Skip to main content

How to make the most of the Animal Crossing custom designs feature

Animal Crossing: New Horizons gives players of all walks a chance to show their creativity. The custom design tool uses a mixture of QR codes and pixel painting to create and share designs that can be used a variety of ways. From adorable dresses to new pathways, you can create your island any way you want.

Learning to use the custom design tools can be a little tricky. The game offers two different tools for designing: Custom Designs and the Pro Designs upgrade. We’re here to share the differences between these two design tools, talk about how to get the most out designing, and offer a few resources for inspiration! If you’re looking to make your town the best and brightest with your own designs, you’ve come to the right place!

Related Videos

Further reading

Unlocking Custom Designs and the Pro Designs upgrade

Animal Crossing custom designs terminal

Right off the bat, we need to talk about the Pro Designs upgrade. It doesn’t take long to nab this updated NookPhone app, but it will make a big difference to your game. Custom Designs have only four squares to work with. Pro Designs have a grand total of nine. That’s a lot more room to add loads more detail to a wider range of items.

The Pro Designs upgrade adds the Pro Designs tab to your NookPhone app. To unlock it, all you need to do is wait for your tent to become a house, and you’ll be able to pick up the upgrade from the Resident Services terminal for a paltry 800 Nook Miles. With this on your in-game phone, you’ll be able to do far more with custom designs than you could at the start.

Only custom designs can be placed on the ground, so you’ll be relying on this basic feature for floor decorations like cobblestones, pathways, and the occasional crude sand drawing. Pro designs can be displayed when not worn, but only as mannequins to show off your threads.

Making custom designs in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing custom designs editor

All you need to get started with Animal Crossing designs is your imagination. Open up the Custom Designs app on your NookPhone and select an empty slot. If you’re making a custom design, you work on the drawing first and then choose how to use it after the fact. If you’re on the Pro Designs tab, you select the kind of clothing you want to make before starting on your design. Want to recreate Ash Ketchum’s hat? Choose the cap. Have a special beanie at home you want to add in? You can do that. Want to live out your school idol anime fantasies? A balloon-hem dress is probably a good starting point.

Once you’re in the editor, it’s a case of painting with the joystick rather than the Nintendo Switch’s oft-forgotten touchscreen. It’s not the easiest way to do things, but with a bit of practice and some helpful tools, you’ll be working miracles in no time. Failing that, there’s an unofficial tool you can use to convert images into Custom Designs automatically. Upload a photo, see the blocky result, scan the QR code it spits out, and your custom design is ready to be used. Don’t expect a fancy balloon-hem dress here, though. Remember: Custom designs and pro designs aren’t wholly the same.

How to download custom Animal Crossing pro designs

Animal Crossing designs downloads

The internet is awash with Animal Crossing designs these days. You’re probably seeing codes and creator IDs in every other post on your social media platform of choice. How do you use these? It’s pretty straightforward, but you’ll need the Able Sisters shop to get started.

Mable shows up to sell her wears in the town plaza a few times a week. If you spend 5,000 bells on her wares, she’ll soon decide to open up a full-fledged shop on the island, bringing her sister along for the ride.

Once the business is all up and running, you’ll find a terminal in the top right where you’re able to enter Design and Creator IDs to track down new custom designs. It’s here where you’ll want to enter the codes listed on people’s shared designs online, or you can enter the creator ID of someone whose style you like enough to browse through all their shared designs.

Once you’ve found a design you like, it’s simply a matter of saving it to an empty slot. You can save up to 50 Custom and Pro Designs at any one time. Reach that limit, and you’ll have to save over another entry.

Animal Crossing design resources

Beyond looking up clothing ideas online, the many-million strong Animal Crossing community has already been hard at work conjuring up almost every custom design pattern you could ever want. You just have to find them.

There are multiple purpose-built Animal Crossing pattern share websites with a bunch of cool features for cataloging these things listed below. Another method is to follow the Twitter trail. Slap the #AnimalCrossingDesigns hashtag into the search bar and be ready to scroll for days. There’s no guarantee of quality doing this, but it’s a good way to find some cool designs made by non-English speakers who’re unlikely to use some of the other resources.

