Forza Motorsport 2: McLaren F1 GT Vodafone custom paint job

Just in time for the anticipated public reveal of Forza Motorsport 3 at E3 2009, I’ve remembered a couple of Forza 2 liveries that I never posted before. Sadly, I can’t remember anything about their creation. This one is clearly inspired by the McLaren Formula One team and their Vodafone sponsorship.

Forza Motorsport 2: Ferrari F430 Italian Flag custom paint job

Just in time for the anticipated public reveal of Forza Motorsport 3 at E3 2009, I’ve remembered a couple of Forza 2 liveries that I never posted before. Sadly, I can’t remember anything about their creation but I can see that this one was pretty straightforward combining the Italian national colours with the Ferrari logo.

Story of the Week and People More Talented Than Me: Sara Watson’s Invisible Skoda

Sara Watson photographed in front of an 'invisible' Skoda

Look closely at the picture above. There’s a Skoda parked there and art student Sara Watson has meticulously painted it so that, from this angle, it matches the surroundings and appears transparent. Very cool.

The original story appeared on and

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: Ferrari 575M Maranello Italia and Not Italia custom livery


Not Italia

Another competition entry for FCTP and, as you can see, the original design was based on the Italian flag. The competition didn’t allow you to use flags so I altered the colours and submitted that as NotItalia.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: 365 GTB/4 Comp. Track custom livery

I’m not too convinced that I pulled this idea off. It’s supposed to be a race track with kerbing and grass. The racing numbers are styled as a grid marker (I was rather pleased with that idea).

While I felt the design looked a bit naff in the screenshots above, in replays it worked surprisingly well and that, coupled with the fact that the car was great fun to drive, made me feel a lot better about how the paint job turned out.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: Ferrari 360 Modena Ying Yang custom livery

The idea behind this paint job, as indicated by the title Ying Yang, was a two-tone design with a different colour on each side of the car and the demarcation pattern to be styled after the classic ying-yang icon. Unfortunately, you can’t tell from the finished job. This is a case of one of those ideas which simply didn’t work when applied. It is posted as a complete failure.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: F355 Berlinetta Thorny custom livery

Original Colour

Base Paint Variations

I’m really bad at abstract pattern creation but this is my attempt at one and, because it is made from the neutral colours of black and white, the base paint can be changed to almost any other colour and it still looks fine. While I was quite pleased with the design in these screenshots, I didn’t feel it looked as good during the race.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Ferrari 512 S and M / Midnight Club Los Angeles Mercedes Benz S600 “DUB” Saturn custom livery

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Ferrari 512 S

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Ferrari 512 M

Midnight Club Los Angeles

This design is inspired by the iconic Saturn V rockets which took men to the moon in the twentieth century.

It is a particularly simple design and quick to reproduce. I initially produced it on the 512 S in FCTP and then realised that I done it on the wrong car as I’d already won the 512 S trophy. I reproduced it on the 512 M in a couple of minutes.

When deciding to upload an entry to Rate My Ride in Midnight Club Los Angeles, the Saturn livery was the obvious choice. I applied to the Mercedes-Benz S600 “DUB” Unfortunately, in MCLA, paint jobs are not rendered too nicely with elements degenerating into a blur inside the length of a single car. For example, in the two garage shots, compare the black stripes at the back with the crisp black boxes at the front. At most angles, this effect was even worse. Shame, as MCLA is, basically, a really nice looking game.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: 348 TB F1 custom livery

This is another red, white and black paint job and the principle design is the silhouette of a Formula One car along the side (a 2007 Renault, specifically). The silhouette was created by placed red blanking pieces over the chequered flag pattern and there’s nothing else to say. The painting went really smoothly.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: F50 Stave custom livery

The inspiration of this was a super documentary on music conductor Herbert Von Karajan (called Karajan: or Beauty As I See It) and I wondered if I could spell something racing-related out with musical notes. C, D, E, F, G, A, and B are the letters available and I couldn’t readily think of one. Then I remembered the rest notation and realised that if I called that an R, I could make the word ‘racecar’ in musical notes. As a bonus, it is a palindrome and so should mirror to the other side with little work.

The stave was pretty straight forward to start with. I placed the notes and, after failing to create the fancy rest symbol (crotchet rest), I went for the easy route and used the breve and semibreve rests which are small blocks. This redefined the size of my stave because the minimum size of a square primitive in FCTP is rather chunky. So I made my stave and note heads bigger and ran into a significant problem. The minimum size of a square primitive in FCTP is rather chunky. Meaning that I couldn’t produce the stems for each of the notes.

I solved this by breaking the stave. I’d already considered the inability to produce a thin line by placing four long white primitives on a black background creating the impression that I had produced thin black lines. I now needed to pull a similar trick to produce the stems of each note. So, the first white space of the stave was broken above the two A notes; the first white space is made up of three white primitives. The second is broken in four above the A’s and below the E. The third is broken into four below the C’s and the E. The fourth is broken into three below the C’s.

Needless to say, this was a bit fiddly. When I mirrored the design I made it even more fiddly for myself by moving all the white spaces instead of just moving the note heads but by the time I realised how stupid I was, I had to finish what I started and it didn’t take too long anyway. While it doesn’t look terribly neat on the side-on screenshot above, looking at it in the angled views and replays gives a much better impression.

The F50 supplies the problem of disguising, ignoring or using a thick black line that goes from the front of the car to the back along the side. I disguised it by making the car essentially two-tone red and black.

My racing logo, dynamic number 4, chequered flag motif and blank stave were added to round out the livery. The blank stave also wraps around the front. The chequered flag wraps around the rear.

In motion, this strong colour scheme works brilliantly and this livery looks fantastic. Even without knowing that the notes spell ‘racecar’, this livery looks fabulous in replays and, for me, the knowledge of that little detail is very pleasing.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: Ferrari 348 Challenge Splat custom livery

Take One

Take Two

I started this one knowing what colours I wanted to use and that I wanted a bright livery that would be more abstract than I normally produce. After fiddling around for a bit I came across a vinyl that, if I turned it, looked a bit like a blob of paint had splatted against the side of the car. After that it was simply a case of placing the splats with appropriate elements for the racing logo and number.

Again, FCTP’s trump card in the livery editor is the ability to paint the windows and so I had some of the splats go right across the windscreen. Naturally, I was careful to ensure that I don’t obscure the view from the cockpit.

I also made sure that the splats weren’t symmetrical and are slightly different on each each side, on each mirror, across the front bumper and across the top / hood.

My first attempt used a large gold circle for the rear quarter and, though I was happy with it, it didn’t seem quite right. I changed it to a series of paint brush style vinyls which were carefully placed to hide the orange half of the pattern.

In replays, the car looks fantastic, especially from the front and, while driving in cockpit view, you’re always reminded that you’re driving a custom livery because of the splats running over the windscreen.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: Ferrari FXX Rainbow custom livery

A simple idea this one. Rainbow and clouds with sponsors and racing numbers in the clouds.

As is typical in in-game livery editors, getting a pattern to transition smoothly from the side to the roof is extremely tricky. It’s harder than most in FCTP as the aspect ratio of vinyls on the roof is not maintained and is nothing like the aspect ratio of vinyls on the side. For instance, a circle is circular on the side and a tall thin ellipse on the roof. A square is square on the side and a tall thin rectangle on the roof.

This accounts for why the rainbow pattern does not perfectly match when viewed from the side. As you can see from the slightly higher shots, the pattern is maintained but when viewed from the side the piece of the rainbow that was drawn on the roof area of the car is not wide enough. I did attempt to add pieces to make the rainbow appear correct from the side but I abandoned that idea for the sake of my sanity.

I did take the time to correct the SR Slimm Racing logo on each side.

