This is the first of a new series called Bare Essentials, a curation of foundational custom content that every simmer should have in their game. Today’s subject: Horse creation and the markings you need to make a respectable looking coat.
Side note: This isn’t a tutorial on how to make a coat, but look out for some tips and tricks below.
The following items are a few out of ten-thousand variations available on the internet, but they are my personal favorites. For creating horses, I have selected markings based on their quality and versatility to be used on all different kinds of coats. I’ve been making horses for many, many years, and some of these markings have stood the test of time and are still some of the best in our community.
Anyone who is new to Equus-Sims or even to creating horses in the Sims will find this list very handy for getting started. Likewise, if you’ve got a very cramped CC folder, you can chuck any unnecessary files for the ones posted here. Remember, there are many markings that already do the same thing, so you don’t need them all in your game.
The first must-have item on this list is an excellent base coat, or as we call them, “HD coat mods.” These are high-resolution default replacements for the EA horse texture, and at this point I’d say they’re about as vital as any custom skin for your Sims. Your horse will be simply vanilla without one.
There are many HD coats out there now, but I really like Luke’s 2019 HD Mod. It’s gameplay friendly (2k option!), has some nice, subtle definition, and works as a great base for adding in detail markings.
Photo credit © Luke Teth
Next we’re going to need a default eye replacement. I’m going to recommend Nicole’s HD Horse Eye Mod. These are beautifully detailed and render very nicely in game. She has a second version, the “brighter” option. I find this one a little trickier to work with, personally, but it does show up well outside of CAP.
Photo credit © Nicole Loeffler
Now, on to the markings!
When I begin a new coat, the one thing I always keep in mind is form and shape. Out of the box our horse is going to be plain and, frankly, a little flat looking. It’s the job of good detail markings to help add dimension to the horse’s body.
I usually start with the legs and work my way up. For the hooves, my go-to is Tiffany’s hoof detail markings. They add a light or dark ring around the top of the hoof, just like you would see on many horses in real life.
For this example I’m creating a bay horse, but I would use the bay shaders by Dequine on just about any coat. If I only had the option for one of these, I would download “bay v2” because the marking reaches the top of the legs, and I personally like to make the legs darker than the body on just about every coat I make.
I work from dark to light on my coats, so next I would suggest a body shader to add some depth by accentuating the forms of the horse’s body. I’m using two: my own contour shader (you can download all of my markings at the bottom of this post) and MEM’s #02 shader, which works very well for bays because it affects the muzzle as well as the body (I’m actually using it here as a highlight–which you can barely tell in the preview but trust me, it works.)
Farai’s sooty shaders work for every coat. These are super essential and I use them to create lots of variation and dimension in my coats. For this coat specifically, I’ve used #12 and #20 to add some shading to the neck and thigh areas.
With the base done, it’s time to add in some “top coat” details. I’m using Haldbaek’s Equine Shader Spray, which provides both a shade and shine marking to add muscle definition. On top of that, I have Julie Wilson’s shine marking (either of hers would work, they’re still some of the best out there even after all these years!) and Victoria de Irujo’s 2015 Shine Marking. These last two shine markings add a bit of texture to the whole body, and Victoria’s seems to affect mostly the top of the back, shoulder, and hips, so they work very nicely together.
As always, keep shine markings at a low opacity, but remember everything shows up darker out of CAP so you’ll want to accommodate for that.
There is a surplus of facial detail markings out there, and so, so many of them are excellent, but for the sake of minimalism I have selected only a few key markings to help you add realism to the eyes, nose, and cheeks.
The eye needs a bit of work. First, I lay down a base using Liz’s Soft Eye Shaders. This adds some shading around the eye where the hair thins out and the skin comes through. Then for a bit of shape, I use Farai’s Mule Eyeliner. I really love what this marking does to the inner eye area. On top of that, I use my own simple eye and forehead shader, which adds some detail to the eye, but mostly focuses on the bone structure around it, making it a nice complement to these other detail markings. Lastly, I use Elaine’s Sad Eye Detail for some personality (love those little wrinkles she’s added in!).
These aren’t pictured here, but be sure not to neglect the ears. Give the inner ear some shading with Faewood’s Ear Markings. These are especially useful for when your base coat is a different color from the horse’s head.
I like to add a bit of shading to the jaw so that the color of the neck ‘bleeds’ onto the cheek. I do this by combining Farai’s Sooty Shader #8 and my cheek hair marking, which adds a bit of texture to the jaw area.
Luke’s HD mod already has some nose detail, but I use my nose shine and shade markings to increase the contrast in this area so it shows up a bit better outside of CAP.
With the coat nearly finished, it’s time to add in some polishing details. On occasion, I will use my neck wrinkle markings. I don’t suggest using them on every horse, but they definitely give some character to the neck and jaw area (and are great for chunky little ponies!).
Lastly, I use the Dimexa Details Set to give the coat some texture. This detail is very subtle, so I have it at full opacity using a dark color so it shows up in game.
There are a few additional markings and mods that I feel are essential to creating horses. Make sure you grab them, and look for a link below to download my markings as well.
Have a favorite detail marking that’s a must have? Share the link with us below!