Custom Car Skins

rFactor2 facilitates custom car skins through the use of templates files available on the downloads page. The templates are in Photoshop (PSD) format, and require nVidia DDS Plug-ins for Photoshop installed.

Adobe Photoshop isn’t the only tool you can use to paint with. Any paint tool capable of handling PSD files, and DDS files, may work.

Note: We haven’t tried them, but it is possible that free programs like GIMP or can load PSD and save DDS. Paint Shop Pro (which isn’t free) may also work.

1. Download the appropriate template(s) for the car you want to paint.

Example of layers.

Note: Some cars have additional templates for wheel rims, windows, etc. They will be in the same download file.

2. Paint using the layers provided in the template as a guide, making sure to turn off the layers you do not want (such as 3D wireframe) before saving.

The layer you should paint on will be towards the bottom of the layer list, usually labeled ‘Paint here’ or ‘Background color’. Further up the list you will have other optional layers that add shading, dirt, decals and numbers to the car. Obviously it is these layers which need to still be on (visible) when you save the template.

Always at the top of the layer list, is the ‘3D wireframe’. This is a low resolution depiction of the 3D car shape used in the software, and shows how the skin is used. It turns the garbled mess of shapes and colors on the template into a form much easier to understand. Every shape used on the car is defined and those which are still not obvious, can be quickly shaded with an odd color and tested in the game to find out which car part they affect. This layer should be turned off (invisible) when you save the template.

Always remember to backup the work you do by saving multiple PSD files at different stages. If you make a change that you regret later, and have already exited Photoshop, you will be able to quickly get back to where you preferred.

It takes experience to know what will look good on a car. It’s advisable to look at real racing cars of a similar type to see
what you do or don’t like before you start to work on your own design.

3D wireframe turned off (left) and on (right). Much easier to pick out parts of this open-wheel Grand Prix car with it turned on.

3. Save your file in DDS format.

To save your file in a format rFactor2 can display, go to File, Save As, then select DDS from the format dropdown (sometimes shown as D3D/DDS), then click save. A new box will popup, allowing you to setup the file for saving, and on this you should choose DXT5 and MIP map generation (see below for example). When you click save on this box, the file will save.

Note: Photoshop does not save in DDS format by default, and this is why the nVidia DDS plug-in is required.

Saving your template as a DDS.

4. Put your file in the right place for display and sharing.

Your DDS file needs to be put into the correct location for it to work correctly. Start off with the location you specified for data to be installed when you installed rFactor2, by default this is in the Documents folder.

Within the Documents or Data folder, the structure for placing a car skin is like this: \Documents\rFactor2\UserData\player\Settings\ISI_SkipBarber_2012\SKIPBARBER_05\
‘ISI_SkipBarber_2012’ is the name of the component, ‘SKIPBARBER_05’ is the Veh file name (minus the .veh), and is the name of your saved file.

For other cars, simply alter that location for each different car component and Veh file name, and if the location does not exist, you should create the appropriate folders yourself.

Note: Your saved DDS file name must be less than 10 characters wide, not including extension, and ‘alt’ must be within the filename.

5. Enable skin sharing.

You can enable automatic car skin sharing online by activating the appropriate checkbox on the Display tab of the Settings pages within rFactor2. There is also a ‘Download Custom Skins’ line in the multiplayer.ini for the same thing (both host and client need it activated for it to work).

6. Select your skin.

When selecting your car from the Vehicles menu or before a race, simply click Tuning, then select your skin on the Car Paint Variants menu. This is also a good way to test your skin quickly while you are painting it, as you can rotate the car with your mouse. When done, click Back, then Accept.

7. Your skin, shared.

With automatic car skin sharing enabled (by both you and the host of the race), everyone else can download your skin from you when you join the server. You can also download theirs.

On the timing screen, you will see icons beside each driver if there is a skin available from them or not, and whether you have downloaded it.

Note: Downloading will only occur when you are not in the cockpit of the race car. If you are racing while someone new joins the server, they will be given a temporary livery until you next exit the cockpit and are viewing the timing screen.


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Founded in 1992, ISI are a well respected software developer specializing in the fields of computer game development, "man-in-the-loop" simulator architectures, computer image generation, and entertainment systems integration.