onno van braam
computer graphics, webdevelopment


Polygon Modeling 7: Car Body


The modeling of the body of a car can almost always be sliced up into different parts, literally and figuratively speaking. Litereally because most of the time the front and rear bumpers, the entire 'cockpit', mirrors etc. are all loose parts. Figuratively because when you model it, it can be done in steps: first a rough simple (but rightly shaped!) basis and then the refinements, such as chamfering edges and making the creases.

Blueprint Setup

Setting up blueprints is a 5 minute job, I have explained the way I do it earlier in the tutorial about how to setup blueprints. Only this time I chose a different car, since almost the whole world seems to model it: the Audi TT. Another reason to model this car, is because it's one of the easiest car to model. After we have done that (1), it's time to jump in.

PS: When I would be modeling a car I would try to find as much reference photo's as possible. As I have stated before: I don't use the blueprints that much when I model my car, only for the rough / global shape of the car I use them, photo's are way better reference since they show all details. So get Google out and try to get your hands on wallpapers and personal photo's of the car you try to model. Sometimes it can be very hard to find any (for instance for the 993 GT2 and the Alfa Romeo SZ I modeled), but it's essential if you want to end up with a good representation of the original. I am not talking about a couple of photo's... usually I would try to find around 50-100 wallpaper sized (800x600 or larger) photo's. In this tutorial I won't go into modeling all details, since only the concept is important, not the modeling itself.

Finding a Place to Start

I have the feeling that many people have a (healthy!) fear or starting to model a car. 'Where do I start?', is a logical question. And there is no definate answer. Anywhere would be the best I can think of. It just doesn't matter, yet the way you approach the modeling process does.

So I am just going to start at the front, and model the hood. What I will think of from the first second I start is that the whole car is symmetric (apart from the tank cap), so I am not going to model both sides, but only one half. So I'll start with a single plane, but the way I create it, is by creating a box from the side view (1) and then deleting 5 out of 6 polygons (2). This way side of the polygon is exactly in the middle and I can use the symmetry modifier without any troubles (3).

So now that we have made the basis, the hard work is up! I start from the top view and shift-drag some edges, slice once and move the vertices to match up with the blueprints (but only from the top view up until now!) to create the entire hood (1). After doing that I realize that the most front part of the hood goes downward and that I need more polygons there (what you see is smaller than it really is, because of the orthogonal top view) and so I model the front grill too (2). I always model this with the symmetry modifier visible, so I can see the result immediately.

Now is as good as any time to not only make it match the top but also from the side (top and side view are most important, I think, front and rear view I don't use very often). So we move the vertices so they match. Both the most inner row and outer row of vertices are easy to place (3), since the blueprints have a line there (the crease of the hood) in the top and side view. The line of vertices in between should be placed by feeling...

PS: Notice how the blueprints I used do not match up. This is a common flaw of almost any blueprint, and there is nothing you can do about it, just live with it and correct your modeling so that it looks best according to your own feeling. This is also why I say that you shouldn't trust on blueprints alone.

After making the two other rows match too, you shold have something like (1). Looking good if you ask me. Realize that the lines on blueprints usually correspond to creases and / or sharp edges. When you want to model them, you need edges there (to create the creases as explained in a previous tutorial).

Going Sideways

Well we can't go any more further to the front, all is done there (well roughly), so we should go towards the side. I selected the entire row of edges (2), shift-dragged them out (3) (once again) and editted the vertices I just created to match up again from top and side (4). Looks fairly good, but I made a small mistake: in the last part I didn't realize I was looking from above again and so I didn't have enough vertices to match the shape of the body, this I will set right by cutting an extra row and place the newly created vertices correctly (5).

Since I won't be modeling the entire car (why would I? Then the tutorial would cover how to model an Audi TT ;), I will now start with some detailing (which I would normally only do until I have finished the rough model of the entire body.

The edges on the hood are a good place to start. First we select the edges (1), chamfer them (2), move one lower than the other (3) then chamfer the new edges again only now smaller so they will become more sharp (4). Add a MS modifier with 2 iteration to see whether the result is satisfactory.

I now will model the headlights and the crease of the hood. Since the headlights look to be perfectly smooth with the body I will just make creases around it (and not delete them and later on try to remodel them back in). And with one sweep I will also create the crease of the hood. So I select the edges (1) I want to crease and apply the technique explained in an earlier tutorial (2). With a 2 iterations MS modifier (3).

