If you are creative and love cars, then being an automobile designer is probably your dream job. But do you know what it takes to design cars at the top level? If not, it’s not really your fault because few people talk about wanting to design cars. Let’s talk about what you’ll need to do to design future cars and bikes:
Understand the job and Automotive Design Industry
To make a car, a lot of people have to work together in a coordinated way.
Harmony is important. The goal of that vehicle is decided by the marketing team and the bosses: What kind of car is it? Is it a supercar? Is it a family saloon? SUV? Super saloon?
Engineers and designers are told what the main idea is. So, there has to be a function behind the form. And design often takes a back seat if it makes a car, bus, truck, MPV, etc. less useful.
Most people think that designing a car means just making it look nice. But car designers work on three main things: the outside, the inside, and the choice of colours and trim. All of these things are important and can make or break an automobile. Watch this video to learn about how a car is made:
The first thing that exterior designers do is make several sketches of how a car should look. Some people like to start with a pencil and paper, while others go right to a 3D CAD tool. Later, they move on to a clay model and carve out their idea. After that, the clay model is turned into a digital file. This digital file is given to the management and the suppliers so that they know what to expect. The digital file’s quality and details are improved until all the sizes, materials, and tolerances are set.
I think it’s harder to be an interior designer because people are more likely to look past a bad exterior design if the inside and features are on par with the competition. People inside a car are always using things like buttons, the steering wheel, seats, storage spaces, etc. Imagine if the buttons weren’t in the right place, the seats weren’t comfortable, the dashboard was too high and made it hard to see, or the car just looked old. Even just one of these things would drive me crazy.
Trim & Color: Designers choose the materials that will be used on the inside and outside of a car. Leather, fabric, carpets, plastics, chrome, carbon fibre, and alcantara are some of the materials that can be used. They have to think about how much the car will cost, what colours can be put together, and what the car stands for as a whole. They are the reason why most sports cars now have steering wheels made of alcantara. For this job profile, it’s best to have a degree in textile and fashion design.
It also helps a lot when car designers know the basics of how cars work and what their design limits are. They are easier for engineers to use and can speed up the design process. Watch this interview with Tata Motors Vice President of Global Design Pratap Bose:
Get the Required Education
A bachelor’s degree in automobile design is almost a must for jobs in car design, even if you are talented. The design school curriculum is often changed to reflect changes in the industry. Because these schools work closely with car companies, the degrees they give are highly valued by car companies. During recruitment drives, a lot of students are picked up right from these schools.
Sometimes you might not be able to get into a class on automotive design. In that case, the industrial design or industrial engineering programme is your second best choice.
Some good bachelor’s programmes in design will help you get ready by teaching you about how cars work and how they move. It’s important to be right, so get ready to take math classes. You will also learn how to use CAD softwares and other tools.
Since designing cars is a specialised job, it’s a good idea to get a master’s degree. Many well-known car designers got master’s degrees so they could move up in their companies.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to add something to your design skills, so you could also get a master’s degree in industrial design, aerodynamics, or industrial engineering.
Building your portfolio should be your main goal while you are in school. You need to always be on the lookout for good internships. This way, you’ll get to work with professionals with more experience, learn more about the field, make connections, and build your portfolio.
Learn to use new-age Design CAD Tools
Back in the 2000s, you could have made car designs with just a pencil and paper. But to work in the field today, you need to know how to use computer-aided design software. Once you know how to use some of these tools, designing a car will go much faster.
Let’s take a look at some of these:
For Designing for Aesthetics:
1) Autodesk’s Alias is a great programme for sketching and modelling car designs. Alias is a piece of software that Aston Martin uses.
2) 3Ds Max: Professional designers use this tool to make high-quality renderings. Besides this, this can also be used to make projects for virtual reality.
3) Autodesk VRED: This is software for car designers that lets them see their designs in 3D and make virtual models of them. This software is great for making renderings of how a car will look. Auto companies mostly use it to show their management and marketing team ideas about how to design cars.
4) Blender: If you want a cheap solution, you should choose Blender. It is open-source software that works well for designing cars.
Solidworks, Creo Parametric, Inventor, AutoCAD, and Catia are all good programmes for technical design.
You don’t have to learn how to use all of these tools perfectly, but try to get good at at least two of them. Because Blender is open-source software, you can get it for free right now. You can also get help from a large group of designers.
Invest in online design courses
You should know that there aren’t many jobs in car design, so it makes sense to take more online design courses to give yourself an edge.
Use Social Media Marketing
I’ve already told you that building your portfolio should be your top priority. Once you’ve done some work, it’s much easier to go to any car company and ask for a job.
While you’re building your portfolio, why not use social media marketing to show off your work? Yes, putting your work out there makes it easier than ever to become an expert in this field. Here are some tips that will help people who want to start designing cars:
Use Popular social media platforms
Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Linkedin are all great ways to get your design work in front of thousands of people quickly. All of these platforms also encourage two-way communication through comments, which you can use to get instant feedback.
If you keep putting out content on these platforms, you’ll get a big following. And your work will start getting seen by people at the top of your field.
Submit Car Renderings to Automotive Publications
Automobile magazines are always looking for interesting things to write about. Top on their list are things like spyshots and drawings of cars. Why not send them your designs so that they can be printed in their magazine or on their website? You should also, of course, ask them to give you credit.
Build your portfolio and tell people about it at the same time. The direct feedback will help you improve your designs and build your credibility at the same time.
Attend car shows and network with potential employers
Go to places where people who might hire you hang out, like car shows. Getting to know the right people can do a lot for your career as an automotive designer. Go to all the trade shows in your area that are related to the auto industry. If you have to, you can fly out, but it will be worth it for you to be there. At these events, go to the car companies’ booths and introduce yourself. You might even exchange business cards.
Lookout job postings of car companies
It goes without saying that you should always check the websites of car companies and look for jobs. But you should do it before you finish your formal education. Why? Because you can see what kinds of skills companies look for when hiring designers. This makes it easier for you to decide what skills you should learn and not get confused.
Be willing to move overseas
In the department for designing cars, there aren’t many job openings. So, it doesn’t make sense for you to limit your choices by saying you won’t move overseas. As a car designer, you’ll probably work in the company’s research and development centre.
How popular car designers got started
We’ve already talked about the most famous car designers ever. Let’s take a look at some of them who are still in the business. How did they get to where they are right now?
Born in Scotland, Ian Callum has always wanted to be a car designer. He sent his design to Jaguar when he was only 14 years old, hoping it would help him get a job.
But he realised that he needs to learn more about design before people will take him seriously. So, he got a bachelor’s degree in transportation design from Aberdeen College and a degree in industrial design from Glasgow School of Art. He got a Master’s degree in vehicle design from the Royal College of Art in London to top it off. One of his new designs is the Jaguar F-Type.
Some people either love or hate the things Chris Bangle makes. But he is one of the best-known people who design cars. Chris was born and raised in the United States. He got his degree from California’s Art Center College of Design. After that, he went to Madison University and got a master’s degree in industrial design. One of the things he made was the BMW E60 5-Series.
Shiro Nakamura is one of the best designers in Asia. His ideas are so creative that people call him “Fingers.” He was born in Japan and got his bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Musashino Art University in Tokyo. Then, he went to Pasadena, California, to get a B.Sc. in transportation design. One of his well-known designs is the Nissan GT-R.
As you can see, this follows a pattern. Most of them knew from a young age that they wanted to design cars. And the way they were educated also fits into a pattern. The best car designers are the well-known ones. These designers have spent their whole lives getting better at what they do. Only now is a car company willing to spend millions of dollars on one of their designs.