Improved Fur Coloring Method

In my previous how-to I Went over what I call the Dunk method of coloring fake fur. While this method works very well, and doesn't take up too much of your time, you can't get very fancy with it, only being able to dye one color at a time. In this improved method you use a hair brush to brush the paint mixture into the fur. Here's how I did it...

{Click on any image to see full sized}

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As in the dunk method you start with a good brand of water based acrylic paint. I used a mixture of 16oz of paint to one gallon of water.
One note on the amount you mix, if your just going to work on this here and there, then make smaller amounts of the paint mixture. The paint tends to grow this nasty green mold if left sitting for long periods of time..

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Next I took all my pieces and dyed then in Rit black fabric dye, this made the fur nice and gray, however it dyed the backing nicely, giving a nice black "skin" under the fur. After dry the fur was brushed back in the pattern I wanted for the various colors I was using to color the fur (Black and Brown).
Most of this section will use the tail as the example, with a few other pieces added in for reference.

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Starting with the edges I applied the brown paint to the fur, working the brush down into the pile of the fur to the backing fabric itself, It's also a really good idea to wear some latex gloves too, that paint really sticks to ya!

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After I did the brown, I took care of the black areas of the tail. Try to brush the paint on as evenly as you can, but don't worry if it don't come out too good on the first few coats, it takes around 4-6 coats to get a really dark color like black to come out right.

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It is very important that you use a blow dryer to get things going, this helps set the paint into the fur strands better, plus gets rid of a lot of the tangles you'd get if you simply brushed the paint on and left it to dry. You won't be able to totally dry the fur, all you want to do is get most of the bunched up stuff apart as best as you can. Also pay particular attention to the edges, they seem to tangle up more for some reason. I also go over the entire thing with a slicker brush the next day, if you wait any longer you risk getting hard tangles of painted fur which need to be cut off.

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The underfur effect is demonstrated in this piece, you can control the amount of underfur you get with by either not brushing into the nap of the fur as much, or diluting the paint mixture you use.

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A leg piece in progress, to dry the pieces after applying the paint I suspended it over the workbench a little by placing a large length of screen on two pieces of angle iron, and a few yard sticks underneath the screen for support. This will allow the fur to dry more evenly and a lot faster, you can also put a fan on it overnight, by the next morning it'll be dry.

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The tail piece after one coating,

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And here it is after 3 coatings.

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After the second or third coating you'll want to give the pieces a good rinse in luke warm water, then give them all another rinse with a good brand of fabric softener, rinse once more in clean water and pop them in the washer in spin dry only. Brush the fur out after taking it out of the washer and hang on a line to dry. The fabric softener will get rid of all the stickiness of the paint, makes the fur easier to handle on successive coatings as well.

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After the pieces were finished, I added in a few surface coats of some water based acrylic gloss varnish to give the fur a little bit of a shine.

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Various shots of the leg pieces showing the spots I added in.

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The completed arm pieces.

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And here we have the completed tail piece. It was a lot of work but the results speak for themselves.

Addendum:

Towards the end I hit on a few things that both helped in the whole process as well as made the fur much softer.. My little trick? I added a little fabric softener to the paint mixture and WOOF! the feel was noticeably softer than when I used just the paint and then rinsed every couple of coats. In addition it seemed that the paint just went on better with the softener as well. I only put a little bit into the paint mixture, one bad thing about this was the smell, the particular brand of fabric softener I used in combination with the paint mixture turned out to be really sickly sweet... I survived the ordeal a much happier fur though :)

Notes from the first field test..

A few things I noticed about the fur at CF9... The fur seemed to hold up quite well despite being smashed into a suitcase for the trip to the con and all. only one thing I noticed that I deemed a drawback.. Ya see, when in the suit (just about any FurSuit for that matter) you get very hot and sweaty, so whenever the fur got damp and I put pressure on it (as in I sat down) the part would get smashed flat till brushed out again...

All in all I was very pleased with the results, though I don't think I'll be trying this anytime soon, it's just too time consuming (took me 5 months to get all the fur colored for BBW v2) but it was a definite experience and helped to create a unique look to my FurSuit..