How to Design a Car? Step by Step Guide

Hey, are you interested to design a Car? Do you think it all is possible? It is common for automotive designers to develop their ideas from hand drawn sketches first, then use CAD (computer-aided design), an advanced 3D software, to translate those sketches into computer rendered graphics. This is only the beginning of the creative process and does not provide enough information to be able to fully appraise the design of a car or a truck as a whole.

After the full-size model has been carved, the final part of the process is to use the model to translate the look and feel of what will become the final design. Scale models are used for testing aerodynamics, as well as aesthetic considerations, in addition to aesthetic considerations.

Automotive Design or Car Design: What Do You Mean by ?

As far as Automotive Design or car design is concerned, one of the major challenges is being able to combine aerodynamics, aesthetics, and ergonomics principles all at the same time while still meeting Type Approval regulations, which are safety regulations, which are on the other hand, one of the main challenges. There are several shapes that must be included in the exterior design of a vehicle to ensure that the vehicle is aerodynamic: curves, shoulders, wedges, etc.

Professional Car Designing Method

Choosing a model that fits into a market category is the first step that needs to be taken. There are several variants of the car that you can choose from, such as the family car, hatchback, or luxury executive car.  A lot of automotive engineers are aware that if you want to become a good car designer you will need to put a lot of time and effort into this area and gain more and more experience.

Secondly, you have to decide whether you would like to use a front-wheel drive or a rear-wheel drive vehicle.  In order to make your car project more exclusive, you must make this decision in conjunction with engineering and packaging decisions.

It was some time ago that automotive engineers were concerned with the building process of chassis before focusing on the styling of the body. There is no doubt that the look of a car model is one of the most important means of popularizing it today.

Basic Design Principles of a Car

01. Consider the primary purpose of the car when choosing the car’s proportions.

Instead of using curves to draw out the rough shape of the car, simply draw straight lines and right angles to represent the shape. In the next step, divide this block-shaped car into three or four squares, placing one at the top and two or three at the bottom. The final step is to resize and move the squares so they reflect the way the car will be used in order to adjust its size and location.

In case the car has a lot of storage space, stretch the top square so that it covers almost any of the bottom squares of the car, starting at the back of the car and moving forwards as you go. A sports car, for instance, needs to have a short top square that is placed closer to the rear axle if the car is meant to be a sports car.

02. The car should have curved surfaces on every part of its body.

First of all, this is a fundamental principle of automotive design, and it is one of the most important principles for making a car aerodynamic. As a rule, all surfaces on a car are designed to have a horizontal curvature and they are also designed to run in the same direction as the horizontal curvature.

Since when a car is moving forward, the airflow will be directed from front to back, so all of the curves will run from front to back.

03. Car shoulders should be horizontal as much as possible.

Often referred to as “catwalk,” the shoulder of a car is the area directly beneath the side windows, also known as the edge of the car. Despite the fact that the shoulder should wedge upwards slightly near the rear of the car, it should generally be perfectly horizontal along the entire length of the car as a whole.

When Designing the Interior, Balance Practicality with Comfort

All of the interior components of the car, such as the steering wheel, the gearshift, and even the buttons for the air conditioning, should be easily accessible to the driver. Nevertheless, it is also important to make sure that all these interior components look stylish and that there is as much symmetry as possible in the interior.

  • An interior of the car should include the steering wheel, the gear shift, the center console, the airbags, and the seats. The interior of your vehicle should also be equipped with air conditioning vents, cup holders, and other items needed to make the interior as comfortable as possible.
  • The best way to make these components stylish is to design them in a way that is in harmony with the overall aesthetic of the vehicle. . For instance, if the car is a sleek sports carOpens in a new tab., they should also be relatively small and sleek as well.
  • You should make sure that all the colors of all the interior components of your car complement each other or match the color of the car in some way. The color of these components should be a complement to the color of the car, such as green, so if the car is red, it would make sense for them to be red.

Maintain the size of the wheels

The width of your 4 wheels should be about 2 feet which is 0.61 meters wide if you are designing a typical road car. There should also be enough empty space surrounding the two front tires so that they can be turned without the steering wheel having to turn with them; the rear two tires are not required to be turned with the steering wheel. The rear tires should be a bit larger than the front tires if you are making a racecar.

