A futuristic original sketch for Ferrari Modulo 512-S by Paul Martin in 1967. There are already many features of the final concept, including the reduced height, wheels coved for low drag and the characteristic entry system.
The task of the design team is usually split into three main aspects: exterior design, interior design, and color and trim design. Graphic design is also an aspect of automotive design; this is generally shared amongst the design team as the lead designer sees fit. Design focuses not only on the isolated outer shape of automobile parts, but concentrates on the combination of form and function, starting from the vehicle package.
The aesthetic value will need to correspond to ergonomic functionality and utility features as well. In particular, vehicular electronic components and parts will give more challenges to automotive designers who are required to update on the latest information and knowledge associated with emerging vehicular gadgetry, particularly dashtop mobile devices, like GPS navigation, satellite radio, HD radio, mobile TV, MP3 players, video playback, and smartphone interfaces. Though not all the new vehicular gadgets are to be designated as factory standard items, some of them may be integral to determining the future course of any specific vehicular models.
The stylist responsible for the design of the exterior of the vehicle develops the proportions, shape, and surfaces of the vehicle. Exterior design is first done by a series of digital or manual drawings. Progressively, drawings that are more detailed are executed and approved by appropriate layers of management. Clay (industrial plasticine) and or digital models are developed from, and along with the drawings. The data from these models are then used to create a full sized mock-up of the final design (body in white). With three- and five-axis CNC milling machines, the clay model is first designed in a computer program and then "carved" using the machine and large amounts of clay. Even in times of high-class 3d software and virtual models on power walls, the clay model is still the most important tool to evaluate the design of a car and therefore used throughout the industry.Interior design
The stylist responsible for the design of the vehicle interior develops the proportions, shape, placement, and surfaces for the instrument panel, seats, door trim panels, headliner, pillar trims, etc. Here the emphasis is on ergonomics and the comfort of the passengers. The procedure here is the same as with exterior design (sketch, digital model and clay model).Color and trim design
The color and trim (or color and materials) designer is responsible for the research, design, and development of all interior and exterior colors and materials used on a vehicle. These include paints, plastics, fabric designs, leather, grains, carpet, headliner, wood trim, and so on. Color, contrast, texture, and pattern must be carefully combined to give the vehicle a unique interior environment experience. Designers work closely with the exterior and interior designers.
Designers draw inspiration from other design disciplines such as: industrial design, fashion, home furnishing, architecture, and sometimes product design. Specific research is done into global trends to design for projects two to three model years in the future. Trend boards are created from this research in order to keep track of design influences as they relate to the automotive industry. The designer then uses this information to develop themes and concepts that are then further refined and tested on the vehicle models.
The design team also develops graphics for items such as: badges, decals, dials, switches, kick or tread strips, liveries.