Cougars. Pumas. Panthers. Mountain lions. Catamounts. Whatever you call them, these big cats are a fearsome sight in the wild. These big cats have been relatively rare on the Grid, with only a handful of avatars and mod kits to bring them to pixellated life. Timber Wilds has added to this small number of mountain cat avatars with their most recent quadruped release, the Cougar.
|Full body recolor
Full prim quadruped avatar w/full custom AO
Expression HUD with animations (dance, die, roll over, etc)
Fluffy + Non-fluffy options
Multi-prim wagging solid tail OR simple flexi tail
39 total; 1.12MB (fair)
HUD required for AOFirestorm Render Weight:
Mesh: None; full sculpted
Skin and Textures
This avatar is made entirely of sculpted prims. Therefore, it technically does not have a skin to speak of, so we’ll move right to the textures.
The textures are very smooth and blend very well from body segment to body segment. With older TWI avatars like the wolves and foxes, you would be able to notice some sections “hovering” over the others. This was likely forced by alpha clipping problems. This is greatly reduced on the cougar – however, the cougar does not have as many recolorable layers, so that may well be why.
The only part of the body where the textures don’t seem to match up very well is on the default solid segmented tail, especially on the tail tip, where it’s solid prim-on-prim blending rather than fur blending. This may bother some people, as it’s largely the only place on the avatar with this problem. The flexible tail suffers from your normal level of alpha clipping, but otherwise does not suffer from this problem.
On the whole, the textures are appropriate, match well, and flow well together, giving the appearance of soft, fluffy, thick fur.
The sculpts on the cougar are very smooth and add to the impression of thick fluffy fur without themselves being spiky or bumpy. There is no noticeable sculpt wrinkling and very few areas where the sculpts clip through each other (the skull/muzzle and rear leg/foot, mainly). There are a lot of flexible prims should you elect to use the default fluffy attachments, so if these lag you, you may want to choose the smooth, fluffless alternatives provided in the Extras box. However, do note that the back mid-leg sections have fluff and do not have alternative prims; these must be either edited off or made invisible.
In-Depth Body Summary
Let’s begin with those big cat paws. Cougars are more closely related to smaller housecats than they are to African lions, but they still have those trademark big cat paws, and this avatar emulates those well. Sculpts can’t flop around like real cat paws do, but the creators have added extra paw states to emulate how your paws would move around, rather than just sticking like they were constantly standing still.
The cougar comes with retractable claws on both the front and back paws. The toggle for this is found in the HUD under Expressions. The claws are fairly basic big cat claws – large, short, and curved. The claws simply go invisible rather than retract into the toes, and as such cannot be seen while retracted; not even a sheath slit is visible on the toes. The dewclaws on the front paws do not retract, true to real cats. The claw visibility can be triggered with various animations, such as Maul. The claws will remember the state they were in prior to triggering the animation and stay there when the animation ends – if your claws are out before you’re animating, they’ll stay out; if they were in, they will extend, then retract.
The pawpads don’t blend into the surrounding fur; it’s prim-to-prim. The pads have a faint bumpy texture on them and are recolorable, as with the rest of the avatar.
As mentioned earlier, there is one part where the sculpts on the body noticeably clip – the back leg and foot joint. This is a bit hard to avoid due to the animations, but it is noticeable. Beyond that, the leg joints are smooth and work well with each other.
Should you choose to wear the fluffier version of the avatar, you’ll get large amounts of flexi prims on the backs of the legs and on the chest and neck. These are a good accent to the avatar as a whole, adding to the feeling of thick, fluffy fur, but also makes your avatar harder to render (raises your ARC). If flexible prims tend to lag you, stick to the smooth version; there isn’t much difference between the two. You could use the fluffy version for a more “wintry” coat, and the smooth version for summer, should you wish.
The avatar’s main body has three recolorable areas – the back stripe, the belly, and the main body color. The belly color blends very, very smoothly with the main color. The back stripe, though, is more prominent, as you would expect – it’s meant to stand out. The main body segments fit together well, with no major clipping, texture or prim.
The flexible tail is rather basic – long, smooth but fluffy through textures, wagging controlled via the HUD, and suffers from some minor alpha clipping. When set to the lowest setting on the HUD, the tail clips through the ground, but this is minor – many tails do this.
