Simplivery - skinning cars is not rocket science (anymore)

Björn

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911
Hey folks,

Let's be honest, creating liveries for R07 (and many other racing games, I'd say) isn't exactly the most straight-forward thing, and I think that's what keeps many people away from it or drives (no pun intended) them towards 3rd party skins. So I was thinking, there should be something in between handling those layers, alpha values, dds compressions and ini files on one side and using pre-made skins on the other.

Enter Simplivery.
9q7IN8l.png

With this tool, you can now create basic liveries in only a few clicks - enter your info, select some colors and add some other graphical elements from those available and color them. Hit export, wait a moment and start your engine :)

While this is technically 1.0 and the successor to CooperColours, it's not feature-complete - windows cannot be designed yet (though I'm unsure whether this will be implemented, honestly) and there are "only" three cars, though more will follow, along with an editor to create your own templates.

So, without further ado, here's the download link. Play around with it, use the presets, unleash your creative self and have fun! Also, shoot me some feedback if you want to ;)

DOWNLOAD
(the file's safe, check this virustotal report or do one on your own :))​

How to use (click to expand)

Let's go through the basic usage, shall we? :) Download the ZIP file, unpack it, and start the Simplivery.exe - you should now see an interface similar to this:
8AQi7mS.png

Confusing, eh? Don't let it scare you off, I'll guide you a bit:

Up at the top, it starts fairly obvious - select a car, select a preset (a predefined set of layers) for the car. Ignore the next three buttons for now as both importing a car and the editor aren't implemented yet, and deleting a template isn't that tempting, as well ;)
To the very right, you may open up the settings, allowing you to enable info/text/color saving, auto-update and zip creation (this will create a zip file to share with others), as well as giving you the opportunity to specify a different default export folder.

The main area's pretty easy, as well - this is the place to enter your info, set up some text options and predefine three colors to use in presets.

On the bottom left, we got buttons to reset the current template to its default preset, to save your current configuration for later use (or for sharing) and to load said configuration saves.
To the very right, you should see the most important button - "Export livery"

In the middle, there's another button, "Preview" - what's this?
vCyYRUy.png

This will generate a basic preview of what your basic settings are going to produce graphically, using all colors, fonts and your name.
A short note: Some fonts might not work for the driver number as there are countless typefaces out there - some narrow, some wide, some with margins to top or bottom and so on - just fool around a bit, and if everything else fails, some of the vanilla fonts like Arial, Impact, Tahoma or even Calibri should work fairly nice :)

Enough with the basic blah-blah, on to the "Chassis"-tab! Also, let's change the car to the IFM, because that's way more exciting - and we're gonna select the preset "Airbox'n'Sides" (what a silly name)
xidgghA.png

This time, we'll do it left-to-right, okay? On the far left, we got the list of layers currently applied to the car. Loading up the preset has added a fair bit and magically, those have already been colored in the colors we've defined before - that's what presets do :)
As you can see, there are 6 categories you're able to add - Shading, Parts and Number Plate are pretty self-explanatory while detail layers add certain highlights to the car, like a highlighted or darkened area. Clicking those four buttons won't do anything for you right now, though, as there aren't any details configured in this template and the other three categories only feature one layer which has already been added :)
Both decals and colorable decals are much more interesting - decals add pre-designed static layers to the car, while the latter adds elements that can be colored.

So, let's add the colorable decal "colored front wing", shall we?
QTvXamW.png

Apart from the actual layer choice, you'll see the name and a description roughly telling you what's going to happen as the 2D images of textures aren't always that obvious.
You can also choose to use "your" base, accent or third color - or simply specify a custom color. Keep in mind: using a custom color can be both desirable (using black or white for separator layers, so it stays consistent when you change colors in the basic options) or undesirable (changed third color to pink? now your separator might be pink, as well!), so choose wisely. Or change it accordingly later on ;)
Hit add, and we'll also add in the "RD Logos" decal (noncolorable) for good measure.

Let's update the preview:
EaoTP5m.png

What a beauty!

