Our Designer Isn’t Done Letting You Know That You’re Wrong About Big Wheels On Designers’ Car Drawings

Adrian Bigwheels 2

Wow, we had some fun in the comments of my first wheels article didn’t we? Apparently I’m alternatively lazy, immature, and on my high horse (joke’s on you, I can’t ride a horse). The car design process is fundamentally broken. Even worse than all that though, I’m merely a stylist! I can feel a knife slipping between my shoulder blades here!

Don’t ever call a designer a stylist. Nothing winds them up more and it really belittles what a designer actually does, which after all is why I’m here to give you reprobates an idea what goes on behind the top secret closed doors of an automotive design studio.

It’s not all flashy unrealistic sketches, sipping espressos and standing around pointing at clay models. That stuff you see in videos cover a very small part of a designers working life. The rest of a designer’s time is spent getting covered in clay, prepping models for review, creating images for product meetings, chasing up modeling teams for parts, and sitting in meetings arguing with engineers and suppliers who want to chuck all your hard work out the window to save $2 on a component.

If you’re lucky you might get to play with competitor vehicles from time to time as well.

There’s a lot of problem solving going on. How are we going to attach this grille so you can’t see the fixings? How do we avoid having sink marks in these injection molded trim pieces? Can we manage this 3 way shut line intersection so it doesn’t resemble a bottomless void like a designer’s soul? These things are decidedly not glamorous, but are intrinsic to what it means to be a car designer, and not just a superficial stylist.

The sketch work with its unrealistic proportions and big wheels is the very start of the design journey, and lasts maybe a couple of months at most depending on how well it goes. So while it might seem disingenuous to draw ideas this way, it really doesn’t affect how a cars wheels are sized going forwards. Commenter redfoxiii likened these initial drawings to haute couture, which is an excellent analogy I wish I’d thought of while writing the original piece.

Haute Couture serves as an inspiration and direction for fashion you can actually buy – it’s exaggerated to emphasize certain visual ideas and characteristics, almost to the point of parody.

KiarealisticAbove I’ve taken an image released by Kia, and programmed The Autopian Graphics Workstation (actually a series of various 8-bit computers daisy chained together running a software package Torch found on a floppy disk that came with the Changli) to ‘right size’ the wheels and glasshouse.

Compare to the original unaltered render:

KiaoriginalYou might not agree, but the original looks much cooler and has more drama to it. The doctored version is fine as it goes, and is kinda representative of the actual car. But it doesn’t really leap off the screen as something that makes you want to get in and drive. It’s just not as exciting, and doesn’t ‘read’ correctly because it’s neither an expressive sketch nor a 100% accurate representation like a photo would be. There’s a dissonance going on, like an uncanny valley. With the original image, you know it’s warped and stanced so your brain gives it a bit of leeway in it’s interpretation. Here’s the actual car.



And in case you thing this is a new affliction affecting designers desperate to look cool, it’s not. Initial sketches and renders have always been exaggerated. Let’s take a look.

Here’s a Pontiac proposal from 1944. Check out the wheel size and tire width on that bad boy:



A Cadillac proposal from the legendary Wayne Kady from 1965 is below. Check out the overhangs and the length of the front and rear decks. You could crash land a stolen enemy F14 on that thing! Ding, ding, hard a-port, helm!



A couple more, from GM designer Allan Flowers [Editor’s Note: This is the guy behind the Nissan Pulsar NX! – JT] :

2gmz0 1gmf0


So even in the analog drawing days when you were expected to wear a tie to the studio (thank god that’s no longer the case), designers were pretty liberal in their interpretations of a car’s proportions to create drama and flash. The tools may have had a digital upgrade, but the process remains exactly the same.

Hopefully this will clarify some of the more common misconceptions that cropped up from the last article. If you’ve still got questions, hit me up in the comments!

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117 Responses

  1. I’m a week late, but oh well…

    I am personally on the ‘dislike’ side of obscenely large, protruding wheels. I do not think they make a design look better, and given my dislike, they do not pull my attention to other design features. I just feel a sense of boring-dislike for these pictures. At this point I’m sure any true designer would dismiss me as uncouth, but I just do not see the attractiveness or the Style of absurd wheels. Perhaps I’ve seen too many truly ridiculous ‘dubs’, spinners, or donks in real life to take this Style seriously.

