CYO Interview with thewanderlust
1. When did you first start designing CYO?
Late 2010 or early 2011, around the time I discovered Aimee’s Divamour competition in the forums. I think it was in its second or third season already and despite having zero CYO experience, I was determined to participate in the next one. So I downloaded GIMP and studied this tutorial by glitterdarla religiously. Like honestly, I kept making the same top over and over until I believed I got the basics down. And that was the beginning of my CYO journey, hehe.
2. What made you start designing CYO?
I stalked the Divamour competitions for a long time, studying everyone’s concepts and techniques for inspiration, and trying to apply the judges’ comments to my own designs. They inspired me to learn how to make CYO. By the time the next Divamour season came around, I was super excited to join and get feedback from the greats! I distinctly remember being judged by Sollie, Focus, and Jadenite, all of whom were my TOP inspirations and I was so happy to learn from them and have them tell me what I could do to improve my designs. Plus having such an awesome and uber talented design community to be a part of was definitely fun!
3. What is your favorite CYO piece that you have created?
My Divamour Season 8 Phase 1 entry!! Here! I loved working on this entry, loved the theme, and loved the result! A more recent piece would be this exclusive I made for sobriquet from my little forum shop. She gave me full creative reign over the design and I went with my own preferred style. And those boots were a pain to make but they ended up looking FIRE!
4. What your biggest CYO accomplishment so far?
Hehe, you mean aside from being interviewed for Pulse? I remember scaring my mom when I wouldn’t stop screaming because MadCarlie sent me a message asking me to join the DC Design team! Other than that, I am proud of how my CYO has improved over the years. They REALLY looked terrible for a long time, haha! Sadly I was never able to finish a full season of Divamour because they always happened around exam season, but in one season, I remember getting scored the same as Zumzy and Griffysgirl and I swear my heart exploded!
5. What is the best thing about designing CYO?
Probably the versatility. There is no one correct way to go about CYO. You can make fancy avant-garde, minimalistic street wear, fantasy characters, horror characters, or just your average girl-next-door. With the introduction of the Body layer, the possibilities have expanded exponentially! Being able to create an original character and bring them to life is a lot of fun! I think the entire feature itself is a fantastic idea that really makes DC unique and brings together a whole community of designers AND design-lovers.
6. How long does it take you to create a CYO piece?
There are some factors that come into play here. If I want to simply copy the design off a reference image, then something like a big fancy dress could take me an hour or two. Smaller accessories, even less. But if I were given creative freedom to make something unique and detailed, like say for example, a Divamour entry or an exclusive request, then it could take me up to a week to complete it! The ideation part has always been the toughest part of designing for me. So many possibilities……I get choice paralysis quite often haha!
7. Who is your favorite CYO designer?
Griffysgirl! She has been making consistently original, top-quality designs ever since I joined DC. It would be difficult for me NOT to idolize her. Her shading style is impeccable, and she always comes up with the most creative concepts.
Also, Zumzy and Pandaimeec are both CYO powerhouses that I aspire to be like! Most of the items and collections released all over DC are created by them, and each piece is so well-crafted! They also have the skill and talent to make the jaw-dropping full body designs that we see in Guild Wars or Divamour.
8. What’s one tip you can offer to new CYO designers?
Experimentation is key! I try to apply this rule in my art as well as my CYO because constantly trying new things is the best way to learn your craft. In my years of learning CYO I tried so many different shading techniques, from Gaussian blurring, to smudging, to vector shading, to a mixture of vector and smudging, to sketching, to blending with layer masks. If you feel like something isn’t quite working right with your designs, try something different!
CYO, at its core, is essentially digital illustration. You use a digital program, such as GIMP or Photoshop, to create an illustrated piece. Therefore, to succeed at CYO you need to master both your digital program, and the basics of illustration. Look up different tutorials for the program you use. Practice drawing from reference, studying how clothing folds work, the physics of light and shadows, etc. You don’t need to be the next Da Vinci to get it right, just knowing the basics and practicing is good enough!