But what's the stuff to the right, you ask? Over here, you can add text onto your car, like the team's name or (mild) insults to those being left behind by you ;)
Furthermore, you have the option to add images (Sponsors!) - both elements are placed by defining an area where they should appear - simply drag and drop a box or use the weird number controls at the bottom. Since we're going to place an image to the IFM's nose, we'll also need a 270° rotation which is defined here, as well:
StTjWbc.png

For text areas, you can now specify your text, its color and its font on the second tab. If working with images, you can simply open up a file (transparent PNGs is the best choice for this!) or you could curiously click that "Online" button:
YNyxPaQ.png

This is incredibly... experimental. Seriously, it's more of a proof-of-concept because it's pretty slow since Simplivery has to download the images first - but if you don't have sponsor images at hand and/or don't want to hunt them down yourself, this might be worth a shot.
Also, this searches for PNG images only, so the "risk" of non-transparent images is reduced a fair bit :)
Select an image, hit "Add" (this one will be kept and thus be accessible via "Open" the next time you want to add an image!), confirm the element configuration and update the preview:
GaxBzhB.png

Here we are, time to hit "Export Livery", isn't it? Specify a folder, wait a few seconds and fire up Race07 once it confirms:
d9dOiOE.jpg


Any questions left? Don't be afraid to ask!

Questions (click to expand)

It doesn't start! Why?
In order to run, Simplivery is gonna need Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5, available via Windows Update or here. In a default Windows 7/8 install, it should already be present via automatic updates, though :)
Another requirement is Microsoft's "Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2012" as its required by Magick.Net, the imaging library I'm using. If you have installed some games and software, chances are you already have this installed on your computer as quite a few products require it, as well.
If that's not the case, you can download it from Microsoft, choosing the x86 version when prompted.

Will this run on Windows XP?
Errr.. well, kind of? Microsoft's .NET Framework 4.5 is not available for XP, but I've compiled Simplivery for .NET 4.0 (which is available for XP SP3), available over here.
The downsides: Automatic zipping won't work right now and future features like importing cars will never work because the zipping component in .NET 4.0 and below is atrocious ;)
Also, consider upgrading your OS at some point, as running XP is not that great of an idea anymore :)

Can I make further modifications to the created skin?
Well, yes and no - of course, you can load up the generated DDS file in Paint.Net and the like, but bear in mind, the livery's already "baked", with all shading, parts, etc. in place. Adding a sponsor on top of everything might look out of place.
Exporting a layered, easily editable file is not possible (for now, at least)

Can I use custom colors in the color chooser?
Definitely! Just hit "Define custom colors" or whatever the button's labeled in your local Windows system.

The quality's not the best post-export. Is there a way to improve it?
You might wanna try to select the other graphics engine available. It will then be used to compose the final image and might deliver slightly different results.
However, please keep in mind that DDS is a compressed image format, so a slight decrease in quality is to be expected (plus ImageMagick, which does the final DDS export, is just not quite up to par with Paint.Net and the like - but it's pretty damn close :))

I found a bug, what to do?
Whoopsies. I've self-taught myself programming, can I use that as an excuse? ;) Anyways, please tell me - just shoot me a PM or post in here.

I got a great feature idea, what to do?
Even better, tell me!

What language did you use? What's ImageMagick? Can I see the source code? [other development-related questions]
The tool was created using Visual Studio/Microsoft's .NET - VB.NET to be specific.
ImageMagick is an open-source imaging toolkit available under the Apache 2.0 license, available here. I've used Magick.NET, a wrapper around said library, available here.

You said you'll opensource this once done!
Yes, yes I did :)

Other questions? Just send post 'em or send me a PM :)
 
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Thank you so much for this! Just found it today, but I am rather short on time as I have things planned, but I will definitely use this! Freaking awesome, I love this :thumbsup:
 

james

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Can you use it for gtr 2? What kind of paint program do I need? Thanks.
 

Björn

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Thanks for the feedback so far guys! :)

Can you use it for gtr 2? What kind of paint program do I need? Thanks.

Phew.. frankly, I've never really played GTR2, given that I've only been into Simracing for about 2 years (hence the development of a tool for a 7-year old game :D) - judging by a few skin downloads, I'd say the livery structure is quite different in GTR2, though, so I'm afraid this won't work. Not without major adjustments to the export process, at the very least. However, these could possibly be made by someone knowing about the livery format once the sourcecode is released ;)
You don't need any paint program, that's pretty much the point of it ;) If you want to open up the generated DDS files, I'd suggest using Paint.Net, available at http://www.getpaint.net for free.
 
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Ok, cool program, but when I click export, I get a message basically saying it cannot load the Magick.NET-x86.dll file. I checked my folder, and it's there, any tips?
 

