Freeware Focus: Rodolfo Estrella
When did you start developing for flight simulators?
I started back in 2006, before that I had no previous experience repainting and asked my friend Alex Colka (who has some of his work uploaded to FlightSim.Com by the way) that used to paint for FS98 to make them for me, however my wishlist was so big that I asked him to teach me how to paint instead of making repaints for me. Even though we didn't meet each other in real life and living in different cities he gave me the general idea of how to repaint and then it has been a process of "self-educating" since then.
How many repaints have you done?
It is hard to account how many repaints I've done so far and some of my unpublished work was lost after my old computer broke down, but so far I've uploaded 195 files, plus I've done some other work for third parties that even paid me. I've made work for an air crash investigation and made the Ecuador Presidential transport repaint after a request from the original designer.
What do you consider your best or most popular work?
I've a personal attachment for every work I've done and sometimes I remember a few challenges I had to face with some things I didn't know how to do and have memories of every repaint since there is so much time I invest in the making of each and this includes research for photographs and detailed information for background. But my most popular work for sure is my 737-200 panel with more than 6000 downloads, It was a fantastic experience since it involved a lot of research, modifications and the help of a real airline that used to fly the B732 here.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?
Regarding repaints for sure I think is the matching parts, when you have a project most of the time it has many parts and those parts are put together in the aircraft to be shown in flight simulator, and you have to paint those parts separately and it is rather difficult to make them match in continuity with the other parts a task even more difficult when you are painting camouflaged patterns like my Ecuadorian Air Force C-130.
What are your favorite projects?
As I said I have a special attachment for all my work, but my favorites are definately the repaints of old extinct airlines. People tend to forget them and flight simulator is a great way to keep them alive in the minds of the old people that remember them and the young people that never heard of them but are interested in aviation history.
What software packages and tools do you use?
Repainting in terms of "what you need" is simple, I use:
- The good old reliable Adobe Photoshop CS2.
- Abacus FS Repaint. I don't use this to paint but it is so helpful when I have to match lines and what I paint in each separate part.
- DXTBmp the only tool I know to convert painted bmp's to Flight Simulator recognizable files.
- For my few panel designs I use Abacus FS Panel Studio which I love since it is so simple and intuitive.
Who would you consider to be your mentors or inspiration in the repainter world?
As I said before my friend Alex Colka from Guayaquil, he ignited the spark that in the past years had made done almost every aircraft I want for flight Simulator.
Do you work with any teams?
Yes and no. I don't work with people who are directly involved in my many projects however I'm part of Tame Virtual, the Ecuadorian most important virtual airline, one of the oldest in the region and we have formed an enormous community of flight simulator and aviation fans in my country, and there are a few people who had made a lot of work for the community.
What other developers or teams have you worked with and what where their rolls?
I've received request from many developers, but the most important were the Caravelle developers. That sadly dissapeared after their Caravelle release. I've made a lot of repaints even before the release of their models. And I worked with Historic Jetliners Group that asked me some of my work for old and extinct aircraft.