While glaringly obvious from the side shots, the rainbow mismatch isn’t apparent in replays and the car looks light and bright though not quite as colourful as I had hoped.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: Ferrari 250 GTO Dragon custom livery

Take One

Take Two


The most immediately obvious shortcoming of FCTP’s livery editor compared to the mighty goodness of Forza Motorsport 2 is the lack of gradient vinyls which are an easy and powerful way to make extremely cool paint jobs. However, concentrating on shortcomings is an easy way to become despondent and so we come to a custom livery which I thought I wasn’t capable of in an editor which I thought would not be able to produce particularly artistic imagery. The value of a positive attitude and, critically, a non-perfectionist attitude has resulted in what is probably my best original design.

The impetus is a competition to get your custom livery into Eutechnyx’s next game SuperCar Challenge. The rules are be unique and be clean. The guidelines are be innovative, cool, sophisticated and stylish rather than gimmicky. And I’ve done a dragon. Oh well. Interestingly, as an example of something that was “too off-the-wall”, Eutechnyx cited a police car design. Of which I’ve done two (a UK and a US one).

Still, I’m proud of my efforts. I found some typical dragon images on Google images to get a handle on the head. I knew I was going to go for a Chinese-style dragon with a long snout and long neck with a wing motif across the rear quarter.

One of the pre-made designs looked a bit like teeth but as I started trying to put pieces together, nothing clicked for a long time. Suddenly, there it was: a recognisable dragon head that didn’t look too rubbish or childish or malformed and I gained hope that this might turn out to be an idea I could finish.

My first attempt included yellow highlights across the rear of the car and, after seeing the car in replays, I decided to remove the yellow from the dragon wings area and replace it with dark red. When I did this, I accidentally went to the wrong area and added a vinyl to the rear window. This is FCTP’s principle area of triumph over Forza Motorsport 2: the ability to paint on the windows. I realised I could finish the wings on the rear window and make it look like the wings wrap around the rear corners of the car. Again, quite a lot of fiddling and two or three failed ideas gave way to the finished article. Things don’t quite line up perfectly if you look closely but the effect is definitely there.

So, while I might not get this into SuperCar Challenge as Eutechnyx may consider it gimmicky (or it just may not be good enough, of course), I think it’s cool and I’m really proud of the finished result.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: Ferrari 575 GTC Jota Sport custom livery

Jota Sport are a Porsche Carrera racing team based in Kent, England. Their cars have a very clean design that can be clearly seen in desktop wallpapers from their site.


There were two problems going in. The first was relatively minor and that is that the 575 is a completely different shape to the Porsche 911 as it has a relatively short passenger cell and relatively long bonnet. The second was a bit more critical: Ferrari Challenge doesn’t have any orange paint making a grey and orange paint scheme somewhat, well, challenging.

Initially, I decided to change the orange on the design to the gaudiest red in the pallet and had half-completed the roof and side of the car when I realised that orange is available. On the Racing Stripes 2 page, there is a thick double line in orange. By scaling to its full thickness and placing several overlapping each other, it is possible to create blocks of orange. I scrapped the red paintwork and replaced it with orange. There were some fiddly moments painting under the rear wing and lining up the pattern crossing from the roof to the side because the camera controls are strictly limited when painting each area, especially Top/Hood (it doesn’t let you see under the rear wing). I wish that the camera was completely free and just reset to a new location when moving to a different area to paint.

The logo was created by putting the letters JOTA twice, slightly offset, and then using a white blanking piece on the A to make the leading edge thinner than the trailing. The leading elements of the J were extended with primitives. Because there is no orange paint in Ferrari Challenge, the SPORT is coloured bright red.

I also used blanking pieces to get a Ferrari logo (though italicised) on the rear wing. It does seem odd that in Ferrari Challenge, there is no Ferrari logo; not the word, nor the prancing horse. The Ferrari logo is taken from the Ferrari Challenge Dealer Team GB Senna S vinyl with the appropriate bits blanked. The same idea was used for the Ferrari logo on the rear of the car.

One area where Ferrari Challenge trumps Forza Motorsport 2 in the livery editor is in its ability to paint the windows. So I placed the System 3 logo in a banner across the windscreen and a dynamic number behind the rear view mirror.

