RFactor Skinning

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So you wanna make a custom skin and put it in rFactor. "Wat do?" you incessantly spam the thread with. Well, turn off those chinese cartoons and pay the fuck attention because I'm gonna tell you how.

Painting Your Skin[edit]

Step 1: Tools You Need[edit]

Can't paint without tools, right? The most commonly used programs are Photoshop or PaintShop Pro, but since you're a jew poor, you probably want to use a free alternative like GIMP or Paint.net.
Whatever you choose to use, you can find downloads here:
Photoshop
Photoshop CS2 (free)
PaintShop Pro
GIMP
Paint.net

You're also gonna need templates. This is what you actually paint on. Most every mod for rFactor has templates available, but I'll link some of the most commonly used among /ovg/ here:
Blancpain Endurance Series Mod Templates

.dds File Format[edit]

GIMP will require an additional plug-in in order to export your skin properly. You can download the plug-in here. Be sure you get the correct plug-in for your version of GIMP, not your operating system (i.e. if you're running 64 bit windows but 32 bit GIMP, get the 32 bit plug-in). Once you have the plug-in, extract to your C:\Program Files\GIMP 2\lib\gimp\2.0\plug-ins folder (or wherever you installed gimp). The "dds" application that you extracted from the downloaded zip file should be in the plug-ins folder, if you try to place it anywhere else, it'll pop an error. Put it inside the plug-ins folder and you're good to go.
If you use Photoshop, get the NVIDIA Texture Tool.

Step 2: Templates, How do they Work?[edit]

Templates are like pictures but way more complicated and scary, they have "layers" and "channels" and weird shit like that. Luckily, I'm not stupid like you are, so I can tell you how they work. Open the template using your editing program of choice. This page is written using GIMP, but all the listed programs have similar features and this information should work fine for them. If you have any other questions, spam the thread like a scrub.

The Template Itself[edit]

Templates work by basically wrapping the image around the 3D model of the car. DO NOT MESS WITH THE DIMENSIONS OF THE TEMPLATE OR THE PLACEMENT OF ITS PARTS. If you change the template size or move the base layers around, it won't fit the car properly and everyone will laugh at how retarded you are.

Layers[edit]

Layers are how we can get a skin to look like an actual car and not one of those autistic sanic cartoons. Most templates will have a base color layer, a "parts" layer for the unpainted bits of the car that show (don't paint this unless you want a pink exhaust or neon green carbon fiber or some stupid shit), a "shadow" layer with opaque shading that goes over your other details, a "mask" layer that covers up all the unused space in the template, and a "wireframe" layer that shows the 3d wireframe that makes up the 3d model in-game (this is useful for painting around contours). You will usually add more layers to this, but NEVER delete layers that were put there by the model creator. They're there to help you paint for a reason.

Layers work by allowing you to modify the image without screwing up its base parts. In the layers window, you will notice the layers are arranged in a certain order. Layers towards the top of the window will cover layers towards the bottom. The little "eye" icon next to the layers will cause the respective layer to appear or disappear. Try toggling these on and off to get an idea of how layers cover one another.

The order of your layers is very important. If you have the base color layer on top when you flatten and export your skin, for example, your entire car will be pure white with no contours or shading and will make you and your skin look stupid. Likewise, layer visibility (the "eye" icon) will affect your skin. Only "visible" layers will show up on your car when you export the skin. Layers that have their visibility turned off ("eye" icon off) will not show up on your car. This does NOT mean you should delete non-visible layers, as they serve other uses in editing (i.e. the aforementioned wireframe, notes from the template creator, etc.).

Transparency[edit]

Transparency is essentially an invisible color. This is useful for placing opaque (see-through) decals or shading, without seeing their backgrounds from source images. If we wanted to use a certain decal, for example, but not its background color, we could simply make the background color transparent, which is much easier than cutting up an image.

Step 3: Painting[edit]

This is not a detailed guide to painting the greatest skin ever extremely detailed black cocks all over a BMW, there are plenty of Photoshop/GIMP tutorials out there for teaching you how the various paint tools work. I will, however, share some basic tips that will at least help you make a basic skin.