Make sure your design complies with safety laws and safety regulations.

The licensing regulations that govern product designs will inevitably apply to your car design if you plan to bring it to market, and there will undoubtedly be some Type Approval regulations that must be followed. In order to make sure that you are aware of these regulations in relation to the market you are considering entering, you should make sure you are familiar with them.

There are a number of aspects of the car that are governed by these regulations, including the weight of the car, its safety features, whether or not it is equipped with certain products, and, in some cases, even specific aspects of its design.

Ensure that the car you design meets packaging requirements.

Packaging refers to the materials that will be placed inside the car, such as the engine, passengers, and storage space, depending on what is required or planned to be inside. When you are planning on designing a car, make sure you take all of these factors into consideration, and keep enough space in your design so that you can accommodate everything you plan on putting into the car in the future.

Make hand sketches and physical drawings

Begin with the drawing of a rough sketch of your ideas from a single perspective

This can usually be done in an easy and straightforward manner by drawing out the rough outline and shape of the car from the driver’s side of the car. The most important thing is to not worry too much about the final result of the car; all that you need to do is create a rough draft of the car’s body in order to get a visual representation of how it will look when it is completed.

It is also a good idea to take advantage of this time in order to start figuring out how all the various parts of the car that you are designing will fit together in a realistic manner. For instance, if you focused earlier on the windshields, now that you know how the windshields will be mounted on the chassis, you can figure out the best way to do so.

Use a Whiteboard to idealize your concepts and do some basic planning

Make small notes on the board about the parts of the car you are most interested in, and draw very rough, imperfect sketches of the parts of the car you want to learn more about. This is your chance to brainstorm with the least amount of constraint possible and to let your creative juices flow as freely as possible.

If you have any design ideas for the car, you can fine-tune the smaller details according to them

It is now time to focus on the more minute details of the design of your car, once the rough sketch of the car’s body has been completed. Make sure you draw things such as the design of the side mirror, the curve of the side of the car, or any other details that you might have missed in your rough sketch.

There may be some smaller details that you may not be able to match up with the rough sketch that you drew if you examine it closely. There is nothing to worry about! In this case, you will need to go back and create a new rough sketch that you can use to work with in the future. With the help of this process, you will be able to determine which aspects of your design work and which do not.

Make several different perspectives of the car by repeating this process.

Make rough sketches of the top and front views as well as the rear views of the car. Also, draw some diagonal views as well as the top and front views of the car. You will then need to add the smaller details to these sketches so that they look just like your original sketch that you drew originally.

Incorporating computer software and clay modeling techniques

Draw a 2D picture using a paint program, if necessary.

In order to create a three-dimensional rendering of your car, you need to make a two-dimensional drawing first, just to get a rough sense of what your car will look like before you move on to making a three-dimensional rendering. This step can be skipped if you have already made physical sketches of your car, in which case you can skip it.

You do not need to spend money on a more expensive program like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator at this point in order to make a 2D digital drawing of a car. A simple program such as Windows Paint will do the trick perfectly well.

Using a car design program, create a 3D rendering of your car.

 Plug in the different dimensions of your car’s dimensions into a 3D modeling design program to create a visual model. Using the program’s more minute design features, you can then use the program’s capabilities to shape the car’s details to fit your ideas.

To create a 3D model of their car designs, designers frequently use a variety of different computer programs that are available on the market today. It is worth noting that Alias, 3Ds Max, and Blender are some of the most popular design programs used by automotive designers.

It is crucial not to forget that in order to design a 3D car that looks like your 2D drawings as closely as possible, you will need to take advantage of the modelling tools available in the program in order to make changes to the body of your 3D car. These tools may include slide tools, insets, grids, meshes, and more. Measurements such as height, width, and proposed weight are included in these measurements.

If you have access to a 3D printer, you might be able to print a model of your car to use as a model.

 When you do this, you will be able to obtain a physical model of your design, which you can use to examine it in person or to show it off to someone in the automotive design industry. It may be possible to borrow a printer from the local library or university if you don’t own a 3D printer but would like to use one 

If you do not have a 3D printer, you can construct a clay model.