I’m extremely happy with the outcome though, ironically, the action wallpapers on the Jota Sport site appear to be, in a trick of the light, red and grey.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: Ferrari F40 Eighties Senna Marlboro custom livery

The Ferrari F40 was touted, at the time, as a Formula One car for the road and was Ferrari’s most expensive and their and the world’s fastest production car. Given that and the strong Senna branding in Ferrari Challenge, I hit upon the simple idea of implementing the classic Marlboro livery from Ayrton Senna’s MP4/4 McLaren from the same era.

I used the non-cigarette advertising version of the livery which made things nice ‘n’ easy. Pirelli logos on the bonnet were created from the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli vinyl with the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo elements masked out. A Senna S on the side and an eighties Senna / Slimm windscreen name banner rounds off this simple but effective livery.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: F333 SP Gulf custom livery

There is no orange paint for cars or primitives in Ferrari Challenge. Therefore I changed the colour to red and hope to evoke the classic Gulf livery rather than accurately duplicate it.

As there are no small letters in Ferrari Challenge’s vinyl editor, the “u” of Gulf used a capital U shrunk down and required two to generate thickness.

Pirelli’s logos on the front wheel arches was created by placing the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli logo and masking out the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo bit. You can see the white background of the original logo inside the P and R of Pirelli but, especially in motion, you’d never notice it.

After that was complete and I was happy, I twigged that there was an orange racing stripe (on page 2) and set about replacing the red with orange. It was a bit fiddly but it resulted in a more accurate Gulf livery. This also had an effect on another paint job I was doing with a Jota Sport 575 GTC which I’ll post later.

As a bonus, the car was great fun to drive.

Original Red Version

Orange version

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: 550 Maranello Maranello Village custom livery

I based this design on a sign (pictured right) at Ferrari’s Maranello Village. I immediately liked the two-tone and replicated it using grey (Canna Da Fucile) primitives on a red (Rosso Corsa) base paint with strong white text. Once the simple background was complete and running around the whole car I simply pasted the available logos with white writing. The last touch was an arrow pointing forward made from rotated and squished V and I solid letter vinyls.

I borrowed the ostentatious placement of a chequered flag motif from the side of one of the buildings in the village and stuck it on the mirrors. They were created using the large chequered flag from design 1 and placing a white primitive behind it.

One thing I don’t understand is why there is more than one dynamic number, er, number. The number is dynamic. No matter which one you place on the car, it will change to reflect your starting position.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli: F430 Challenge Taxi custom livery

Attempting to come up with an appropriate paint job for my North American Challenge F430 and not wanting to replicate my black-and-white police car by hand (you can’t copy part or whole liveries from one car to another, even the exact same model), I ended up thinking of a yellow cab taxi.

Using our old friend Google turned up this rather brilliant if possibly impractical Lamborghini taxi and I noticed that even some normal yellow taxis had chequered flag stripes down the side.

Lamborghini Taxi (1) Lamborghini Taxi (2)

Fortunately, Ferrari Challenge provides a chequered flag strip and so I simply ran five end-to-end from the headlights to the rear grill. A taxi sign on the side and a monochrome chequered flag on the roof complete the job. The flag on the roof is, by default, heavily slanted but Ferrari Challenge’s skew option straightened that out for me.

Nissan Skyline: Import Tuner Challenge custom paint jobs

While certainly not on the same level as Forza Motorsport 2, the 2006 instalment of the Shutokou Battle series (also known as Tokyo Highway Battle, Tokyo Highway Challenge, Tokyo Xtreme Racer and, now, Import Tuner Challenge) also has extensive car customisation that includes vinyl and sticker placements. You can place three vinyls on the side of the car and several stickers. The vinyls don’t include primitives as Forza Motorsport did but are made up of many complex patterns and artworks.

I used two main cars through the Quest mode of Import Tuner Challenge: a Nissan Skyline Coupe CPV35 and a Nissan Skyline GT-R BNR34.

The paint job on the Nissan Skyline GT-R BNR34 rotates and shrinks one of the complex flashes supplied and uses it as fire coming out of the mouth of a dragon at the flying girl. Notice also how the wheels are different colours. I think it works.

