Tuesday, 5 April 2016

"City of the Shroud" Kickstarter Reward Amigurumi

As some of you know, in my other life I am an artist for an Indie game development company run by my partner.  We have many friends in the same line of business, and one, a good friend called Keaton, is about to run a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to finish his Indie company Abyssal Arts' game - City of the Shroud.

He approached me to ask if I would be interested in making an amigurumi of one of the game's characters to give as a reward on one of the higher pledge tiers ($250).  As I love the game, and admire it's strong, distinctive look, I was sure I could come up with something!  My only real concern was with how many I would potentially need to make - these more elaborate designs take around a day each to make once I have the pattern completed - so we agreed that only the first 5 lucky backers at the $250 pledge tier would get one.

Keaton wasn't quite sure how he wanted the ami to look, or which character to make.  After some discussion we chose the Mage as he was actually the most complex and if I could make him I could make any of them!  The flowing robes attracted me to making the character, as amigurumi dressed in felt clothing look so good! 

I did some sketches of basic humanoid amigurumi shapes but after showing these and some samples to Keaton I could tell he was a bit lost on what to choose!  We managed to rule out a couple of styles but I realised it was otherwise down to me. :)

I spent some time making some sketches from screenshots and playing the game but struggled to see enough detail to be confident in my designs.  Keaton kindly sent me the 3D models from the game which I could view on my computer and see all the details I needed for designing the amigurumi itself.

I made some drawings from this model, picking out the most distinctive details and colours.  When making an amigurumi like this it is impossible to capture every tiny detail, so I have to pick out which features are the most important and which capture the spirit of the model the best.

Once I did this I could design the amigurumi itself.

The robe and all other fabric bits such as on the arms and the backs of the legs are a dark blue and lined with a dark rose-red.  I prefer to make ami clothes from felt rather than crocheted as they look much better, but for the mage I would have to omit the lining colour.  A double thickness of felt would be too stiff and the dark blue of the felt prevented me colouring one side of it with ink.  I chose a deep blue for the robe, a pale blue for his cowl, mask and trims and finally a mid brown for the leather straps and belts that cross his body.

The circular buckle type feature on his chest would be impossible to recreate exactly and would in any case look wrong if I had tried to make it from polymer clay - when the amigurumi is so small too much detail in some parts when the rest is simplified just looks strange (in my opinion).  I opted for a large wide-edged antique-gold coloured eyelet carefully glued in place, with a gold-coloured plastic cabochon gem in the centre.

Once all this was decided, I could go ahead and make him.  My first attempt at his legs came out far too small, but once I increased the size slightly they looked perfect.  In contrast, my first attempt at his arms came out too large and looked silly, so I made them slightly smaller and then they looked perfect too.

I scribble down what I am doing as I crochet to record the pattern.  This is how the pattern for the mage looked as I made him and before I recorded it properly!

Body of the amigurumi crocheted, I then had to make and fit his tiny felt clothes.  These are the pattern pieces that I designed to make up his robe, cowl and mask.

All the pieces are sewn together with tiny stitches, but the trims and details are carefully glued in place with hot glue.

The buttons were made from dark silver craft brads, with the back removed and glued in place.

He has binding around his upper arms which I reproduced using some textured yarn, and lots of leather straps which I carefully fashioned out of brown felt, using a fine Sharpie pen to add the detail on the back.

I decided against putting a belt buckle on him, although the character has one. He already had the chest piece and a button on his cowl, so another eye-catching feature on his front would make him look too busy. 

The Mage has 4 dreadlocks in a ponytail.  I used a thick fluffy black yarn and stitched his hair from his hairline into the spot where the ponytail would be. Any bits of 'skin' that showed through were shaded using a black Sharpie permanent marker pen.  I then made his ponytail separately and sewed it in place on the finished amigurumi.

His robe has a tattered edge so I used a deckle edged rotary cutting blade to achieve a similar effect.

