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A Geometric Approach to Making Plushie Patterns
By Diffeomorphism   |   Watch
2K 119 61K (14 Today)
Published: March 18, 2014
© 2014 - 2019 Diffeomorphism
Here's something that I've been wanting to write up for a while, but never got around to for a couple of months. A lot of people have asked me about the techniques I use when patterning, so in this document lays out in (somewhat excruciating) detail the general approach I take when designing plushies. In general, methodical guides to making patterns are rather lacking on deviantART; I've seen a lot of guides offer only very simplistic advice like "trace out the body shape" without going any further, so this document is an attempt to expand on the varieties of techniques you can use to improve your patterns without having to sculpt foam or anything like that.

I understand that this is a very dense and verbose writeup and that it's likely to confuse a decent amount of people, especially since a lot of my examples are rather abstract and a lot of my images are drawn in MS Paint. If someone out there would like to become my personal editor for any future tutorials I write, I'd love to hear from you =P In all seriousness, If there's anything in particular I can attempt to clarify, please leave me a comment! If enough people ask me the same question, I may eventually update the tutorial with new details and clarifications.

This guide is intended for people who have already put together one or two plushies; if you're a complete beginner looking to get into making plushies, check out my completely non-technical beginner's guide!
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Comments (116)
QuotidianAubergine's avatar
Your guides have been indispensable for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
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peacefulxninja's avatar
this is beautiful!
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Poooding's avatar
Poooding|Professional Digital Artist
Heh, after seeing your presentation at BLFC I wanted to see the things you have posted. This is exactly the kind of thing I've wanted to find about pattern making! There has to be a way to technically look at patterns.
Funny how a lot of people start the same way with the "pillow" form, and gradually move on to gussets and darts. I remember testing different ways to make spheres and experimenting with different shapes.
I used geometry a bit. It's honestly one of my favorite subjects because of how helpful it is in real life application.
I used a mix of stealing patterns from eyeballing plushes I own and adjustments by understanding why each piece shapes the way it does. I've worked carefully to see it in action and have purposefully used different lengths resulting in puckering of the longer length, so I understood it through application and have used it since. Of course the theory side doesn't work for everything, but combining theory and experimentation comes up with much improvement over time! 
Some progression (in case you are interested...):
First "pillow" formed plush wasn't photoed. I have a ton of felt pokemon and neopet plushes from childhood.
One of my firsts using basically tubes: orig14.deviantart.net/89dd/f/2…
Newer with some real definition: orig05.deviantart.net/7761/f/2…
Using a figurine to make pattern from 3D: orig04.deviantart.net/ffcf/f/2…
Latest one pattern put together by eyeballing real life plush and using the law of one length (mostly) to fit the parts together:
orig03.deviantart.net/91be/f/2…
orig04.deviantart.net/4a45/f/2…

Sorry for rambling. Thanks to your presentation I have felt more motivated to try making patterns again. It's been over 3 years since my last real project. <:3
I appreciate the amount of time you put into your patterns, it really shows!!
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OMNICRON8000's avatar
OMNICRON8000| General Artist
Clear and thorough.  Well done!
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cccviper653's avatar
cccviper653|Student Digital Artist
I wonder what the official back of a Temmie from Undertale looks like. Otherwise how will plushies be made?!? :O
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Dracona-Wynne-Hale's avatar
Heh heh heh, you mentioned in your beginner's tutorial that you were a math major? :P

Actually, though, thank you!  I want to try and make a Swablu, which means lots of hand-patterning, and while I had a basic working pattern for the body, I think I'm going to be able to modify it to make it look more like an ovoid than a sphere.  I was also afraid I was going to have to use the pillow approach for feet, beak, etc, but I'm going to try using gussets instead!
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GECKO-Nuzlockes's avatar
GECKO-NuzlockesEdited |Hobbyist General Artist
Wow!! This is amazing! Thank you so much for taking the time to make it :)

Wish me luck in my first plushie attempt, because I will need it X'D
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MillieVilenoire's avatar
MillieVilenoire|Hobbyist Digital Artist
It was interesting, until I see maths...otherwise, interesting post!
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Shruti1234's avatar
Shruti1234|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I too will do the plushie stiching it sounds interesting.
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insanekakashi's avatar
This is a very helpful tutorial. Thank you for making it!
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Yosefat's avatar
Yosefat|Hobbyist General Artist
Solo puedo decir que ame el articulo y que es simplemente impresionante el modo tan técnico de explicar como se crean peluches empleando principios matemáticos, simplemente nunca se me había ocurrido que ambos estuvieran relacionados a pesar del hecho de que las matemáticas son una ciencia que estudia los patrones que hay en todo, desde como funciona un universo hasta como hacer peluches.
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Diffeomorphism's avatar
Muchas gracias por los complidos =) Es la verdad que puede usar matemáticas en muchas estudios, algunas veces en lugares inesperados. He aplicado muchos conceptos de geometría en crear peluches; no pienso que podría crear esos peluches sin esas técnicas.

Lo siento, ha sido sobre 4 años que he usado español. Mi habilidad de hablar español probablemente es muy mala...
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ecoecoeco30000mat's avatar
Very useful, thank you ^^
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MsPastel's avatar
MsPastel|Hobbyist Interface Designer
Thank you for writing this!
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tabulandia's avatar
tabulandiaEdited |Hobbyist General Artist
This is great...
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dirtbike-poontang's avatar
dirtbike-poontang|Student General Artist
nioce
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randomness-galore's avatar
This is fantastic! For years I've thought, "There's got to be a way to use geometry to create these patterns" cuz nothing ever lined up properly. But my geometry is way too weak to figure it out, and here you are, handing over the pattern-making holy grail for free. Thank you so much!  

If you've got the time, you should make a book, with plushie tutorials demonstrating this method, and then should sell it on amazon. With some added tutorials, this would be way better than any of the plushie tutorial books I've bought or sampled.
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Diffeomorphism's avatar
You know, the thought of writing a book did once or twice cross my mind as something that would be kind of fun. Honestly though I don't have enough tips to fill up an entire book (though I do have some more tips I'll get around to publishing eventually). Also it would probably be helpful to provide examples for readers, and while now I'm able to use all my Pokemon plushies as references, I probably wouldn't be able to do so if I ever sold it.
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randomness-galore's avatar
Well in any case, because of your tutorial thingy, I'm able to make my mom a mother's day gift :D  The beak and body were done using techniques from your guide. It's still in progress, but I think it's a cute silly-looking thing.

oi61.tinypic.com/29mavpz.jpg
oi59.tinypic.com/6oe6jc.jpg
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Diffeomorphism's avatar
Aww that's cute! I think it's a great gift, I'm glad you were able to use my guide in making it =)
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Lugia75's avatar
Lugia75|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I will use that in class XD
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Turtlechap's avatar
Turtlechap|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Nice! Geometry really is in everything as my teacher had put it. Thank you! :D
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daiin's avatar
daiin|Professional General Artist
Wow. I mean just...wow. *.* When I went hunting for instructions on how to design and make patterns for plushies, I didn't imagine I'd find something like this! I appreciate your effort and congratulate you on your DD - it's well deserved!
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Diffeomorphism's avatar
No problem, glad I could help!
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anonymous's avatar
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