I have been painting race car paint schemes for online racing games for most of my adult life now. Ever since I picked up a steering wheel and attached it to my desk to compete with my friends in online sim racing, I’ve wanted to have a custom scheme to help put some of my personality into the world I had fallen in love with. During that long road I have created more schemes than I can count for friends, co-workers, and others out of the sheer joy I feel when I get to see that piece of art being used out there in the community. I have always felt that giving the user some way to put their own spin on their cars, helmets . . . heck anything they can helps make them feel more attached and involved in our software. Seeing a full field of cars on the track, each one different from the other just adds an air to the races that is thrilling to see.

Ever since I picked up a steering wheel and attached it to my desk to compete with my friends in online sim racing, I’ve wanted to have a custom scheme to help put some of my personality into the world I had fallen in love with.

In iRacing, we want to convey that same thrill to our customers. The problem has always been how to do that. Each custom car can be rather large memory-wise, and we have a system where any of our thousands of customers could race any other driver at any time. The problem of how to allow the end- users to generate a car paint job that is uniquely their own, but also have every other user have it on their system is a daunting technical problem. Adding to the technical issues, not everyone is an artist, and wants to spend hours designing a paint scheme.


We enable individual paint schemes in iRacing by designing a large group of pre-made base designs, numbers and sponsors. The end-user can then decide what color they want their car and numbers to be, and what sponsor they would like to run, if any. The base designs and numbers used to paint the car are red, blue, and green targa’s with some grey scale colors used as accents. When the racing simulator loads, it replaces those red, blue, and green colors with the colors the user picked-out on our car painting page. We then stamp the car detail items like the headlights, rivets, etc. (basically anything we didn’t want to change color), and the sponsor logos over the top of the paintjob. Using the above method, we can allow anyone to quickly create a scheme that is uniquely their own, and have it instantly visible to every other customer in the service.

During our last season update, we introduced the ability to have user-created custom paintjobs for those users who raced in leagues and for those more artistic types who wanted to be able to design something that was much more personal than what was possible in our current system. Now anyone who has software that allows you to save a texture such as Adobe’s Photoshop can create any type of paint scheme they could imagine.

We have wanted something like this in iRacing for as long as the company has been in existence.  In Nascar Racing 2003 we had a system where sim racing league members could see their individually designed schemes in the sim while racing against each other. The main problem implementing a similar solution allowing someone to have a user- created custom paint scheme is how to store and transfer those schemes. Copyright issues also could come into play if we stored those paint schemes ourselves and transferred them to the end-users.  Having to police thousands of texture files to make sure there was nothing pornographic or that violated laws would be a full time job for someone. iRacing is a small development studio and that just isn’t possible.


Our solution was to have the software look in a folder to see if there is a loose texture that has the same filename as the user’s account number.  When the software sees that, it loads the texture and inserts it near the top of the stamping process. This allows you, the end-user, to have the base scheme you created in the iRacing software, and also a user-created paint scheme that you can use in a hosted league race. It also allows you to see other users’ custom created schemes if you have them loaded on your computer. On our end, this allows us to continue to have our easy-to-use paint system, and it also saves us from the issues of having to police everyone’s paint schemes since we don’t have to transfer, store, or see each individuals’ cars.

As a side effect of this new process, it also allows us to see the community step-up to the plate (as it always does with pc racing games) to fill in holes that need to be filled.  Within days of launching this new feature Trading Paints opened-up to organize and help in the transfer of these custom schemes between our customers.   Many other sites also popped-up where artists offered to paint and design custom schemes for other users.

In the future we hope to be able to add some more flexibility to the paint system we have.   We are always adding new base car paint schemes and number styles.   We also hope to provide a way to allow users to have separate number colors on the roofs and doors of cars that can support such a feature.   If there is anything you’d like to see us add, or if you have a question about the cars art-wise, post them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them in future blog posts.

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Great post Brian but I do have 1 question though. Will we ever be able to color our rims into a different color? I think this would be a really nice add-on !

Tim Claessens
April 22nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Very nice post Brian, I enjoyed reading it. Question for you though, you mentioned that copy-write issues are the main reason for not “store[ing] those paint schemes ourselves and transferred them to the end-users” and that “Having to police thousands of texture files to make sure there was nothing pornographic or that violated laws would be a full time job for someone.”

On average tradingpaints gets between 30-50 paints a day and is run by only a couple people. They seem to be able to keep the spam and porn paint schemes away. Even with full iRacing support, doubling these numbers would still be less than 100 paints a day. Checking those can’t take all day surely.

Is it because iRacing is NASCAR/IndyCar sponsored with sanctioned racing that we seem to have copy-write issues that games like Forza and LFS don’t have? I mean Forza 3 is approaching 3 million sold, I would imagine sponsors would be more inclined to protect their logos when there are 3 million potential viewers compared to 20,000 (With maybe half that actually active).

Paul Armstrong
April 22nd, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Thank you Brian, great opening post indeed!

Would it be possible for iRacing to make the base schemes public? One big layered photoshop file for each car with the (few, many) different schemes you (or Reed?) painted? I’ve seen that suggested a lot of times in the forum and I think it might get more people painting but also that it *might* (just might) push people to imagine schemes different than a 9th version of Dale or Smoke’s or Danica’s paint scheme…

Thanks anyways,

Alex Fournelle
April 22nd, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Brian that was a great first blog post. Well done, sir and look forward to more. Thanks for taking the time to keep us excited and informed.