Would I continue from here, then I would be in deep trouble, making the creases continue onto the wheel arches is undoable (as explained). So realize that this is just for tutorial purposes that I start detailing already.

Last thing I will do is make the grill. I didn't take into account modeling it (I have no vertices there), so I will slice where needed (1), then extrude inwards (2), delete the not need polygons (3) and finally chamfer some edges (4).

So in the end it looks like this:

Modeling the rest of the body is just more of the same. Only you would first model the entire car, then make the creases and hard edges and then do all the final tweaking.


Max Mertens
Bij afbeelding 3 , hoe krijg je die box doorzichtig ??
Max Mertens
Bij afbeelding 3 , hoe krijg je die box doorzichtig ??
allen ritesh gomes
its reall nice but tell me something about the back madellng of car
its beauty.i was looking for it.thanks broo/.
Hey, great tutorials. They help a lot. I just wanted to ask you if you can make a tutorial for how to model car headlights because I have no idea how to make the inside where the lamps are. It would be great if you would do this. Thanks in advance.
NICE ! Please help me ::: How can I connect 2 vertex from2 elements in the same object ??
Florian Verrijk
Allemaal mooi en aardig, maar ik krijg ze niet aan elkaar.. :(
Thats a real good one..
Egyption Samurai
nice tutorial, and your others are really useful too man :) thnx alot..

But.. you said the creases as explained in Tutorial(2).. i see no creases in all the earlier tutorials.. can you make it more clear plz thnx?
i've tried modelling different body panels like shown here, however when i add them together for the final model mesh smooth adds arcs where the panels meet so they don't join together right...how do i stop this from happening?
I love the site, but I am looking for blueprints for an enzo ferrari or knock offs of one. I have the perfect engine for this car designed by me, but want to make a few modifications on this body in my garage, if any one can help I would be very greatful

Admin Edit: Couple blueprints for an Enzo can be found on www.the-blueprints.com
thank you so much you doing such a good job with these turorials it is absolutelly perfect, but this is not a compilite car can i download full car dutorials if then pls. send me link of this site thank thank a lot
Diego Mauricio
exelent tutorial I use several tips in it to model a new car in my website www.conceptovirus.com/digital.htm. thanks very helpful.

thank you so much you doing such a gr8 job with these tutorials.. it is absolutelly perfect to learn very fast a lot about modelling. I can not get sleep anymore :)

Hey I just wanted to say that this tutorial answered a lot of questions for me that I have had about how to model a car. I just started using 3ds max at school for building animation, and I have wanted to try this. Thanks!
you should create your own desighs of cars
they would look very real!!
Hi, first I want to give a credit for this site. I started modeling like a week ago. And this tutorial is really simple so it gives results fast and gets me going. But there are one thing i don't understand.

"The modeling of the body of a car can almost always be sliced up into different parts..."

So, car modeling are like different parts like; Hood, front bumper, Right side, Right skirt, trunk, rear bumper and so on ? or is it just one whole thing?

Admin Edit: Yep, that's right. It's more difficult to create the whole body out of one object, so try to make as many separate objects as you deem necessary. But also, a car consists of a body, the wheels, the interior etc., that's also what I meant with different parts.
very very nice tutz....thanks a lot,...but plz explain the following step:
"move one lower than the other (3)"
how to do that?
it is really nice ausome
what is a rim????

Admin Edit: Car wheel/alloy, not the tyre part.
thank you guys
send me this tutorial please
that's great, but i'm having a lot of problems with the creases for the hood and lights. if you could send me a detailed explanation maybe of the measurements for the chamfer and the extrude steps because no matter how many times i try it, as soon as i turn on meshsmooth the creases get all screwed up. thanks
very nice
yeah! its a great item for those new 3dmax learner.u have found a good page .keep on surfing........
its useful for me man. please send different ways of modelling.
oh i see..thanx man..it was helpful :))))
i guess u ran away :p
thanx man but i still didnt get my answer :( ...if u see that wire model of ur's, u'll see that the lines coming down the roof creating those side window panes do not match with those of the door panel..what i want to ask is that if they do not match, how come u have welded them n if not then are they not going to create a problem when u apply meshsmooth?

Admin Edit: The roof is a separate object... ;) It doesn't need to be exactly the same amount of vertices, as long as the shape is similar.
ok man thanx...but can u kindly post a wire of any car that u have modelled and without meshsmooth/nurms applied to the model so that i can figure out where am i getting it wrong...that would be very great!!