I had a lot of difficulty making his mask look correct.  It needed some definition, and I tried drawing it on with a Sharpie which kind of worked but not well enough - it looked odd with the rest of the amigurumi. I also tried a full second layer of felt with the eye 'dents' cut out, but again, it didn't look quite right.

I ended up making (very fiddly but worth it) cut out pieces to stick onto the mask surface to give the definition it needed.

I am really proud of how this amigurumi has come out, but I was, as always, very nervous about handing over the finished object just in case it wasn't what Keaton had imagined.  However, as always, it was all OK and he loved it!

Please check out the Game & the Kickstarter! All the details you need can be found here.

Kickstarter can be found HERE!


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Dogs & Their Mini-Me Versions!

I am thrilled to have been sent these incredible photographs of Troy, Molly and Penny posed with their amigurumi versions. I can only imagine how hard it was to tire out these energetic little dogs enough to get them to sit still!

Normally I'd add photos like these to the original post, but I love these pictures so much that I felt they deserved their own post!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Christmas Terriers

A very dear friend of mine commissioned me to make three amigurumi dogs as a special Christmas present for her sister.  The catch - they were to be mini versions of three real dogs - those belonging to her sister of course!  The dogs might be small; various types of Jack Russell terrier, but they have huge personalities.  I have had the honour of meeting two of them, and they are wonderful characters. The challenge to capture them in amigurumi form was on!

 Meet Troy, Penny and Molly!

My friend sent me lots of photographs so I could see all the markings from as many angles as possible.

The first thing I did was work out a general shape & from that formed a basic pattern.  This would then need modifying to capture the unique appearance of each dog, so I sketched each dog showing their distinctive features as clearly as possible.

 I spent some time working out the best way to show their markings.  The problem with doing it by changing stitch colour (however neat and careful) is that unlike knitting crochet stitches aren't symmetrical and don't line up perfectly neatly above each other.  After a few unsatisfactory attempts I decided to embroider the 'eyebrow' and shoulder pale patches rather then try to do them purely using colour changes.

Once I was happy with my plan I got on and made them.  They took a few days each, but I think they came out pretty well :)


Troy is a very handsome boy with striking Rottweiler/Doberman-type colouring.

The main challenges with him were to get the facial markings correct, and to get his white bib the right shape.

The white bib was made using basic colour change as part of the otherwise black body, with a little embroidery over the top to neaten the edges.   The shoulder markings and "eyebrows" were embroidered on after the amigurumi was sewn together.  Troy has flopped-over tops to his ears.

Troy also has a beautiful long tail with a brown stripe underneath running most of the length.  I embroidered this on at the end as colour changes would not have resulted in a neat stripe.



Molly is mostly white, but has a little beige patch over her left eye which I carefully created using colour change, and perfect brown flopped over ears.

She is also a longer-haired dog, so to achieve this I used a wire pet grooming brush on the body, paying particular attention to her tail, chest, belly and cheeks.   It needs to be one of the very fine brushes with bent wires, for stripping loose hairs, or it won't work properly.

This is always scary to do but the final result is worth it!  I suggest practicing on a scrap piece of crochet if you haven't tried it before, and some yarns work better than others too.  Experimentation is the key.  Once you get the hang of it you can make some super fluffy things!


Penny was the hardest of the three to make.  She has quite complex markings, including a lovely speckled/dappled coat and a near-perfect brown circle on her back.  She also has huge upright ears.

As with Troy, I chose to use embroidery for her facial markings.

I made a brown crocheted circle which I sewed in place on her back (as using colour change would not have been neat enough) and I used a fine-point brown Sharpie permanent marker to create the dappled look.

I eagerly, if nervously, awaited news on Christmas Day to hear how they were received.  I need not have worried - my friend's sister loved them, and even the dogs themselves seemed to like them.  Molly apparently started holding 'conversations' with them on the shelf. Awwww.  :)