Juan Diego Sánchez is a livery creator for esports racing teams. The work he does means that teams can rep their colours across all kinds of competitions.
Image credit: Nils Naujoks / iLiveries
The VCO Esports Racing League Summer Cup is starting very soon. The multi-platform championship began in January with the Esports Racing World Cup and then ran from March to May with the ERL Spring Cup.
The Summer Cup holds major significance as the series will be switching cars for the first time. For the ERWC and ERL Spring Cup, the cars on each platform were the same. Assetto Corsa Competizione races featured the Mercedes-AMG GT3, rFactor 2 had the Formula Pro and iRacing‘s races utilised the Holden ZB Commodore Supercar. Now, the cars have changed up.
For the Summer Cup, the Toyota Corolla GR Sport will be used on rFactor 2 which was added recently in the British Touring Cars pack. The teams will then use the Dallara IR18 IndyCar on iRacing and the races on ACC will be done with the Porsche 992 GT3 Cup. The latter was just added with the Challengers Pack. All very different cars on already very different sims to race on.
Each of the 27 teams competing will require the cars to bear their livery. The process that goes into it is meticulous and time-consuming, and is often the work of dedicated graphic designers. One such example is Juan Diego ‘Juandi’ Sánchez, otherwise known as iLiveries.
We were interested to learn about this side of competitive esports racing. So Sánchez agreed to talk us through the process and how he got started.
OverTake: How did you get a start in your role as a professional livery creator?
It was a long time ago. Around 2006-07, I was just working in the modding scene for some sims. It allowed me to develop some skills doing liveries. In the beginning, I was only doing replicas of real motorsport liveries, but when the community started to grow, some major sim racing championships began coming up like Formula SimRacing and some teams started to need custom liveries.
I think the first one I did was in 2009 and I was wanting to do it, I felt passion for livery creation but at the beginning, it was just for fun and I wasn’t getting any money. I continued creating mods, some fantasy ones and some for teams who needed custom liveries.
When sim racing became more professionalised, some professional teams started reaching out asking for me to design their liveries as they needed an identity. So I saw an opportunity to open up a service, been doing it now for a few years and as the scene grew, more sponsors would become interested so I was finally earning enough money to quit my job. I was a Java Developer in a software company, and I thought this could be a reality to swap jobs and right now, I am full time working on iLiveries with all the professional teams.
OverTake: What teams do you currently do liveries for or have done liveries for and which livery that you have worked on is your favourite?
It’s very complicated to have a favourite one because I have done a lot of liveries that aren’t very well known, since a large portion of my customers are still regular people and not big budget teams.
My biggest customer is BS+COMPETITION, I’ve also done stuff for Team Redline, Red Bull Esports, Williams Esports, I’m sure there are some I’ve forgotten. Right now, I’m currently working on a new livery for Biela.
I’ve just started to work on a new project with AMG Motorsport with some virtual liveries with the chance of designing some real liveries if everything goes well.
Very fortunate to have these customers. I think I have the best selection of high profile teams on my portfolio so that’s really good for my business.
OverTake: What is the process that goes into working with a team to create liveries for them?
There are some teams who come to me with a pre-determined idea so we have a briefing, they try to explain what they want and so I try to think if it will work or not. I then do my interpretation of what they request. These are the easiest jobs that I do.
The tricky thing is to create something they like when not given much direction, most of the time though they end up liking it but sometimes there are others when the job becomes complicated. This is often caused by hesitation and insecurities from the customer, they suggest little changes and additions very late on in the process. It is their vision of course, can’t complain with that.
On the other hand, we have a customer who gave me full creative control, and they’re the most enjoyable jobs. Sometimes with these kind of jobs, I try to understand what could be the identity of these teams, I do research on the team and find an element that could be of use as a design element of the livery.
OverTake: On average, how long does it take to make a livery?
Depends on the development process with the customer. In the best cases, it could be one and a half days. Sometimes though, the process can get to a full week or maybe more, but it’s rare.
I always try to satisfy the customer with what they pay for and I have no problem with them making revisions, it is theirs in the end that they pay me to make.
OverTake: What variables can there be to make certain cars more difficult to work on than others?
iRacing is the easiest to make liveries for and subsequently the one I do the most work for. On the other hand we have rFactor 2 which is quite a pain to work with because the 3D object doesn’t unwrap in a user-friendly manner due to the model having so much distortion.
When you try to put a straight line onto the car, doing it in Photoshop or any other software, you paint a straight line and apply it to the 3D model, it can work. But when you put on let’s say a logo, it can contract due to its proportions, you can never always know how to do it. Can be very unpredictable. You don’t have a mathematical method, you can’t quantify the distortions. So that’s a problem!
Lately I’ve also been working on RaceRoom, which in the beginning wasn’t developed with modding compatibility. Right now, we need to send the delivery files to the developers and they have to then implement it into the game. We creators need to paint blindly onto the car on there, you can often not know where you’re painting on the car, because you don’t have access to the 3D model and then you can’t see it on the final car until the devs implement it. So it’s quite frustrating.
OverTake: What advice would you give to someone hoping to find their way into turning their graphic design hobby into paid professional work in this industry?
When I started, there were some other guys that were in this profession. In some way, I was feeling that what they were creating was something very different to what real motorsport liveries in terms of how they look. You could say that “this is a virtual livery” and when you see a real car “okay this is a real livery”.
So when I started to differentiate the virtual liveries from real liveries, I was not trying to make them too crazy and I wanted to make them like they were in real racing. You need to look at what others do, it’s how you learn everything. Don’t copy of course, just need some inspiration and dedication.
I was very fortunate but I put in hard work and it’s resulted in me being where I am. I will also say, starting right now may be more difficult, the market is very saturated but if you put in the work and have the ability, you can make it professionally.
People like iLiveries and all the other sim racing skin creators provide an invaluable service to all these professional esports organisations. Many of the liveries that both Sánchez and other dedicated livery designers have created can be seen raced on 15 June in the first round of the ERL Summer Cup.
The Summer Cup’s opener will take place on rFactor 2 on 15 June as well as the Masters event on 27 July. The iRacing round will be on 29 June and the Assetto Corsa Competizione round will be on 13 July.
Which esports racing team’s livery is your favourite? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!