On a small scale, use a knife and a block of Styrofoam to create a general outline of your car. As soon as you have applied plasticine clay to the Styrofoam block with your hands, you are ready to start sculpting. The last step in the design of your car would be to smooth out the clay and use the plaster carving tools to draw the specific design features of the car 

In order to achieve the desired curved surface of your car, its windows, windshield, chassis, and tires, as well as any other design features you added to it, you will need to remove small layers of clay in the appropriate places when carving the specific design of your car.

It is very important that the plasticine clay completely covers the Styrofoam block. It will be infinitely easier to manipulate the clay than the Styrofoam, as this is a much more flexible material.

Then interior modeling and drawing commence.

In many cases, the original designer of the vehicle has already sketched out the interior of the vehicle in advance. There has been no re-designing or re-drawing of the car’s interior as much as there has been for its exterior. However, a sub-team of the overall design team is responsible for re-examining its design and dimensions so that they are in line with the overall changes that have been made to the vehicle as of yet. In the same way, the exterior has to undergo several redrawing and re-designs.

A sketch is typically developed into a computer rendering, which in turn is developed into a CAD drawing, which is then developed into clay models in order to demonstrate what is possible. Typically, three to four models are produced to illustrate all the possibilities. This section goes over everything from the look and feel of the steering wheel to the seating and controls in detail so that you can get a good idea of what you can expect.

Other Design Factors and Finalization Process

It is now time to choose colors, materials, etc.

Designers, after making final design decisions both for the interior as well as the exterior, then go through the hundreds or thousands of options that are available to them for paint, trim colors, fabrics, plastics, accessories, etc., that are available to them. Many times, there will be new things to choose from thanks to the company’s hunter-gatherers, who are constantly scouring the globe for new ideas and options that can be applied to everything from fabrics to industrial materials. 

Driver control elements and dashboard elements are chosen.

Besides choosing the exterior trim and color, we also use detailed models of the interior to adjust and refine the features of the dashboard display and the driver’s controls, in addition to adjusting the dashboard’s display and design. In order to finalize ergonomic changes at this stage, real to life models of plastic or clay are usually used to simulate the final design. Marketing analysis is one of the many choices available to you at this given point.

The next step is to test and refine the materials.

As far as final choices are concerned, we still have a ways to go since they have to stand the test of time and be tested to ensure they will not be brittle or fade their colors too fast. In many cases, these elements have already been subjected to these tests, but there will be new options or materials that will need to be tested for various environmental stress factors.

If the material can withstand extreme heat and cold, direct sunlight and physical use, etc., then it will be able to withstand everyday wear and tear. There are a number of tests that are conducted both in laboratories and on real-life models constructed from the materials under investigation.

The participants will be placed under heat lamps, rubbed continuously by robotic hands, thumped repeatedly with robot arms to simulate the use of human hands, rained on and snowed on, heated and cooled in ever-increasing intensities, and exposed to a variety of various harsh conditions in order to mimic these extreme conditions. People approve them when they have been proven, but also will find an alternative option if they fail for any reason.

It is now time for the final modeling of the interior and exterior.

In the absence of the computer, it has never been possible for the car to be in perfect condition up to this point. A physical model of the car in all its details, inside and outside, is now available for designers and engineers to study.

As the concept has now become a physical reality, we often refer to this as the “concept” as phase marketing. In the final production design phase, the engineering considerations for production begin to play a significant role in the finalized and finalized design.

The model is approved afterward.

Before the vehicle can be approved, management and possibly the company’s board of directors must give their final approval. This phase of the process is dictated by the sales process, and marketing often plays a major role in the process. The final approval for the vehicle will now be given if it is to be constructed. Concepts are often just that, concepts that are never developed further than just a concept.

They are usually developed for marketing purposes, and they are developed for marketing purposes in any case or purposes. In order to showcase the concept models at major auto shows and events, several concept models are often built mainly by hand out of the materials that will be used so that they can represent the materials being used. As far as the drive trains are concerned, some are just sleds that do not possess any working power while others are fully-functioning, drivable vehicles.

A final engineering and production concept has been completed, and production has begun.

The final adjustments to the design of the vehicle will be made by engineers who specialize in tooling factories and the construction of vehicles in order for the vehicle to enter production faster and to cost less money to produce in the future.