    I do, however, understand the desire not to leave a huge gap between the fender and the wheel since this tends to appear in *really cheap* cars in real life — like 1980’s econo cars, or the $7000 made-for-China specials.

    I also own an SUV with (oem) 35-series 22″ wheels, which I would absolutely trade for 20″ wheels.

  2. I’m glad I finally got to see Top Gun this past weekend, or I wouldn’t have gotten that fine reference. Not worried about spoilers, I’m pretty sure I’m the last person on Earth to see that movie that actually cared about avoiding spoilers.

    1. One of my friends only saw it during this past week as well.
      I was there on preview night (a Wednesday here in the UK) and paid extra and drove further to see it in IMAX.
      Blasting the OG OST all the way there. And back.

        1. TBH they whole thing is glorious, but you’re not wrong. I absolutely adore the Top Gun Anthem. If you’ve not watched the video on Youtube, check it out. It’s so eighties it’s glorious (it wouldn’t surprise me if it too was directed by Tony Scott). All back lit aircraft in a hanger and Steve Stevens looking like he had nothing to wear on the day of the shoot so raided his drag queen girlfriends wardrobe.

  3. I am fascinated by the aspect of car design, but I feel a bit melancholy about design in general, as it seems largely driven by profiteering. I don’t have any automotive expertise to speak of, but I can generally recognize the silhouette of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. Sad to say that the cost of cars and their necessary repairs along with my low stature in the working world means that I’m mostly used to the boring samey bean cars. I will defend my 2017 Civic Hatch to the death though. I am likely one of many wondering what the future of car design and even ownership will look like.

    1. Well building cars is about making a profit, the ideal being if you come up with an attractive and emotive design customers will want to buy it and enjoy it.

      Not every company places the same value on the design of it’s cars though – Toyotas don’t sell on their looks, they sell on other characteristics.

      I think car personal car ownership is here to stay though. I’ve written about this recently elsewhere, but the bottom line is companies have tried subscription models and mostly failed. People like having their own car to use at their own convenience and human nature what it is, I don’t think that’s going anywhere.

      1. I disagree with individual ownership staying around. Now it will never dissapear but we are 2 steps from having computer designed cars. In the 50s thru the 80s you could name/recognize a car by a very little of it. Now you remove the badge the CEO couldn’t pick out his companies cars. As all designs merge into 1 there will be just one and will be a subscription service. Not having any faith in automated driving cars it will take longer but imagine the savings buy a subscription when you need a vehicle order one up pay for everything while using it and leave it when done like a rental/hotel room. Now until they have storage lockers at parking garages to store your personals it won’t happen but when every car looks the same ten years max.

      2. I’m still skeptical myself after reading about the OEMs dipping their toes in trying to charge for basic features like a subscription. I fear that especially with these battery packs being so expensive that one day we may not fully own our transportation. I’d be happy to see humanity prove me wrong but I’m cringing with every new article I read.

        1. I think the features thing is like touchscreens for everything. They’ll try it but there will be so much pushback they’ll eventually give up. What companies seem to forget is you can drop a subscription if you no longer need it or cannot afford it. If you’re heated seat/steering wheel/pre-heat package is costing you $30 a month, you might decided you don’t need it or can live without it.

          1. Yeah feature subscriptions a nogo but subscription for car use is what you will see. Different body’s on the same chasis order a family truckster, a pickup, a road trip vehicle pay by the mile/hour. That is how it will happen. Subscribe to the dealer or manufacturer and have free range of vehicle once they all look alike and come with all the same options or pay more for extra options. More money by the mile less over the long term. Mark my words.

  4. I hate to think we might run off the source of a cool series of content based on wheel size.

    Still, that doctored Kia picture looks much better to me. Just due to what I’m looking for from the picture: Fantasy with a nudge toward reality. None of us here are looking at enough sketches to need an exaggeration to set it apart. The nature of being an unrealized vehicle is enough.

    1. Funnily enough get on with a pencil, I think because I’m a little heavy handed (I have Dyspraxia). When working on paper, it’s a cheap Bic ballpoint all the way. When I was learning to sketch, I spent a fortune on different pens; rollerballs, gel tip, fineliners depending on what style I was trying to emulate that week.
      Eventually I circled back round, like nearly all designers do, to the classic see thru Bic. I do still work on paper for initial sketches quite a lot. In fact, the next ‘A Designer Draws Your Ideas’ article has pen sketches, although I cleaned them up and added some flash in Photoshop after the fact.

