Behind The Scenes>> Designing The Team Nfs Livery

It is is quite unusual, as a designer, to be allowed to show the design process and show the designs which didn't make it, but thanks to Speedhunters, I'm able to share some of the behind the scenes work on the Team Need for Speed livery design.

I started sketching some ideas for the Team Need for Speed livery on the last day of 2009. Rod and Patrick had introduced me to the Team Need for Speed concept and it was my task to create a livery which would work in multiple arenas. Not an easy task, on one hand it was a great opportunity, but the on other hand it was ‘how the hell am I going to pull that off!’

I have been very fortunate and have designed hundreds of liveries in my time, around 60 have seen the light of day. Many stay inside unsuccessful sponsorship proposals which teams and drivers had presented. This was probably the hardest design to work on…. well there was this Panoz livery once…..<snip>


We knew early on, Team Need for Speed would make its debut in GT racing and Drifting. Two diverse disciplines. In order for the livery to work and be recognizable as a Team Need for Speed identity it had to have a strong graphic which set itself apart from other cars on the grid.

The livery had to work in both arenas, which was an additional challenge.

While its relatively easy to design a corporate livery with a strong identity, we didn’t want it to be too corporate. We are a video game maker after all.

So, a iconic livery which is instantly recongisable on multiple cars, but not corporate….ahhhh

If I’m honest, my liveries are quite clean and corporate. This was not the route to take, although as you can see, the initial designs I’m showing here do take that route. I didn’t realize until I looked back at these for this article, but I was already starting to use diagonal cuts from the logo on the first batch of designs.

The Need for Speed logo is a ‘N’ with a tach needle through it. The logo had to play a significant role in the design as ‘Need for Speed’ is quite a lot to read at 150mph!

As we progress through the designs I start to use the bodylines of the car more. It’s a good trick which gives a clean livery, but in reality, this wouldn’t work so well on other cars, so back to the drawing board,,,or in this case, the tablet.

This design marks a significant milestone in the process. Here, I'm starting to use the ‘N’ graphic as part of the main design. As its italicized, it not the easiest logo to work with . It will fit on one side and look like its flowing with the car, but not on the other!

Meanwhile, this more conventional design was developed over time and was one of the final two. It is a clean design and would work on different cars, but it is a little safe. More in keeping with a GT car. I always like to try and include the number panel in the design if possible, hence the white band across the hood and fenders.

I kept playing with the N graphic and then hit upon the idea of scaling the logo up so it drapes the whole car. This allowed me to replicate part of the Need for Speed logo in front and rear views….

I used some artistic license to close the graphic up front and rear as you can see above. This is a key feature of the logo where the different angles meet and would become the key element of the design.

Interesting, the ‘N’ doesn’t read well when the colours were reversed.

We now had a base design, but I still hadn’t seen the final car and I have learned the hard way, never to sign off on a design until you can see a final car!

In mid February, we saw the first shots of the still-secret car. As few changes were required in the bumper areas, which enhanced the livery. You will also note we were looking at using a very light Silver. This was hard to source quickly, so we reverted to White vinyl, having used this on Mad Mike’s car. It was a good decision! The livery is much more distinctive with more contrast.

We had ensured the livery would be unique and distinctive, thanks to its asymmetric designs, but we still wanted to ensure each driver and car had its own personalization……

As time passed, Patrick informed us, the car would be delivered in raw Carbon. We thought it would be cool to keep this, rather than the original plan of painting it Satin Black. We wanted Individuality on each of the cars (to get away from that corporate cookie cutter look), and this was the perfect material to showcase the all-new BMW Z4 GT3 race car off. 

The first chassis went testing and took part in a VLN race in early April and was vinyled in Silver.

It didn’t punch enough, so we ensured the final cars would remain White. We also took the opportunity to revise the branding to emphasis the Need for Speed ‘N’.

Unfortunately the car suffered race damage and needed to go back to BMW for repairs, leaving Schubert and their vinyl guys very little time to apply the new livery, but they nailed it!

The car came out very well and the latest addition of reflective ‘N’s worked well.

The reflective ‘N’s were an idea which came from Mad Mike Whidett. As Speedhunters will know, Mike has long been associated with Red Bull and Camo livery.

When we initially started talking with Mike, the basic concept of the BMW livery had been locked, so we started applying that on the RX8. Mike already had sponsorship with Red Bull, so it was interesting to try and marry up the two brands. A good test for the future.

It was great working with Mike as he produces vinyls and graphics and has a great eye for designs and what is achievable with vinyl.

The design didn’t really change much over time, but the Camo came and went, replaced by 'N's to the black areas and finally the white sections.

In the end Mike went with N’s all over the car which works really well.

Matt Powers is our third announced program for Need for Speed at this present time (ummm, what does that mean….. stay tuned! ). We wanted to keep the Team Need for Speed identity, but it was vital for Matt and ‘Mattley Crew’ to have their own personalization on this.

I struggled on this. My background is ‘traditional’ race car livery and styling design and this was out of my comfort zone.

Luckily, Matt and his crew came up with a variation to the Team Need for Speed design which worked well and fitted in perfectly with his look. You can't miss it!

This view shows how the Team NFS graphic is retained, but personalised.

