14 Best Car Design Software (Free & Paid) 2021

best car design software

Always looking for a car design software that is easy to learn and within your budget? Nowadays, technology has developed a lot. There can be many different methods to design a car by following basic design principles and making physical drawings. There is Windows Paint from which you can easily design your car without spending a single penny. But attaining professional design, costs you around USD 500 and more, depending upon the software.

Designing a car takes time as it involves lots of minor cuts and changes. Generally, it may take nearly 3-4 years for the perfect model to design. Companies like Mercedes Benz, ford mustang, etc are using computer-aided design (CAD) to design their concept cars or sports cars on a computer instead of making it with normal pen and paper.

Even though you also are well equipped with efficient and advanced software, you need to know certain points to make a perfect car design or auto designing like the car plan shape, car interior & exterior design, body design, steering wheel design, Color, and trim, graphic design, design development cycle, car wedge and shoulder, rules & regulations and many more. 

If you are a beginner you just need simple but useful software that you can learn and start designing. There is free software that is already on your computer, i.e. Windows Paint. But if you want to do it on a good scale then you need professional software and each software is different in pricing depends on what type of features you want.

Do YOU always think about what software do car designers use? There are few interesting designs across the world that fetched billions of dollars. One of the people who had been chief head of car designing at Lamborghini is Filippo Perini. He had achieved a great degree of respect for his work.

If you too want to become a car designer and design the next future car-like Filippo Perini, Chris Bangle, or Chris Bangle then you need to learn professional car designing software and other basics of car designing. This article covers the most used and useful car designing software that helps you make a perfect car design.

Let’s dig in.

What is the best software to design your own car?

1. Blender.

(Free)

Blender 3D is an open-source license-free car design software which basically used for video editing but it is also great for in-car designing. It has many features to design the car easily and efficiently. This graphics designing software can merge visual effects and motion graphics also.

Blender software has very impressive features as it includes modeling, simulation, animation, rendering, and many more. You can design, modify and render your car in blender. It also has modifiers, editor, texture, and shading features that allow you to make your 3d cars model look attractive. This will save your time and boost productivity. You can even modify the software according to your need with different plugins/addons that it is providing. 

Blender Car Design Software
Blender

After getting the proper skills, you can easily model a car with a blender program. Firstly, after preparing a rough sketch of the car, you need to model it on a software interface and then finally need to texture it.

To design a car, there are a few major steps like getting the best reference images, then modeling the body, next modeling the front design of the body, then tweaking the back, and then modeling the hood & wheels. Then, finally, ready for texture painting. There are many Blender tutorials available on the website that helps you to get deeper knowledge like shortcuts, 3d printing, and modeling.

Now you are thinking that is blender free? then you are right! You can download the free version of this software for Windows and Mac easily from the website.

2. Sketch Up.

(Free – $120/Per Year)

This is a great 3D automotive design software used to make car designs, windows, doors, custom car interior design, and exterior with ease and effectively. Sometimes woodworkers also use this software for designing. Its online library has many design ideas which help designers as it includes architectural drawings of various vehicle different plug-ins to add a lot to the software.

Beginners or professionals have the best option if they go with Sketch-up. It enables you to reduce the effort and save your time with its easy visualization, sustainable designs, best 3D working pace, and easy way to share the work with others. This helps in making a delightful design collaboratively and happily.

Sketchup
Sketchup

You can download and install this software on your system and add more features like cloud sharing and productivity improvement from the options panel. If you are new to this software, you can join automobile design school or go on to the tutorials section to gain more knowledge about how to use SketchUp, later you will be able to draw the model easily. Many shortcuts and extensions are allowed here.

The owner of the SketchUp 3D graphics designing technology software is Trimble Inc. They are famous for their mapping surveying and navigation technology. They have released a free as well as Pro version with loaded extra advanced features for professional users.

Now, if you are thinking is SketchUp free good? The free version of this software is best for school students and beginners to start their designing careers. This version also supports many robust features and cloud sharing. They also come with inbuilt app lessons that will let you know about software shortcuts, extensions, and many other features.

You can start with a free trial version of Google Sketchup whereas Sketchup and Sketchup Pro costs start from USD 120, depending upon the usage.

If you are not happy with this software then there are lots of Sketchup alternatives below in this list.

3. Adobe Photoshop.

(Free – $20/Per Month)

Adobe Photoshop is the most popular editing tool out there which comes with raster & vector graphics. With its all-in-one editor, you can design and edit and get benefitted to a stage where you get real augmented experience. Adobe Photoshop elements make car designing easier and efficient.