      A new Cimarron? Added to the pile for the future.

    2. Since the Cimarron was just a Chevy Cavalier, it would be the current Chevy Cavalier contender; which I would suggest was the Cruze until it was killed in the Conformity Utility Vehicle wars. So ultimately, there would be no modern Cimarron.

    1. I think it’s more like a little goes a long way. Nothing wrong with turning your average econobox into a GT but turning it into a comic strip removed from reality doesn’t work for me. But so what people seem to love CGI but when it has characters doing crap that isn’t possible it still looks super fake to me. I liked super heroes when I was a child but when I became an adult I put away my childish beliefs. Now boys are keeping them for far to long. Not a problem if they accept an adult dose of reality Interspersed and separate but in reality these guys are Captain Sweatpants and noone is getting Penny unless they are worth millions.

    2. Some people will take a contrary stance because the reality of what I’m saying doesn’t align with how they think things should be done, and therefore what I say becomes a focal point for all their frustrations with current car design.
      Also, because internet.

    3. This all started with “re-imagining” of some classic car designs which appeared, to troglodytes like myself, to be just exaggerating the wheel size, chopping the greenhouse, adding a few vents, and calling it a day.

      While we were welcome to our opinions, they were clearly wrong because we didn’t understand the design (or is it styling?) game.

      1. I don’t really see what it would be insulting, reductive and unfair. None of the reasons stated by you actually seem to justify it (to me that is). No hate or anything but out of both of the articles I pretty much end up that the executives want giant wheels OR the artists know the executives want giant wheels so that is what they get. I literally can see zero point artistically or logically as to why the wheels are so big. To me they look comical and cartoonish (hence the anime comparison). And I love anime.

        Also sorry if I insulted you but it is just my opinion after reading the articles but I am also not a car designer. Just an IT guy with a visual arts and design degree.

        1. Drawing female characters with enhanced features is very deliberately done to appeal to a certain fanbase, with all the negative connotations that implies. So to be directly compared to that is pretty insulting.

          If your take away is ‘executive want big wheels’ then you’ve really not been paying attention to what I’ve written, and your opinion is not worth the paper your degree is written on.

          No hate, just my opinion (see how that works?).

      1. Did you ever watch Knights of Sidonia? The first series was great, really BSG like in it’s ‘desperate last attempt to save humanity’ every episode.

        The second series completely descended into terrible ecchi tropes and was unwatchable.

    1. If only we had time for that in design school. Both my final years (BA and MA) were 12-14 hour days for a year. In the holidays I was practicing rendering and one summer spent learning Autodesk Alias.

      I was actually dreaming Alias and waking up with one hand on an imaginary mouse and the other on an imaginary keyboard.

    2. Don’t you mean “stylist” school?

      I’m JOKING…jeez

      Also, I don’t understand why there’s so much backlash about the big wheels in the initial design sketches. Part of the reason tiny windows and huge wheels look so dramatic on paper is because you don’t see them in every day life. They’re not practical. When you’re drawing something that needs to be dramatic and sexy and jump off the page, “practical” is probably not something you want to aim for.

      1. Glad I’m not the only one. I was going to say that, while I had read it, I need to let it steep for a couple days before going back to see if I can sift through the value judgments to find the bare bones of his argument.

        Then again, I’m damn wordy, so maybe shouldn’t be throwing stones.

  5. The illustrations you used to bolster your point are doing the exact opposite. Yes they are all oversized compared to a production model, but they all look like reasonably realistic wheels fitting inside reasonably realistic wheel wells. Whereas what is in the original KIA sketch looks like automotive equivalent of R. Crumb drawing boobs.

    1. If you’re focused on the old sketches’ wheels, you may be missing the point, which is that concept cars have always been cartoonishly proportioned. Today, the wheels are cartoonist. In the past, the length and width were hilariously unrealistic, with front and rear decks that would make the car 30′ long if actually produced.

      It’s not that concept wheels have always been bizarrely oversized, but that some seemingly-arbitrary feature has always been bizarrely oversized. It just happens to be wheels these days.

      1. tatty. Be fair back then the cars were about 28 feet long. See today shitbox Ford. So added 2 feet. I see the difference as the old days highlighted the features of the car today its the tires. Like speedbuggy his dune buggy proportions were close to normal just the tires were played with.

