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2D computer line drawing

2D design, 3D angles

3D body frame

3D design on a rotating axis

Light and shadow

Finished paint job

Wire frame rendering

Fully rendered image

Exploring colors

Car colors

Airflow model

Interior of virtual car

Ford robots carve clay

DEARBORN, Mich.--At the Forward with Ford conference at Ford Motor's headquarters here last week, the automaker's designers showed off the Hollywood-worthy design tools they use to create cars inside and out before they're actually built in concept form. These screenshots reveal the tools in action.

In the earliest stages of design, a line drawing of a car to be takes shape on a computer screen as it would on any drawing pad.

Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
A 2D computer line drawing of a Ford concept car can be rotated and examined on any axis in a 3D environment.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Once the 2D image of a Ford concept car is developed, software can flesh the frame into a rough 3D image.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Once in its 3D frame, a concept car design can be rotated and examined on an axis.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
A 3D concept car design is rendered with light and shadow effects to examine how paint might interact with the environment.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Once a Ford concept car is rendered in 3D with light and shadow, designers can examine how reflections will play off paint colors.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Just as Pixar might render Lightening McQueen as a highly detailed 3D wire frame model, Ford draws its concept cars in a network of thousands of geometric shapes.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Once through the design steps, Ford engineers render a complete 3D computer image of a concept car within an artificial environment.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
To create new automobile colors in shades calculated to appeal to a global audience, Ford artists and designers explore hues around the world.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
With rendering tools, Ford designers can explore how car colors play on different vehicles in different environments and at different times of day.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Once an automobile exists in a virtual world, Ford designers can examine how airflow and other real-world effects will play out in the car.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Ford designers can lay out and render a highly detailed simulation of a concept car's interior.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
Once a concept car is fully designed and tested in a virtual world, Ford engineers feed the data into robotic carvers that produce a life-size model out of clay.
Caption by / Photo by John Scott Lewinski/CNET
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