Initially, Adobe Photoshop was released on 19 February 1990 with its naming changed to Photoshop CS (Creative Suite).

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop tools like shape, measuring, and navigation, selection tools (Marquee, Lasso, cropping, slicing, etc.), camera raw, 3D printing tools are forcing us to include Photoshop in the top 3. Also, this is one of the best car design software for beginners who are looking for simple, fast, and efficient software with 3D video modeling and 3D printing models. In addition, color replacement, mobile integration tools are also useful for a car designer.

Firstly, download and install this software. To design a car in Adobe, you need to open a new page and start with your sketch, creating the basic layout of the model using selection tools and finally fitting all the parts. Then comes the texturing and shading part. You can go through all the Adobe Photoshop tutorials and courses to get more ideas about designing as this is not a detailed guide on how to design a car. 

The latest version of this creative suite was released last year, which is Photoshop 2020 (version 21) with animated GIF Support and many more.

People often think that how much is Adobe Photoshop and from where to buy Adobe Photoshop? But there is an Adobe Photoshop free trial of all the plans, and the cost of the licensed tool price starts from $12. All these are available on its official site. The next one is the best alternative to Photoshop.

4. Adobe Illustrator.

(Free – $22/Per Month)

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphic design and editing software that was mentioned as the automobile industry’s best companion by many for retro designing. You can design any 3d car modeling, animation drawings, and their simulation, pictures, and patterns illustrations. This graphics designing software merges the needs of both smartphone and desktop users.

This car design software is specialized in recognizing and removing the hidden layers behind the models to produce sharp segments and clear lines. This will save you lots of time zooming in and out to remove the unwanted lines and shadows. There is a rotation view and important features like source formatting, tools that help in slicing, painting, drawing, editing, and reshaping. In addition, tools like pen tools, brush tools, and selection tools are also there. 

Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator

After downloading and installing it. You need to find the stock images, follow these steps like sketching a car, shaping the structure, designing the wheels, texturing, and shading the model. Indeed you can also add more details for an aesthetic look. There are also adobe illustrator tutorials and classes available on their website for free. If you are a beginner then select the adobe illustrator for beginners section to learn keyboard shortcuts, brushes, etc. and if you are a professional designer then you can select the experienced section.

So, if you are thinking about how much is adobe illustrator? then, there is a free trial provided by Adobe Illustrator for seven days after that; the full license price around $22 per month which is a must-try for all because it is a custom-made car design software for beginners.

If we talk about the two major products from Adobe, Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator, then Photoshop helps in web graphics, video enhancing, and designing pixel-by-pixel. Whereas, Illustrator helps us with its raster and vector graphics that are not dependent on pixels. Thus we are free from resolution. Still, there are lots of Illustrator alternative out there that you can try.

The adobe illustrator cost offered by adobe start from $22 per month.

5. AutoCAD.

(Free – $220/Per Month)

AutoCAD Software is a computer-aided designing (CAD) program created by Autodesk for advance designing mostly used in the Automotive industry. Even the students will prefer this for engineering drawing also. This is helpful for all types of designing work, including architectural drawings of various vehicles, project managers, and a lot of professionals. This 3d car design software is developed and marketed by AutoDesk.

Features like vertical integration, compatibility with other software, extensions, and hotkeys make it the best fit for car designers. Moreover, all the 2D, 3D drawings can be drawn easily with the features like 3d car modeler and Visualization, Tool Palettes, Photorealistic Rendering, and many more. Car manufacturers like Nissan use AutoCAD to prepare their car models.

AutoCAD
AutoCAD

To design a car, there are a few major steps like getting the best reference images, then modeling the body, next modeling the front design of the body, then tweaking the back, and then modeling the hood & wheels. Finally, ready for texture painting. If you find AutoCAD difficult to learn then different alternatives to this are easy and work the same. AutoCAD tutorials and classes will help you to get deeper into this. There is an AutoCAD certification program available that you can join and test your proficiency.

System requirements need to run Autodesk AutoCAD smoothly are: 8GB RAM, Windows 7 or more, and a 2.5GHz processor are recommended for windows. 6GB hard disk space is compulsory for this software to get the best results.

There is a free trial of all the plans, and the cost of the licensed tool is on a monthly, annually and three-year basis starting from $220/monthly, $1,775/yearly, and so on. All these are available on its official site to download.

6. Rhino 3D.

(Free – $995/Per Year)

Rhino 3D software is a car body design program that is one of the most popular 3d modeling software among car manufacturers. This computer-aided design (CAD) helps in architecture, industrial, automotive designs, products, and graphic designing. This graphics designing software is developed for PC as well as Mac.

