It's what we do, so why do we need to talk about it? Well, in the last few weeks I've had some new challenges to try and overcome with livery design.
Now, I'm not just talking about a virtual car, no no, this time… it's my OWN car! That's right people, the mighty Proton Satria NEO GSX is having a face lift.
Whilst driving in towards the day job about a month (or so) ago, I noticed a fair few cars with some "viper" stripes on them, and it got me thinking. Why not do something like that on mine? Just to jazz it up and become a rolling, real life, platform for the business. A bit of a Google search later whilst on a lunch break and an idea had started to form up. I'd found a company (sticky finger decals) who would be able to use a HEX code and produce some stripes in that specific colour. Of course, PosPer Blue was the only option for this! Order placed and £20 lighter in the back pocket, I waited excitedly for the arrival.
I'll admit, it took a tad longer than expected to arrive at just under a month, but absolutely worth the wait! I had 4 rolls of extremely high quality vinyl to get to grips with.
Nearly packaged, there were some wrinkles that I'd need to iron out before I could go near the car with them. Luckily for me, we have plenty of sturdy, heavyweight boxes that I can place on top of the rolled out sheets to flatten them down ready for application.
A day or so passed and I was nervously ready to start applying the vinyl to the car. I'd done my research and decided the wet method would be the one to go with. A small bottle of washing up filled water was primed and I was ready, or was I? No, I really wasn't!
It suddenly occurred to me that I had a massive amount of vinyl here. I didn't have to do the classic two strip look. I could absolutely go a bit wild and do some real life PosPer flair! The soapy water was put down. The squidgee was put aside and out came some masking tape instead.
A fair few different "ideas" were tried. I had it in my head to do something asymmetric as I've always loved doing liveries for Sim racing like that, even though Sam Wooldridge isn’t a fan of them.
You can see, I took a few goes before I settled on stuff! But that's the thing, I do exactly the same with sim racing liveries. Ok though, with working in Photoshop, I can just delete a line if I don't like it on the final design. Here, I needed it to be bang on before I laid down the vinyl!
No second chances here, had to be right or bye bye paint work. (it's super tacky vinyl!).
After what seemed like hours, but in reality was only about 30mins, I'd finally come up with the design. Slightly off centre for the stripes, but with some fills going on to tie in the roof to the bonnet. I was doing this on a quiet day at the day job and the boss was, in his words, "Not convinced, but I know you've got good ideas".
Now for the nerve wrecking bit. Actually applying the vinyl to the car and not f***ing it up! I'd already given the old girl a proper deep clean of a wash and properly cleaned up the bonnet and roof with some alcohol cleaner to get rid of any bugs or tar build up that could cause me issues.
Applying this stuff was interesting. I definitely used far too much of the soapy water on the bonnet to apply as it took around an hour of constant rubbing to get rid of all the water from underneath. For the roof, I went all out and didn't even touch the soapy water, and luckily (call it a fluke) managed to get the vinyl down in one hit, and straight too!
Top tip here, having a brand new blade in your Stanley knife of a really good scalpel is absolutely critical for cutting the cleanest lines you can. Ask me how I know, go on, dare you.
Once the main body of the stripes were in place, I got cracking with the "fillers". Smaller stripes of the PosPer Blue to tie in the lines. And then, BAM. Finished.
Now, what do we think? Off centre, asymmetric by design.. and definitely not your usual "viper" stripe eh? It's certainly been turning heads where I've been driving and even my two girls are big fans of daddy's "racing car".
You're probably reading this and thinking. What on earth does this have to do with livery design? Virtual or otherwise? Well, a lot.
With the virtual world, it's easy to redo, delete, move, trim, etc.. a couple of mouse clicks and I can restart, redo and improve on any design feature. In the real world, it's all about planning and taking your time. Something, I don't think I really appreciated until I started laying out the vinyl and looking at it masking taped to the Proton. It's definitely given me more of an idea for when I produce designs destined for real life cars. The people who are at the forefront of applying vinyl for teams (such as the Gridfinder KA I had a massive hand in) are artists. They take my mad ideas and somehow make them turn out immense. They don't get to right click, delete. It's got to be right, first time.
What's the takeaway from all this? Well, the next time you see a design that you consider too "simple" or "plain" on a real life car, consider the person who had to apply all that vinyl, under pressure.
We've got it easy in the sim racing world.