A set of guidelines to design a concept car

What are the main steps to design a concept car?
The purpose of this tutorial is to provide a guide to support the creative, conceptual and artistic process for imagine next generation cars.


    1.1. Choose what your cultural heritage

    Cultural heritage can be linked to a specific historical period, a territory or a lifestyle and their related values (e.g. Ferrari CALIFORNIA).

    1.2. Choose which story you want to tell

    The story can be related to:

    • the celebration of a sporting event in the past (e.g. the victory to a great classic race - Ferrari DAYTONA).
    • an event not necessarily connected to the automotive world (e.g. the victory of a battle).
    • the life and works of a great driver (e.g. McLaren SENNA) or a designer (e.g. Ferrari SCAGLIETTI).
    • the celebration of a past car (e.g. Fiat 500, Pininfarina -New- Stratos) or a family of models (e.g. Ferrari Pininfarina P4/5) if you want to make a "remake".

    1.3. Define a name for this car

    Define it in line with the culturale heritage and the story you want to tell.


    2.1. Define the character and the main requirements

    Indentify what technical features and functions your car needs to satisfy.

    • What territory the car needs to travel : road, track, desert, ...
    • How fast it should move.
    • How much energy it must demand.

    2.2. Define the kind of car

    Decide what kind of car/vehicle you want to realize in terms of:

    • Dimensions (small, medium, big)
    • Layout (coup√©, sedan, offroad, etc.)
    • Engine position (front engine, mid engine, rear engine)

    2.3. Select the competitors

    Select 2 or 3 main current competitors for the chosen segment. Current models have the most fashionable proportions for the categories.

  3. Step 3: MAKE 2D DRAWINGS

    Choose measures in the average of the competitors for each dimension

    Get the projections on the three views of the reference models and measure the main dimensions:

    • overall width, lenght and height
    • wheels diameter
    • distance between the wheels
    • window positions
    • heights of the wheel arches
    • heights of the snout and the back
    • width of the snout

  4. Step 4: MODEL THE CAR

    4.1. Define the strategy of modelling

    Model the car with a CAD. You can use the surfaces (better) or the parts (more onerous).

    Other considerations deal with the number of parts to be used.

    You can design the model like a single part or like an assembly. With the single part is more immediate to have an homegenous view of the model that better enhance creativity. Assembly is a more conventional (but less artistic and creative).

    4.2. Choose the right software

    The choice of the software is related by the strategy: Surface way of design is tipical of CATIA and Rhinoceros. Part is the tipical way of use of Solid Works, Solid Edge and Inventor.

    Another parameter is the experience in the use of software and personal preferencies.

    Probably the better CAD for designing a brand new concept is that more suitable for express personal creativity.


    Based on the maximum size, define the style of the car:

    5.1. Define emotion to transmit

    Define what general emotion you want to communicate: sportivity, elegance, modernity.

    5.2. Choose the style to follow

    Define what style you want to follow, not specifically related to automotive but also to architecture, art and industrial design: for instance: neoclassicism, futurism, contemporary, modern, international, gothic, etc.

    5.3. Follow stylistic rules

    Never break the curvature of the lines


    Still looking for a simple and free CFD and structural simulator able to support (and not validate) the pure conceptual design within an integrated and sistematic process.

    Better if directly availlable from the web.

    The following CFD simulation has been kindly made by Daan van den Berg.

  7. Step 7: RENDERING

    7.1. Simple rendering

    Realize good renders with white or gray background.

    7.2. Photorealistic rendering

    Realize photomontages of the car on the road or the track both with and without other similar cars.