The Car Design Process – Webinar highlights

Hosted by Mr. Amar Kler, who’s a lead designer at one of the leading automobile firms in India, this webinar on ‘Introduction to Car Design’ was a great starting platform for all those who are interested in becoming an automobile designer.

Amar kicked off the webinar by asking the participants about their favourite cars. Mini Cooper, Audi R8 and Lamborghini Murciélago were some of the favourite choices amongst the participants.

Once all the participants had settled in, it was time to get started with the main presentation. Here are some highlights from the webinar:

Learning the Basic Automobile Design Process


Any new product being developed goes through a research phase. The research can be done using a host of varying methods. Once you have the data ready from intensive research, you can move to the next stage.


From the data gathered in the research phase, you can understand the needs of the end users or the target market. For example, there may be a need for a new kind of sports car. The engineers and the designers then sit together and design a package for the same.

Inspiration / Mood Board

Every designer has their own inspiration. If the need is speed, maybe a fighter jet or a jet ski can be taken as an inspiration. You have to take all the inspiration that you can gather and create a mood board to create the thrill of designing a car based on that inspiration.


Once your mind is into the mood of what you want, you can get started with sketching. Your inspirations and mood board will help you with coming up with innovative concepts. This is the phase where you can go wild and explore your creative as well as your rational side.


This phase involves 2D rendering. It’s done physically with markers and colours, or digitally with Photoshop or similar software. 2D rendering is crucial to visualize whether the car’s design is feasible or not.

Tape Drawing

Tape drawing is ideal to take your sketch and visualize your design’s side view at full scale. It’s done using a black tape that can curve easily across bends. The tape can be removed and reapplied unlike regular tapes.   


Once you’re confident with how the car looks in full scale, you can move ahead with Computer Aided Design or sculpting. CAD is used to visualize the car’s design digitally as a 3D model. Autodesk Alias is one of the most popular CAD software used by automobile designers.  

Sculpting (Milling or Clay)

A clay model is the best solution to render the car’s design physically. It’s a very skill-intensive process and requires a lot of patience. Once finished, the clay model gets scanned with a 3D scanner. The digital 3D scan is then fed into a CAD software, where it can be refined further. Chavant clay or Faber clay are the most common clays used.

Milling is done to impart the minute details and curves to the clay model. It can be done via a 3-axis or 5-axis milling machine.

Understanding the 2 Types of Car Design Studios

Advanced Design Process

Setting up Design Language / Philosophy

An automotive brand’s design language or philosophy is vital to establish a connect with their consumers and stand apart from their competition. This is done by the advanced design team.  

Example: Hyundai coming up with Fluidic design philosophy for all their cars. Similarly, Ford has their Kinetic design philosophy.

Fixing architecture and volume for the upcoming models

Research and packaging is done by the advanced design team. This is done in collaboration with both the designers and the engineers.

Working in sync with product development

The advanced design team will update the product development team about any changes or updates to the design language well in advance. The advanced design team usually works on a 6 to 7-year cycle, whereas the product development team usually works on a 2-year cycle.  

Production Design Process


  • Research – explained earlier.
  • Benchmarking – comparison with competitor cars and brands.
  • Mood Board – explained earlier.
  • Trends – auto expos, architectural trends, car design trends, etc.
  • Scope – what can be done on this project, the budget, timelines, etc.


  • Sketching – explained earlier.
  • Rendering – explained earlier.
  • Refining – explained earlier.
  • Detailing – headlamps, tail lamps, etc.

Concept CAD Development – explained above.

Milling, Clay & Scanning – explained above.

A Class Surfacing – It’s done to make sure that all the highlights of the car’s surface flow smoothly. A Class Surface ensures that the car’s surface doesn’t look warped, poorly made or wobbly.  

Feasibility – Whether the car design can be actually manufactured after taking into account a multitude of different factors, rules and safety regulations. Most car designs have to go through a rigorous feasibility test phase before moving on to the next stage in the production plan.

Engineering Support – The engineering aspect of the production is handed over to the engineering team after the design is delivered. Engineering teams help the designers know how to come up with practical designs that can be taken up for production.   