  • Edits made to one layer will only affect that layer. They might cover up the layers below it, but they do not change them. For example, if Layer 1 is above Layer 2 in the layers window, and we place a letter on Layer 1, that letter will only be a part of layer 1. The letter will cover up layer 2, however as soon as we turn off Layer 1's visibility, the letter disappears.
  • Be very careful about which layers you have selected when you make edits. You do not want to accidentally place decals on the shading layer, for example
  • Insert new decals or outside images as their own layers. This way you can move, scale, and rotate decals without fucking with the rest of the skin. Keep each decal as its own layer, as it makes for easy editing later if you want to modify your skin.
  • Create layer groups or folders and give them a meaningful name! Finding a small decal by the preview in the layer window can be tiresome when you reached 30+ layers. At this step you might aswell name your layers for easier navigation. Also: in a junk folder, you can store your ideas you might want to go back to later on.
  • It is a good idea to paint lines, designs, or highlights on their own layer above the base color layer. This makes for easy modification and comparison of your new paint scheme on different base colors later.
  • The move, scale, and rotate tools are invaluable for properly sizing and placing decals.
  • Check the wiregrid that is included in most templates to find the center line of parts and body panels. Do not forget to hide the wiregrid layer before the export.
  • Layers for the numbers on the car and driver names on the roof should be kept as text layers. This makes it easy for you to make changes in case a friend wants to run the same paint scheme with just a different number and driver name even though you rasterized the text layers before - you do not need to figure out which font size you used.
  • Your skin looks a bit empty? Decals can be a nice way to fill out empty space, but don't go bananas.

Numberplates[edit]

There is no "official" numberplate for /ovgt3/. This[1] template is just an example how one could look like. The font for the text layers is included. Should the digits be off-center even though the text layer is centered, try to rasterrize it and reposition the layer. Just for reference, in most GT racing series the cars normally have a numberplate on both sides on either doors or fenders, one on the hood and the number included in the windshield banner. How many numberplates and where you place them is entirely up to you.

Step 4: Getting the Skin In-Game[edit]

Okay, so you've finished covering your shiny new McLaren in half-naked chinese cartoons, you fucking pervert. How do you get it in game and on a car?

Exporting Your Skin[edit]

Once your skin is completely done, its time to export it into a format that rFactor understands and can use to "wrap" a car. rFactor uses the "Direct Draw" or dds format for its skins. Pay very close attention here, or you will fuck up your skin and everyone will make fun of you and you'll never have a gf.

  1. Double check your layers to make sure all your edits are complete
  2. Make any layer that you do not want to show up on your car invisible (click OFF the eye icon), such as the wireframe or notes from the creator. DO NOT DELETE HIDDEN LAYERS.
  3. Make sure your visible layers are in the correct order. Your own skin may have more layers than this, but in general it should go something like this:
    • Mask layer
    • Shadow layer
    • Line/Contour layer (if it has one)
    • Decal layer or layer group
    • Part layer
    • Highlight layer or layer group
    • Base color layer
  4. SAVE YOUR SKIN AS A CUSTOM .PSD FILE. This is essential for modifying your skin later.
  5. Flatten your image. In GIMP this is found under Image > Flatten Image, but might be labeled differently depending on the program you're using. This is essential as .dds files cannot be exported with layers. Flattening the image essentially merges everything into one layer. DO NOT SAVE AFTER THIS POINT. If you save after flattening the image, you will lose all your layers and be unable to make edits.
  6. Export your image as a .dds. In GIMP, this is found under File > Export, but might be different for you depending on the program. You want to choose to export as a .dds. At this point, a menu should pop up asking how you want to export your dds. Now in GIMP, the option I use is "BC3/DXT5", but your options may be labeled differently. In general, you want to export as a DXT5, but if you have multiple "DXT5" options, feel free to experiment with each one to see which looks the best to you.
    • GIMP might have trouble with exporting transparencies, so if you run into them, just use Paint.net to open your custom PSD file and export as DDS from there.

You now have a skin file ready to throw into rFactor, but we first need to do a few more things.

Getting Your Skin Into rFactor[edit]

In order to get your skin in game, it needs its own folder and .veh file. You can also let it overwrite an existing car skin, but if you do this, you are an asshole, and you will ruin everything and make everyone hate you forever. So don't fucking do that.
First, figure out which folder your skin needs to be located in. This will be different for each car. For example, the BES mod Mercedes SLS GT3 skin folders will be found in

  • "(blahblahwhereveryouinstalledrfactor)\rFactor\GameData\Vehicles\Blancpain_Series_2012\Blancpain_Series\Teams\Mercedes_AMG_SLS_GT3"

If you look in this folder, you will find some system type files (do not fuck with these you dumbass), a shitload of folders with corresponding text files. Our skin will have its own folder and corresponding text file.
Go ahead and create a folder in this parent folder. This can be named anything you want it to be, but its easiest to give it the same name as your skin's dds file without the ".dds" at the end. Then, copy your dds file and paste it inside your newly created folder.

  • The car you made the skin for might require additional window or wheel dds files. Painting these goes beyond the scope of this write-up, but you can copy and paste the files from another skin of the same car model into this folder. The files must have the same name as your main skin dds, except with any additional name shit added on. For example, if your main dds is named "DickButt.dds", your window file might need to be named "DickButtWINDOW.dds". Check the other skin folders to see how they're named.