      2. Well, he’s defending his ridiculously cartoonish wheels and fenders, and urges us to “check out the wheel size and tire width on that bad boy” and provides a design sketch featuring mildly exaggerated wheels and tires that fit proportionally with the overall design–unlike the cartoonish monstrosity that is in the unaltered Kia sketch. Also, while yes the overhangs and decks on the Caddy sketch are all kinds of ridiculous, the last sketch is pretty darn close to the production G-Body, and isn’t festooned with cartoonish or “bizarrely oversized” features; it’s a very nice design sketch pointing to a production vehicle.
        As I look over the images though I think I am starting to have an inkling of the why behind the stupid wheels. If you look at the photograph of the production Kia the wheels are very close in size and proportion to the exaggerated wheels in the following sketches. After years of people noticing how much better the wheels in sketches and on concept cars look and clamoring for that look in production cars (without considering the practical implications of making wheels that big) manufactures just started slapping big ass wheels on cars. I get that drawing realistic sized wheels in new design sketches doesn’t pop the way it used to, but I, being (much like SquareTaillight2002) a troglodyte, don’t think drawing taut bulges all over the place is the correct response.
        None of which detracts at all from the content that Adrian has provided, and that I have really enjoyed.

        His dumb wheels notwithstanding.

        1. I want to be clear here–I know that I am being kind of an ass about this (please cf. my user name). I get that there’s probably a very good reason, professionally, to draw wheels that way. I get that Adrian is a very talented man and I am sure he’s very good at what he does. I know for certain that Adrian knows in even in his most incoherent, most cogently challenged, knocked down drunken state more about design off-hand than I will ever know, (or care to know) about it at all. And I know that I (and many others) cannot stand the way he draws wheels, and that the one thing (the opinion of the unwashed masses–yeah I’m being a dink again) has nothing to do with others (his ability and standing as a designer). Look man, it’s always going to look weird and ungainly for those of us who find it weirdly and ungainly.

          1. Last thing, I promise. Adrian, you always stir up quite the conversation, and you’re game to came wading into, and if I can’t appreciate ludicrous, Crumb-esque wheels (sorry I can’t help it–scorpion/frog thing), I can certainly appreciate that.

            1. I get that people ‘don’t get it’, and that’s fine. There’s lots of things I don’t understand (to use an example from the other thread, coding or anything like that baffles me) but for people to insinuate that it’s bad design or lazy because they don’t get it or don’t like it is a different matter entirely.

  6. I have many mixed feelings on this.. I don’t know why some people seem so passionately opposed to the big wheels but I’ll admit I don’t personally get it either. You could exaggerate the wheels slightly, more aggressive offset and maybe some sharper edges on body lines and it would achieve more ‘drama’ while still remaining within the realm of what a production version will look like.

    Those crazy designs would be like me ‘designing’ a hamburger with hand-raised, individually named cows, organic toppings, artisan cheese and a bun made by the finest bakers in the world.. and at the end of it I’m handed a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

    1. The amount of effort that goes into making the ‘food’ for commercials and photos is unbelievable. I listened to a podcast about it a while ago. There’s a guy who designs the contraptions that fling the ingredients through the air that are then captured in slo-mo.

  7. Adrian,
    You are the first guy I’ve ever “met” with a metric ton (tonne?) of artistic talent that can take criticism and disagreement in stride (and even seeks it out!!!). I didn’t know guys like you existed, honestly.

    My faith in humanity is somewhat restored.

    1. Thank you, but I’m really not that rare. It’s important for any creative person to able to take constructive criticism or to consider alternative viewpoints. After all it’s why recording artists seek out certain producers and film makers work with editors and directors of photography.. Even artists have patrons or gallery owners directing them to a degree. You need more than one pair of eyes (or ears).
      You don’t really see it online, because the level of discussion doesn’t reach a sufficient level of maturity, and enthusiastic amateurs don’t have the necessary understanding of design. This is why it’s crucial for anyone wanting to get into car design to go to the appropriate school, because you need to learn how to take criticism. Online courses are no substitute.

  8. I mean, I don’t care for haute couture either. There’s something to be said about art for it’s own sake, but insisting that the starting point of practical design has to be outlandish design just feels… I dunno, wasteful.

