Interview: BillyTheKid, DCS Skin Mod Creator and Streamer
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Today’s interview is with BillyTheKid, a DCS skin modder and Twitch streamer that has created amazing Ace Combat related liveries for almost every module available on DCS. These skins have quite a lot of work put behind them so be sure to click the download links provided at the bottom of the interview to view more of Billy’s work.
To start, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi there. My name's Billy but ever since I was a kid I've always gone by the nickname Billy The Kid. I've always been a fan of spaghetti westerns so the nickname seemed appropriate. I've been a big Ace Combat fan since Ace Combat 04 and been glued to series since.
You seem to like military flight games a lot. What was the first sim-like game you flew in? Any good memories with that game?
Yes indeed, flight sim games are my go to games to play. My first experience with a flight sim was probably Rowan's Battle of Britain on the PC which came out back in 2000. I remember playing it with a Logitech controller (I didn't have access to a joystick at the time) and was able to shoot down a Stuka dive bomber and land my Spitfire without crashing. Good times. Shortly afterward, Ace Combat 04 came out on a demo disk and I was hooked on the series.
How did you get started on DCS and how long have you been playing? Any reason behind it or was it just for fun?
Started playing DCS back in 2012 and have close to 1000 hours in the game total. For me, I've always like WW2 flight sims like IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 but have always wanted to play a flight sim with modern combat aircraft in it and so DCS World was the answer. I played it's spiritual predecessor Lock On: Modern Air Combat so it's great to see more aircraft being added to DCS like the AV-8B Harrier II, F/A-18C Hornet and the soon to be released F-14A/B Tomcat. Really looking forward to that aircraft as it's a popular one in Ace Combat too.
One thing that I always wondered about DCS skin modding are the creation of skins on the highly complicated textures. Could you guide us through the process you use when creating a skin? What programs do you use for their creation and how long does it take to make a skin?
Firstly, I choose the aircraft for which I will create a skin of. There is quite a large selection of aircraft in DCS but thankfully there have been many skin templates created to help livery makers out in the skin making process. Once I have selected the aircraft, I open the files in Photoshop and then I open an military aircraft color chart and pick two or three colors and start painting. I will then preview the skin in game and check how it looks. If i'm not happy with it, I'll pick a few different colors and try again with different schemes. Once I'm happy with what I have, then I decide which Strangereal nation would best suit the livery. Then I go ahead and create a squadron badge/emblem for the aircraft to increase the Strangereal Ace Combat feel. The whole process of painting, editing, previewing and editing again usually takes 7-8 hours, as some aircraft are more difficult to create skins for than others. For most of the skins I will make a Flight Leader and wingman skins with the Flight Leader version standing out with small additions made such as painted wingtips/tails and extra decals.
From your collection I have picked three skins that really caught my attention. Could you give us a little insight of what the creation process behind them was? Where did you get the inspiration from?
Excellent choices! For the OADF Mirage 2000C, I've always been a fan of military aircraft with a digital camo scheme. The aircraft that inspired me here was a gorgeous Slovak Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum in a digital livery. So I got some digital camo pattern on Google and started painting both the Mirage and digital pattern itself. Was a tricky process but enjoyed the challenge.
Next is the Leasath Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum and here I inspired by the Korean People's Air Force MiG-29 old solid green camo. They have since updated their Fulcrums to a new modern two tone grey. Many would look at the solid green color of this North Korean Fulcrum and go "That looks disgusting!" but for me I thought "That looks interesting.". So I began painting tried a two tone green scheme of solid green with a darker green on top. I may do an edit in the future and update the colors slightly. It's on the To Do list.
Lastly we got the Federal Erusean Navy F/A-18C Hornet. I remembered the mission "Invincible Fleet" in AC04 and thought "What would a FEN Hornet look like?" Granted we already have the FEAF scheme in the game but I thought of something different. So I looked at multiple F/A-18 liveries from various nations on Google to try and drum up a suitable scheme. I also downloaded some model aircraft decals to assist in the process. I noticed I had made a few errors post upload of the livery so I had them corrected.
Last but not least, I would like to thank you for giving us the chance to interview you. Anything you want to add before we close?
Only that it's been a pleasure and I wish to say a big thank you to the Project:Lighthouse community for liking my work and for sharing it with other DCS fans who also love Ace Combat. You can expect to see more Ace Combat theme liveries for DCS from me in the future, especially after the release of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. Many thanks again and see you in the skies, fellow Aces!
Links to official Billy The Kid media:
About the interviewer Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos
Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and content manager ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034