The NURBS mathematical operation curves and traces are available in this software. It helps in rendering, architecture, and animating your car designs. This 3d car customizer software enables you to customize the interface and create your personalized interface with commands and menus. You can also add different Plugins provided by McNeel.

Rhino 3D
Rhino 3D

You can easily model a car with a Rhino 3D modeling. After installing this software start surface design modeling and with the help of features like simulation techniques and productivity improvement from the options panel complete your car design. We are not talking about how you can design a car in Rhino 3D you can go on to the rhino 3d tutorials section to gain more knowledge about the basics, later you are ready to draw the model.

It supports Windows 8.1 or 10 with system requirements of 8GB RAM and a 2.5GHz processor.  600MB hard disk space is compulsory for this software to get the best results. 4GB video RAM is also required. For Mac users, it requires 8GB Ram, 5GB Hard Disk space, AMD Graphic Card, and an operating system of above 10.14.6.

There is a rhino 3d trial of all the plans, and the cost of the licensed tool starts from USD 995/yr. All these are available on its official site. Rhino 3D is free for students with proof of status.

7. SolidWorks.

(Free – $950/Per Year)

This software helps the users with its all-in-one solid modeling editor that helps in the design and edit the automotive design with 3d modeling, weldments, and 2d drawings.

It is useful for both beginners or professionals. It enables you to easily do 3D shaping & visualization, designing, and modeling. Its features include extruded boss, fillet, shell, revolved boss, extruded cut, and many more to add materials to your design. This helps in making a delightful design collaboratively and happily. 

SolidWorks
SolidWorks

Many tutorials are available on the official website regarding its usage with efficiency. However, there are some necessary steps after downloading the software like mirroring the parts, using 2 line sketches, setting a perfect zoom, clearing up the crowded sketch, and finally modifying the shape with units. You can also join the certification program to check your knowledge about this software.

Better system requirements like 16GB RAM, Windows 8.1 or 10, and a 3.3GHz processor are recommended for windows. 6GB hard disk space is compulsory for this software to get the best results. 4GB video RAM is best if used.

We have also researched how much does SolidWorks cost for students as well as for professionals. There is a SolidWorks free trial of all the plans, and the price of the licensed tool starts from USD 950/yr. All these are available on its official site.

8. ZBrush.

(Free – $49.5/Per Month)

ZBrush is a graphic designing software used by most car designers because it uses 3d/2.5d modeling, painting, and texturing features. It gives you every detail of all the objects on the same screen which helps in creating high-resolution models.

Moreover, all the 2D, 3D drawings can be drawn easily with their material, and time calculator technology benefited designers to prepare the best car models. In addition, there is a rotation view, and important features like source formatting, sculpting tools help in slicing, painting, drawing, editing, and reshaping. 

ZBrush
ZBrush

To design a car, there are a few major steps like getting the best reference images, modeling the body with the best target resolution, UVs and baking is compulsory, tweaking the back, and modeling the hood & wheels. Finally ready for texture painting than to upload. There are zbrush tutorials available to watch and learn more about it. You can also try its alternative if you are not liking this very much.

There is a Zbrush free trial of all the plans, and the price of the licensed tool starts from USD 49.5/month. All these are available on its official site.

9. AutoDesk Alias.

(Free – $4665/Per Year)

This is one of the best graphics and computer-aided designing software prominent in the automotive and industrial sector by many leading companies across the globe. We can achieve many 3D model animation drawings and their simulation preparations easily and efficiently.

This is also developed and marketed by Autodesk only. However, this is a well-known professional car customization software for its great features like virtual reality, multithreading option, and dynamic integration. This proves that for professional automotive design, this is the best companion.

Car Design Software
AutoDesk Alias

Even though beginners are highly recommended to watch all the Autodesk alias tutorial sessions on the official site to use this software because of its complex user interface, this is an easy companion for a professional only.

There is a free trial of all the plans, and the cost of the licensed tool starts from USD 4665/yr. All these are available on its official site.

10. Sketchbook.

(Free)

Sketch artists, architects, and designers who are waiting for the best buddy, which will help in their process of designing buildings and prominent vehicles, this limited and efficient software suits their taste. The invention of Autodesk had witnessed many users through this simple tool.

Car Design Software
Sketchbook

The beginners who are facing difficulties in designing their designs can take the help of software user guides and tutorials provided on the official site to enrich their artistic skills. Some of the tools like a curved ruler, unlimited painting equipment, and various artistic shades help the user to bring an original look for the design. Flip book and Copic color are the latest tools in this software.

Autodesk sketchbook is the best companion for beginners who are searching for a simple, efficient, and dynamic tool. This was specially designed for architects.