The sculpted tail is worthy of note. Some of you may recognize the type of prim wagging used here from Moyloon’s Cat Tail. This tail uses basically the same principles – several prims adjust their positions around a root prim. The prim animation is very smooth and can be adjusted through the HUD (movement speed, update speed, position, so forth; more information on update speed can be found in the notecard). As mentioned before, however, the tail segments do not agree with each other very well – the prims clip through each other, as do the textures, and the tail tip texture is just solid prim-against-prim. The back stripe also abruptly ends at the beginning of this tail. This type of animated tail is a welcome change from the solid poseable tails, but the texture and prim clipping may put some users off.
In-Depth Head Summary
The head of this avatar is linked directly to the neck. This means you technically can’t turn your head, but this also avoids the potential problems from a relatively long neck separate from the head (floating heads).
The head is excellently modeled after real cougars. As said before, cougars are more closely related to housecats than African lions, and it shows in their face. These features have been excellently emulated – the cougar looks more housecat-ish than lion-ish, but it’s definitely a big cat.
The whiskers are placed where they would be on a real animal and appear thicker than you’d probably expect. A larger animal means larger whiskers!
The ears are small, with the characteristic light spot in the middle of the back of the ear, surrounded by whatever color you choose as ear tips. There is some flexible fluff inside the ears, which may abruptly jump out of your ears should you move too quickly. These ears are poseable via the HUD and twitch at random as well as twitching hard when clicked.
The back stripe again stops hard at the base of the skull, the same as it did for the tail. There are also a few areas of sculpt clipping, mostly on the seams between the skull/muzzle around the eyes and nose.
The mouth of the avatar is basic, but clearly cougar. There are three tongue states (out, in, curl) and several states of openness, as well as a few pre-set muzzle emotions (smile, snarl, etc). These combined make the avatar’s face very emotive.
The eyes do not have slit pupils and do not offer that option. Cougars themselves do not have slit pupils. Users may be able to mod their own texture onto the avatar, should they desire slit pupils as opposed to round. Beyond that, the eyes give off a very feline look, always appearing to gaze at something off in the distance.
The head offers several recolor zones – underbelly, main color, and back stripe all reach here, as well as head-specific face (chin/jaw, cheeks, undereyes, earfluff), markings, and eartips. The nose must be recolored manually.
There are no alternate textures for the markings as there were on past avatars – what you see is what you get in this case. Should you wish to remove the face markings, ear markings, back stripe, or what-have-you, make them the same color as the underlying fur.
Features and Heads-Up Display (HUD)
What you might first notice is you can’t find the HUD. If this happens, go into Edit mode, click something on your HUD (or go into your inventory, right-click > Edit on the HUD), then zoom out. It’s probably hovering off-screen, on the top left. Simply scoot it back over to where it should be and you’ll be fine.
The Expressions menu lets you control your avatar’s overall expression and toggle several features. You can change your eye state, tongue state, claw state, tail options, and several other features here, as well as switch between several different pre-set expressions.
The Animations menu lets you animate your avatar. You can make your cougar roll over, sleep, play dead, drink, swipe, bite, and dance, just to name a few. Most of these animations play a sound alongside the animation; instructions on how to turn these off are included in the instructions notecard.
The Colors menu lets you recolor your avatar’s various body parts. As with past TWI creatures, you first select the color using the provided HSV table or RGB buttons, then click the body part you wish to apply the color to. A handful of colors are pre-set along the top row.
The HUD contains your avatar’s AO, so it cannot be removed.
The AO itself mimics a cougar’s natural movements well, albeit a little more fidgety. The walk and run cycles loop smoothly and aren’t at all jerky, the sit animation doesn’t make your legs clip through you. On the whole, the animations are very well made.
As mentioned above, almost every part of this avatar is recolorable. Couple that with the color picker provided, and there are nearly endless possibilities for color combinations. However, this avatar does not come with marking options; you get normal cougar markings and that’s it. Should you wish, you could create your own, or simply remove them by making them the same color as your main fur.
Being a feral avatar, most third-party hair will not fit this avatar without modding. Rigged mesh hair or other accessories will not fit, period, unless custom-made for the avatar.
The avatar has Mod and Copy permissions, so you can modify it to your heart’s desire. As always, keep a backup in case something breaks! It happens to the best of us.
In the wild, cougars are something to be feared. Nearly the same size as a human and much stronger, they’re fearsome predators. Timber Wilds has done an excellent job at emulating the mountain cat’s body style and movements, while at the same time adding their own bit of attitude to it with the emotions and texture work. Deer beware, there’s a new predator in town.
|Photos for this review were taken in the following sims:
Calas Galadhon Park Estate