Car Body - General Shaping

Now we get to the more interesting parts. Up until now, we've spent a lot of time just making a box with a ragged polygon structure. Boring as that was, it was the foundation for everything else... and our success at that will determine our success at the outcome of the model.

You may have had trouble following my reasoning (I'm not sure I follow it myself sometimes!), or you may have missed a cut or two in the confusion... I'd like everyone to be able to follow along with the tutorial, whether they missed a step or not. So, in the spirit of sportsmanship, if you had trouble with the dull parts, you can download a scene file with the precut cube here!

Download cutcube.c4d here in zip format or sit format.

Shaping the Side View

First of all, we can delete some polygons that won't be necessary. Select these polygons from underneath the front end, and also near the back end and delete these. You can see which ones have been selected in the following three views.

Note: Once you delete polygons, you can switch to point mode, select all, then run the optimize command with the unused points checkbox checked. This gets rid of all the points that were left floating around aimlessly after polygon deletion.


Before we get started on the shaping, setup the car object with a symmetry object parent, and then throw the symmetry group underneath a HyperNURBS object. Here's a look at the hierarchy structure, along with the settings for the symmetry object.

So with any luck, we've managed to get to this point. Looks like a car already, huh? No? Okay then...

Interestingly enough, the HyperNURBS is smoothing polygons in such a way that the loosely defined wheel wells are almost close enough to our reference picture to need very little modification later on.

That won’t always be the case, but we’re certainly appreciative when it is!

For now, we can be content with the approximation of the car's body shape. When we add detail in the upcoming steps, we'll be making the slope of the hood more accurate, and adding the swells and tail fins according to the reference image... The wheel wells are close, but a starting point only. For now, it is best for us to leave them a little bit off, but still maintain the straightness of the grid. If we find we need any knifecuts we didn't anticipate, It will be a lot easier making cuts that go straight through the grid without worrying about crossing polygon edges and triangulating the mesh.

To continue on with the shaping of the side of the car, let's look next at the top view.

Shaping the Top View

From the top, we can see we don't have to do much in this case to get close to the body shape, which is fairly rectangular to begin with. All we have to do for now is move a couple points to define a slight change in the curvature of the front quarter panel, where it swells to accommodate the shape/styling of the headlights. Also added is some curvature to the hood and trunk.

These points take relatively minimal movement. I should point out that when using the point tool to select these points, make sure you consider whether you want the "Only Select Visible Elements" option checked in the active tool menu. In the above cases you will want to select more than just the topmost point, so make sure the option is not checked.


Shaping the Front View

The front view at this point is looking just like we want it to (I hope!!!) However, we can take the time to select the points on the lower part of the body and slide them over, so that we will have a nice gently curved look to the side of our car.

Later, when we add detail to the headlight area, you will see we want to extrude a round shape from a square polygon formation. For that reason, we won't want too irregular of a shape in the upper corner there... best to leave it square until we have our full attention on it.

Shaping the Door

Back to the side view! Here we are going to shape the front edge of the door to the curvature indicated by our reference picture. It's merely a matter of selecting the appropriate points and repositioning them. Make sure you select all points in their "clusters". Remember how the door edge is defined with multiple knife cuts? To make the point manipulation quicker, you should select each little group of points and move all edges at the same time.

Don't worry about getting 100% accurate on the placement of either the door or cab edges. Since we are working from hand drawn reference pictures, we can always blame the artist who drew them if we find our model too inaccurate! ;-)

Shaping the Cab Edge

This is another exercise in grabbing point and pulling. I hope you get to like that because we're in for a whole lot more!!! Again, 100% accuracy is not mandatory... whoever drew these reference pictures is clearly a lunatic! :-)

Deleting Polygons from the Cab Opening

Now to 'cut' the cab opening from the top of the car, we can select the polygons that are currently skinned over where we want our cab to be open, and delete them. It is important to note here which polygons are being selected, as we made those double knife cuts along the edges for a reason. We want to retain the tight polygons in areas where we are still requiring a hard edge!

Have a look at which ones should be selected and the result in deleting them..

Well now! As basic shaping goes, that's certainly a basic result... It's on the way to looking like a car, though!

Next, we'll get into some intermediate detail...