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How to Make a Custom McFarlane Sports Pick
Like many other McFarlane Sports Picks collectors, I wish I could sit at the table as they decide which players are drafted, which poses, and what they wear. This is where custom numbers come in. I may not have a say in McFarlane’s decisions, but I can create anyone’s personality I want!
Simply put, custom figures involve taking apart an existing image, making changes to it, coloring it, and putting it back together. There are many ways to build a habit. What I have included in this guide is a combination of my own experiences and those of other customers. If you think something important has been left out, send me an email. I plan to update this page regularly based on the feedback I receive.
It’s not cheap to build a habit the first time. The good news is that once you get these things, you probably won’t need to replace most of them for a while. In parentheses I have included approximate prices so you can get an idea of the costs involved in custom building. The best place to find most of these items is at an art store like Michael’s. You can also find many of these items online.
- Brushes – get one or two of the smaller 10/0 and 5/0 for detailing, plus some wider brushes for larger areas ($10)
- A value pack of acrylic paints (usually contains about 32 1/6 ounces of paint). This is great for colors where you only need a little ($15)
- 2 oz. acrylic paints for the colors that are used the most ($1 d).
- Testors Primer ($4)
- Microscale decal solutions: Micro Sol, Micro Set and Liquid Decal Film ($10)
- Gloss Clear Acrylic and Flat Clear Acrylic testers ($8)
- Decal paper ($1 per sheet, usually sold in quantities of at least 20)
- Scissors, masking tape, crazy glue, brush cleaner, exacto knife, sandpaper, clay and anything else you think you need ($40)
- Figure ($10 and up)
- Decide who you want to be and find as many photos of them as possible. Google and eBay searches are great ways to find pictures, as well as old magazines, sports cards and posters.
- Decide which McFarlane figure you want to paint. A good place to see pictures of all the figures is on McFarlane’s site. Try to match them with special features, such as the style of helmet they wear, wristbands, style of shoes, and anything else that may add or subtract from your extra work.
- Buy the number. You can compare sales numbers on eBay, Amazon, and SportsLizard.com to find the best deal.
- Open the number and delete it with soap and mild water.
- Determine what you need to set aside to be able to paint the figure. This varies from number to number. You want to make sure that you can easily paint every visible part of the picture. Sometimes this requires a lot of separation (head, helmet, mask, hands, etc. in a football figure) and sometimes there is no separation at all (basketball figure).
- Soak the number in very hot water to soften the rubber. This will allow you to get all the parts you need. An exacto knife can also come in handy here to help remove the parts.
- Enter the number with several thin coats of white or gray primer. Remember to mask off any parts you don’t want to paint.
- Color the number from light to dark, leaving a white patch in any area that needs a decal. You usually need about three coats of paint to get it looking good. If you need more, do more. A lot of it depends on the color of the primer and the color you are painting.
- Find numbers and logos for decals. The best place to post numbers to work with is the Logos & More section of Jomo Customs. They have templates for all NFL teams and many teams from other sports. If they have the team you’re looking for, then you’re all set. Otherwise, search LogoServer to find your teams logo and use Jomo to find a team with a similar letter/number to the team you are looking for.
- Create stickers. Use a photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to resize images and change colors if necessary. Be sure to print once in black and white on regular paper before using the decal paper to make sure they are the correct size.
- Cover the decals with liquid decal film. Be sure to do two or three coats to make sure the colors don’t run when the decal is wet.
- Cut out the decalsleave as little space around the image as possible.
- Apply decals. Before application, coat the surface of the painting with Micro Set. Wet the back of the decal paper (either with a brush or by soaking it in water) and slide the decal into place. Coat the decal with Micro Sol to soften it and carefully push the decal into any folds or uneven surfaces.
- Paint around the decals to blend them.
- Put the number back together. Use a sharp knife to cut the joints to fit them better. Use crazy glue when needed.
- Add dirt or grass stains to your painting If you want. The best way is to spray it with “dry paint”. This can be done by letting the paint dry on your brush and then sprinkling the dry paint onto the painting. Make sure to use an old brush when doing this.
- Apply several light coats of Flat Clear Acrylic to all surfaces except decals and helmets.
- Use Gloss Clear Acrylic to decals and hats. You can spray it with a spray bottle or gently spray it on.
- Hold on. You can modify the original stand, mount it on a piece of wood (drill holes the same size as the number pegs), or make your own stand. Some people also like to make custom packaging for their figures. You can have a package made for you by VansCustomFigures.
See our full customs guide for more information and photos.
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