    I get that in the real world it’s necessary to generate excitement to promote something, but haute couture and hyperexaggerated car concepts both feel like a bunch of people in a room all just trying to shout and wave louder than everyone else so they’ll get picked first. It works, and it’s evolutionarily favored by the people who pay the money–those who don’t get noticed starve. But at the end of the day it’s a lot of noise and effort for the purpose of grabbing attention that gets immediately discarded by everyone involved once no longer needed in favor of real-world requirements.

  9. The “dramatic” effect of the raked windshields and oversized wheels does make the result more striking, to the point where the final automobile can seem a bit disappointing in comparison. 🙂

    What I’d like to see on your pile would be the unsellable, the ludicrous, the Homermobile for each of the Autopian staff. (Well, David Tracy’s would be marketable if it didn’t ship already pre-rusted.) Including yours, unless one of your previous nifty designs already covers it.

  10. If I’m to explain why sometimes we are a bit cranky, it is because the stance and overall proportions on some design sketches remind us of the overall shift in real life towards SUV or elevated cars in general. We are probably also tired of the increasingly busy designs that are being favoured by consumers, that are, in itself, an attempt from manufacturers to differentiate each sleek “soap bar” design from each other.

    With that in mind, what appeals to us (or, at least, to me) differs quite a bit to what appeals to CEOs and whatnot (the stated audience of most design sketches). Having you explain the process goes a long way towards me understanding (and even accepting a little) the “bigfooted” designs. But I do prefer when you calibrate the designs more towards realistically looking cars.

    To use another comparison, I think those early design sketches are a bit like comic book art – bear with me, I think it will make sense! If you have to sell to teenagers or CEOs (is there a difference?), you have to exaggerate the musculature, put pouches and huge weapons everywhere, and create crazy, “awesome” hero poses. However, if the plan is ever to appeal to snobby little shits like me, a poster more on the lines of the works of Alex Ross or David Mazzucchelli will do wonders 🙂

    Maybe this is why the auto designs are so “bottom heavy” – they look like as if you are seeing the car from a close angle, near the ground – much like the traditional “Superman Pose” from comic books! You know, that one with legs spread, hands on the hips and stuffed chest? Oh, how I wish I could post pictures!

    (The previous text was left unposted since yesterday, so apologies if it is redundant with some other comments)

    1. Most sketches are from a flat two point perspective (not worm eye, more dogs eye) not for drama but because 3 point perspective is tricky to get right, and really doesn’t give you anything extra other than a bit of a view of the hood and roof.

      There is a CAFE/light trucks element that factors into the popularity of higher riding vehicles but believe me, if they didn’t sell OEMs wouldn’t build them. The bottom line is these days you’re trading maybe 1 or 2 mpg tops for a lot more practicality and ease of access over a sedan, and that’s a trade a lot of people are willing to take.

      I agree a lot of modern designs are needlessly busy and aggressive. It’s bad design even if not all examples of this style look terrible. But for me the companies doing the best work don’t shout visually; Mazda, Polestar/Volvo, Kia/Hyundai, Land Rover, Porsche, some of the newer Ferraris (the 296 is excellent), some Jeeps (it’s not perfect but I actually really like the Renegade) to name a few off the top of my head.

  11. Yes, the Kia’s wheels are too big. BUT, at least they resisted the temptation to draw them with big negative offset. Which looks great, but any halfway-modern suspension design can’t use it. Flat wheels are boring, but they’re what we’ve got these days.

  12. I’m a music fanatic and have a wall with over 1000 CDs to prove it, but one of the biggest mistakes in my life was taking the music appreciation class in college. Learning the theory of how music is made robbed it of some of the magic. I’m happy to say that in this case, seeing behind the curtain is actually making me appreciate the work of a designer much, much more!

  13. IDK, man. I guess I’m practical to a fault. The right-sized Kia sketch looks better to me than the big-wheel one. I could see out of that one! And not crack wheels on potholes!

    The big wheels look like one of those caricatures that were popular around 2005.

  14. This has been a very lively discussion, but one thing I’d like to put out there is- look at the big whitewall tires of cars from the 50s and early 60s. That white wall is doing the work of today’s “big wheel” way back then. Designers have ALWAYS been trying to nail down this wheel-to-body proportion, well before the technology existed to manufacture wheels in the diameter we see today.

  15. This is one of the more surprising debates I’ve seen around auto culture online. Someone with professional training serves up entertaining what-if concepts which have clear roots in a particular part of the formal design process, the kind of thing that has always appeared in car and custom/rod magazines etc, only to get told “this is rubbish why are you doing it like this”, they explain the industry origin of what they’re doing, and the response doubles down on “this is rubbish why is the industry doing it like this it’s fanservice for c-suite rim fetishists”.

