented the red in the kyrii's mane/tail. I noticed the purple highlights in the dress, and decided to try to add another purple item to highlight them. Cue the Kyrii Hostess Dress Shoes.
Now, the blue eyes of stealthy pets can really bug me if they don't go well with a customization, so I used the Robertas Collectors Contacts to make the kyrii's eyes look more normal, and they had the benefit of being purple as well. Using the concept of Makeup/Glasses Layering I used the Dark Eyelash Facepaint to add a bit of sparkle to the area around the kyrii's eyes.
I wanted to keep with the sort of mystical shenkuu theme, so I added a MiniMME14-S2a: Summery Shenkuu Bun Wig, which not only added to the theme, but had red in the hair ribbon to match the dress. Then I decided that the background should be found before the handheld, so that way the handheld made sense. I chose the Spooky Shenkuu Sunset Background out of all of the shenkuu backgrounds I tried because the purpleish pink of the sky and the dark silhouettes went wonderfully with the colors of the customization.
Now it came time to work on doing a bit of layering. I experimented quite a bit with shenkuu foregrounds and backgrounds, but I didn't really like the look of anything until I came to the Large Gong, which is a background item. The red tied in with the dress, and it also added a few new colors to the customization. Then the last item was the handheld, which I needed to choose with care.
My first thought was to use the Paper Lantern Staff. It'd add a nice shenkuu touch, it had some red, and a bit of gold that would match the gong. However it just didn't feel right. It seemed to not mesh with the customization as I had hoped. On a whim, I tried the Ornate Shenkuu Lantern which is a cheaper alternative. I was surprised to find I liked it more. I think it's because the colors matched a bit better. The lightness of the lantern matched the middle of the gong, and the light colors of the trees above. The pink cherry blossoms on the lantern matched the color of the blossoms on the gong, and there was a bit of gold as well for the outer ring of the gong as well. Overall, it completed the customization splendidly.
Example #3: Rapunzel
Fun fact, Tangled is my favorite movie of all time. I love it so much! So I decided to try to create a Rapunzel themed customization. I focused on the scene where she and Flynn are enjoying the lanterns.
I started with a royal girl ixi, because I loved the purple base color. I added the Tower Princess Wig for her hair, since it matches the hair in that section of the film. Then I added a Lavender Faerietale Dress which looked similar in color to Rapunzel's dress. Now I just needed a starry boat ride with lanterns. NO problem right? Well, I had to get a bit creative.
I started with the Enchanting Boat Ride Background, which provided the boat aspect. However, it's a background set in the middle of the day. That's when I layered the Sky Full of Stars NP item on top to make it seem more like a starry night boat ride. Now there are some nice lantern garlands, but none really had the look I was going for. So I ended up using the Lighted Jar Garland. I added Illusens Collectors Contacts, because Rapunzel has green eyes. Lastly I added a signature Frying Pan because "Frying pans, who knew huh?" ;)
Example #4: Tribal
This customization is an example of how a cheap customization can still look amazing. All totaled, the cost of this customization is 3-6 caps. More than likely leaning towards the 3 range.
I began with a pretty popular base pet, an Island Aisha. I wanted to make a cheap but trendy island outfit. I started with the Arrow Circlet and Wig NC item, which I found complimented the equally cheap Mint Lacy Scarf NC item. I kept looking around and found species dress that matched the color of those two items. So the Stylish Aisha Dress made it in. I also added the Stylish Aisha Shoes for good measure. The last main body item is the Mystery Island Aisha Earring which is a paint brush item that comes with that paint scheme.
Now I didn't want to just throw on some island background and be done with it. I decide to start from the back forwards. I found the Tribal Print Lanterns which not only matched color wise but fit the island theme and were pretty cheap. Then I just needed an island themed background that I could do some layering on. One that wasn't too busy, and matched the colors. The Romantic Sunrise Background NP item worked perfectly.
Last, I just wanted something that could hang out in the foreground and look nice and add to the island feel. So I layered the Goparokko Statue Foreground and the Dark Green Shrubbery. Both of which are NP items.
These are topics that are generally a little bit more difficult to deal with when it comes to customization. These topics are often subject to heated discussion by many users, which is why I have put them in their own section. We'll be discussing these topics in-depth in order to understand why they are such an important part of customizing. At the end, Neocash and I have a personal plea to our readers, which we hope you will listen to.
Sets or No Sets?
One of the biggest debates that I have with myself when customizing is if I should ever use sets together. Sets are items that are typically thought to go together such as an entire NP customization that TNT releases as a group, or certain stages of MMEs, or maybe items that are part of the same NC event. Whatever the reason, they're grouped together and some people refuse to un-group them.
So the question is, as a customizer, what does one DO with these? I mean, if your goal is to be original, how can you do that by using a group of items that other people are going to be putting together in the same exact way you are?
My typical reaction is to try to avoid using them /if possible/. I don't discount their importance in certain customizations, but if possible, I want to try to add a twist to my customizations. Here's an example:
You think you've found the perfect striped draik customization! It's Shenkuu themed, and it looks amazing! However, the entire outfit consists of a set together, and you're starting to feel iffy about that. You manage to find one of my boards, and ask me for some advice. The first customization is your starting customization, and the second is the customization after I've modified it.
