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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

From 2D design to 3D clay: Our industry insider peels back the studio curtain

Hello there! My name is Adrian Clarke. I am a professional car designer, earning a degree in automotive design from Coventry University and a Masters in Vehicle Design from the Royal College of Art in London. While I was there, one of my tutors was J Mays. (He used to bring in doughnuts.)
https://www.hagerty.com/media/car-design/from-2d-design-to-3d-clay-our-industry-insider-peels-back-t...
14 REPLIES 14
rdsieber
Pit Crew

Very impressive coverage of the processes and the expense of bringing an idea to market. Annual total makeovers are probably no longer feasible with this level of involvement!
=rds
AdrianClarke
Intermediate Driver

No they’re not. Manufacturers tweak the features and model mix year by year, and may adjust pricing if they’ve got it horribly wrong, but wholesale yearly sheet metal changes are a thing of the past. Models are usually on sale for about 7-8 years with a mid-cycle refresh that usually involves new front and rear lights and bumpers. Cars are constantly developed with rolling improvements under the skin though, which is why it’s usually worth avoiding the first year of a new model.
CitationMan
Instructor

Fantastic article, I always wondered about the actual process behind the models.
Adrian, why do many modern designs these days look like a different team designed the front, sides, and back of a car? There seems to be a distinct lack of cohesiveness to the overall design of many cars. The different facets of the car are not speaking the same language, as Frank Stephenson might say.
Solosolo
Intermediate Driver

Here in UK we have the Nissan Juke (Joke) that also looks like it was designed by a bunch of schoolchildren. Horrible looking vehicle.
AdrianClarke
Intermediate Driver

The surfacing and detailing on the Juke is meant to be challenging, but the stance and the proportions are spot on. It was deliberately designed this way as it was aimed at younger consumers and was one of the first B class CUVs so they wanted it to stand out.
AdrianClarke
Intermediate Driver

Harley Earl used to consider the front, sides and rear of the car in isolation, concentrating on the details. This was partly due the way he insisted on his designers working, drawing the three views individually like an architects drawing before allowing them to start on a model. His successor Bill Mitchell, who was a trained illustrator (unlike Earl) said the car should make sense as you walk around and take in the whole thing.
I think some manufacturers in their pursuit of drama lose sight of this and overdo it, aiming for distinctiveness over cohesiveness. As a designer you can only capture two sides in a sketch (most sketches are front three quarter and rear three quarter) so the skill is in the transition from 2D to 3D.
Tinkerah
Technician

Making sure the side mirrors don't direct rain onto the door glass?? Just one example of things I never realized had to be considered but boy you'd know it if it hadn't been done.
AdrianClarke
Intermediate Driver

Ever wondered what that channel running around the circumference of the mirror housing is for? Now you know!
Flashman
Instructor

Like pornography, I can't define good design but I know it when I see it. It's so easy to criticize a design but it's super interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes to create even a bad one (managers or lawyers are usually involved). Thanks so much for your insider insight and lifting the screen. Looking forward to the next article.
AdrianClarke
Intermediate Driver

Glad you liked it. Good design should make sense aesthetically, should fulfil or surpass it’s intended purpose, be intuitive to use and make it’s owners feel good about their purchase. Ideally it should make money as well, but sadly this isn’t always the case!
ConfuciusRacing
Detailer

Wow, thanks for the insight. I think all of 'know' about cay modeling and about it's presence in the process; however, this article was like turning on a light in a dark room. Really illuminated more of the details of the process and where it fits in in multi-million dollar decisions about what makes it into production. Many thanks.
AdrianClarke
Intermediate Driver

Thank you for your kind words. Clay modelling seems like one of those that’s an anachronism these days but there’s very good reasons why it’s still used and continues to be important. Sometimes you just need to look at something right in front of you.

SJ
Instructor

Amazing!
Gary_Bechtold
Technician

Pretty cool look into the design process and how models are formed. I have known some of this from my experiences but it was a very nice way of organizing all of it in a clear and concise way.