    The purpose of the exaggerated designs seems pretty obvious to me: they emphasise the distinctive parts of the design or where attention needs to be drawn, so that when the design is scaled up and engineered into a form that fits on a platform that humans can fit into and see out of, the overall intent of the design isn’t lost. For better or worse I see the code of the original Kia design as “we want focus drawn down low to the wheels and the grille, as you design this keep that intent in mind”.

    The exaggeration of the concept is like a coded signal of permission in itself: it tells you (the next person or team in the process) that the direction has been set and you now have freedom to operate to turn this into a real-world vehicle, and we won’t hold up the concept sketch and say Homer Simpson-style “why doesn’t mine look like that??” as long as the final product retains the design intent of the concept.

    It’s like reverse engineering a full-sized person from a boardwalk caricature; obviously you are never going to keep the same proportions at life scale but because the final product is outright physically larger a grille or wheels that are in real-world proportion can still remain distinctive and draw attention.

  16. Excuse my ignorance but I was wondering is it the designer or the stylist who puts shit where you can’t see, find, or work on in a car? Those people suck. FYI I could have guessed you were a designer know stylist would have gone with that hair style! I kid but you do look like the indigenous American character in Ghost. A great show if you haven’t seen it.

    1. Packaging and designing for repair is not really considered. Some design for service is accounted for, but the main concerns are making sure everything has enough space to operate safely in all conditions and how it will be built.

      Thanks for the compliments about the hair, although I don’t have the fake dreadlocks anymore (that was just a picture I had to hand when David wanted a mugshot). I currently have a mowhawk.

      1. “Packaging and designing for repair is not really considered.”

        I knew it!!!!!! Though I think that there are some sick bastards out there that set out specifically to make repair as unpleasant as possible. “We could put the oil filter on the left where it is easy to reach and change, or we could put it behind this sharp metal part that can only be reached by dislocating your elbow”

  17. Of the three Kias, the actual car wins hands down. The original sketch is butt-ugly; the corrected render is a bit better; but the actual car is where it’s at. It’s not just the wheels that are way better, also the greenhouse finally has a size that looks kinda sorta okay, instead of ridiculous. The drawings look as if some giant had stepped on them.

  18. I absolutely understand why big wheels and almost excessively raked windscreens are a thing in such drawings. It makes the drawing look way more dramatic and dynamic so to say, compared to a drawing with normally sized wheels and a normally raked windscreen. Drama sells.

    1. This may be true if we are talking to someone who has no familiarity with the process – but surely Design Studio heads and corporate people know how the sausage is made? If an architecture student presents a render with a bunch of hawt photo models walking around in it, an experienced Studio Professor will tell them to get rid of the hotties as it is unrealistic and distracts from the design.

  19. Glad to have been of some service! Just because something is weird doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a purpose, you just might not understand what that purpose is.

    I think in the last post someone mentioned Hotwheels being some sort influence. I disagree with the idea that something so specific could influence large industry trends, but I will say that the current rendering fashions give the designs a very toy-like appearance, especially compared to the older examples you added today which emphasize very different design aspects.

    Also, it needs to be said, that KIA render is giving me major “HUEHHHH” vibes with it’s chin stuck out like that =D

    1. There’s something about those old renders isn’t there? I guess with hindsight we know that never made it but it shows how far ahead they were thinking.
      Plus the pencil/pastels/colored paper medium is so evocation of a moment in time. That sketch would have taken some time though, and if you muck it up you’re screwed.
      Working digitally is so much cleaner, faster and more flexible.

      1. We did the Canson paper rendering exercise in design school and I remember my des. comm professor saying “This is great, so much of the color is already there!”
        It still took me a damn long time to do it.

        When I sketch on paper, I sometimes find myself looking to “ctrl + z” something I just did in real life. My brain is more broken.

          1. Makes me want to get a big pad of newsprint and a giant black marker again. That was committing to the lines in extreme.

            And I kinda miss the smell of those markers, though I have a larger collection of brain cells without them.

            1. It really depends on what markers you use. Chartpaks are the evil ones but their big plus point is they don’t bleed ballpoint linework. Copics are the industry choice (they’re the rounded square ones with colored ends) but they’re expensive. They will smear ink though so work best with pencil. They are refillable though and have the biggest range of colors.