In many cases, these changes involve detail changes in the way parts are assembled, the parts that will be used in sourcing, and so on.

  • Throughout the development process of the vehicle, the stages of assembly, from bare frame to finished car, will be mapped out and mapped out in real time so that all the steps in the construction process will be mapped and the tooling required to produce it will be designed and engineered in real time.
  • The details like spec sheets and information for factory workers on the line are also hammered out, along with vehicle testing requirements once the initial models of the vehicle are produced, etc.
  • There is often a difference between the original concept and the final production model during the entire process of developing a vehicle. There has been a transformation from the dreaminess of paper sketches to the reality of a functioning automobile ready to be purchased by consumers.
  • Redesigns of existing models have been completed in as little as a year, while some of the more advanced concepts have taken decades to be developed. From the initial concept to a consumer ready production unit, the development of most designs takes 3 to 5 years.
  • It is common for manufacturers to have models that are on a 4 to 6 year “remodel circuit” which means that every four to six years, the look of the vehicle and the power train will undergo a major renovation. A variety of factors can affect how variations are made, including sales figures, segment market changes, and marketing strategies.

Which Automotive Design Software will be Most Effective in 2023?

Adobe Photoshop

For designing beautiful cars, Adobe Photoshop is also a great option. Users have been able to design unlimited amounts of life-like projects using this application.

Photoshop is widely considered to be the best computer design app because of its powerful set of features. The fact that Photoshop has occupied the second spot in this guide does not detract from its incredible ability as a design tool. Some features are:

  • Selection of objects using AI.
  • Extremely capable software with capability to design in 3D with the help of Artificial Intelligence
  • A wide range of different tools and items to help anyone with the designs.

Autodesk Alias 

The Alias software is designed by Autodesk and is a very powerful tool that can be used to work on industrial designs as well as for automotive projects.

In this program, you will find a wide range of tools that will make it easy for you to sketch and model, as well as go from 2D sketches to 3D models quickly and easily. As a matter of fact, Aston Martin actually uses it to develop the designs for their cars. Few of its major features are as follows

  • Surfaces can be defined from scanned meshes.
  • Images can be snapped, scaled, and pivoted using this software.
  • From scanned meshes, the ability to define a surface can be achieved.


Besides being free of charge, Blender offers a wide range of useful tools when it comes to designing automotive, which makes it a useful tool. In addition to simulation tools, it supports NURBS surfaces as well as polygon meshes as well as being able to develop your own features if you are an advanced user.

There are a number of training materials and courses available for Blender thanks to its large community of users. Some of its major features are as follows:

  • The software as the ability to combine the 2D and the 3D elements
  • The Software also gives you the ability to do rigging and animation
  • Sculpting tools and brushes of the highest quality in this software

Adobe illustrator

With the help of this software, you will have access to an incredibly comprehensive set of tools that you can use to assist you in designing the next flagship car you want to manufacture with the help of leading edge technology.

Since Illustrator was built from the ground up with the idea of design in mind, its creators have been able to pack it with a variety of incredible tools and features that can simplify the design process in any manner they choose.

Due to the fact that the designing process is so well thought out, it enables you to concentrate on the details of your creation, without having to worry about the limitations of what you can achieve.

  • It is possible to render blur, drop shadows, and glow effects with fast rendering speeds.
  • Depending on the elements you have selected, the Properties Panel provides you with customized options.
  • Using the Puppet Warp tool, workspaces can be optimized using puppet warp.
  • The Software also comes with the ability to customize the size of anchor points.
  • The Creative Cloud suite is fully integrated with this support and the software also has a large community support from Adobe Itself.


Interior designers are responsible for fitting together all the components that make up a car while maintaining its aesthetics and comfort at the same time.

In addition to choosing the materials that will be used in making the different parts of the vehicle, designers are also responsible for selecting the trim packages, fabrics, plastics, and metals that will be used to construct them. In the automotive industry, a trim package is a set of accessories that are attached to the car, such as paint patterns, bumpers, wood trims, etc.

Taking their initial ideas to the next level, they will have to translate them into reality by putting them into a practical environment. To achieve this, designers usually carve scale models out of a material known as industrial plasticine, which is usually a form of clay.


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