• X-Plane Livery Editing Tutorial

    X-Plane Aircraft Livery Editing Methods Tutorial

    By Paul Mort

    In this tutorial, we'll be looking at the concept of how a livery is made up and how to edit them using your own unique style and look. I'll also be sharing a few tips which will (hopefully) make the process of editing liveries just that little bit easier to complete.

    Start With An Idea

    Whether it's going to be a sleek British Airways classic livery or a scruffy old bush paint job you're thinking of editing, the concept is the same.

    The Components Of A Livery

    So what are the ingredients of a typical aircraft livery and how do they work?

    An aircraft livery consists of either one simple image or a series of images. Due to the increasing complexities of aircraft design, it is not uncommon to see multiple images used for different parts of an aircraft.

    When I took my first basic steps in livery creation, I wondered at first how a flat image could end up covering all those intricate parts of an aircraft. After a while I worked out that each image, which is of course flat, wraps itself around an area it has been assigned to, a bit like cling film if you like. When I understood that, everything became a lot easier to understand.

    The images used in a livery are mostly PNG format (Portable Network Graphics) which is a common format used by most graphic editors. You may also come across the PSD format, which is the format used by Photoshop.

    Starting Point

    For illustrative purposes I've decided to use the Embraer EMB-110 but in hindsight, the default and resource friendly Cessna 172 would probably have been a better aircraft to choose. Still, the principals are the same for whatever aircraft you decide on.

    First we need to venture into our aircraft folder so that we can have a look at the livery resolutions.

    Liveries in X-Plane commonly range from 512 pixels, right up to 4096 (4K), with 4K demanding the very latest in hardware (4K textures will bring most computers to their knees).

    Looking at the 'Air Rarotonga' livery object folder, we can see that files use_back.png, fuse_front.png, leme_png and wing_left.png are at 2048 pixels x 2048 pixels resolution. These are shown below in figure 1.

    Figure 1

    Depending on what details you intend to add or remove, you can edit the above files as necessary. It's up to you what you leave and what you take out, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we are going to leave the wings alone; they suit our purpose as they are. If you did however want to make simple changes to the wings, such as color adjustment, some graphic programs have a facility called 'Color Swap' which will exchange every instance of a certain color for one chosen by yourself. I've used this method on quite a few occasions by using Xara Designer Pro X. This feature saves a lot of time and trouble drawing round areas of color.

    Figure 2 below shows the fuse_front file. For our edit, we will be removing the Air Rarotonga logo and the accompanying purple stars. In your graphics editor, use a combination of the rectangle tool, and fill tool to remove these items. Most editors have these tools, but just in case it doesn't, download Gimp (freeware) which has a host of tools at your disposal. Note: remember to restore details like rivets and doors back by the use of cutting and pasting.

    Figure 2

    1. RonaldVermeij's Avatar
      RonaldVermeij -
      Thanks Paul for empowering the X-plane community with this repaint tutorial.
    1. maddogken's Avatar
      maddogken -
      Hi Paul, I would like to change the aircraft registration number from US to Norwegian. Using the same color and font size. Basically a beginner. Have paint.net and GIMP. This will be done on Carenado aircraft.
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