              1. I still have a collection of Chartpaks that are on the plus side of 20 years old and a lot of them are still pretty juicy. We seemed to be a bit slow to get Copic here in the US. I used Tria’s and their “air marker” thing for a while too, but those, while refillable, dried out fast. Also, they would stay wet on vellum, but in a bad way.

                I haven’t used markers much outside of rough ideation for a long long time.

  20. I used to have a job where I had to put into reality what the designers came up with for biz jet interiors.

    Lots of nods and smiles.

    The better ones amongst us tried hard to capture the spirit of the design. The bad ones would manage to turn a circle into a rectangle.

    Plus, that ’44 Pontiac concept is gorgeous.

      1. Commercial aircraft is very constrained, especially when it comes to flammability. Business jets a bit less so, especially if the owner is re-doing the cabin. They get a bit more leeway in the “hey, this stuff you spec’d burns a lot faster” department.

  21. “You might not agree, but the original looks much cooler and has more drama to it.”

    You are correct… I do not agree. I think the original looks worse and the version you created with right-sized wheels looks way better and is the one I’d rather buy/drive. But the reason for that is because I’m an Educated Car Buyer who knows enough about vehicles to understand that bigger is not always better.

    Though I do agree the original image has more drama… but not in a good way.

    “Here’s a Pontiac proposal from 1944”

    Note how that proposal has tires with a decent amount of sidewall and still looks great.

    “A Cadillac proposal from the legendary Wayne Kady from 1965 is below. Check out the overhangs and the length of the front and rear decks.”

    And yet it also manages to look good without oversized wheels and with tires with a decent amount of sidewall.

    “A couple more, from GM designer Allan Flowers”

    Which are a couple more examples that look good AND do not have oversized wheels AND have tires with a decent amount of sidewall.

    Your examples only back up what I said previously!

    And these last two in particular look like they could go into production without much change to the look and not get a flat tire on the first pothole you hit.

  22. I think I’m the one you think was calling you a stylist when I was talking in general about the types of designers who don’t understand function, not calling you a stylist. It had limited relevance to the practice of drawing big wheels—which I defended—and I think you took it the wrong way (unless it was another commenter you’re talking about) when I believe we were ultimately in agreement that a designer ISN’T a mere stylist and should have an understanding of the manufacturability and function to qualify for the title. I can’t remember how the convo turned, but my point to another commenter was that not all designers earn that title and it wasn’t directed at you. So, if that was me, I apologize for not coming across clearly.

    1. It’s all good, I recall our conversation (in fact I’ve been reading back through the comments on the other post to try and get a feel for what the main issues people had were) and I think we were somewhat in agreement.

      Other people alluded to it though, and it is something that comes up a lot, and I wanted to try and put the issue to bed once and or all.

  23. We are not under misconceptions. We understand it is a game. We just don’t like it.

    Also, I believe your before and after yellow Kia pictures are reversed. The language is rather convoluted so it is hard to determine which were actually released by Kia and which were “right-sized”.

      1. Of the Kia pictures, the second isn’t more dramatic, it’s cartoonish. It’s silly. It is certainly not good design. The big wheels and overfull wheel wells actually distract from the design, and not just a little. Your photoshop is a huge improvement.

        Of the historic design drawings, anyone can pick and choose examples to make an outrageous point, if the audience isn’t aware of the rest of design history. But even so, you’ve bolstered the counter-points more than your own with your choices!

        In that green Pontiac, the rear fenders appear to be part of a scarab back, as part of the very point of the design. Now look at the front. Much more ordinary, un-stanced wheels, without overly flared fenders. Rear = this car’s theme, front = normal.

        In the Wayne Kady, you barely see the wheels at all. Something other than the wheels has been exaggerated because that other factor is the design element being highlighted. And I’m pretty sure that this drawing wasn’t part of an individual car’s development but instead as an exercise to explore the limits of extreme design. I’m pretty sure it was an intentional strike on the border between serious and silly. Like something drawn long before a specific project is defined, or in between projects.

        The first Flowers design is also silly. There are a lot of silly designs in automotive history. Flat car is flat. Again, I suspect that this is more of a “brand theme” or “styling theme” design, drawn to express certain ideas and elements, and not created as part of a specific car project. This would be the type of drawing where huge wheels, stance, or flared fenders might be welcome. You can see that it does not include all three, and even where included, those elements are pretty restrained.

