Getting started to … package a rFactor2-Mod

Next in our series of tutorials for Modding is the topic of packaging for rFactor2. The Packaging is a new feature of rFactor enabling modders to deliver Mods as complete closed packages, that enforce untempered multiplayer racing. The packaging topic is still very much debated in Modding circles and we figured the available tutorials are not a good point to start. So Stefan Triefellner sat down to summarize his experience.
This tutorial is a how-to mainly aimed for car mods! It does not cover the topics of updating an existing mod. We will write another tutorial on this topic later.

This tutorial was written for rFactor2 build 60-90, newer builds may behave different and have different processes. Continue reading Getting started to … package a rFactor2-Mod

Mirror, Mirror

Why there haven't been ingame shots of the IFM model

During the development of the IFM mod for rFactor2 we stumbled upon a problem that looked like some messed up normals on a few places of the car. So we looked again at the car and its normals. Re-smoothened them over and over again and still got this nasty normals on the car. We were clueless what could cause the problem. Then we noticed that those normal issues only appeared on one half of the car and together with the fact, that we didn't have this issue with the unmapped model we came to the conclusion, that something on our mapping has to cause these normals issues.

CTDP maps its cars differently to most or all(?) other modders out there. For the 2006 mod there were three textures: one for the top of the car, one for the right and one for the left side of the car. Right and left had exactly the same mapping which has the following reason: While painting the design of a car you don't have to adjust it for the opposing side of the car. You just copy it over and mirror the sponsor logos and save memory as both drivers share the same textures. Ingame everyhting looks like it should and it saved our painters a lot of time.

We did the same style we used for 2006 with 1994. Just for IFM we experimented with a slightly different approach. We now have 2 instead of 3 textures for the car. Left and right aren't seperated textures anymore. They're both distributed over these 2 textures. But still one side is mirrored for easier painting so that our painters just have to move their design up/down and mirror the sponsor logos.

Continue reading Mirror, Mirror

Getting started to … Q&A

In the comments of the past 2 tutorial articles we collected some questions. Admittedly it took a bit longer to prepare the answers, but I hope they satisfy. It’s not easy to give a straight clear answer without knowing how much basics we can assume. So we try to give pointers and if you we talk about stuff you don’t get. Ask again. Please note, we will never give a click-by-click explanation. 😉

How to map engine parts (like tubes and other parts…)??

Use the UVW Mapping tools in 3ds max. For tubes I would recommend the pelt mapping method using seams. Also you can create those tubes or wires using splines and let 3ds max create the shape and mapping.

To generate LOD B and LOD C i must start from zero, decrease manually from LOD A or have some script/tool to easily do that?

There are several ways of poly-reduction. You can use poly-reduction modifier (called multires) in 3ds max, you can use the poly reduce modifier in XSI or the reduce option in maya. All of them have their benefits and flaws. The best and most efficient way is still to do it by hand. Then you can decide where to reduce the polys and where you want to spent more polygons. Usually I would suggest to combine both variants. Doing it by hand for LOD B maybe and use some of the automatic methods to generate LOD C.

I’m an expert on Solidworks (I’m curious about did you hear anything about this software. It’s an engineering CAD program) and I model the cars on solidworks. Is it possible to use this models in a game? (like rFactor or any other)

Theoretically it is possible. But you’re using a CAD engineering tool and therefore you create your objects in NURBS. To get a polygon model, you have to tesselate and convert the nurbs into polygons.You can do that with stand alone Tools as Rhinoceros, VRED, Autodesk Showcase, or with special plugins for 3ds max & maya (like N-Power Translator), or you use RTT DeltaGen (that’s the best but the most expensive solution).

No matter which application you use to tesselate the NURBS, you will always struggle with the polycount. So you either reuse the CAD as base for a polygon model and do further reducing by hand, or you remodel it using the CAD as base. You can put a CAD part straight into rFactor, but you have to live with some limitations like low fps and/or tesselation quality issues.

Concerning finding the right logos – you say to never upscale a logo to make it larger. If you have a logo that is too small and need it larger, will you go about re-drawing the logo itself in vectors, or do you use another method?

We use all 3 methods. First we have a look in our private shared logo collections. Many companies have been sponsoring for years and chances are high somebody within the team already found the necessary logo. Obviously this does not help you. First stop are sites like or Vector-Logotypes. Both are public resources for vector logos. BOTW has seen its best days several years ago and before they took down most commercial logos. Try to look for press or media kits of a company. They often include vectorized logos.

If you can’t find it as vector, there are a few very nice places to visit and nicely ask. I can promote the GrandPrixGames forums, where they always have a public thread to share requested logos. Great guys! This is a good start for modern and topical logos.

Google Image Search can be a help, too.

Another nice trick is to look for company press statements with the official PDF-styles. PDF are usually vectors, so you can zoom in to a logo and grab a screenshot to work from. Same applies for fonts, if you can’t find the font online, or can’t get the commercial version. If you need it badly you can actually decompile the PDF and extract some raw data like fonts, look for Fontforge.

If nothing helps, you have to reconstruct it. When you can’t avoid this, do it right and do it as vectors. Some like to do it in Adobe Illustrator, I think Inkscape (Open Source) suffices. It’s easy for simple monochrome logos and gets tougher the more colors and effects you have.

Most Vector software has a way to vectorize logos. If you have highres-graphics you can vectorize them. However, for small logos or Logos based off images, this isn’t very practical.

Lastly, don’t be a prick, share logos so everyone can benefit.

We accept more questions and we will post more how-to-get-started-into-modding tutorials in the upcoming weeks. Post your questions in the comments.

Getting started to … Texture

Number two in our series of Tutorials to get you started into Modding. Today our topic is textures.

How do I start?

Compared to modeling, creating textures is rather simple and all good modding teams provide templates to get you started painting car designs. This is a rather autodidact approach, but a valuable nonetheless.

Turns out there are very few dedicated tutorials for car painting. They all require some basic understanding of Photoshop.

What’s next?

Get cracking and get experienced.
Be flexible in your approach to painting.
Before I repeat more platitudes, let’s get to some special skills that have a lot of potential and aren’t used very widely so far.

Using vectors

Textures are pixel-based with discrete width and heights, however Photoshop offers neat vector functionality. Instead of drawing lines, you can set up vector paths, that describe the areas and lines of the car design. Those lines are as smooth as can be and it’s very easy to change lines. With painted pixels scaling and distortion becomes very tedious and you lose a lot of quality. Instead, you can change the path and the affected area updates automatically.

One of the difficulties of painting are the edges between mapping surfaces. These seems can become tedious, especially if you have a logo that goes right across such a seam. This seperates the skilled painter from the lazy one. The latter tries to work around those bits and rather puts the logo someplace else instead of positioning it correctly. The same can be applied on design lines. Using vectors helps tremendously as you can work more exact – and again, change lines without quality loss.

Working with Vectors can be a bit messy in Photoshop and it takes some time to get used to it, admittedly. However, the benefits outweigh this by far.


Imagine the situation the 2D artists had with the 2006 mod. Each car had 3 textures, each had roughly 50 layers with all designs and logos for 10 track variants on average. The effort of saving each texture variant, each shader maps was quite large and it quickly becomes a boring, repetitious and error-prone process. For the 1994 mod, we will do it differently using a method we should have looked into a long time ago.

Photoshop supports scripting. You can use Javascript to write linear workflows to create a build script for your texture.
This script switches defined layers on and off and specified states to files. The script is rather simple, the execution is still slow, but it far beets the manual work.
In case of our Ligier, the result are 16 texture files in TGA format. Saving right to DDS does not work, as the nvidia plugins can not be used in the script. To convert all TGA files to DDS you can use Dropps, part of my DDS-Utils. This will convert all files in one batch based on the predefined settings.

Scripting has been one major improvement of our workflow at CTDP.


At last, some no-gos we suggest you never do.

A difficult part about skinning a car is finding the right logos. And even more difficult: finding them in a suitable size and format. We have this problem very often working on F1 1994, especially with the smaller teams like Larrousse or Pacific. They had many sponsors, for which it is impossible to find proper logos on the internet. However, you should never ever resize a small logo to make it bigger. It will hurt the quality and leave you to ridicule.

Something else to be concerned about are the alpha channels. Alpha layers determine the amount of reflection on a certain part of the texture. Generally, the alpha layer has the same mapping as the texture. Alpha channels are greyscale only and do not support colors. The general rule is: the darker an area on the alpha layer is, the less light does it reflect. So, black will cause no reflection at all; white will mean the biggest possible reflection and is in most cases completely useless. The more reflection you have, the less you will see ingame of your actual car livery. See also this tutorial teaching what’s up with alpha channels in rFactor.

We take questions! If you are stuck with a problem or have questions related to modeling or textures ask them and we will adress them in a future post here on the blog.


Getting started to … Model

Every now and then we get a request of people to join CTDP with the aim to learn X. Be it modeling, textures or any other skills related to Modding. Today we’d like to give a few hints where to get started with the endeavor to learn 3D-modeling.

How do I start?

It’s a rather long way before you can start to model a complex shape like a F1 car. So the first steps would be to learn how to set up blueprints for a car. There are a lot of tutorials available that deal with these topics. They guide you through the whole process from setting up the blueprints over the modeling and basic techniques used till you have finished your first car. These tutorials focus on cars with pretty simple shapes as it doesn’t make sense to learn modeling by recreating a pre-2009 Formula One car with its complex shape and all that winglets.

These are some Tutorials we can recommend to start off.

What’s next?

After you finished your first model try another car. Try some harder shapes but still use accurate blueprints which are a good aid in the beginning. Focus on getting a smooth shape and try to find your own modeling style. Don’t copy other people that created these tutorials. That won’t help you if you try to model a Formula One car or some other car where you don’t have any blueprints and of course tutorials.