Björn

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Yikes, seems like a requirement went over my head - could you check whether Microsoft's "Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2012" is present in your installed programs list in Windows' control panel? It often gets installed alongside different software and games and is then already present, hence I didn't notice, whoops :)
If it's not present, you can download it over at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30679 (after hitting "Download", you will be prompted with a choice of up to 3 versions, get the x86 one, CC is compiled 32bit-targeted :))

If this shouldn't solve the problem, could you post your Windows version (Vista/7/8, 32/64-bit would be enough info for now) - I can then get an identical virtual machine up and try to reproduce the problem.

Will add this info to the first post, thanks!


Also, I'll hopefully find some time to get back to planning a more feature-rich version of this tomorrow :)
 

whaletail

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This looks exciting, though I think you'll find even more interest from Assetto Corsa, PCars and rFactor 2 drivers, assuming the app can easily be adapted to those sims.

Although I'm teaching myself Illustrator an Photoshop in order to replicate my favorite liveries, an app that could take my .psd file and prepare it for the intended game would be very useful. While your app also handles the design elements, it seems as though it can also convert the design to a R07 specific dds and place it in the appropriate R07 folder. Adding this functionality for various games would make it a game independent skin manager, vastly increasing its potential user base.

Perhaps it is more involved than it would seem to add exporting for other sims, but if not, perhaps down the line you might consider expanding the export functionality.

In any case, I'll definitely experiment with it. I really appreciate your thorough instructions, and expect you have the competence to really develop a useful sim racing app!

Henk
 

Björn

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Thanks for the feedback :)

Targetting other sims as well came to my mind, too - however, I have little (read: no ;)) experience in skinning for other titles than R07, hence the idea to open source this once it's done. Though I might just look into a few other titles at some point.
The general process of combining the image layers should be pretty similar across most sims, not sure about other sims' file formats, though.

Actually, I got pretty much everything I want to include in the next version laid out but admittedly, I've kinda put a hold on this until the lobby is back up, because.. well, just in case I would be wrong about it coming back for sure ;) Considering Sonat's update mere minutes ago, however, I might pick work up again this week :)
 

Ernie

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What a great idea, Björn.:thumbsup: Hats off!

I would like to try it out with another car. How can i add one? I was just copying the "Mini"-folder as a test, and changed the info.xml, but i can't select a different car.

And may i add a suggestion? Some kind of load/save functionality for selfmade liveries would be nice.:)

And a second suggestion: How about adding functionality to import decals. As an example ..... if i have created a new decal like this:
decal_racingstripes_tjdi6l.png

...it would be nice to have an import-button to automatically add this new decal as a new element to the "info.xml" (without having to edit it manually). With this feature new decals (created by someone else) could easily shared and imported. :cool:
 
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Björn

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What a great idea, Björn.:thumbsup: Hats off!

I would like to try it out with another car. How can i add one? I was just copying the "Mini"-folder as a test, and changed the info.xml, but i can't select a different car.

And may i add a suggestion? Some kind of load/save functionality for selfmade liveries would be nice.:)

And a second suggestion: How about adding functionality to import decals. As an example ..... if i have created a new decal like this:
[...]
...it would be nice to have an import-button to automatically add this new decal as a new element to the "info.xml" (without having to edit it manually). With this feature new decals (created by someone else) could easily shared and imported. :cool:

feature ideas noted ;)

As for skinning a different car right now - as you've already guessed, you would have to edit the XML to list the files you want to use. Still, it has to stay in the Mini folder - that's the only one being used right now, the combobox in the tool is pretty much just a glimpse at what's coming ;)

WoW great stuff. Gonna try this out right now, right here!
[...]

How.. how did you do this? :confused: (Talking about overlaying/filtering the explosion details with the curved decal ;))
 

Björn

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Still alive!

eh.. in case you were wondering ;)

I really hope to speed the development up a bit in the next few days - until then, here's an outlook on what's to come:

Basic settings, preview to test color/font combos before taking care of the "real deal":
cqk0emh.png


Settings for the livery's chassis:
IWvjYUK.png
 

Björn

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Well, well.. work, a cold, christmas and plain old laziness slowed down my progress a fair bit, but I got quite a lot done yesterday. Considering I'd like to release a first version with more than "just" the Mini... any wishes? The Accord? Cruze? Alfa? IFM? :)
 

Reik Major

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Wow, great one Björn! :thumbsup:

Gonna try it soon, because I might take place in the Mini Race on 23rd Jan.

Does it work on my Win-XP system?
 
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