Sketching: Why is it important?

Product design is a process that progresses from an idea to reality in stages.

Whether you’re designing a simple tool or a complex automobile, it all starts with an idea. And what’s the best way (and the fastest) to put down your idea on a paper?

You sketch it out.

To sketch is to design.

Sketching is an important aspect of product design and development. However, not many designers pay to sketch the respect it deserves. It’s just an afterthought.

There’s a lot of back and forth that happens between the various design stages. As the idea matures and needs refinement, sketching can become an invaluable part of your job as a designer.

Put ideas quickly on paper.

Charting down ideas immediately on paper is the most efficient way to evaluate them and see whether they’re worth exploring further.

It only takes a few seconds to sketch your idea. If you’re not satisfied with it, you can refine it or move on to the next idea immediately. Plus, it’s a great feeling to get the idea out of your head and have it on paper.

READ: How to encourage your kid to be a designer


Great for brainstorming and collaboration.

It’s natural for a group to lose focus and become disillusioned when you first present your design concept. Communicating what’s in your head with just words is extremely difficult, especially when you’re trying to put forward a visual idea. Sketching helps you to convey your design ideas to everyone in a simple manner.

Furthermore, sketches from team members can be reviewed and compared to consolidate the best ideas. Based on the features required, these ideas can be further refined to select the best design for your product.

 

It saves time.

Sketching saves a lot of time. Your first idea is rarely the best one. Thus, if you need to revise your sketch, it only takes a few seconds to update it or draw a new one. Doing the same on a computer may take hours, if not more.

Moreover, it’s a quick way to get client feedback and move ahead with a mutually accepted idea.  The more time you save deciding on an idea, the better you can refine it further. It’s all a matter of prioritizing, and sketching helps you with that immensely.   

It’s easy and fun.

Sketching is for everyone. It’s a universal language which everyone can understand. Anyone can sketch ideas and become involved with the product design process. A few basic shapes, lines, arrows, and stick figures are all you need to get started with sketching. Once you discover how easy and enjoyable it is, you won’t ever look back!

Sketching is a powerful communication tool.

Complex design problems are hard to solve without fleshing out the intricate details. Sketching helps you resolve them by fishing out the best ideas. That’s one of the major reasons why sketching will always remain an important aspect of product design and development.

If you have any experiences with sketching within the product design process, please share them with the Launchpad community.

Electric scooters that you can buy right now

Electric is the future! Dread it, Run from it Destiny arrives all the same.

Electric scooters

As it turns out facts overpower emotions in the end. Doesn’t matter how much you love your petrol and diesel-powered vehicles, the shift to alternate power sources remains inevitable. As the abuse of Fossil fuels, since the industrial revolution, has made it a scarce, hence an expensive commodity as well as a threat to the environment.

A near solution to the problem of air pollution is battery-powered vehicles aka EVs. They are silent, cause no pollution and are inexpensive in the long run, as there is no fuel costs. Among the growing choices of EVs in the market right now, here are few that you can buy right away:

Bajaj : Chetak

The scooter is meant to have a premium experience.

Bajaj Motors today inaugurated the Chetak. A scooter that holds fond memories to most of our childhood rides. Built with metal, this scooter is termed by bajaj as a premium scooter, and quite rightly so. The buttons are replaced with switches, and man does it feel premium. The plethora of features includes keyless start, full led setup, soft close systems and much more.

Performance figures show that this scooter can reach a top speed of 90 kmph in the sports mode with a range of 80-85 km while the eco mode can push the bike up to 95-100 km on a single charge.

check them out here.

Ather: 340

Alt Text!

Being the most talked-about startup since last few years, Ather is surely pulling some right strings. Punchy acceleration, with a 5 kW peak power from the motor results in some crispy ride through the city traffic. Designed to stand out among the crowd, the scooter doesn’t disappoint in providing the performance it is expected to give.

Sprinting from 0-40 kmph in just 3.9 seconds this scooter can well pass any scooter in the traffic. And, with AtherGrid popping out here and there in the city, A 70-85 km range on a city scooter is by far not a bad deal.

Check them out here.

Hero Electric: Photon

Being one of the most trusted brands in the Indian market, the hero electric group came out with a bunch of fun and well-designed scooter. The esthetics does not disappoint, as well as the performance. Being a city scooter the photon does its job well. From an aerodynamic body design to providing a 3-year worry-free warranty the scooter has you covered.

Designed to run in an urban landscape, the photon can reach a top speed of 45 kmph and a range of 80 km/charge.

Check it out here.

Ampere: Zeal




Highlighting their chassis lightness, the Ampere zeal sure makes the logic-heads turn their attention to it. As promoted by the manufacturers, the scooter is supposed to be “30 kg lighter than conventional scooters”, resulting in an impressive weight number of 78 kg kerb weight.

This sure shows up in how the scooter handles and performs. It has a range of 78 km/Charge, reaching top speeds of 60 kmph. Features like, a portable battery, tubeless tyres, fully digital instrument panel and led lights to complete the package.

Check it out here.

Yo Bykes: EDGE

The fresh new look to the scooter does make you ask,” YO! wassup?.” Yo bykes have been there for as long as I can remember about electric vehicles. They were among the firsts to get people excited about electric scooters for the daily commute. The Yo EDGE, with its refreshing new look does make one buy one while giving a tough competition to their newer competitions.

With a top speed of 25 kmph, guess what? NO LICENCE! NO REGISTRATION! Over that, a range of 70 km per charge can easily put this bike on top of the list for buyers who want a city scooter that offers no-nonsense riding.

Check them out here.

Okinawa: Praise

Praise it all you want, cuz that claimed 170-200 km range is insanely impressive. Though Okinawa claims that the tests are done in ideal conditions, the real-life range is not what it should be, but still impressive. Running a 1 kW motor that peaks at 2.5 kW to push the bike up to 70 kmph top speed.

With the price points being equally impressive, this scooter brand has made its presence felt all over the country with its numerous outlets all over India.

Check them out here.

22kymco: iFlow

The scooter brand, that made headline last year with its 160 km promised range, swappable batteries and an insane 90 Nm torque at 100 RPM. The 22 motor’s iFlow boasts of AI-driven scooter functions and other features like smooth acceleration, premium built quality and IoT. 22 motors in partnership with KYMCO motors, Taiwan has made the iFlow a pretty well-built scooter.

The release dates for the scooter was supposed to be September 2019, yet we have to wait to get news of the event.

Check them out here.

Pure EV: E Pluto

Granting a 120 km absolute range, that is more than sufficient for any city rider, the ePluto presents us with some beautiful design for a scooter. The scooter is yet to arrive in the market carries a massive 2 kWh battery pack, coupled with a lightweight chassis makes the scooter a product to wait for.

“With a top speed of 35 kmph, it does 0-25 kmph in 4 seconds and we will enhance the top speed to 45 kmph in the coming year,” says Mr Rohit Vadera, CEO, Pure EV.


With the scooter itself claimed to weigh around 45 kg, this product is sure to intrigue us with its 80km claimed range.

Check them out here.

With the coming EV rush, it’s just exciting to watch newer technology being implemented to entice the general public to take up electric mobility as their primary mode of transport. We only hope that the future of EVs is exciting and as feel-good as the present mode of 2 wheel travel is right now(or more).

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

Research

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.

Packaging

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.

Sketching

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.

Rendering

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.   

CAD

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

Pre-ideation:

  • 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.

Ideation:

  • 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRr_GyD1fqY

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: http://launchpadacademy.wiziq.com/online-class/4370501-launchpad-academy-introduction-to-styling-and-car-design-process.

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.

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