Admin Edit: See the Portfolio > WIP section for wire frames of the Alfa Romeo SZ.
напишите че нибудь на русском (или укр.)
nice tutorial but man this is the easiest part while modelling a car...tell us something about how to join different body parts/panels coz keeping the same number of vertices for different parts to join them is very difficult..like to join the roof with windshield n then hood etc...man u have left the most difficult parts in modelling the car....plus how do we model the pillars??...i know how to model them but then again the problem of welding vertices...i cant keep their number the same..wats the real method man??do we have to model different panels separately?? but then again how do we keep the number of vertices the same to weld them together??????????????????

Admin Edit: We need someone to help this guy with his question marks. He seems to have an abundance of them.

Join different parts? Just model the whole thing from one part. :) That's what I do at least, except for the front and rear bumper.

Welding vertices? Sound painful; don't make things harder on yourself than they could be.
About the last question, I understood what hapened, I was confusing for the 6th image when you show that vertex are possitioned in the right place, I though that you still have the box when look the image.
Hello, I want to tell that this site is one of the best I´ve ever found, and I want to say thank you for sharing your knowledge, I just want ask you one thing, could you tell me how exactly you passed from one box to the hood, cause I dont understand what happened after you deleted the 5 sides of the box and suddenly there is just the plane hood, please, cause I really have tried but I dont understand, maybe I haven´t read something. Thank you again.
good tutorial, very good tutorial now i feel like i can actually do something.
Ajeesh babu
I have a great interest to do car modeling... and I am very glad that U people r there to Help Us.. although M is studying Max my self. its quiet use full for M to learn many things... thank U..
james bond
very nice tutoral, I use maya 8 on a mac. Anyhow when car modeling I use edge modeling, my question is. Is it best to model the car as one piece or seperate. At current I brake the car down into pieces (hood, front fender, door, ect) & model each piece. I do it this way due to blue prints not 100% in all views where if i model the entire car, its always off in at least one of the views. Because I model each piece, should my mesh be the same & what percent of triangles do you feel is best ?
Hi all. nice site.
Harish Kulkarni
Really amazing! nice tutorial. pls send me the blue prints
Bozena Wajda
Best site. Thanks
Renata Duglosz
You site nice. Thanks owner.
oh.. more more..
Pavel Verigin
Best site. Thanks
really gr8 tut...helped me quite a bit...unfortunately i am stuck with a NURBS car at the moment...it's so pain-stakin!!! HELP (plz?)!!!

yeh! i guess i understood the part about the creases!!! thnx a ton!!!
lookin 4wrd 4 more!!!
Elzbieta Suchocka
Really amazing! Keep working. I enjoyed me visit.

thx, it really helped me 4 my modeling.
LT Guy
HI, i realy like your cars i am 14 years old student
very nice but i will like it if you can complete the whole car and if you canmake it more...
You create the whole car from one piece? You didn!t attach anything to the model?

Admin Edit: Yep, one piece. Didn't attach anything.
3D Noob
realy nice tutorial.

[...]and then deleting 5 out of 6 polygons (2). This way side of the polygon is exactly in the middle and I can use the symmetry modifier without any troubles (3).[...]

how can i delete 5 out of 6 polygons?

3D Noob

Admin Edit: It's a cube... which has 6 sides, so you delete all polygons, but the top one: 5 out of 6.
rock hanson
the tutorials is very good but i will like it if you can complete the whole car and if you can make it more illustrative and communicative and comprehensive.

Admin Edit: There are tutorials on how to make the tyres and how to make the rims. There's not much more to a car... All the details are just details, which could be made by any means you like.
I've got a question. Why did you create that box, and deleted those polygons? To create a simple regtangle and convert to EP gives the same result, isn't it?

