The Satisfaction of Livery Creation in DCS World
Updated: Aug 12
As someone that has been working on textures and art assets for many flight simulators and games over the past decade, it is clear to me that doing paint schemes for aircraft is one of the most satisfying projects one can involve oneself on. Differing greatly from humanoid models, working with planes allows you as an artist to create a completely unique piece that would be impossible to accomplish in other mediums.
For me, there is a certain joy in creating both fictional designs and realistic replicas of existing aircraft. It is not just the joy of making them, which can also be a source of immense frustration depending on the case, but also a sense of accomplishment once a project is finished, and you can finally take a look at your livery in-game.
Since livery creators do not have access to the models themselves and have to rely on using the built-in model viewer included with the game, making complex liveries can be an arduous task. Alignment of camouflage patterns between pieces can become a nightmare, since many of the aircraft in DCS use two or more texture files per model; but, once the stars and patterns align together, seeing that beautiful sheen on the paint of your virtual aircraft hits different.
I've made countless liveries and textures throughout my career as a freelance texture artist, both with and without direct access to the models I was texturing. In all that time, nothing has hit as hard as when I saw my first bare metal livery come to life in DCS World. The shine of the different types of metal thanks to the custom roughmets plus all the small imperfections on the paint that you have to do by hand or by mixing default textures with your own was amazing, and an experience that surely sent me down the livery creation rabbi thole.
Camouflage liveries are also extremely fun to make, when the models allow for their creation without much hassle. When limited to one or even two texture sheets, camo can be some of the most satisfying work one can do in an aircraft, specially when working on the alignment of patterns between sheets.
Next time you are working on a livery, and you get stressed because the design is complex, or because the UVWs are terrible, remember that the results will be worth it.
About the writer:
Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos
Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000s, 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 2010s. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as the co-founder and writer ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy