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

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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.


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! 🙂

20 responses to “Making My First Bento Water Horse Custom Coat – Cookies N Cream”

  1. Thank you for posting this! Last night was literally my first time fiddling with making a WH skin. I have lots of Photoshop experience but none whatsoever in making things for SL (or access to the beta grid yet). There’s definitely a learning curve and I have all these questions (like how should the psd file be saved, how’s the texture applied once it’s uploaded in SL, how is specular shine even added haha). But I hope to one day figure it out, and this will help 🙂


    • Hey Claire!

      I might be able to help with some of that. If you look inside of the second Options folder you get with your Water Horse (the one with the additional stuff), not only does it give you the skin templates, but it has something called “~WH~ Texture importer example NEW SCRIPT! v2″.

      If you rezz this and look inside, it has the script and a note card on how to use that script to apply textures to your Water Horse. It also tells you what format to save your textures in (it’s different between the body (JPG) and the patterns (PNG) for example).

      It took me a little tweaking to figure it out. But you’ll need to pull that script out and put it in your own box to make a texture applier. It references the textures UUID (right click your texture and use “Copy Asset UUID” to get that number.

      Maybe I’ll write a tutorial about this! It’s all in the script and the card, but it still has a learning curve!


      • Wow I didn’t even see that folder haha. Things seem a little less confusing after your comment & the comments in the script! Another question, on line 72 of the script, it has leg1 three times and leg3 once:

        // leg1 : front right leg upload this as a png
        // leg3 : front left leg upload this as a png
        // leg1 : back right leg upload this as a png
        // leg1 : back left leg upload this as a png

        Shouldn’t there be a leg2 and leg4?

        Thanks again!


        • I haven’t messed with the leg uploads yet, so I didn’t even notice that! Yeah, I’d say that’s maybe a typo. I might mess around with it on the Beta grid tonight to find out. I’ll let you know what I find.


          • Sounds good! I had a feeling it was, but I’ll definitely be starting w/ just the body and playing around with getting everything to work this week/weekend. I submitted a ticket for beta grid access, so we’ll see how long that takes.


          • Bummer that you have to submit a ticket now days to get the Beta Grid, but it’s very worth it. I’m not sure if you’re a premium member or not, but I submitted a ticket last week (my beta grid inventory wasn’t updating) and the turn around time was a little over 24 hours, even answering on a Saturday!


        • Hey, I just wanted to drop some info I learned today that I had no idea existed — Local Textures! Since everything you’re doing is just texturing with these horses, you might be able to do this on the main grid with no cost to you using local textures.

          Here’s some info on it:

          I haven’t tried this yet, but that would save on all the annoying texture uploads if this works!


        • Okay, odd. I just checked my script and it actually says:

          // leg1 : front right leg upload this as a png
          // leg2 : front left leg upload this as a png
          // leg3 : back right leg upload this as a png
          // leg4 : back left leg upload this as a png


          • Hmm, weird — it says that on my draft (bought in January) but not my warmblood (bought in March). Didn’t think to check both earlier, but must have been fixed sometime between then!

            Thanks for the info about local textures, that sounds awesome about changes being automatically applied. It’ll also give me practice w/ scripting for getting the UUID.

            I submitted the support ticket yesterday morning — I’ve been premium in the past, but not at the moment. Not as worried about getting a reply if the local stuff works though 🙂


          • I tried local textures, but couldn’t get them to work. I made a test WH texture and saved it as a jpg. Then I rezzed a cube and put the import script inside.

            Then I rezzed a second cube, applied the texture to just the top, and put the UUID script from the link inside. I got the UUID just fine and added that to the import script, but all that shows up in the HUD is grey (which then makes my horse grey).

            I then uploaded the texture for $10L, updated the UUID, and it worked! 🙂


          • I’ve been working in the local files just fine. You have to make sure that cube with the texture stays rezzed or it won’t work.


  2. Hmm, I did keep it rezzed but I think something was wrong with my texture HUD. I made a 2nd local texture, unpacked a new horse, and it worked with that!

    Only issue I’m having now is with the eye/eyelid … the script comments said the eyelid texture needed to be included with the body. If I don’t include it, the default eye goes away and turns a greyscale color w/ 2 lines through it. If I do include it, the eye turns black.

    I’ll mess with it more tomorrow, but thanks for all your help so far!


    • Glad it’s working for you!

      The eyelid was a weird thing, and I haven’t figured out everything with it yet. But what I do know is that with the eyelid texture, you have to keep the top circle uncolored or the eye can’t show through during the open state (if you’re using the texture sample that came with the horse). I just left the half open and closed eyes to be the same, and a big blank spot above them for the open state. Give that a try!


      • I tried again tonight with both the draft & warmblood — the draft was giving me issues no matter what, but the warmblood surprisingly worked the first time! I then grabbed a redelivery of the draft and, of course, now the eyelid works haha. Must’ve been a small bug, as it hasn’t happened w/ any other textures before.

        Now I can work on making a real coat 🙂 And figuring out the normal & specular maps too.


        • Great great! I’m glad you got it working! If you get a coat done in SL, feel free to drop a picture. I’d love to see it!


          • I’m loving the rich chocolate vibes and the warm hints in the fuzz! I’ve also gone back and forth playing with fuzzy textures on my coats. Really fitting for the drafts, I feel. It’s looking good! Maybe one day I’ll catch you around the WH mall and can see it in person. 🙂


          • Thank you! Not sure how to texture the teeth/tongue though since they’re hidden 99% of the time. I might put it on the MP to see what happens, never done that before. I also figured out the specular map (I think), at least my horse is shiny now!

            I do hang out at the WH mall (or Calas) sometimes, so def might see you there!


          • Alright! Go for it! You have nothing to lose in trying. 🙂

            I actually just set up a shop in the Water Horse Mall, so I’ll be there much more often, I’m sure!


          • Oh nice! I stopped by the mall last night for a little bit, will make sure to check out your store next time 🙂


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