How To Get Custom Designs in 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons'

We’ll tell you everything you need to know to start turning your wardrobe, your home, and your village into something incredibly snazzy.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons continues to be an outlet for calm and pretending you’re socializing outdoors. While in real life, most of us are probably hanging out on our couches in sweat pants and an old oversized sweater, New Horizons gives us the opportunity not only to make our own fancy outfits, but snag the stylish endeavors of others. Custom designs in the game have gotten elaborate, and players have been showing off their creations, from band t-shirts to character costume remakes, and if you're wondering how people have been able to pull these off (or if you want to nab them for yourself), read on. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to start turning your wardrobe, your home, and your village into something incredibly snazzy -- and we even have a few recommendations.

How to Get Custom Designs in Animal Crossing

There are two ways to import designs from the web onto your island. Be warned that designs you upload are marked with a little “no edit” icon because you… well… can’t edit them.

Option 1: QR Code
If you -- or someone on the internet -- has an excellent design from New Leaf that they want to import into New Horizons, all you need is the old design’s QR code! 

Alternately, this website allows you to create your masterpiece on your browser -- or upload any photo to convert into a custom design! Which explains how memes and Beyoncé album covers are making their ways on to villagers’ walls with shocking accuracy.

Be warned, these only work for normal designs. But excellence will still flow forth.

1) Get the Nintendo Switch App and set up NookLink
Download the Nintendo Switch App onto your real-life phone -- it’s free, and it also has plenty of other handy features for the game. Like allowing you to chat with your friends using your phone’s keyboard instead of the slog of typing it out with JoyCons. It’s real nice.

When you go open the New Horizons-specific features for the first time, you’ll be told to set up NookLink so that your game and your phone recognize each other. Just do this by pressing the [-] button on the opening screen of New Horizons, which takes you to the settings menu. 

2) Scan a QR Code from online
Now, go back into the Nintendo Switch App, open that New Horizons-specific widget, and go to “Designs.” You’ll be invited to scan a QR code. Simply point your phone at your monitor!

3) Go to your in-game NookPhone
Lastly, head to the Custom Designs app on your NookPhone. Select an empty slot, and press the [+] button to download the design you just uploaded to NookLink. 

able sisters

Option 2: Able Sisters
Of course, you can share the intricate clothing designs you’ve made right in New Horizons, too -- once you've unlocked the Able Sisters' tailor shop. 

1) Make sure you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership
Yes, unfortunately, to use this feature, you’ll need a membership for Nintendo Switch Online. Fortunately, this is the same membership that allows you to visit your friends’ islands. It’s also four bucks a month -- could be worse, no?

2) Get the Able Sisters’ shop
Tortuously, to share designs, you’ll have to wait until your town gets the Able Sisters’ tailor shop. Make sure to buy as much as you can from Mable when she comes to your plaza to sell her wares in order to hurry along the process!

3) Head to the Custom Designs Portal at the back of the Able Sisters
The kiosk at the back right of the Able Sisters will have everything you need to both share your own designs and snag designs from others! When searching for someone else’s design, all you have to do is input their code. You have the option to search for the code for the specific design you want, or look up the designer’s code to see everything they’ve made and have a fashion free-for-all!

Now that you know how to upload designs, you’re probably itching to go out into the wide world of the internet and hunt for new fashion fodder. To help with your search, a number of fan-run databases have popped up to help share designs. Check out Nookpedia or Custom Crossing! Or you can simply look for #AnimalCrossingDesigns on Twitter, Instagram, etc. Or upload anything you please to AC Patterns -- because we really can’t overstate how magical this is.

There are two types of custom designs: Normal patterns and Pro Designs (which you have to unlock). Normal patterns have a variety of uses -- you can put them on the ground, hang them up in your house, use them as face paint, or plaster them as wallpaper. Or, of course, make a simple shirt with them. Pro Designs are crafted for a specific kind of clothing. As such, you can go absolutely crazy with detailing to make an impressively stylish outfit. Here are a few of each to get you started on your custom designs journey.

Bold And Brash
Any self-respecting SpongeBob fan will surely remember “Bold and Brash,” one of Squidward’s paintings mocked by the art collector in the episode “Artist Unknown.” Does it truly “belong in the trash?” Thanks to Twitter user @felizceliase -- and the magical editing website AC Patterns -- now you can decide.

Stone Paths
Terraforming and the ability to make paths in our towns comes tragically late in the game. For the impatient, @Kanda_Em has made these useful, quaint stone paths.

Sure, there are plenty of weeds to pluck on your island, but what about the simple beauty of the dandelion or clover? Thanks to @mothcoffee, you can sprinkle your town with them.

One of the most popular face paint items among players has actually been eyebrows. The website MyPotatoGames did a good job of gathering a few options.

Pancake Hat
Twitter user @trillvalentine has created quite a few adorable outfits. But perhaps the icing on the cake -- or rather, the syrup on the pancake -- is this ridiculously cute pancake hat.

Sky & Sea Collection
For those who love subtle detail, designer @Aleikats made these adorable outfits inspired by the sky and sea. That coral design on the hat is especially excellent.

Maruchan Ramen Robe
Some of us may be finding ourselves with a few more packets of Maruchan instant ramen around the house than usual, and @0skmey really made the most of that inspiration.

Fancy Dresses
Everyone wants to look their best while strolling around their town. With @blueberylpie’s staggeringly intricate outfits (that rose gingham hat!), it’s incredibly easy.

Freaky Fish Sweater
What’s with this subtly freaky fish? Not sure, but you want this code, don’t you?

Celestial sweater
@plaguinng is an actual pixel artist -- and so is in a unique position to make some crazy stuff. Check out this sweet celestial sweater and gothic-feeling purple dress.

Pikachu Jacket
Fans of Pokemon Yellow -- or just Pokemon in general -- this one’s for you! @TAHK0 has done every aspiring Pokemon master a favor by making a stylish and endlessly charming retro-feeling Pikachu jacket.

Pastel Shirt
If you’re looking for a shirt that is both simple yet flashy at the same time, look no further than @malibarry’s pastel shirt.

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Kirsten Carey is a musician and pop culture writer. You can follow her at @kircarey on Twitter.