Posted in Second Life

Making My First Bento Water Horse Custom Coat – Cookies N Cream

I’ll admit that while I know plenty about using Photoshop for art, texturing things in Second Life is not something I’ve fully explored before. I knew the moment I saw the Water Horse Riding Horse bento avatars, and saw that other people were making custom textures for coats and patterns, this was something I wanted to try.

Last week, I broke open the shadow maps and sample texturing stuff that came with my water horses. Apparently, these are the same for both light and draft horses, which is nice to know.

I wanted to try something simple to start with, and I knew that there were a lot of creative designs I could use as inspiration on places like Deviant Art. So, I picked this particular piece, and decided to design a coat based off of it. I’m not looking to create things of pure realism, nor am I versed enough in coat colors to pretend I know what to name them. So I’m going with a slight fantasy slant in my coat creation.

I fired up Photoshop on Saturday night and started painting. Thank goodness for the Beta Grid, is all I have to say. I uploaded so many attempts as I worked on getting things right. My first try, however, didn’t turn out so good.

Ugh…

First of all, my shadows were all incorrect, and the coat all smeary. The textures that came with the horse are… interesting and unwrapped flat. So it was hard for me to gauge exactly where something I painted would end up on the horse. Second, SL displays the coat a whole lot lighter colored than it looked on my tablet.

Taking these two things back with me, I started working on my own internal guide for mapping the shape of the horse. I pulled out the grid texture that came with the horse and began to red line it.

This took several tries to get anywhere near this accurate. The idea was that I’d outline areas, especially the shadows, so that on the flat version of the unwrapped texture, I would have a better idea of what was what. The legs and rump, for example were a lot thinner than I thought they would be, and drawing them out like this gave me a guideline for painting.

So, when I came back on Sunday to work on it again, I tried to do this painted furry looking pattern on it. This is what I got.

Yeah. The shadowing is a bit better, but the fur was all over the place, going in directions I had no idea it would. It’s a kinda interesting stripe design, but not what I was intending.

It’s also still looking a bit too grey.

So I continued to make adjustments, blurred out the lines and I ended up with this:

It’s.. getting better. But now it’s lost a lot of pattern and looks more blurred than anything else.

About this time, I decided to shift the color to make it a little warmer. I also tried to define the pattern a bit more. I was fighting especially with the black speckles I wanted to appear over the neck and shoulders. They weren’t working well.

This was a bit too brown, but I actually kinda like it. I have a feeling I’ll revisit this iteration and expand on it to make another coat on down the line.

I shifted the color again, trying to give it a more strawberry tone. This was the point where I learned that using a spearate pattern for the black speckle effect was the best way to go. I also learned how to add a specular shine to the coat and experimented with that a bunch.

Getting closer to what I want…

I started trying the coat on the draft horse, and learned that I needed to darken the legs to better fit with the black feathers for those breeds. I was also pleased to see that the coat worked on the Arabian Mod (though the speckled pattern does not).

Not too bad for a Sunday’s work.

Last night, I spent time refining the coat details. I added more subtle pattern to it, fixed the leg darkness for the drafts, worked on defining things around the eyes and nostril. Fiddled with the specular coat shine and toned it down so that it didn’t blind you when the sun was setting. That kind of stuff.

Overall, I’m happy with how this turned out.

Warmblood with specular and pattern:

A better look at the pattern from above:

The Clyde draft without the shine or the pattern:

The Arabian with the shine:

I think I’ve come a long way from that first coat attempt!

I’ve also placed the coat up for sale in the SL Marketplace for anyone who is interested in picking it up for their own water horse! If you do, I hope you enjoy it. I’ll be making more, for sure! 🙂