I also had the opportunity to design Mike’s race suit for Formula Drift. We came up with a design which works well for his use and future usage as a generic Need for Speed design. The FIA GT3 series stipulates a specific uniform design so we couldn’t go that route.

I also offered up a design for Patrick and Edwards Crash helmets. I didn’t spend very long on these at all, quite a rush job, but they come out really well and I think I’m going to get my lid redone like this now :)

So, that’s the background to the race-car livery design. In the end it was a great project to work on and one of the highlights of my career here at EA.

More to come, so stay tuned!

Thanks to Rod and Patrick for the opportunity to have an input in the design and for allowing us to be so open about the design process.

-Andy Blackmore

Team Need for Speed on Speedhunters



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I really liked the designs when I first saw them...thanks for showing how you came up with them. Being a budding designer its always fun to see how a professional goes through the process.


I have to say Andy, you work is inspiring. If there is one thing I would love to do if I get to Art College in a few years would be livery designs for racing cars.

On that note, how did you get into designing car liveries?


Cool article!

The white on carbon looks totally evil, by the way!


I.Rosputnki - I started doing these when I was at Uni on a Car design course at Coventry University. A F3 car, BTCC Toyotaand a Schnitzer UK BMW. Then went and got a real job which was part car design, part liveries and it just sort of happened like that over time.... :)


Being a designer myself, I am a huge fan of livery design and have always had an interest in it. My question is, where do the templates for the cars themselves come from? Do you just trace photographs that you take, with a program like Illustrator? Do you hand draw them?


This is totally awesome to see. Thanks for sharing!


bravo ... bravo ... bravo ... bravo ... bravo ...


Straight Gangsta!


This BMW Z4 is awsome!!! I like this car, I can feel the love in my heart:)


Evan - it varies.

Sometimes manufacturers supply them to designers and teams, sometimes, you trace from CAD plots, sometimes from those dimension drawings in magazines. If its NFS related, I can use our game car models as they are built from CAD or Scan, so we know they are accurate.


You will always end up re-drawing some or all of it to keep the lines clean and crisp. There are also some 'blueprint' websites where you can download various profiles. I try to avoid photographs at all costs.


On these examples, the Mazda and Nissan were traced from our NFS models and then specific car elements added like wheels, bodykits etc.


On the BMW, someone higher up in the foodchain added the GT3 bodykit to the original Z4 line work. if you look at the images, you'll see the linework changed a little once I saw the final car.


It pays to get these as accurate as possible as its hard enough to visualise and place a 2d livery on a 3d form on a 2d image.....if that makes any sense.

and, yes, all done in Adobe Illustrator. I've been using that for over 15 years now (started off on V2). As its vector art, the files can be exported stright for vinyl creation.


Any other q's please feel free to ask


Great story, thanks for allowing us to seebehind the magic curtain of car livery design :)

Oh, I think we all know Gitten is the next NFS team driver. Already hinted 2 or 3 times.


Great work Andy! With the GT3 you've created a look that's really unique, bold, stands out, and compliments the shape of the car, very striking!

Another technical question: I see the comps and layouts you've done in Illustrator are plan/elevation views of the car - When the vinyl is produced, how do you translate these 2d shapes to the very complex surfaces of the car bodywork (how do you make it 'fit' the 3-d curves of the body)???


Great read! I think all the cars look really good.


Hey Andy, thanks a lot for sharing - its really rare to get an insight like this and very interesting to see how you work. Just a question about your process - do you do any sketching and quickly ideating ideas on paper before you start the detail work, or do you just jump straight into Illustrator and go from there?


Great stuff Andy!!! Love the design work and the background on how it all came to life.

Which Panoz were you referring to?


Awesome, I'm aiming for doing a Graphic Design course, rather then a car design course, but then again I'm guessing they use the same sort of graphics packages?

On that note do you only use Adobe Illustrator? Or do you use other programs like Photoshop or CorelDraw?


Big-b its a bit of guess work on a graphic like that. You supply the sign writers the artwork and the logo and they go from there. If you are designing a wrap, you need to guess and add bleed to the design, so you can send them the artwork knowing that more vinyl is required on flatter surfaces.


Andrew - Most of the time I'll print out blanks and then sketch some ideas. I had lots of those which lead to the early ones, but to be honest, its more about the convenience of sketching away from the computer than anything. Blocking in graphics/colour is easy in Illustrator.


nice write up.


great to be able to see how the process of designing a car livery works at the pro level.. thanks for the insight! And the result's absolutely stunning..

Just to let you know, there's a typo on your speedhunters Bio page, the website link's missing an "n"..


awesome work, Man.. looks easy, but it`s hard to do some like this... does anybody know, is that possibly to find some nice clean livery for 180sx (i am a bad pointer ))) ) mail me, plz )))


Martin- oh, thanks. will correct


cordillios - if you want a clean livery, limit the colour pallet and use the body lines for colour splits


Thanks for an insightful article, the BMW vinyl is amazing! I didn't understand the N logo till reading this so thanks for clearing that up! It makes so much sense now :P

It's going to be interesting to see what future driver/s are lined up to join the NFS team. I'm sure whoever it is it will be a good choice, and will keep you busy designing some more liveries :)


great article and awesome livery!

The final livery you created for the BMW is easily one of my favorite of all time. I hope it sticks around for a long time.


What program do you use to create the graphic?