Nissan Skyline GT-R BNR34

The paint job on the Nissan Skyline Coupe PCV35 takes the same girl but rotates her 180° making her appear to be reclining seductively on the rear wheel arch. After adding the tear vinyl at the front wheel arch, I needed something to visually lead the eye from front to back. I used a large katana vinyl to accomplish this without noticing that it looked like I’d skewered her on it. Sorry, girl.

Nissan Skyline Coupe CPV35

Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3) HD HDR 1920×1080 widescreen wallpapers

I just love the photo-taking options in console games. It was probably kicked off in style by Gran Turismo 4 which was brilliant because it generated a higher resolution image that the game ran at (the game ran at 640×480 on NTSC and slightly higher vertically on PAL but the photo renders were 1280×1024 or 1024×1280).

The nice thing about photo modes in console games is that they are much more than a simple screen capture. They allow you to position the camera and adjust various photographic properties. Xbox 360 launch title PGR Project Gotham Racing 3 has a nice photo mode and was probably the best-looking of the first wave of titles. It also renders photos at a slightly higher resolution than the game runs and produces 1280×720 pictures which can be uploaded and accessed over the Internet.

I used it to produce this 1920×1080 HD wallpaper of a Jaguar XJ220:

Jaguar XJ220 1920×1080

Very nice, but then it then struck me that, because one of the photographic options is exposure, it would be possible to generate photographs that could be combined to make a HDR photo. An HDR photo is made by digitally combining several different exposures of the same shot.

These are the differently exposed originals of a McLaren F1 jumping next to The Triangle Building in Tokyo:


These were combined to produce the follow 1280×720 HDR photo which was then enlarged and tweaked to produce a 1920×1080 HD HDR widescreen wallpaper.

McLaren F1 1280×720

McLaren F1 1920×1080

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Ferrari F1

One of the unexpected joys of reaching the end-game of Gran Turismo 3 was the reward of being given a Formula One in all but name. They were called Polyphony001 and Polyphony002 and were Williams F1 cars with different paint jobs. Though I haven’t got there yet myself, there were also F1 cars in Gran Turismo 4.

ThreeSpeech and the official PlayStation.Blog today gave us photographic evidence of a fully licensed Scuderia Ferrari F2007 F1 car in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue PAL and I am rendered near speechless. Drool over the screenshots below (you can click to zoom the Shareapic hosted image for the full resolution version) and make sure you mop up afterwards.

UPDATE 8 April 2008: You need to complete Class S (at least bronze in every event) before you can purchase this car. Oh, and, on the European version, it costs 2,000,000 credits and the largest prize money is 35,000 credits. Start saving…

On track renders: is it just me or are these genuinely photo-realistic?


Screenshots (notable jaggies in second one, hmm)

Pictures hosted at Shareapic.

Toyota VeilSide Supra: Studio Ghibli Forza Motorsport 2 custom paint job

Now I actually finished Forza Motorsport 2 some time ago (970 gamerscore, yay!) but hadn’t got around to posting this paint job which is the one I’m most proud of.

This is a reproduction of the Studio Ghibli title card, a DVD capture of which you can see below. Studio Ghibli is the home of Hayao Miyazaki, an entirely remarkable filmmaker who thoroughly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Hitchcock, Disney and Spielberg.

Studio Ghibli title card

I started by reproducing the text part. This was fairly straight-forward though quite time consuming as, obviously, the Japanese Kanji script had to be recreated from primitives. Once that was complete it was saved as a new vinyl group.

Next was time to attempt the line drawing of the Totoro (taken from Miyazaki’s entirely wonderful My Neighbour Totoro). There are two tricks to producing complex line-art vinyls in Forza Motorsport 2.

The first is to complete the artwork on the roof (a large flat roof like the Mini) then save it as a vinyl group and place it on the car you require. The second is parentheses. The lines that make up this drawing are, in fact, scores of parentheses of different sizes. And yes, it takes patience and determination.

I even discovered a new detail in the Ghibli title card. One of the ears is a baby Totoro. I’d never noticed that before.

