Intro: Modding My Little Ponies for Fun and Profit
There is a lot of fun and some money to me made my modding stuff, shoes, books, computers, anything and, weirdly, there is a lot going on in the modding scene for MLP's (My Little Ponies for the normal people).
There are two kinds of Modding which I like to call Styling and Sculpting.
Styling is taking a pony, re hairing it, re dying it and repainting the symbol to create essentially, a new kind of MLP (see image below from Minty's Custom Persuasion) http://www.cloverflowers.com
Sculpting is taking a pony, removing all the hair, and then using it to create an entirely new kind of thing, sometimes a parody (Iron Man, Jack Sparrow and many of the X Men are common features of the sculpting world) and sometimes something of your own imagining.
In this tutorial I shall be making an inbetween sort of pony, who still looks like a horse, but with many sculpting elements, a First Nations Warrior.
Step 1: Choosing and Preparing Your Pony
Generally, second hand or slightly damaged ponies are used for modding. Less damaged ones go for sculpting, but the damage can be as heavy as you like for sculpting, depending on how much you are changing the shape of the pony. Avoid using orginal 80's ponies as they are now rare and can go to collectors for a lot of money. Ponies can be bought new for cheap, or off ebay, which is where mine came from.
Hair: hair can simply be sheared off at the roots, though if using a new style "i turn my head" pony I like to take of the head and pull all the hair out. This is not nessesary and for this pony I didn't do it as the head was very well stuck on and I didn't feel much like slicing it off just for the sake of some roots.
This is all you really need to do, but as you can see, I also removed the markings with acetone (nail varnish remover) in order to start with a clean slate. I will also be re painting the eyes for this pony.
Step 2: Body Paint
This pony has been made up in layers, and so before setting about sculpting I painted the main body of the horse with model paints. Don't use acrylics, they are too thick and go on in big ridges. I use a water based model paint that comes in matt or shiny finishes.
Step 3: References and Tattoos
I gave my little guy his tattoos at this stage as it would have been harder after the sculpt. Before you go ahead and start painting and sculpting go and get some reference images for whatever it is you're doing (so if you're making a comic book character have pictures of them so that you get the colours and the shapes bang on)
I got images of the Haida Salmon and Raven characters for the tattoos. Paint with very small brushes, and if you can't get any small enough don't feel afraid to trim them down. I used a long bristled brush which I cut most of the bristles off (good for smooth lines) and a short bristled model brush.
Step 4: Eyes
I'm not an expert on eye painting, and there are plenty of different tutorials, although most of them are rather cutesy. I used a bit of Lady Minty's advice, although I didn't do it the way she does.
First paint the whole eye with glossy white. Do this several times leaving a brilliant and smooth coat of paint. Wait for this to filly dry and then sketch out the shape of the iris.
Paint the iris and leave to dry.
Then add the black outlines and eyelashes if you want them. Use paint for this. Don't cheat with markers as the ink eventually fades into the plastic and goes blurry. I tried to cheat, and messed up a couple of Sharpies into the bargain. It's just not worth it.
Then add the light point in the pupil and you're away.
Now try and make the other eye match.
Step 5: Sculpting
Sculpting can be a tricky business. You're sculpting will only be as good as the time you put in to finishing it. I've found one of the best materials is Milliput (a two part epoxy putty, you can find it in your local art shop, builders merchants, hardware store). It comes in a bunch of colours and is mostly used for repairing ceramics. I used the standard yellow-grey type, and since you paint it it doesn't really matter what colour you use. (lucky americans can use Apoxy Clay which comes in larger amounts and is cheaper).
Milliput is better than fimo or super sculpey because you don't have to cook it to harden it off. You simply mix the two components together and then you have about two hours working time until it start going hard. Leave pieces for 4-8 hours or overnight for them to go rock hard. Milliput also sets underwater and you really should use water with your tools to help smooth and shape it.
I started on the mane, laying strands over the hair stubble and made the feathers with my tool (I have old ceramic tools, but shaped ice cream sticks work well). I let all that dry and then did the tomahawk straps and tail. The little tomahawk I made separate and left on a sheet of paper in a puddle of water to set.
Step 6: Painting
I painted the mane and tail in glossy black, did the feathers in grey, made a brown leathery colour for the harness and finished the tomahawk in metallic copper. The painting took a long time, and there is always clean up to do as it becomes very hard to get under the strands of hair without getting black on the body.
All you have to do then is give him a name and take pretty pictures. Well done, you are now the proud owner of a My Little Native American Warrior Pony.