Jim A.
April 22nd, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Great post, Brian! Not to knock the other great features that iRacing has added in the year that I’ve been a member, but the ability to create and run custom paint schemes has been my favorite so far!

With regard to the paint distribution issue, was a sync/distribution model, not considered or deemed to be too expensive resource-wise? I would have thought that a peer-to-peer connection to swap/sync paint files would have been the logical approach. This would have eliminated the “storage” issue, unless someone wanted to argue that iRacing was the “facilitator” in the distribution of said copyright violations. Hmm, on second thought, that’s the EXACT approach that an IP lawyer might take…

Anyway, I look forward to the next iR blog. Oh, and I’d like to second the request to see the ability to paint certain car details like the wheels. Perhaps the “pixel” coloring approach like that found in the Dallara would suffice? 🙂

Julio C Chacon
April 22nd, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I always ran “chrome” numbers on my n2k3 cars. I used a gradient in Paint Shop Pro to make them. I’d love to see “chrome” available for use on numbers in iRacing.

Greg Percifield
April 22nd, 2010 at 9:57 pm

A keyboard shortcut to reload the texture would be very helpful during painting.

Zoltan Tyukodi
April 23rd, 2010 at 3:28 am

Cool post! Thanks

Francisco Costa
April 23rd, 2010 at 4:15 am

Excellent article Brian, And many thanks to you and the iRacing guys for such a wonderful service and simulation

I can fully understand why iRacing wouldnt want to police the paint schemes themselves. Although it sounds like a simple job, It is something that not only would take time but could even turn into a legal dispute etc, which iRacing as a development team just dont need.

Regarding Forza 3 and th IP involved, they probably get away with it due to the way the paintschemes are built, You cannot just take a logo and paste it onto a car in forza. This probably enable`s Turn 10 to waiver responsibility.

TradingPaints have provided us with an excellent solution to this problem and along with iSpeed and the setup trading site shows how diverse and resourceful this community is.

Chris Warner
April 23rd, 2010 at 4:44 am

Thanks Brian, I agree with Alex on making the base paints that you can do in the iRacing software available (someway to export after you have painted it in iRacing). Alot of the cars are tough to paint for the person that doesn’t have the tallents to do them, this would make it really easy then just to add your own logos.

Tom Johnson
April 25th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

How about a guide for 101 paint basics! Cover paint basics using paint.net or gimp since they are free products. People who paid $$$ for photo shop propbably already know how to deal with layers.

Matthew Dickerman
April 29th, 2010 at 1:53 am

Why not have a paid vetting process in addition to the local painting system you describe. The person who wants their paint scheme visible to all users can upload the ‘overlay’ from their local scheme and request it be ratified. That covers all the bases and allows you another revenue stream. The bandwidth costs for this would be minimal (covered by the ‘paid-paint-job’ ratification cost) and local version caching on competitors computers prevents bandwidth being any form of issue.

April 30th, 2010 at 9:43 am

… and I want 10% of the new revenue stream as a thank-you 😉

April 30th, 2010 at 9:45 am

Great article Brian, but I do have one question. Why are the templates cut up so bad? If you ever painted for NASCAR 09 for the 360 or PS3, you’d know how simple the templates were. I’ve heard the same about N2k3. I’m certain that if these templates were easier to interpret. Especially in the Dallara’s case, more people would bother with painting!

Ryley Wyans
May 23rd, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Why can’t we have 4 different front end stamps to choose from on the Nascar’s, ie; Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Toyo…?

Charles Sanchez
June 3rd, 2010 at 4:30 am

No response to my suggestion for custom distributed paint jobs. I can certainly help with coding the backend admin tools. What’s your language of choice C++ talking to Perl/PHP??

June 4th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

it would be cool if we could have more sponsers and be able to paint the rims

David Stark
July 2nd, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Huh……… Good to know since I’m a future iRacing racer.

Adrian Billy
August 27th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Great post… I would like to ask if at some point in time you and the development team will allow multiple number colors for the door and the roof? I was wondering also if iRacing will put the goodyear logo/name on the tires… I see the logo/name on some of the other cars that are available in the iRacing inventory, I’m confused as to why it’s on some of the cars but not all.

Doyle Lowrance Jr.
December 25th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

i cant get the paintjobs into the game or paint folder can you help

Jaden Conwright
December 15th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

My name is James and I work for a non-profit hospital. I am truly passionate about my career because my mother was dsiagnosed with breast cancer and diagnostic imaging saved her life. I work the night shift and i am on-call at other facilities under the same umbrella organization. Because of my shift, it is extremely difficult for me to be able to donate my time to the community. Our organization is a strong advocate of doing so but i have minimal time. I am inquiring about,being an amature driver, of incorporating my organizations logo on my custom car in iracing.com.If there are no violations of doing so could you email me how to do so. It could be my way of putting our organization out to the public and the many people that could benefit from our top notch care. We have won the “Presidents Award” four years now in a row. I am only a mri/ct technologist but i really believe in our organization. In addition, I have really been enjoying iracing.com broadcasts of the championships and it has been incredibly inspiring for me to start my iracing career. Thank you, I am leaving my email below. Thanks again Sir or Maam.

January 18th, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Hey i want know how I make letter belcome chrome paints let met know thank you

November 18th, 2013 at 8:56 pm

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