How to import designs from New Leaf and Happy Home Designer

Animal Crossing 3DS import screen

If you’ve been an Animal Crossing fanatic for a while now, you most likely have a few designs in your New Leaf and Happy Home Designer games you’d love to recreate and rework. Both games utilize QR codes so people can send designs to each other and receive them, meaning you can use the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app to move them directly into New Horizons.

To get everything situated, all you have to do is download the app, log into it with the Nintendo account you use on your Switch, and tap Animal Crossing to access the hub on the homepage. Once you make it in, you’ll want to hold the Plus Sign (+) button on the Animal Crossing: New Horizons titles screen to get to the game’s settings. Here is where you’ll see mention of the Nintendo Switch Online app. Load up the app, allow it to do its thing, and then restart your phone app when it’s finished. Navigate back to the Animal Crossing hub in the midst of playing the game, and you’ll quickly notice all its fresh, impressive features.

With all that ready to go, just load your designs in your New Horizons or Happy Home Designer games and scan them in using your phone. From here, you can just follow the steps included in the conventional method. Open your Custom Designs app while you’re in the game and click the Plus Sign (+) button to download scanned designs into your game.

Editors' Recommendations

Is Elden Ring cross-platform?
Characters fighting on horseback in Elden Ring.

The various Souls and Souls-adjacent games that FromSoftware has developed ever since Demon's Souls have all introduced or iterated on new features that few if any other games ever attempted. We're talking about more than just difficulty, too. Things like how the games handle death, leveling up, currency, and story were all fresh takes in the industry when most gamers first saw how they were done. Perhaps the most ambitious -- and at times clunky -- innovation came in how the games handled multiplayer as a component. With Elden Ring being the latest in its catalog, many wonder how FromSoftware will change these systems, if it does at all.

Elden Ring is a Souls game at heart, only now viewed through the lens of an open-world experience. Fans of the studio's previous works will immediately recognize various multiplayer aspects, such as messages written by players, ghosts, and bloodstains showing the last moments of someone else's life. Summoning help, invading, or being invaded, however, is the real meat of what people expect from a multiplayer standing, and these all are back in Elden Ring. But with the game coming to every major platform, including past generation systems, will you be able to play with friends on different systems? Here's all the info you need on whether or not Elden Ring is cross-platform.

Read more
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Turkey Day guide

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is celebrating the second Turkey Day event this year on November 25. Seasonal events are some of the most exciting reasons to jump back into the game for their unique and time-limited tasks, but mostly for the special rewards you can earn that you otherwise couldn't get your hands on. With the most recent 2.0 patch and DLC already having been released and marking the end of any substantial additions coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, these events are even more important to participate in to keep the game, and your island, feeling fresh.

Turkey Day is a not-too-subtle reference to Thanksgiving but renamed so that players around the world will be able to associate with it. Also, the key new character for Turkey Day is himself a turkey, so the name feels quite appropriate. Last year offered a ton of great rewards for helping to whip up some seasonal dishes, and we expect this year to be quite similar. However, with cooking now being a part of the normal gameplay, there may be a few surprises in store when the 25th rolls around. If you want to get a (turkey) leg up on what to expect from this year's Turkey Day in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, here's a full guide on how to prepare.

Read more
The best Animal Crossing games, ranked from best to worst
My New Horizons character dances next to her satellite farm.

The Animal Crossing games have always had a dedicated fanbase. It wasn't until Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived on the Nintendo Switch, however, that the series exploded in popularity. This cute life-simulation series speaks to the more laid-back crowd, somewhere between a game like the Sims and a Harvest Moon-style game. While each game does mix things up, adding new mechanics and ways to express yourself and explore, the core concept has always been about taking your time, making friends, and living out a peaceful life in these bright and colorful worlds. Oh, and paying off the massive debt you always seem to get dumped on you by Tom Nook, of course.

Animal Crossing began on the N64 in Japan, but the first time we got to experience this lovely series was on the GameCube in 2001. Including the debut entry, only eight titles in the series have been made across various systems. While this is a small number compared to some other Nintendo franchises, such as Zelda or Mario, each game can be played almost endlessly. The number of things to do, make, decorate, and more makes it hard not to get hooked on these games. Whether you're a seasoned villager or looking for a new game to relax with, we've taken all of the Animal Crossing games and ranked them from best to worst.

Read more