This product is free of cost.

11. Autodesk 3DS Max.

(Free – $1700/Per Year)

This is a great 3D computer-aided designing(CAD) program designed to get more attractive premium design-making processes. The tools of alias allow the user to draw the designs that are complicated and complex that are drawn easily and look like the hand-drawn designs that will help the user to get equipped with real knowledge.

There are many aesthetic features like modeling, texturing, rendering, animation and its effects, workflow, and pipeline, design visualization. However, the design seems real due to its Abnormal VFX technology, and the high definition images are easily created with this software.

Car Design Software
Autodesk 3DS Max

Even the 3D max tutorial helps you to get deeper. To design a car, a few major steps like getting the best reference images, modeling the body(polygon count is necessary) with the best target resolution, UVs, and baking is compulsory, then tweaking the back modeling the hood & wheels. Finally ready for texture painting than to upload.

Better system requirements like 8GB RAM, Windows 64 bit, and a 3.3GHz processor is recommended for windows. 9GB hard disk space is compulsory for this software to get the best results.

Now comes at how much does 3ds max cost then there is a 3ds max free trial of all the plans, and the cost of the licensed tool starts from $1,700/yr. All these are available on its official site.

12. Catia.

(Free – $4500/Per Year)

This computer-aided three-dimensional interactive software application is used to create many 2D and 3D designs that are simple and classic. CATIA software is a great 3D computer-aided designing(CAD) program designed for royal classical looking design that fills the work with magic making processes easier and more effective.

The 3D working space provided by the CATIA helps us in the entire cycle of a 3D model and helps in bringing the rough idea of the concept, designing the product, and manufacturing the product even. Simply this is computer-aided designing, manufacturing, and engineering. Thus this software comprises all the necessary items and tools for completing the perfect design that you wish.

Catia Car Design Software
Catia

This tool is widely used across the world in various engineering fields for designing.

Many Catia V5 tutorials are available on the official website regarding its usage with efficiency. Also, the Catia certification program will help you to test your knowledge regarding the software. However, some necessary steps like getting introduced to the interface, knowing the sketcher module, part design module, assembly module, drafting module. In this manner, we can easily understand the route map of drawing the designs with this wonderful CAD.

There is a free trial of all the plans, and the cost of the licensed tool starts from USD 4500/yr. All these are available on its official site.

13. Creo Parametric.

(Free – $2200/Per Year)

Creo or Pro engineer is a flexible, interoperable parametric design modeling interesting software. The graphics and computer-aided designing technology made it prominent in the automotive and industrial sector by many leading companies across the globe. 

Creo Parametric
Creo Parametric

The best tools like the creo module, creo layout, creo direct, and creo simulate the usage of this software. Moreover, all the 2D, 3D drawings can be drawn easily, which benefitted designers to prepare the cool car designs. There is a rotation view and important features like source formatting, sculpting tools.

There is a free trial of all the plans, and the cost of the licensed tool starts from USD 2200/yr. All these are available on its official site.

14. LightWave 2018.

(Free – $995/Per Year)

To get the best functionality and workflow in graphics designing and the architect business, one should prefer this best 3D CAD software. This is a friend for all the sketch artists, architects, and designers who need to work with limited and efficient tools.

Car Design Software
LightWave 2018

This lightwave technology provided many aesthetic features like modeling, texturing, rendering, animation and its effects, workflow, and pipeline design visualization. Also, unlimited brushes allow the users to get the best experience with the 4d symmetry techniques. Furthermore, we can add more features like cloud sharing and productivity improvement from the options panel.

There is a free trial of all the plans, and the cost of the licensed tool starts from USD 995/month. All these are available on its official site.

Final Words

Our team tried to collect all the popular and best software for car design in which each software has a free trial as well as paid version. Therefore, we hope that you love the list in this article with the software info and their features and are now able to select the best software for you.

You can sell your car design or any architectural design made with these software to one of the leading companies that might fetch you many dollars.

Personally, we like Blender as the top priority from our list. It has numerous features and an advanced interface. It was not too expensive for beginners also. The only drawback is you need to learn the proper skills to make proper use of them.

Our list comprises both the paid and free versions, so just note all those. The best ones according to our research are on this list. It is compulsory and necessary to get a perfect match for your PC from the above list. That helps in designing your best car. There are also car design apps available for Android & iOS that are as useful as these software but you need a high-end smartphone for that.

If you really want to become an automotive designer then you should get a break from your imaginative world in the game and prefer these products. This will help all beginners, even the professionals, increase their willpower through its powerful tools, so it is better if you purchase according to your needs and budget. 

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