[Tutorial - PC ONLY] Add an image overlay in the vinyl group editor

Hello everyone!

I have found a software that can be very useful for who, like me, loves to make vinyl groups and livery designs in Forza games!

It is called Nomacs.

It’s function for us is very simple: creating a transparent window of a picture of our choice that can maintain visibility over another application, even if the “focus” of windows is currently in use in the latter.
This allow us to have an overlay of a picture we made or have, like a sketch, or a logo, or anything else, and have it over the game, allowing more precise vinyl allocation when we are “copying” something that already exists outside the game.
The software is a freeware, and it is relatively easy to setup for our use.
As it is an external software that is running on its own, this is not a hack of any sort. The game code is untouched, and I don’t think there is any issue of using it in terms of game licence or authorisations.
Please notice: this works on PC ONLY, as there is obviously no way to make Nomacs run on the Xbox One.

So, let’s get started:

  • Download Nomacs at “nomacs. org” (not posting a proper link as I don’t want to cause spamming) and install it.

  • Open Forza Horizon 4, enter ingame. Go to Settings–>Video and set the game in windowed mode!

  • Open Nomacs, you will now want to open a picture you want to work on.

  • You will now have your picture loaded. In this case, I’ve chosen a picture I drew some time ago. Please notice that the software supports image transparency, so PNG with transparent background is very welcome to be used for the overlay!

- Ok, now, here’s some hotkeys:
Ctrl+J: Reduce nomacs opacity
Ctrl+Shift+J: Increase nomacs opacity
Double click on the image: Fullscreen
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+B: Lock window. This makes the window to be “always on top” even while the controls focus is elsewhere. Please notice that to make any change in nomacs from when you press this hotkey, included exiting the application, will require you to click on the nomacs icon in the application bar to give focus again on it, and press again Ctrl+Shift+Alt+B to unlock.

Now that you tried how it works, it is time to make it work over forza.

  • I know I said it already, but remember to set the game in windowed mode! otherwise it won’t work.

  • Go to the design menu, and open the Vinyl group editor.

  • If your image is only black or very dark, i’d suggest to set your ingame background to white, and viceversa.

  • Go to Nomacs, open your window, set your preferred transparency with Ctrl+J/Ctrl+Shift+J and Lock the window with Ctrl+Shift+Alt+B. Get back to forza.

  • You should now have this result:

  • That’s it! You can now work with your layers with a transparent image over your doing.

  • Once done, feel free to get back to main game and set the fullscreen to ON again.

Notice: since the image is overlaying the game itself, you will have it even in the menus and such. I know, it’s not perfect, but it is better than nothing, right?

Final suggestions:

  • Use this mostly for your rough work, then refine with Nomacs overlay deactivated. Having a picture over the game can make it look “very nice” until you remove he overlay, where you see tons of holes in the pictures or missing stuff. Also, FH4 in windowed mode has some aliasing, so it could be a good idea to refine once you get back to fullscreen. ^^;
  • Avoid resizing the picture in nomacs while working on it, unless you really need to. You might risk to waste a lot of time resizing and posing your current work to make it fit again in the reference again…

Some people could say that this is some sort of cheat, but keep in mind: this is no shortcut. You still need hours of work to make something very complex. Even when using this software for help.

Happy livering everyone! Looking forward for more awesomeness from you all!


Hi Dexter,

Nice tutorial.

Have you ever seen this thread?

It’s one of the stickies in this forum and has been on some of the other games. I believe it uses similar but different software to perform the same function.

If so you, would also be able to do this with your Xbox as long as you have a Windows 10 compatible PC, with the Xbox App and can stream your Xbox to your PC. Just FYI.



Ok, I feel kinda dumb for not noticing… Guess This better get removed then. ^^;

Not necessarily, having an alternate program to recommend is still useful as some people may not want to download something (Glass2K) that was originally made for WindowsXP :slight_smile:

I’ve shared a link to your guide in my thread, should be useful for some people.

I can confirm that the locking mode lets you use a mouse “through” the Nomacs window. Now I just need to get Turn10/Playground to support a Wacom tablet in absolute rather than mouse mode!

I wish Nomacs had chosen some slightly easier keyboard shortcuts, Ctrl-J and Ctrl-Shift-J are a bit of a stretch with one hand, and as for Ctrl-Alt-Shift-B … :slight_smile:

Nah - it’s different software and it’s a good tutorial, leave it. If it helps someone start painting fair play to you.

PJ’s tutorial concentrates on logo’s, whereas you’ve clearly approached it from a fantasy angle, which may open a few eyes and encourage someone different to have a go.

This has one big advantage over Glass2k, and that is that you can lock the window with the control focus elsewhere. This enables you to use a mouse to control the painting in Forza instead (or as well as) the controller. Thanks Dexter for bringing it to our attention.

I may yet get away from the old school method of sticking printed transparencies on the screen :slight_smile:

I am glad this was useful in the end! I was afraid I unintentionally made a “copy” of an already made tutorial… ^^;

You made this using just the basic shapes in the editor?

Uh, yes… 579 shapes. 4 hours of work more or less, no matter if I had the overlay… ^^;

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Hats off to you.

I almost feel like this is cheating. I don’t paint on PC and don’t know anything about smartglass so I’m gonna stick to eyeballing it but this really would speed things up.

I haven’t owned a computer for years but it would make sense to at least have a look at this or PJ’s method if any budding painters out there do own a PC. The game definitely needs new blood to provide some much needed variety and to possibly give old gits like me some inspiration! Personally, I’m happy with how I go about things so I’ll carry on using my iPad / Xbox combination but as DamnMe said before it’s all good if it helps someone new get into this weird hobby we have :wink:

Kind of a little late to the conversation but I’m just wondering if you can clarify this for me? I’ve dabbled with the streaming Xbox to laptop method (I just learned that we could do this for for a painting). But my laptop is old. How do you use your iPad with painting? Just reference photos? Or can you use the Xbox app there too?

Hi :slightly_smiling_face:
As fa as I know there’s no way to stream from the Xbox to the iPad so yes, I just have my source pics on the iPad for reference. I replied to your PM earlier explaining my process in more detail… and with pictures, hope it helps :slightly_smiling_face:

There was a guy I knew, back in FM2/FM3 era. Scirocco Junky I think. He actually printed logos out on transparencies or something and taped them to his screen with like photo tape or something that wouldn’t ruin the screen. Analog approach, I guess.

That’s what I do. Print onto transparency, then use mini post-it notes to hold in position. My XBox connects to the same LG ultra wide screen as my PC, so I’ll have the PC on the left hand half to enable me to check reference photos, colour pick HSV values etc., then the XBox is on the right hand half, so an A4 transparency in landscape is a reasonable match for the vinyl editor. One advantage of this over the software solutions is that scale and position on screen is consistent between sessions.

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Another great alternative, and one I use a LOT for reference images and stuff, is a program called PureRef. Tons of options (opacity, hotkeys, multiple images with ability to align and resize automatically, sort, etc.) I use it quite often for my 3D modeling references, but you can absolutely use it for stuff like this. I have my opacity level adjustments set to Ctrl + and Ctrl - , and it works perfectly. You can lock the window, change it to grayscale, change opacity, etc. etc. etc. Tons of great options, lightweight, and very sleek look (no borders, etc.)

https://www.pureref.com/ if you wanna check it out! :slight_smile:

Hi, just wondering if Nomacs has any side effects to using it like lower frames, or it’s always running, or anything like that. I’d like to safely assume that it isn’t a virus from the amount of people using it, but i’d like to be sure on that too.

Dunno, but I use Glass2k instead, and Glass2k is safe.