Getting a Hold of the Design Language

Language is a means of communicating your feelings, emotions and thoughts. Spoken language is expressed through words. Music is an audio-based language. Dance is a movement-based language. Similarly, car design language uses forms and shapes to communicate.

Every car design has a certain emotion and feeling attached to it. This is one of the most crucial aspects of automotive design. Without a strong emotional connect, a car’s design would fall flat.

Apart from conveying the appropriate feeling and emotion, form also communicates the direction of the car. It guides the onlooker on how the car’s shape flows, without which the car’s design looks jaded and confusing.

A well-defined design philosophy is critical to a company’s success.

Design philosophy is based on 4 core elements:

  • Consumers
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • Engineering R&D

Most automobile companies try to keep their design philosophy a closely guarded secret. It’s the equivalent of a secret recipe as far as their brand’s perception is concerned. However, one can gauge what a certain carmaker’s design philosophy is by describing how their cars make you feel and what message their marketing campaigns carry.   

Some of the automotive design philosophies discussed in the webinar included those of Mercedes Benz, Rolls-Royce, Hyundai and Ford.

Time for Some Sketching Hacks

Take the tyre of the car as a reference for the width, height, front and rear of the car. For example, for a sedan, the wheelbase is roughly three tyres wide and the height is two tires in length. The front and rear overhangs are roughly 1-tyre wide.

You can take this as a rough guide to get started with your sketch.  

Common Terms Used by Car Designers

Beltline – the line where the glass on the top meets the car’s body at the bottom.

Body Section – when the car’s body is cut sideways, it exposes all its inner sections. This is similar to how a cake’s inner body is exposed when a cake piece is cut.

Cab Forward Design – when the car’s entire glass area is biases towards the front.

Character Line – the line on the side of the car which establishes the character of the car. Apart from being a visual design element, it can also play an aerodynamic role based on the design of the car.

Cheater Panel / Quarter Panel – the panel on which the Outer Rear View Mirror (ORVM) sits. It can be towards the front or the end of the glass.

Crown – a surface bulge on the car, usually on the bonnet. However, a crown can be anywhere on the car.

DLO (Day Light Opening) – all the glass area exposed to day light.

DRG (Down the Road Graphics) – the front face of the car. It’s what gives the car its characteristic look when you see it coming down the road towards you.  

Di-Noc – the film used to wrap the car’s clay model. It makes the car body look like it has been painted. It can be removed easily unlike paint.

Fender – the area above the tyre.

Bumper – the area in the front of the car. This bumps first into another car or object if there’s a collision; hence the name.

Firewall – the area in the car which is between the interior dash and the exterior engine. It blocks all the noise, vibrations and heat from entering the interiors.

Haunch – similar to a fender, but it feels more like an organic element. Kind of like a muscle. It feels more alive.

Highlights – surface elements on a car’s design that give it a certain distinct character.

Overhang – whatever is left of the car after the rear tyre is the rear overhang. Similarly, whatever is left of the car after the front tyre is called the front overhang.

Shoulder / Shoulder Line / Character Line – the area just below the belt line on the car’s body. This gives the car’s body strength and doesn’t make it seem flat. A shoulder is a positive bulge (like an actual shoulder), however, a character line needn’t necessarily be a shoulder.

Shutlines – the panel gaps between different parts of the car. It makes the interfaces of different car elements look aesthetic.

Armature Buck – a real-life model made using wood, clay and other interior elements to visualize the car’s interiors.      

Gull Wing Doors / Suicide Doors (or Barn Doors) / Scissor Doors – gull wing doors open upside from the bottom, whereas scissor doors open upside from the side. Suicide doors have the rear door opening from the front (i.e. the rear door has a hinge on the rear).

Ramp Angles – used to calculate the ground clearance, usually in SUVs.

Sketch Model – a small quarter-scale model of the car.

Tape Drawing – a styling tape used to model the car physically, usually in side view.   

