I know there are already tutorials out there for colouring fur with acrylic paint, but I've started using a somewhat different method that I think is really easy and quicker than some others! So, I wanted to share it with the community. My method works well if you have a lot of area to cover, or many pieces that all have to match.
What you'll need:
-Faux fur in white, OR a colour that's close to your intended final colour (always remember, you can dye it darker but not lighter).
-a couple of plastic buckets, sized appropriately to the amount of fur you are colouring
-acrylic paint(s) in your chosen colour
-plastic container or lid, or non-stainable work surface
-soap and a sink, for washing your hands afterward ;D
Step 1. Cut your fur pattern pieces.
I like to cut them slightly too big, that way if the edges get beat-up during the painting process, you can trim them off. Also cut several test pieces, about 3 by 4 inches each. These are important!
Step 2. Mix the paint solution.
Fill one of the buckets with water to a depth of a couple inches. Take your acrylic paint (either solid colour or pre-mixed) and put a big squirt of it in the bucket with the water. Stir it all up really well.
Step 3. Figure out the appropriate concentration.
Bucket sizes and paint pigment concentrations vary, so you're probably going to have to do a bit of experimenting to find the proper paint-vs-water ratio. To test it, take one of your test fur pieces, and toss it in the bucket. Swish it around a bit, and let it get totally saturated. Pull it out of the solution, and wring it out really well. Place it on your work-surface and use the slicker brush to brush it straight and flat. Hit it with the hair dryer too. Let it dry, and every now and then return to it and brush/dry it some more. This will keep the fibres aligned properly and avoid "fuzz". I'm impatient, so I figured out that I could dry it in one sitting by rubbing the fur and constantly hair-drying it.
When the piece of fur is dry, examine it. Is it dark enough? TOO dark? If so, follow the next step. If not, skip ahead to Step 5.
Step 4. Adjust your solution.
If your colour is too light/not intense enough, simply add more paint to your solution and test again.
If your colour is TOO dark, take your second bucket and fill it with a couple of inches of water. Pour about half of your original solution into this bucket as well. You are diluting your solution so there are fewer paint particles per unit of water. Stir it up, and test another piece of fur as in Step 3.
Either way, keep testing and adjusting until your fur comes out the right colour.
Step 5. Colour your real pattern pieces.
I recommend doing them all at once, to ensure identical colours (if you need to take a break, or if you want to keep your paint solution for later use, cover it tightly with plastic wrap). Take each pattern piece, dunk it in the solution, work the paint in well, wring it out, and lay it on the work surface. Brush each piece out nice and smooth. Dry as you did for your test pieces. Soon, you will have your nicely dyed fur :D
I'm too scared to use the hair dryer, won't it ruin my fur?
Not likely! Heat CAN ruin fur, but use it wisely and it's a great tool. I have never ruined fur with my hair dryer. It will likely burn your fingers before it will melt your fur, but if you are still nervous, remember you have test pieces for a reason! If you want, you can even take it to the limit with a test piece, and see how much abuse it can really take!
I've adjusted 78908850 times and my fur still isn't the right colour.
This could be because you haven't mixed the proper shade of acrylics to begin with. Make sure your paint and your fur's starting colours go well together. Don't try to darken coloured fur just by adding black! That will make it muddy looking. You need to mix the actual colour you're going for.
I got paint EVERYWHERE D:
Yeahhh... that might happen. Remember, non-stainable work surface! I use the lid from a big Rubbermaid bin. The raised edges keep the paint mess contained.
The follow-up experiment:
I tested to see how colourfast this method is. My results were promising, and I believe the same properties should apply to any brand of acrylic, but I am not 100 percent certain. These experiments were done to see how the painted fur would hold up after repeated uses and cleaning using common maintenance products. I tested 99% isopropyl alcohol, Spot-Shot carpet cleaner, and a solution of liquid dish soap and water. Each substance was thoroughly soaked and scrubbed into the fur, and then a white cloth pressed against it to see if any of the colour had come off. Results:
-Alcohol: Extremely little to no colour came off during the alcohol treatment. I would say it is perfectly safe to disinfect painted items with alcohol.
-Spot-Shot carpet cleaner: I saw a very small amount of colour in the foam while I was scrubbing, but in the end, the fur had not changed in appearance at all.
-Dish soap solution (I used Palmolive Ultra liquid dish detergent): I figured if Spot-Shot didn't do anything to the fur, dish soap couldn't possibly affect it. And I was wrong! The dish soap solution was decidedly tinted after washing the fur in it. However, I think this is only because this method involved a lot more water than the others. As with the other methods, the piece of fur does not appear much different after being washed and dried.
I plan to repeat this experiment with stricter control measures before I publish it to the Fursuit community. In particular, I'd like to try it with a pure white fur, and a more brightly coloured paint. But my initial impression is that it may be safer to use cleaning products on painted fursuit markings than previously thought :D
I hope this tutorial is helpful for someone! If you use it, feel free to leave a comment and let me know :D
- Dyeing fur with acrylics - my way