If you've played any Forza game — be it Forza Motorsport or Forza Horizon — then you're probably familiar with the "livery editor" feature that has been a staple of the franchise. If you're not familiar, the livery editor is a feature that allows players to create their own livery designs in-game by using a series of shapes that can be rotated, resized, color swapped, and placed on various areas of a given in-game vehicle. Additional layers can be added on to create more detail, and a single design can contain over one thousand layers.
At first glance it seems impossible to make anything beyond a few simplistic racing stripe designs, yet that is hardly the case. There is an entire community of extremely talented artists, often called "Forza painters," who can take these simple shapes and create elaborate masterpieces you would swear were hand drawn if you didn't know better.
In fact, some Forza painters are so good at their craft, real life race teams or other companies will occasionally hire them to create custom liveries for use in sponsor decks or other promotional materials.
But how does someone get to that point? How does a person go from a casual Forza player to a professional Forza painter?
I reached out Jason Backhouse (Twitter: @ForzaLiveryGuy, GamerTag: "The FLG") and Stuart Bard (Twitter: @stuzib85, Instagram: @Stuart_Baird, GamerTag: PTG Stuzib85, Mixer: PTG_Stuzib85), two notable painters in the Forza community, to ask them about the phenomenon of Forza painting, how they got started, and what advice they have for those looking to get into the art form.
Super Street: How long have you been painting in Forza?
Jason: I first started in Forza Motorsport 4 and Horizon, but only started to publicly share my work from FM5.
Stuart: I've been painting since 2009, a long time now, and started originally to fund my car purchases on Forza Motorsport 2 — buying a car, painting a cool livery on it, and then selling it for a small profit.
SS: What initially attracted you to Forza painting?
Jason: Honestly, I wanted the cars I used in game to look like they belonged on a track or in a race to add to the immersion.
Stuart: I had seen some extremely impressive liveries and never imagined I'd be painting anything other than simple race liveries. As games passed, I became more experienced, and I enjoyed pushing myself to achieve more challenging images.
SS: What is your favorite thing about Forza painting?
Jason: Being able to share what I create so others can enjoy my work, and hopefully inspire others to create their own designs.
Stuart: My favorite thing about painting is the finished piece — how good it looks when it's finished. That's what makes the time and effort worth it, for me.
SS: Where do you get inspiration for new livery designs?
Jason: My main inspiration came from Andy Blackmoore, a highly respected real world livery designer. My individual designs mostly take inspiration from brands that I think will look good on a race car, so creating accurate real world logos and decals goes a long way to adding realism to the final design.
Stuart: I'm always looking out for cool images, like movie posters and game covers, or an image that looks impressive. I like to try and achieve as much realism as I can, so high quality sources are important.
SS: What was the most difficult/elaborate livery you ever created? How long did it take you to create it?
Jason: The BBC Top Gear Audi TT. Turn 10 (the development studio that created Forza Motorsport) asked me to create a Top Gear-themed design for an in-game giveaway. The Stig Decal alone took over 10 hours to replicate. The design also had to be approved by Audi and the BBC.
Stuart: I would say my most difficult livery was my Forza Horizon 3 livery. I built it on Forza Horizon 2 so it could be imported into Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Horizon 3. It included the game cover image on the side, with an in-game screenshot replicated on the hood. To this day, I'm still pleased with how that looks, but it took nearly 30 hours to complete! My current work in progress is a Sea of Thieves livery, which is another extremely intensive livery. I'm looking forward to having this one done!
SS: What motorsport and team would you most want to create a real "physical" livery for?
Jason: That's easy, Any Blancpain, IMSA, GT4/GT3/LM/D, Super GT500/300 car - I'd love to create liveries for a local team like United Autosport or Strakka Racing too.
Stuart: I'm a massive Scuderia Ferrari F1 fan, but the physical livery I'd most like to design would be for the AF Corse WEC team, on their Ferrari 488 GT3. GT race cars have more freedom with their liveries than F1 cars. If I designed the 2019 Ferrari F1 livery, it would look the same as this years! The GT3 car, that I could have some real fun with!
SS: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into Forza painting but might be apprehensive due to its difficulty?
Jason: Experiment, get some shapes, throw 'em on the car and see if you like it. Researching real world designs for the type car you want to paint can also help with inspiration.
Stuart: Ask. Watch. Learn. After that, just go for it. A lot of painting isn't hard; it's just having the patience to take the time to do it properly. Watching painting streams is a fantastic way to pick up tips from the pros, and get answers to any of your questions.
I, in fact, have a weekly Painting Co-Stream on Mixer, with my teammate, PTG Fox, where we each paint our own things, answering any questions we can.
I want to thank both Jason and Stuart for taking the time to share some insight about their work. If you want to see more of their designs or designs from other talented Forza painters, just look though the in-game design shop in the latest Forza Motorsport and/or Forza Horizon games.
If you already do some Forza painting then we would love to see it! Take a screenshot of your work, post it to instagram, facebook, or twitter, and tag Super Street (Twitter and Facebook: @superstreetmag, Instagram: @superstreet)