Back out of the skin folder you just created and placed your dds into. Notice the text files everywhere? Those are .veh files. Every car in the game has its own .veh file. This is a text file that essentially tells the game which car to assign a given skin and where to find it. Go ahead and copy one of the .veh files and paste it somewhere else. Rename it to "Whateveryounamedyourdds.veh". Now open it with notepad. The text should look something like this (from one of the Mercedes GT3s):

DefaultLivery="BES13AMG_SLS\BES13AMG_SLS.DDS"
Extra0="WINDOW"

HDVehicle=Physics\Mercedes_AMG_SLS_GT3\SLS_GT3.hdv
Graphics=SLS_GT3.gen
Spinner=SLS_GT3_Spinner.gen
Upgrades=SLS_GT3_PRO_Upgrades.ini      // Vehicle upgrades information
GenString=2                        // 1- Pirelli/Michelin
Cameras=SLS_GT3_cams.cam      // Defaults to cams.cfg in UserData directory
Sounds=SLS_GT3_sounds.sfx
HeadPhysics=HeadPhysics.ini       // Affects driver eyepoint only
Cockpit=SLS_GT3_cockpitinfo.ini

//////////////////////////TEAM HISTORY AND INFORMATION////////////////////////////////////////


Number=13BES12
Team="KRK Racing"
PitGroup="Group24"
Driver1="Karl Wendlinger"
Driver2="Koen Wauters"
Driver3="Anthony Kumpen"
Description="KRK Racing #13"
Engine="V8 4v DOHC 6208 cc N/A"
Manufacturer="AMG"
Classes="Blancpain, PRO"

FullTeamName="KRK Racing"
TeamFounded=2010
TeamHeadquarters="Columbus, USA"
TeamStarts=0
TeamPoles=0
TeamWins=71
TeamWorldChampionships=0


Category="Blancpain Series 2012, Pro Cup, Mercedes SLS AMG"


The most important things here are the "DefaultLivery=" line at the top, and the "Number=", "Team=", "FullTeamName=" lines near the center.

Modify the "DefaultLivery=" line to read:

DefaultLivery=(YourSkinFolderName)/(YourSkin).dds


Modify the other lines to read:

Number="(Your Number)"
Team="(Your Team Name)"
FullTeamName="(Your Team Name)"


If you are creating the skin for the OVG series, modify the following lines to read:

Classes="Blancpain, OVG"
Category="OVGT3, OVG Cup, (Your Car Model)"


Feel free to change any of the other values under "Team History and Information" but don't change anything else above that line. Save the .veh file. MAKE SURE YOUR VEH IS SAVED WITH THE SAME NAME AS YOUR SKIN. Now, copy your newly made .veh file and paste it into the same parent folder that your skin folder is in, not into the skin folder itself. Now fire up rFactor, you're done! Ask in the thread if you have any more questions.

Using a 3D-model while painting your skin[edit]

While this is completely optional it can help you fasten your workflow and help you visualize how your skin is going to look in game.

Step 1: Download the 3D-model of the car you want to use[edit]

Choose the car you want to paint:
McLaren MP4-12c
Porsche 997
BMW Z4
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
Audi R8
Nissan R35
Ferrari 458
Ferrari 430
Lamborghini Gallardo


You will also need a copy of Photoshop CS4/5/6 Extended. Here's a portable version that doesn't install unnecessary files and comes with the dds-plugin.
Photoshop CS6 Extended portable

Note: In order to export your skin in the .DDS file format, you must first specify the Plug-Ins folder that CS6 will use. In Photoshop, navigate to Edit > Preferences > Plug-Ins... and specify the Plug-Ins folder (~\photari\Adobe Photoshop CS6 [ Portable ]\Plug-Ins for this version of Photoshop).

Step 2: Opening your model in Photoshop[edit]

Start up Photoshop, File-> Open-> Choose your cars 3D-model. You should be seeing something like this (Fig 1.):



You should automatically be in the 3D work mode that you can choose from the upper right corner if you aren't change it. Choose the cars body from the 3D-model, in this example it's quite obviously called "wccarbody" (Fig 2.)



Now click on the small icon next to Diffuse texture setting and choose "Replace Texture..." (Fig 3.)



Locate the texture file you want to use, if you're starting from scratch use the Blancpain Endurance Series Mod Templates. After you've selected the according skin to your car, you should see the template load up on the car (notice the carbon parts in example). You should be seeing something like this. (Fig 4.)



The texture you chose is now linked to the body you see for editing, now you can go back to the same menu where you chose the texture to be used and pick "Edit Texture" (see previous picture). After this you should see the texture file that you just linked to your car in a new tab. (Fig 5.)



After this you're able to make changes straight to the model itself or to the texture file and it makes changes to both views, remember that you still only need to save your texture file when submitting your skin. (Fig 6.)