Savour the BMW Car Designing Process

A great inspiring video on how the car design process works. The entire class watched this video to understand the car designing process in brief. Having understood the theory behind it and all the terms used, this video was a good way to end the session.

This free webinar was an informative introduction to what car designing is all about. The participants learned what they’ll be getting into if they decide to get into this field or sign up for Launchpad Academy’s car designing course.

You can view the recording of the webinar here:

How to get car design job in Jaguar Design: 7 top tips from Ian Callum

Ian Cullam Car Designer

Ian Callum , Director of Design , Jaguar




In this article , Ian Cullam , Director of Design at Jaguar gives young students and professionals interested in car design some important tips to secure a job at jaguar in the design department. These tips are universal and would help any student of car design who is currently in the process of job hunt or preparation of portfolio.

Today a career in car design job is much more competitive than when I first started my automotive career. It’s critical that you stand out from the crowd. Here are my top tips when applying for a job here at Jaguar.

1. A killer portfolio is key

When I first arrived at Jaguar, I received a portfolio once every few months. Now we’re getting at least one a week, from all over the world. Portfolios say a lot; they are the first point of contact. Some of the books I get are beautifully made; they’re like coffee table books, but it’s the content that really counts. I can tell from four or five pages how good somebody is. It should show the thought process, with sketches and quick ideas, right through to a fully rendered car. Remember I don’t need to see your life story in drawings (although I do sometimes get it!).

2. Write a killer cover letter to go with it

Remember that your portfolio is going to land on my desk with lots of others. A cover letter is a must. This needs to be succinct, showing an understanding of Jaguar. Give me an indication of your genuine interest in not just being a designer, but being a Jaguar designer.

Before you go for an interview, you should find out about Jaguar. Find out about the person who will interview you. Who are they? What do they do? What are their interests? This gives you the advantage of knowing how to deal with them, because you deal with people according to their character. We all do.

Ian callum sketch

Ian cullam sketch

3. Demonstrate creative thinking and drawing ability

I am often asked what qualities I look for in a designer. The most important mental skill is to be creative and to be able to think laterally. That’s the first thing I look for in any designer. The main physical skill I’m looking for is your ability to draw. Drawing is how we communicate.

4. Be yourself down to the last detail

First impressions are everything. I’m not necessarily expecting you to turn up in a three-piece-suit or a shirt and tie. People can present themselves in all sorts of different ways. You have to present your character as you really are. Designers look at details. I know a very famous entrepreneur who, when he sees people for the first time, looks at the heels of their shoes. Be aware that people are looking at these details. Don’t take the chance.

5. Be interesting and interested

Be prepared for what you want to say. You’ve got to be clear about what you want out of the job; not just financial benefit but real personal gain. The best candidates are interesting to talk to, and leave me wanting to know more. That’s always fascinating. However, I have interviewed people who just won’t stop talking. It’s nerves a lot of the time. Don’t be nervous, we’re all human. Be concise and listen.

Don’t forget to smile. It’s all about human interaction and a smile says so much about somebody.

6. Be a team player

We need an eclectic mix of people who fit into a team. I don’t have time for overly-confident, single-minded people. I used to be one of those people who could only work on my own, and that’s why I left Ford when I did, to set up my own design studio with “me, myself and I”. But since I have arrived at Jaguar, the most important thing I’ve learnt is to manage teamwork. A car is made up of thousands of parts and no one person can work alone with such a magnitude of work.

I say to my team “leave your ego at the door”. Of course every designer has an ego. Of course every designer wants to get their design up front. I’m quite happy with that. I’m not asking them to forfeit their design for the sake of teamwork. I’m asking them to understand that everybody in the team has something to offer and they must respect that. I don’t mind individuals with an individual character, but remember you are part of a team.

7. Show your love of learning and improving

The most important thing to remember is that your latest work is not necessarily your best and even if you think it at the time, it will get better. That is what makes a good designer.

There’s a lovely quote from Thomas Edison which I utterly believe in: “When you’ve exhausted all of the possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.”

