Skins Creation - Best Practice

Table of Contents

Part 1 - Skin Creation

Materials You Need To Receive From The Car Modelers

  • The devmode version of the car, to be loaded in the viewer (if without physics) or devmode (if with physics)
  • An export of the body in .3DS format/Max Coordinates, so that you can import the 3D model in Photoshop CC
  • A TIFF/TGA storing the UVW unwrap wireframe in native 4096x4096 px resolution.
  • A TIFF/TGA storing the Ambient Occlusion Baking to be mixed in the skin, in native 4096x4096 px resolution.

Software Requirements;

  • Photoshop CC
  • Illustrator CC (or any other vector graphic design software)
  • rFactor 2 DevMode to preview the output

Source File Requirements;

  • .PSD file @ 4096x4096 px / 72dpi
  • Any data you collected for the task (logos, stickers, fonts etc) stored into properly organized folders
  • Any font you collected for the task, if commercial, please, contact the Studio for approval

Destination File Requirements;

  • DXT5/BC3 - Interpolated alpha (.dds) – with at least 10 Mips levels

Collect the data for the task;

Usually a great skin starts from a good image/data gathering

  • Collect all the logos and decals image in a project folder for any future reference and usage
  • Prefer high resolution logos with transparency.
  • Prefer trustful sources, like original owner web sites
  • Be sure the logo you’re collecting it’s exactly the one used in the livery
  • Be sure all the RGBs colors are matching the original logo
  • Be sure your Logo sources are in RGB format. If not, proceed with a conversion
  • If you can’t find the Logo, you can build it from scratch, using vectors and fonts, in Illustrator

Maintain a stable pixel/meter ratio;

Another secret for a good skin is to maintain a stable pixel resolution between various elements

  • Prefer Smart Objects to Rasterized Layers for a nondestructive workflow
  • Never scale up a raster layer in the skin. Always starts from an higher (or same) resolution element.
  • When scaling down a raster layer, always use the Bicubic Sharper Resampling Algo
  • Always prefer to draw the main paint scheme in Illustrator (or any other Vector Graphics Software)
  • If you draw the paint scheme with vectors, keep a source file for that job, for any future usage

Work with Layers and Groups;

Always good to produce well organized PSD files. This helps any future usage and does improve any debug/update process.

  • You’ll be likely using lots of Layers so take advantage of Layer Groups, which act as folders for layers you choose.
  • Use a Group for any major aspect of your skin, like “Logo Decals”/”Common Stickers”/”Carbon Bits”/”AO Map” etc…

Always prefer Layer Masks to the Eraser Tool;

Always good to work nondestructive as much as possible. This helps any future modification and does improve debug/update process.

  • Instead of deleting parts of your elements to match the original skin, use layer masks
  • If you have a chunk of elements that needs to be masked all together, always prefer a Layer Group Mask

How to manage the Ambient Occlusion layer;

Current shader model does still require for an AO map (our car art team will be providing that map), baked into the diffuse map

  • Use the AO map in the Diffuse map only (remove from the reflection/specular maps)
  • Be sure the blending is a Multiply, happening on top of the stack (to be applied to the entire skin)
  • Depending on the AO strenght, keep a subtle presence of that AO map. We don’t want overdone presence of that map so typically a range between 20 and 40% it’s enough.

Always use extra padding around your islands for MIP maps;

Good and stable Mip Maps are requiring padding

  • Be sure that you have (at least) 5/10px of extra padding around color islands to avoid pixel glitches on lower Mip Maps

Check your Skin elements are all Albedo compliant;

The graphic engine and tonemapper, does require colors to be Albedo compliant to stay in the correct and available range

  • Normalize all your elements to be Albedo compliant
  • You can use the Photoshop Histogram to check that the Median value of your elements and colors it’s not exceeding the range
  • The RGB allowed range starts from 20,20,20 for pure Blacks to 200,200,200 for pure Whites. Exceeding the range will produce clipped colors and flat looking models
  • You can either pre-Normalize all your elements, prior placing those in the skin layers, or normalize when placed
  • Once you are sure all your layers/elements are Albedo compliant, you can add an overall Level Adjustment Layers, on top of the entire stack, so that you can fine tune the overall output
  • Instead of raster layers for base colors you could use a Layer Style – Color Overlay applied to those parts. This would allow you to choose and change the base color Realtime without any destructive process involved. Very useful for Albedo balancing in a nested stack of layers
  • For more generic information about albedo; GUIDELINES FOR ARTISTS - DX11 and PostFX Art Integration (ongoing wip)