Designs are custom-made patterns comprised of 32x32 pixels that can be created in each game (excluding Doubutsu no Mori) through an editing interface. The created design can be applied to clothing, umbrellas, hats, carpeting, and wallpaper. Designs can also be placed as paintings and, from Animal Crossing: Wild World onward, overlaid on the ground. Designs that are placed on the ground will prevent anything from growing or spawning in that tile and, prior to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, cause items dropped from trees and fallen balloon presents to disappear if there is not enough space for them to land. In Animal Crossing only, players can also place a design on their front door. In Animal Crossing: Wild World, Wendell will give out a unique design depending on the type of edible item he is given. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, designs can be used to customize furniture. Befriending Sable in the latter game will unlock a variety of pre-made designs that can be applied to certain furniture.
Designs can be displayed in the Able Sisters where villagers may start wearing them and other players may copy the designs for themselves. In Animal Crossing: Wild World and Animal Crossing: City Folk, each player may hold 8 designs on them at a time, although the latter game allow 64 additional designs to be stored with Mabel. Animal Crossing: New Leaf ups the design limit to 10 designs and Mabel will store 72 designs. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer allows the player to hold 120 designs. Animal Crossing: New Horizons allows up to 90 designs and 90 pro-designs to be held as of version 1.9.0 though this is shared between all players on the island. Mabel no longer stores designs, but the player can upload up to 130 of their own designs to share with other players. Unlike previous games, there is no way for the player to store designs made by others.
A design can feature up to 15 different colors. From Animal Crossing until City Folk the editor has 16 pre-configured color palettes that can be selected, however the exact colors within each palette are fixed and cannot be changed. New Leaf has 12 pre-configured color palettes and New Horizons has 14 palettes, but in both games the individual colors in the palette can be fully customized from an expanded range of shades. New Horizons introduces a full HSV color spectrum, allowing for a vastly greater selection of possible colors.
New Leaf and New Horizons designs support transparency, though in the former game transparency is not actually displayed in-game and will instead be rendered as the first color in the design's palette. As there is no in-game mechanism to add transparency in New Leaf this can generally only be achieved through third-party tools. New Leaf designs with transparency information will display this properly if they are imported into New Horizons via NookLink.
Transparency is displayed in New Horizons as an additional color selection that cannot be modified, and does not appear on the palette when creating pro designs. Transparency will be rendered as white if the design is applied to certain objects, such as the Plain Wooden Shop Sign or the town's flag.
Beginning in City Folk, pro designs (formatted as Pro designs in City Folk), which are comprised of multiple different patterns that are applied to different parts of clothing, can be created. Tops can be comprised of separate patterns for the left sleeve, right sleeve, front, and back. New Leaf introduces new styles of pro designs, such as sleeveless and long-sleeve shirts, dresses with all three options for sleeves, and designs that can be applied to the face-cutout standee public works project. The categories of pro designs that can be created in New Horizons is greatly expanded from previous games, with the addition of sweaters, hoodies, coats, round and balloon-hem dresses, robes, baseball caps, and wide-brim hats. The 1.9.0 Free Update introduces umbrellas, uchiwa fans, and handheld flags, and reintroduces face-cutout standees.
It costs 350 Bells to create a pro design in City Folk, 500 Bells in New Leaf, and is free in Happy Home Designer and New Horizons, though in the latter the Custom Design Pro Editor upgrade must first be purchased for 800 Nook Miles. Variety goods can only be created after purchasing the Custom Design Pro Editor+ upgrade introduced in 1.9.0.
|Style||Appearance by game|
|City Folk||New Leaf||New Horizons|
|Horned hat||Import from 3DS only|
In New Leaf and New Horizons, the player can use one of their custom designs to customize the pattern part of a furniture item. Uniquely, a special yellow leaf icon is displayed and furniture that features a custom design cannot be dropped on the ground.
In New Leaf
In New Horizons
Bold italics indicate a part of the furniture that can be customized by the player.