Speaking of modeling Formula One cars (or other racing cars). The most important step before starting a racing car without a blueprint is research. As you don’t have any blueprints – and if you have you can’t be sure how accurate they are – you have to get the proportions right. So take a look at the technical regulations. The tell you a let about the cars measurement. They can tell you the size of a cockpit opening or the position and size of the rear wing. Also try to find good sideview pictures of your car to use that as a ‘blueprint’.

By looking at these tutorials you’ll find that some start with a simple polygon (quad) and others start with a box. Don’t hang on that too much. That’s more a personal preference which suits your style. In the end you’ll be working with polygons. And always aim to use quads. If you have to use triangles but never let a face have more than four vertices.

There are also some techniques that use spline-modeling or maybe patch-modeling. But in our opinion that are more advanced modeling techniques and not suited for beginners. If you’re pretty secure with the polymodeling and you found your own style you can start to experiment with these techniques. I find them very useful – especially the patches – if you want to recreate complex forms without spending much time. Through the splines you have a rather easy but still a very accurate way to control the form of your patch.

Which 3D modeling tool?

There are many 3d modeling tools out there. Maybe some of you know “the big 3”, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3d Studio Max & Autodesk XSI (former Softimage XSI). But there are a lot of cheaper (Maxon Cinema 4D & Luxology Modo) and some open source (for example Blender) softwares available.

Which one is the right one for your first modeling attempt?
Well let me tell you one thing: it’s just a matter of taste. If you know how to model in one application you can adapt all your skills pretty fast to another one. Sure you have special features in some of these tools but the basics are all the same.
Most modders start with 3D Studio Max because it’s quite popular within the game industry. Maya is also a good choice to start. Nevertheless is the learning curve with the node based User Interface and the Hotbox pretty tough. Softimage XSI looks weird if you start it the first time but it’s very handy for organic and “freestyle” modeling. Cinema 4D is most used in the architectural industry but still some of the modders (for example spoony from LMT) are using it to model F1 cars. Modo is a very cool tool, too. It has a great performance in modeling and useful tools but it’s not that popular and therefore you won’t find many tutorials for it. Blender will be adressed by msater at a later time.

You see, each application has its advantage, but 80% of the tutorials out there are covering 3D Studio Max. That’s why you should start with this application (if available). After your first few cars you can try to do parts or the whole car of your next project in a different program to get an overview. Most of the 3D modelers in game or CG industry have basic knowledge in more than three 3D applications. The get a specialist you need to know the basics of each program and pick the one which fits best to your expertise and personal taste.

We take questions! If you are stuck with a problem or have questions related to modeling ask them and we will adress them in a future post here on the blog.

Thanks to TwoOneOne for some of the tutorials links.

How to release a mod … 3. Communication

After covering the Timing of your mod release and the File Distribution methods available in our tutorial about how to release a mod, we are going to have a look at the Communication. Obviously this is a very wide topic, so I cover just some basics, you should provide on your release day. Continue reading How to release a mod … 3. Communication

How to release a mod …

Out there are many Tutorials covering the technical side of sim modding. If you want to find something about modeling, mapping, texturing you are sure to find something. Codan gave me the idea, that one tutorial was actually missing, which could be interesting for individuals and especially for novice modding groups facing their first release.
CTDP released their first big mod in 2003 and since then we had a few big releases. Since 2005 I’m coordinating and organizing the releases and follow everything live on release day. When suddenly the homepage changes and a download link pops up, that’s me. I also spoke with mirrors and did alot of the preparation beforehand and I figured, I could share some of these experiences I made during the last years and write a tutorial, about how to successfully release a mod. When you are done with the work, it’s not just uploading the mod somewhere. There are precautions you should think about beforehand.
This is no step-by-step program, but rather a checklist on topics you should cover for your release. I present some of the solutions we apply at CTDP, however those are not carved in stone and they rely on my personal experience. Other groups may do things differently and that’s alright. There is no best way and many differences between modding groups result from differences in release philosophies. This is our philosophy.

A short disclaimer. I’m writing about some communicational aspects especially related to the release dates. I have no intention to be unrespectful or even harmful. Talking about release dates is like talking about a surprise birthday party. You have to bend the rules to make it a surprise. I don’t endorse lieing in any way and on the contrary I think being fair and being respectful towards the community is one of the most important things. And another word about the community. My tutorial generalizes alot! You may not like, that I speak about users in such a generalized form, however there is a differences between one individual user and a faceless-mass of users. I say it again, I have no intention to make anyone feel screwed. 🙂

The topics we are covering in the next few days are these:

  1. Timing
    1. Schedule
    2. Have a date and a fallback
    3. Be vague on the dates
    4. Load estimation
  2. File Distribution
    1. Organize Mirrors
    2. Alternatives
    3. Leave time for upload
  3. Communication
    1. Prepare your news
    2. Be Available
    3. Prepare ways to contact you
  4. Release day
    1. Checkup
    2. Packaging
    3. Relax!
    4. One switch
    5. Celebrate!
    6. Aftermath