        Examining the second Flowers design, smooth panels and crisp lines are the highlighted element. It has large wheels, but altogether ordinary fenders. No stance. No flares. (Is this part of the 1978 GM A Body redesign? It’s very similar to the 78 Buick Regal, Pontiac Grand Prix and the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Because it looks like a generic version of those cars.)

        Each of these historic designs is exaggerates a different element, to highlight that specific element. In each, that exaggerated element is the featured theme. Each does not exaggerate the same thing every time, like your repetition of “cool” (or is it “fool”?) wheels in so many of your drawings.

        There’s a difference between a drama and a Transformers movie. Auto designers have lost the ability to discern the difference in their work. This is passed on to the public as “good design” even though it’s actually entertaining or titillating, but certainly not “good” in a way that strives for excellence. At least when it comes to the wheels, flares and stance.

        When you get used to living in a world with wildly exaggerated proportions, apparently you lose some ability to see subtleties. I honestly think you’ve internalized all the rules that get things approved these days and are defending the system rather than your own vision. Apparently the current system is to add in “fashionable cool” elements rather than presenting your design ideas as cleanly as possible and letting them stand or fall on their merit.

        The absurdity exists. It is not your fault. It is simply the state of things right now.

        I don’t mean to troll you, or personally attack you in any way. What I do see is that your entire world has funhouse windows, when viewed from the outside looking in. The distortions you see as ordinary and proper look like a giant waste of time and effort, and a distraction from the real work to be done.

        The trend of huge wheels, stance and fender flares is making truly excellent design more difficult to find and recognize.

        1. My whole point is that sketches have always exaggerated certain things, not just wheels or glass house.

          Again, I’ll make another point I’ve been making repeatedly yet it appears not to be sinking in. The initial sketches are one small part of the process. They are literally only used to pick which themes to take forward. Most of the design work is carried out in 3D on clay and digital models, which are on package and in proportion.

          1. “My whole point is that sketches have always exaggerated certain things, not just wheels or glass house.”

            Yes, but some things can be exaggerated and look great, as in those older drawings. Raked front ends, bulbous back ends, low-slung bodies, etc. Huge wheels just look ridiculous, IMHO. Obviously some people disagree and think enormous wheels look great, but apparently not many Autopians are in that group.

            So cut us some slack. Quit telling us we’re misunderstanding or “doing it wrong” or whatever. You like big wheels and you cannot lie, but these other brothers (and sisters, presumably) CAN deny… (Man, that just doesn’t flow as well as the original. There goes my career as a rap artist.)

          2. Well, you’ve just about summarized what I said about them in the first place: it’s a dog and pony show for the decision makers, and for whatever reason, wheels, fender flares and stance are the currently popular set of easy go-to items to add in the sketches “used to pick which themes to take forward”. So in this stage, it is simply approval-seeking.

            My whole argument is that adding this specific set of trite elements is an exercise in obfuscation. The best designs simply don’t need them to stand out (see the historic designs above), and they won’t be carried forward anyway.

            What isn’t sinking in? That it’s a small step along the way? It seems to me that we’re talking in circles now. If you choose to respond, I’ll leave it at that.

            1. I guarantee you if you saw the initial sketches for what you consider “the best designs” they will be cartoonish in some way, and if they were done in the last twenty five years or so they will have larger wheels.

              Very rarely does a design spring fully formed from one sketch and make it through to production unchanged.

              1. Yeah but our point is completely illustrated by your statement “if they were done in the last twenty five years or so they will have larger wheels.”

                THAT is the crux of the issue. WE as a majority here think huge wheels with rubberband tires are stupid, pointless and ugly. BUT we understand that is where design has taken us and obviously what the public wants. I don’t begrudge any designer for giving the company what sells but it doesn’t mean we have to like it.

                I don’t think anyone here is unaware that sketches go through design stages until they make it to production. We just find it sad that huge wheels are the current trend.

          3. I think it’s possible that on some subconscious level, people may be trying to say that they don’t like how the wheels look, even though they are actually posting that the wheels look silly when big. I get that they look kinda weird in the initial concept, but that’s just a rough draft. I see the important parts of the drawing (the wheel designs, the headlights, the hood curvature, the grille, etc) are staying true all the way to the finished product, and the wonky proportions obviously come down to reality.

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