Ian Callum at Jaguar  Launch


About Ian Culla

Ian Callum, RDI, Jaguar Director of Design, was born in Dumfries, Scotland. Ian attended a course in Industrial Design at Glasgow School of Art, followed by a 2-year course in Automobile Design at the Royal College of Art.

Ian spent the first 12 years of his career at Ford Design Studios, where he contributed to the creation of the Escort RS Cosworth and the Ghia Via Concept. Later, as Chief Designer of TWR Design, he was responsible for the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish.

Ian joined Jaguar in 1999 but continued to manage Aston Martin Design, developing the DB9 as well as directing Jaguar Design where he and his team created, amongst others, the R-Coupe, RD-6 and C-X75 concepts. Heralding an exciting new era for the brand, each car takes the design theme further and continues to reinforce Jaguar as a creator of ‘fast, beautiful cars.’ The first new model was the XK, followed by the XF and XJ. In September 2012 the much-anticipated F-TYPE was launched, Jaguar’s first 2-seater sports car since the iconic E-Type. This was followed later by the Jaguar XE, which Ian designed for a very competitive segment. A bold statement for Jaguar using Ian’s established design philosophy.

If you love cars and are interested in designing them, our Diploma in Car Design course is the perfect choice for you to get started on your journey towards becoming a car designer.





 We are Happy to introduce and welcome our new mentor to Launchpad Academy.

Arun is a passionate creative with varied interest ranging from  Car Design , Design Sketching , Motor Sports, Travel and Adventure  .  He is graduate of MIT Institute of Design and has a post graduate degree in Transportation Design from  Istituto Europeo di Design(IED),  Turin.  Arun had also interned and worked at companies like Mahindra , Elixi apart from running his own Design Studio.

Arun has participated in many international design contests and his work has got wide spread coverage in International media.  He is skilled in freehand sketching, Marker rendering, Photoshop/ALIAS and he also likes to build stuff using Clay,MDF and wood. At Launchpad Arun will be creating content and delivering  online and classroom courses as well as workshops all over the world.  Please keep following our page for more updates on this . Meanwhile some of Arun’s work is displayed below.

P. S : We are launching a new classroom course in Bangalore with Arun, If you are interested, please leave a comment with your contact details or email us on


sports car arun


Sketching Portfolio

Sketching Portfolio


Launchpad Academy

Launchpad Academy


Apply to the Renault Car Design Internship Program.

6 design talents will be selected to work, for 6 months, in an existing Renault Design Studio. At the end of internship program, Job offers will be made to 1 or 2 participants.

Renault Design always has had a close to Design school students.

RENAULT has been sponsoring projects or doing workshops about Car Design & Design Management and encouraging design talent.

With the Design Academy , Renault had decided to go one step to train young talents, select the best and put them together in one of our foreign Design Studio under the mentorship of their top designers .

There will be several project briefings and meetings and presentation to top management

Renault will give a project, based on which a final offer will be made to the best candidate.

All finalists will get a certificate and the two best ones will receiva permanent real designer job offer.

About the Renault Design Academy

The Design Academy project was organized by Renault Design and developed under the lead of Project Director Patrick Lecharpy (VP Advanced Design and Head of Renault Design India studios) and Project Manager Luciano Bove, (Design Academy Head of Program and Advanced Design Manager).


Design Academy will accept applications from any ex design school student (undergraduate & postgraduate).

However; candidates must have no more than 2 years after their graduation day, candidates have never worked before, candidates who might have had already one or more internships.

Candidates must have a high comprehension & written level of the English language

Candidates must send their CV + Portfolio in PDF light format (no more than 4MB) via the website .

Selected candidates will be contacted by Renault as soon as possible.

Candidates must have a valid Passport

The Design Academy will be held at Renault Design Studio in Chennai India.

apply here

This is a wonderful opportunity for Launchpad Students to especially those with a postgraduate degree to work with Renault and we encourage each and every one of our students in the car design program to apply to this.The key skills to focus is car sketching skills.  Please contact if you need any help in applying to the program.




