How to Design Your Own 3D Car Model

Written by darrin koltow
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How to Design Your Own 3D Car Model
CAD applications have tools for building 3D car models. (a car in a car show image by Gary from

Designing your own car model is a fun activity as well as a practical one. The model you create can give you a sense of the type of car you want to buy. Cars are typically designed using CAD (computer- aided design) software, which first appeared for the PC in the early 1980s. If you were designing car models at that time, you would have found the experience difficult or impossible, due to the software's limited features. Today, however, CAD software includes a rich toolset and user-friendly GUIs that make it easier to design car models.

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Things you need

  • CAD (computer-aided design) software

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  1. 1

    Sketch the right-side view of a car you'd like to make a 3D model from. Use a scanner or digital camera to make a JPEG image file from the sketch. As an alternative to making your own sketch, select an existing JPEG photo of a car's right side.

  2. 2

    Open your CAD application and select its right-side viewport. This viewport displays the right sides of 3D objects.

  3. 3

    Create a plane object in your CAD application, and load the JPEG image onto it. You'll use the image to sculpt the car's outline.

  4. 4

    Make the car's outline. Select the tool for drawing lines, then trace a series of connected line segments (called a polyline in some CAD applications) over the outline of the car. Do not trace over the wheels, but do trace around the wheel wells. Ensure the polyline's last point connects to its first point so that a closed shape is formed. This is necessary to convert the polyline into a 3D model.

  5. 5

    Expand the outline into 3D space. Apply the extrusion modifier to the car's outline. Modifiers are tools for shaping 3D models. The extrusion modifier converts a flat object into one with 3D depth.

  6. 6

    Switch to front view and increase the extrusion amount as you watch the front view's window. Stop extruding when the car reaches your desired width.

  7. 7

    Begin making wheels. Create a cylinder of any size, then rotate it so that it matches the orientation of the wheel wells.

  8. 8

    Fit the wheels to the car. Apply the sizing and moving tools to shape and position the cylinder until it meets the following criteria: the cylinder extends from the car's left to its right side, the cylinder fits inside the wheel well, and the cylinder's radius is slightly less than that of the wheel well.

  9. 9

    Make the back wheels by duplicating the first cylinder. Then, apply the instructions from the previous step to position the cylinder inside the rear wheel well.

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