Our livery expert Stuart tells you how to create awesome designs for racing cars.
What is better than racing in a fast car? Right, racing in a fast and good-looking car. While racing games offer some cool liveries for their cars, a custom paint is always a cut above. Here’s how you create them.
Where can you create liveries?
Liveries can be created in many racing titles. The means to create them and to get them into the game differ in each game.
iRacing, for example, offers a web tool on its website which helps you to create custom liveries. However, you are quite limited with this tool. To design your car without any limitations, you have to use an image editing program.
But using an in-game tool does not mean you will receive bad results. Games like Forza Motorsport offer a generously equipped design kit with which you can create awesome liveries.
“Other than an app that automatically puts a grid over my chosen image, I don’t use any other technology to aid my efforts,” says Stuart aka PTG Stuzib85. The 34-year-old has created over 1,000 custom liveries in Forza Motorsport so far, using almost only the in-game tool.
“Creating vinyls, painting liveries, isn’t hard. It just requires patience and logical thinking,” he states. Stuart is a member of the Pendulum Tuning Garage, “the best content team on the Forza Series,” he proudly claims. Thanks to his great expertise in creating awesome paint jobs, he knows exactly what a good car livery needs – no matter what game you play.
The process of creating a livery
Creating a good livery starts before using the painting tools, as Stuart tells. “Occasionally, I sketch out ideas before I begin. I will choose a car and a color first. I like to use interesting colors, as much as possible, that go with the theme of the livery.”
After the basic setup, it is time to add design elements. “I begin to place any stripes or design features that I would like to include. Often, I’ll try ten things before I settle on something that I like.”
An important detail of any livery is its sponsor logos. While you can create the logos on your own, most games offer you a variety of real and realistic sponsor logos to add. Stuart recommends applying them to the car in the last step. “I’ll apply the logos, flip them to the other side of the car and the flip all the logos to face the correct way.”
Don’t be afraid to go some steps back if you’re not happy with the result. “As the livery progresses, the base color can often change to suit it better. I recently designed an AC/DC livery, that had a red base color. But when the livery was nearly complete, I changed the base paint which made the livery look brilliant. I often experiment with the base colors, whilst the design is progressing.”
What a good replica needs
Realistic or replicas of motorsport liveries belong to the most popular types of car liveries. Since the goal of these paint jobs is to look as realistic as possible, you should keep in mind what they would look in real life.
“My first bit of advice would be to research your car. It might sound obvious, but if you are making a replica, you’ll need to be looking at an image of it to make sure it’s correct.”
After having a look at multiple real-world designs, you will notice there are certain rules of motorsports that you have to keep in mind. “I’m not going to put two different tire sponsors or oil sponsors on my car. That’s a mistake that beginners tend to make.”
When it comes to liveries, you should know that less is more. “A clean simple livery is often better than a busy one. If you look at manufacturer liveries, they are often clean, unfussy. Those have become the most iconic. You should also try to just choose three colors that work well to use on the car.”
It’s the details that will make your livery look realistic and good. “Make sure your logos are right, make sure your color is right, and then you’re off,” Stuart advices. “Also, and this is just a personal thing, always tint the windows. it just looks better.”
Use your imagination for unique fantasy designs
Creating realistic paint jobs can be awesome. But another great thing about livery creation is adding motives which have never been on a car before. “With fantasy liveries, I have a lot more freedom than with race liveries,” says Stuart, who has already applied Kylo Ren, Hellboy or The Walking Dead to racing cars.
Choosing the motive and theme of the livery is essential. “I’ll start with a theme, or maybe a specific image I’d like to recreate. As I mentioned already, I enjoy getting as much realism out of my work as I can.”
While almost any motive can be painted, not everything finds space on each car. “Some liveries would need an American muscle car, others a more race-based car, or a Japanese style drifter.”
After choosing the theme and the car, the process of creating the livery slightly differs from realistic ones. Start with creating the motive vinyl and place it on the car. Then build around what you have left.
There are fewer rules and limitations when it comes to fantasy liveries. Stuart highly recommends making use of that. “I like to use light and texture to create my fantasy liveries, in a way that race liveries don’t allow.”
Some games like Forza Motorsport only allow a certain number of layers to be added. “For example, if I want to put an image on the side of the car, it takes me 1500 individual parts to create. That would leave me with 1500 layers to finish the rest of that side.”
Keep those limitations in mind. You don’t want to put in hours of work into a motive only to find you won’t be able to add anything else to the car.
As explained before, Stuart recommends making sure every part of the livery fits together, from big vinyls to small stripes and the basic color.
Let’s get started!
Creating your own design for your favorite cars will make you enjoy your races even more. However, Stuart warns that a lot of commitment is needed: “The trickiest part of designing liveries is definitely the amount of time it takes. Even a quick livery, which I have all the logos and parts I need already built, can still take two hours to put together, working out the kinks, and making sure things match up.”
If you want to make your first steps into liveries, the well-experienced painter advices to watch how other people tackle the task. There are many great streamers out there who broadcast their painting sessions. Stuart is actually one of them! He has a weekly painting stream on Twitch every Wednesday.
When you’re working on designs, you should “make sure your logos are exact, and your lines match over the different panels. A high attention to creative detail is probably the best skill you can make use of.”
Let your ideas flow and create whatever comes to your mind. Stuarts final bit of advise is: “Paint what you want, not what others dictate. If you think it looks good, then that’s all that matters.”
Did you already create some paint jobs? Tweet us your coolest livery @overtake_gg!