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Making Clay Models of Cars as Part of Car Design

Luciano Bove is a car design manager working at Renault Design. Born in Italy, he graduated from Art Center College of Design in California.

Clay Modeling

Clay Modeling

Clay Models Are Essential to Understanding Car Design

In schools that teach car design, a course in model making is important to a complete education in car design. To model our own design with our own hands is the best thing we can do to learn about car design.

Some designers have never had the opportunity to learn how to use model making tools, work with wood, clay, resin, paint, and bondo, and transfer sections of their own their design onto a clay "buck" to turn the design into a good looking car model. This step is very important because it helps us understand how to convert the 2D phase of design into a more complex 3D one. Designers who haven't had this experience have some problems in judging volumes and proportions on a real model. They will have the same problems in judging a digital model on an Alias computer.

My message of today to all young students reading this article is be serious with your models and learn how to make a good model using all available materials. Most important to use is clay. Learn the technique of applying clay to a buck (a structure made of wood and white light polystyrene) and later with the application of your design sections (YO center line, a plan section plus 3 or 4 cross sections).

The next step is the best one; it is the real modeling of your car's surfaces and proportions with insertions of fine details.

When we are finished with our sections we can start using clay tools to really model the main volume using the sections as reference. The volume we will get is just our clay sketch model with which we check proportions and main lines (roof line, belt line, center line balance...). Now, with our clay tools and some 4mm black flexible tape we can apply our design.

Our color sketches in all views will help to create the wanted design and most important preserve the feeling our sketches. We can retrace lines on our clay surface to make corrections, and quickly clean up the surface with our clay tools.

When we think the clay model is done, we can just close our eyes (this is not a joke!), put our hands on the model clay model and feel surfaces and intersections to check the harmony of the shapes and the quality of the surfaces.

Now we can apply all necessary details.

When you start spraying your favourite paint with your personal spray gun, you will have an incredible experience! Your baby is born. Reflecting yourself in that model will bring life to it.

This will help you to make you into a good starting professional designer and will make your life in design studios a lot easier!

Thank you.