Admin Edit: How do you get the rectangle to be precisely in the middle? The advantage of creating the box from a side view is that the inner edge of the polygon we want, is exactly at 0. You could move the rectangle you created, but I go around that, because the box is easier. I don't have to think this way.
very nice tutorial man ! keep up the good work :)! also your alfa romeo is amazing looks incredible!
n' juz incase if ne 1 wants 2 know this shortcut.. juz found it 2de.. if u click on an object, and press ALT+X, it switches between original material and semitransparent material. (atleast thas the case with 3dmax 7.) Real Handy!
ok.. boss now that I have tried the tricks I managed to model theS 350 of merc.And thanks again proff....
But I also request you to put some thing in about material creation(paint,glass,rubberetc of the car).You only supplied the mapping tut.
the crease makin part is not clear.Plz. show the ptocess in detailed conversation..
It's Very nice Tutorial.
wow you make it look so easy... I've trying for about a week, 6 hrs per day and still no where near getting my bonnet done. It's always either uneven or just dont look right. I'm starting to get pissed at myself now!
Please Provide me the blueprints.....
Thanks a lot

Admin Edit: www.the-blueprints.com - all you ever need.
can u pls snd me blue print of thi car
thats a nice toturial.
but guys where can i found pictures for modeling cars?
plz sombody help me.
The first time i've read the tutorial I didn't understand it trooly ,but now after 1-2 years I understandit perfectly ,:D verry nice tutorials u got here congrats;)
The first time i've read the tutorial I didn't understand it trooly ,but now after 1-2 years I understandit perfectly ,:D verry nice tutorials u got here congrats;)
Umm...this is a very good tutorial , but frankly speaking i cant understand, how to do the first step(how to begin) 8(
i love you so much
upinder singh
am upinder... i was going thru the modeling of the car. its really a good to know that u have defined each step makes it much clear to me.. thank u, but i was wondering if u could show some thing similar to model a human face i would really appreciate it.

thanking u
- upinder
I'm not sure what you mean by this, If you can explain it a bit more i would appreciate it. Love the tutorials, and you do very good work :)

"and then deleting 5 out of 6 polygons (2). This way side of the polygon is exactly in the middle and I can use the symmetry modifier without any troubles (3)."
i'm student , 21 old , ilike your web .. i want lear
maxist guevara philippines
one more thing if you wanna make your model transparent, set it to smooth and edged faces, therefore you still can see the wireframes (edged faces). The colored part will be transparent. The effect will be like looking through a glass with lines ;-) thus you can see the bluprints if it is located at the back of the ep object.
maxist guevara philippines

You have a Nice tutorial.

I'm replying to ARJEN's question (March 27, 2006). In order to see the blueprint and still manipulate the edges and vertices on the editable poly object, you should right click the editable poly object then click properties then at the display group click see through. In order for see through to work the transparency should be set to simple or best. Make sure that transparency is set to either simple or best, right click viewport label then set the transparency to simple or best. Now you can manipulate the edges and vertices and still see the blueprint. :-).I hope that my suggestion will help you in your modeling.
what if you don't have photo shop pro
Do you speak Russia?
Onno van Braam
What I do is apply a wireframed material to my object. I don't think there's another way than by using a transparent texture or wireframe texture...
Hi, thanks for the great tutorials! I'm getting into 3D modeling again for the first time in 5 years.

I'm wondering one thing: In the viewports of MAX, how do you get the EP to only show the wireframe, and still have the planes show the blueprint texture, so you can easily trace them? Í can't seem to find how to do this... Of course I can assign a transparent material, but there has to be an easier way?

Michael Benson
Hail the Allmighty. Thanks for the greatest Tut available on the net!

love u'r work.

Keep it up

U'r no1 Fan.
Brilliant tutorial, but everytime I try to shift drag the mesh, the new part comes out choppy and you can easily tell the difference between it and the original plane, even after MeshSmooth. Do I need to aply certain options to MeshSmooth or something? I'm really new to 3dsmax so I'm a little in the dark here.
Where can I get the program???
please mail me at:

*Edit: What program? You mean 3D Max? If so... Google?
i'm mohammed yossry from egypt it is a good toturial which the one can use it to start
its the same just folow the blueprints
Great Toturials
Great work! It's very admireable... I am new, well not new to 3DMax, but new to car-modelling. This tutorial has been very helpful for me. I like the technique, very simple and yet very effectful.


Great tutorial the best I have come across the web.
Its superb and very helpful for the beginners
Onno van Braam
Did you even read the tutorial?

And I quote:
"Modeling the rest of the body is just more of the same. Only you would first model the entire car, then make the creases and hard edges and then do all the final tweaking."

There is nothing more to explain. What difference is there between a roof, a bonnet, or a front bumper? None, it's just the position of some vertices, but the technique of modeling them is _exactly_ the same. This is what I have told in the earlier tutorials of this serie.
please give tutorial how to make full car body.This is just a bonut oof car.