From Studying Engineering to Becoming a Car Designer : The Journey of Muqeet Arsh

Meet Muqeet Arsh, a Mechanical Engineering graduate from AMC College of Engineering, Bangalore, who got admitted into Masters in Transportation & Car Design course at Scuola Politecnica di Design, Italy, after doing his Diploma in Car Design from Launchpad Academy. He is currently pursuing his second year . He kindly agreed to meet couple of our students and talk to us about his experiences.
With two years of work experience at Mahindra under his belt, Muqeet was all set to take the next grand step in his career. His eyes were all set on being an automobile designer.
Having no background with design, he opted to hone his design skills before applying for a master’s degree at a foreign university. That’s when he enrolled himself in Launchpad’s Diploma in Car Design course.

visit to ferrari

visit to ferrari

In a live session with Launchpad Alumni, Muqeet shared his experience on how Launchpad helped him realize his dream. Here are some of his excerpts and learnings from the session.
Joining Launchpad’s Diploma in Car Design Course

“I did my Mechanical Engineering from AMC College. After that I joined Launchpad Academy. This helped me a lot to focus where exactly I wanted to be. They guided me how exactly to apply to colleges and which all colleges are open to apply.”
Learning How to Sketch

Sketching is one of the most essential skills to get into a design course at any prestigious university. Being from an engineering background, Muqeet realized that he had to learn how to sketch freely and own this skill. “I used to sketch but I didn’t know how to get into this field.”. Launchpad’s sketching and design course helped him hone his skills and get admitted to SPD, Italy.

Building a Strong Portfolio
“When I started, my portfolio was really bad. It was basically a word document with all my sketches. You can start with anyhow you want depending on how your skill level is.”
Your portfolio needn’t be anything fancy. Just include a collection of your best work. Focus on free hand sketches and showcase any other creative pursuits you may have such as drawing, painting or even clay modelling.

Why Join a University?

You will get to know what you really want to do. They’ll help you hone your skills right and get to the next level. The industry demands certain skills and traits from the designers, and the university prepares you to gel perfectly with it.
Getting Admitted is Only the Beginning

The SPD admission process consists of an online application process followed by a skype interview, wherein you’re given a live sketching assignment. It’s that simple really, provided you’re already prepared.
The course which Muqeet opted for at SPD is in English. No GRE score or TOEFL certificate was required to qualify for an admission.
About the Course
As with any design course, it’s extremely rigorous and tough. Classes are short, but most of the time is spent completing assignments and projects. You’ll hardly find time for any other activities, except on weekends.
The course is divided into two years. The first year is compulsory for students from non-design background. On completion of the first year, every student gets a 1-year post graduation certificate. Only those who score more than 8.5 GPA in their first year get into the second year to earn their master’s degree.
“Out of 12 students from my class just 4 of us made it to the second year.”
The course fee is roughly INR 20 Lakhs and the living cost is around 1000 Euro a month in Italy.
Learning from Industry Experts
The professors at SPD are all industry experts and come from some of the top design studios and automotive companies in the world. One of the professors is working for Alfa Romeo. Another was one of the designers for Niki Lauda’s Ferrari car. Learning from such experienced professionals was truly an amazing experience for him.

SPD is affiliated with Volkswagen Group, an automobile conglomerate with many companies under their belt. As a result, students get a chance to do projects at leading automobile firms such as Alfa Romeo to Lamborghini.
“My first year we worked with Alfa Romeo and Fiat. My second year as soon as I’ll be joining we’ll start with live projects from Lamborghini, Audi and Ducati.”
Why Italy and not US or Germany?
“As far as design is concerned I think Italy is the best place to learn, because it is known as the design capital of the world. They’re the oldest and one of the most famous designers in the world. They’re very precise, they know what they want and how they want it to be in the future.”
Being the home of iconic car brands like Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, Italy has been very influential in car design. We cannot argue with him here.

Joining Launchpad’s course helped Muqeet grab a seat at one of the most prestigious design universities in the world.
If you love cars and are interested in designing them, our Diploma in Car Design course is the perfect choice for you to get started on your journey towards becoming a car designer.

Here is the video of session.

× How can I help you?