To say I was delighted with how this paint job turned out is an understatement. It is far better than I considered myself capable of as it looks recognisably like the image I was going for. It’s not quite perfect but, if you wait for perfection, you’ll never finish anything.

So, my tribute to Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli is complete and with that my Forza Motorsport 2 adventures are complete. Roll on Forza Motorsport 3.

Saab 9-3: Lazy Saab and Sweden Saab Forza Motorsport 2 custom paint job

I bought the Saab for a specific championship and not wanting to drive around in a plain old car, I decided to quickly slap the manufacturer’s decal all over it. I came up with the following design:

However, I enjoyed driving the car so much that I decided to spend some time on a more thoughtful and complex design.

The colour scheme is, perhaps obviously (but I’ll say it anyway), inspired by the Swedish national flag.

The one thing I did want was large Saab text across the rear quarter of the car. To accomplish this I had to reproduce the Saab text by hand. I applied the Saab manufacturer decal to the roof of the car and made it as large as I could while still being able to see all the Saab text. I then placed black letters and vinyl shapes until I had covered all the Saab text. This gave me a completely accurate Saab text which could be coloured and placed independently of the Saab shield. I placed the big Saab down in a shadow colour, then again in white and offset it slightly.

The sponsor logos were from the upgrade parts I had applied to the car at this point.

Lotus Exige: 1960’s Lotus Formula One Forza Motorsport 2 custom paint job

This was modelled after the paint scheme of early Lotus F1 cars.

A 1962 Lotus F1 car

A nice little detail I am pleased with is the addition of an antique Ford logo on the front of the car as Lotus were powered by engines built by Cosworth and paid for by Ford.

Unfortunately, I really didn’t like the car to drive but happily watched it being taken around by my main hired driver Andy Garcia. Good boy!

2006 Dodge Charger SRT8: Dukes of Hazzard Forza Motorsport 2 custom paint job

I quite like the stupid, chunky, Desperate Dan-styling of this car and happily applied my General Lee stylings from the 1969 Dodge Charger made famous by The Dukes of Hazzard television series.

As soon as I got it out on the track, though, in a B-class championship it was instantly clear (by my driving straight into the end walls at both ends of New York Circuit despite generously-judged braking distances) that this handled like one of those boxes you get on top of elephants. Remarkably, the kerb weight of the Charger SRT is about the same as the average Indian elephant!

I’d even gone to the effort of making a note of the manufacturers of the upgrade parts I installed and used only those manufacturers decals.

I quickly got Andy Garcia to do my driving for me and polish off the Stars and Stripes B-Class championship I had bought the car for. I thought I hadn’t seen him on the silver screen for a while. Go Andy!

Jaguar E-type: Austin Powers’ Shaguar Forza Motorsport 2 custom paint job

Started as a bit of a lazy paint job this one as I had constructed a decent Union Flag for the Top Gear Britcar and it just needed stamping on an E-type to make an Austin Power’s Shaguar. While that was virtually all I had to do, there was, naturally, a little more work involved.

The E-type model in Forza is one of those models seriously distorts images over parts of its surfaces. This caused the images to not line up on the sides, front or rear with the top of the car. The front and rear were manually replaced with entirely new vinyls while the ones on the side required resizing and moving to get them to line up better.

I also added a Shaguar number plate to the rear.

TVR Speed 12: Top Gear Forza Motorsport 2 custom paint job

After the nightmare of trying to manhandle the TVR Tuscan S around, well, anything I wasn’t looking forward to driving around in my favourite car from Gran Turismo 2: TVR’s mental concept car, the Speed 12. Imagine my delight, then, as I found the car to be much more predictable than the Tuscan S and super-fast.

To reward it, I plastered my Top Gear logo all over it which I had designed but never really used properly. Since the car had a lovely metallic maroon colour that I wanted to keep, I had to pick a best match for the inside of the gear in the logo but it looks fine, especially in motion. To round things off I added a custom BBC logo (not quite right, I know), a Union flag and my custom manufacturer logos for Peniston Oils and Larsens Biscuits.