Sunny: Nice foreground and background layering~! But let's start by seeing if we really need all of these set items. That parasol looks really awkward in her hand (notice how the fist looks like it's not really clinching it?), and it's covered up by the foreground items anyway. Let's just remove that. We'll try to find a different handheld later.
I also think we've got too many set items in this one customization. I think the wig and the shoes/tights are okay, but let's try to find a different dress and handheld...maybe that'll look a bit better...
Okay, I've tried a few different combinations, and I think I've found something you'll like...the pink in the dress will match the wig's bows, and the purple in the handheld will compliment the purple streaks in the wig. It also will go nicely with the cutesy theme you've got going, and I think it looks more original.
I typically deal with sets by keeping one or two set items together, and then adding other items to replace the rest of the set items. This way we still have some items that do GO together without using an entire set, if that makes sense. :)
NP vs NC Customizing
Okay, let's just admit it. Neocash Customizing is often preferred over NP customizing. I mean, the items tend to look a bit better, there's more to choose from, etc. However it's often hard for some people to justify buying Neocash when they have other things they really could use the money for. However, this section is here to give everyone a bit of perspective about NP only customizations.
It's commonly thought that NP only customizations are somehow less "amazing" than NC customizations. I actually have found the opposite to be true. Because GREAT NP customizations are worth taking a look at, not because they just look good, but because they look good with a limited selection of items. It's also entirely possible for a user to create a NP only version of a NC customization. Here's an example:
Here we have two different versions of the same customization idea. The one on the left is NP, the one on the right is NC. Even though they're both a bit different, the same effect is acheived. It IS possible to create great outfits with only NP items. I'm gonna link you to a great site that has a lot of good NP alternatives for NC items:
NC Alternatives is owned by Jo, a great neopian who lists amazing NP alternatives for NC items. She's a really sweet lady who really cares about helping neopians save money and customize well, so I hope you'll check it out!
There are some who believe that there are certain customizations that have been very...overused. To be honest, it's not really overused exact customizations anymore, it's more like mini-fads where one item or one particular style of customizing just "catches on" and everybody seems to want to try the next new thing.
As an artist, it's my belief that if possible, when you're creating something, it's best to try to create something that is uniquely you. This applies to my customizations as well. The benefit to creating original customizations that aren't copies or modified versions of other customizations is that you make sure your pet can enter the customization contest, and you know as an artist that your work is yours.
However, there is also something to be said for the fact that the goal of customization is not only to be original, but to make the owner happy with their pet. And if dressing up your pet in the latest fad is just the way you play neopets, who am I to stop you?
I'm just going to take a moment to list a few of the downsides of using overused customizations:* You're not being 100% original/creative, as someone else had the same exact idea.
* If the other person who has the same pet customized the exact same way enters the customization contest before you, your pet cannot enter.
Honestly, those are the only real downsides to overused customizations. I personally don't like them, as I'm someone who enjoys being really creative and coming up with new ideas, but you should play the site how you want to, you know? :)
A Personal Plea
Now for a moment to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart, and I hope that you all will honestly take the time to read this all the way though.
This section is here for any questions you may have, and so you can view the amazing affiliates who have somehow decided that my guide is worth reading. (Thanks you guys for calling this disorganized pile of junk amazing. You have no idea how much it means!) If you have questions, comments, concerns, praise, or just want some advice, feel free to NM me at Hzoo_26.
A: Honestly, because Encee's Guide to Style was horribly outdated. It was focused more on the current trends in NC items, and less on actual methods of customizing. I wanted to write a guide that I could write once and not have to update as content updated. It's kinda like that proverb "If you give a man a fish, you'll feed him for a day, but if you TEACH a man to fish, you'll feed him for a lifetime." I want to teach you all how to customize so that the information you gain here NEVER goes out of date and can be applied as long as you customize!
Q: Is there a site that has NC alternatives for expensive NC items like you mentioned in your "Alternatives" section?
A: Back in the day I owned a site like that called "Substitute", however once I returned to neopets, with dyeworks being a major fad, I was told by a few people that they thought that such a site was not needed. So, no. There is not one currently. If I ever got enough interest in such a thing, I might be convinced to reincarnate that old site, but thus far I haven't had much interest. Should you desire to keep tabs on alternatives I've found though, you can see that section of Encee's Closet. Also, if you want NP only alternatives for NC items, might I suggest the amazing NC Alternatives site?
Q: If I need advice on a customization, could I ask you?
A: Totally! I'm typically found on the Pound Chat, or lurking the Neocash Chat, so if you spot me on the boards, you can ask, or you can NM me at Hzoo_26. Just let me know what you're needing help with, and what sort of access to NC/NP items you have. :)
Q: Um, a lot of these customizations are for ixi. Is there a reason?
A: Well if you must know, my FULL neopian title is "Sunny the Ixiholic", so yeah. Ixi are my favorite pets, and a lot of the customizations used in this guide are spare creations pulled from my Dress to Impress customizations. I tried to make sure that used some customizations that weren't ixi, but...hehe, I just find them really easy to customize.