Ever since the arrival of the first minifigure in 1978, it sparked off the imagination of children and AFOL (Adult fans of LEGO) with the endless possibilities of characters LEGO have not released. From Sharpies, sticky labels, water scale decals and clear varnish to 3D laser printers, LEGO minifigure customisation is now a big business.
Like a wall of LEGO bricks, the minifigure can be pulled apart and with some imagination put back together as something totally different. Once you have an idea of what you want to make there are many ways to create it using LEGO elements, and commercially available third party parts. This guide will hopefully give you some useful tips and links so you can start making your own custom minifigures.
Purist customisation can be great fun and many consider to be the most difficult. Customisation requires a vision, so we always recommend you draw a picture or source an image of the minifigure you want to make. The next stage is identifying the parts you need including hair, head, body, and legs. Bricklink or Brick Owl for sourcing your minifigure parts, and due to an increasing demand for more specific pieces there are a number of high quality independent producers offering a range of fantastic weapons, headgear and bodywear.
Sometimes you exhaust your search for an exact match however using Waterslide decal film and plain minifigure parts or by removing printing off existing minifigures, you can create your own designs. This part of the hobby can be a bit more expensive as it requires computer art software, waterslide decal film, a printer, decaling solution, and application tools.
Waterslide decal film, decal setting and softening solutions can be found almost everywhere these days from hobby and art shops to Amazon. To remove printing the best option is Brasso which is also great for removing scratches. Decal sealants are needed to seal the decal, spray cans offer the easiest application or clear varnish can be used. To apply these items you will need some small brushes. Make sure the decals are completely dry first before sealing them!
If decals are too fiddly for you then painting minifigures is another option and can be very fulfilling. Acrylics only, no enamels. Acrylics are water-soluble, so they mix and wash-up easily. There are a lot of different paints on the market however we do recommend Citadel, P3, Testors (for military colors) and Vallejo.
We always advise you prime your parts before painting especially larger items like armour, vests, helmets and when you have finished you should always use a Sealer such as an acrylic matte finish. The basic order of operations is primer, paint, detail, more details, wash and or dry-brush, and sealer.
Packages of sculpting clay are very economical and can be found most anywhere. You can work with the clay with homemade tools. Most often the lower priced tools are more than enough. Baking sculpting clay uses your home oven or you can cure it in near boiling water.
Finally if you would like to read more information on creating custom minifigures we highly recommend the Minifigure Customization: Populate Your World! book. Be sure to check out our Custom Minifigures Shop for the latest releases.