Car modeling tutorial for newbie?

Hello everybody

I am learning Rhino 5 for my studies and I start to model cars from blueprints.

The first step with drawing lines is okay. I get this:

an then when I start to do the network surfaces it becomes dirty. I know something is wrong in the way I pick the lines for the network or the settings of the fonctions, but even when I try to split the lines and rearrange the combinations the results is not good, you can see on the picture:

I feel like I just need to learn a few more tricks to make it right.

So I think I am too beginner to just start doing a car in rhino and I should follow a step by step tutorial. In youtube I tried tutorials but they are not complete (or there is no sound), it’s difficult to find a real good tutorial for free, I’m student.

Do you have any suggestions?


Car design is not my sector, but you may find this helpful from the Simply Rhino guys-


I do serious surface modelling in automotive. In my opinion I see only two options for a hobbyist/student,

1.) Start car modelling in a polygon modelling software, get serious tutorials, pay for it if necessary. You will get much better results in much shorter time. Since you probably don’t want to produce anything, meshes a totally okay
2.) find a company doing serious surface design modelling and start as student worker there. Cars are very difficult shapes. If you continue with it in Rhino, chances are very high to quit unmotivated. Professional software for car modelling is Autodesk Alias or Icem Surf, they give you a bunch of tools better suited to these kinds of jobs, which doesn’t mean you can’t model cars in Rhino (Its just requires even more skill, and more tolerance regarding quality)


thanks for the tutorial, it is complete I will learn from it.

Yes, for an internship in product design starting in september I need to have good skills in rhino, so I thought, if I am able to model a car, I can model anything. But it’s harder than I thought.

I already know cinema 4D and I think it is polygon modeling, (correct me if I am wrong) but in the studios they mainly use non-polygon modeling softwares like rhino or alias that’s why I need to improve on it.

thx for your answers!

I would rather learn Rhino basics, but learning them very well. I believe its much better for you getting confident in Rhino as knowing how to model right. You can’t become a perfect modeller by online tutorials only. The topic itself is so difficult that in theory you need years to learn. So rather find someone teaching you stuff and practice a lot. But that’s exactly what internships are about.

Good Concept designers need approximately 3 days to build a whole car in surface representation, final surface models need month and dozens of engineers. In the end you see the model and ask yourself what needed all the time, it looks so simple. But its actually very hard to come to this point.
So instead of doing cars, start small.

Rebuild a mobile phone, a pen or whatever. After doing this, do it again and again until you feel comfortable enough. Try new ways, simplify the shape, add more detail.

Read these modelling rules: its also very useful in Rhino


Adding to TomTom’s suggestions: take a few days and read sections of the manual thoroughly. Few do this anymore!

Focus on the modeling tools and understand what each does. Draw a form with each tool. Refer back to the drawing tools section if required. Repeat until you develop a framework understanding of each core modeling tool. It matters not what you create at first. Just ‘get’ core concepts of the tool.

Later, with knowledge gained, you’ll apply it to what you are doing. Tutorials can be disconnected from a complete understanding. Nuts and bolts first.

Fortunately, the Rhino manual is superbly constructed for this: it is detailed, yet concise, often with a little video. You can do same with Alias, and as a student, likely get a student license to explore for free.


thanks for your replies

Yes I will start small and do it properly step by step as I always want to go too fast because I already know cinema 4D I think I don’t need to do the newbie things and I get stuck at the beginning of a car modeling…

I really need a good knowledge of rhino so anyway I am forced to do the basics even though I did some of them at school.

you are right, internship is about learning things and I forgot that. Meanwhile, a design studio asked me to have a rhino skill about 9/10, just like a designer.

thanks for your help

If a design studio want/need a designer with a high level of CAD skills they should be paying for such a person. If you’re an intern you’re there to learn, it’s a two way thing, they get ‘extra’ help at very little cost, and the intern gets to learn :slight_smile:

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Thanks for sharing. Understanding modelling is something we learn soon or later. I have been using Rhino for 8 years and learned on the job. I didn’t even know what G curves were. So for Newbie’s learn basic 3d modelling concepts early and it will help your modelling vastly.


Why would you tell them to make something in a polygon modeler, when a polygon modeler generally cannot make a result suitable for manufacturing?

Someone wants to learn how to model a car, your idea of help is to tell them to give up and pay someone?


Someone made a book for modeling cars in Rhino. It was made for an older version, but Rhino seems pretty backward compatible.

There are some car modeling tutorials here:

please read again. Its about the complexity. Anyone saying you can model cars as a beginner using Rhino does A.) don’t know much about car modelling or B.) completely underestimates the difficulty of car modelling even for intermediates and professionals.
Using a polygon or sub-d surface representation is the only option I see for beginners to come to a result without losing motivation. What’s wrong paying for a online tutorial or a book?


TomTom, For were right to state that car modeling isn’t easy, but the OP wanted to learn how to model cars. AFAIK, they did not ask for encouragement to quit, and hire someone professionally.

Cherryglowpower, Perhaps save the door seams (shutlining) for later.

I would made the fender first, and save the headlight cutout for later in the process; that will keep the tension from affecting the body panel.

If you are using networksurf, you can specify some of the intermediate curves as loose.

It looks like BMW changes the fenders lip every year. Some years are cut from the body; others, such as yours are not.

I never said this. Please quote this.

TomTom, I am sorry, I didn’t see this part: " …and start as student worker there…" I did make it past that.
I apologize.

It was a…

in the
the spring.

…kind of thing.

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That’s very good for starting out.

It looks like your problem is that you are trying to follow the curve of the fender in the side panel. NetworkSrf does not work around corners. What you can do is expend the lower edge of the side panel through the wheel well and create basically rectangular surface. The TRIM or SPLIT the wheel wells away from the side panel.

Not only this: Curve networks do not tell you anything about your surface layout or if the edge of a surface equals the curve. Often a outline describes trimming boundaries instead, so they give you no hint about the actual location of the surface and its curvature. Usually you start with placing bigger, low curved surfaces first, followed by more curved ones making a full positional matched hull. Then you start blending in between (transitional surfaces) and finally you fillet edges. Its however not as easy as it sounds, because unless your surfaces aren’t really smooth, having the right curvature and are in a good layout, you will have a hard time in making good looking blends.

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I highly recommend this book for learning surface modeling in Rhino.

Too true. Anything longer than a tweet is “boring” these days ; )


I second that.

There are excellent product design tutorials on YouTube for Rhino and very helpful people here on this forum. Rather than attempting, as a beginner, what takes an ICEM or Alias user years to master, use simpler objects to learn Rhino and only increase difficulty level once you have understood what you learned so far.

When I examine student or junior designer portfolios, can-do grandezza turns me off big time, but when a young woman or man shows a well modelled bike saddle or golf club done in Rhino, it shows that the person is willing to learn and got the basics right, meaning that during the internship or first job, she or he can progress and eventually become a useful contributor in the overall design process.

That is, in my view, much better than trying to dazzle with a badly executed car model.


That is 100% not serious. A design studio that has these kind of perfectionist expectations from students needs to be keelhauled.