176: A Basic Aircraft Livery Creation Guide

Ever wanted to create some custom liveries for your favorite aircrafts?    Here’s a simple step-by-step guide how I create mine for the Centurion T210.

1)
Download and install the free utility DXTBmp by Martin Wright from here.    This little program will allow you to open specific *.bmp files containing aircraft livery information for you to edit.

2)
But make a backup copy of the livery folder you want to modify first.   I will use the high-definition red skin of the T210 in this example.

3)
After the backup is made, run the DXTBmp.exe from where you install it.    Then select [Browse for Images] from the File menu.

4)
Go to the texture.red folder of the T210 (\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\SimObjects\Airplanes\Carenado Centurion T210\)

5)
The browser will instantly display what those bmp files are inside the folder.    You can then select the one you want to edit.

6)
For the livery I create for my T210, there are five bmp files in total I need to modify (carcenturion_a, b, e, f and g).

7)
We’ll start with the first one — carcenturion_a.bmp, which is the right side of the aircraft in the front.  Click the [OK] button or double click on the filename to load it to the Dxtbmp.

8)
The default image editor of Dxtbmp is MS Paint.    You can change to use your favorite editor through the [Select Editor] from the Prefs menu.   In my case, I use PhotoShop.

9)
Now click on [Send to Editor] from the Image menu.   It will send the bmp file to the editor as its name suggests.

10)
Note that the filename opened by the editor is now called norm.bmp.

11)
Via the editor, I paste the FSX Times logo onto the right door of the aircraft.

12)
When editing is done, save the file in PhotoShop format (*.psd) but rename it back to its original name (carcenturion_a.psd).

I normally save these edited file to the same folder where the original bmp files (\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\SimObjects\Airplanes\Carenado Centurion T210\texture.red) are located so that they could be easily accessed for subsequent processes and future update.

13)
Now, return to the Dxtbmp program, and open the newly created PhotoShop file using the [Open] command under File menu or via the [Browse for Images] function.

14)
When the PhotoShop file is loaded, save it as Extended Bitmap using type DXT5.    Ensure to use the correct file type; otherwise, the texture will not be shown properly in FSX.

15)
That’s all for the first bmp file.  Repeat step 7 to 15 to modify the other four bmps of the aircraft.    Results are shown as follows:

carcenturion_b.bmp — Left Door
carcenturion_e.bmp — Tail  (Text on Left side Reverted)
carcenturion_f.bmp – Left Wing Underneath (Text Reverted)
carcenturion_g.bmp — Right Wing Top (Text Upside Down Reverted)

Definitely, this step-by-step guide is too general to cover every aspect regarding aircraft livery modification.    Also, some other third-party aircrafts could be far more complicated in structure than this model.   Most of the time, one still has to keep testing and exploring the best result one step at a time.

Furthermore, the skill of using the image editor (such as the PhotoShop) and one’s own artistic creativity are also the two ultimate elements for the success of a good livery.

I hope this guide will provide some basic concepts and a starting point for those who want to create their own aircraft liveries but don’t know how and where to begin.

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