Behind the scenes at Kiska – Working with clay

First, the scale of the model has to be determined. Then a rig is built which is not only a solid working base and reduces weight but helps to reduce the use of expensive clay especially when it is a 1:1 scale model. Instead of using clay all over the model, a core of foam, wood and metal is configured on which the clay is applied.

Clay is a technical modeling material for the auto industry, a very expensive material. The clay is kept hot in an oven. At ambient temperature it hardens off after about 15 minutes.
With the help of reference points, the designers‘ drawings are transferred to the model.

The challenge of a modeler’s job is to combine the layouts of the designers and the engineers’ data together. You need to transfer a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional and to have a great sense for space and design. That’s why imagination and finding the right balance of proportions are the main skills required by a clay modeler.

The beauty of automotive styling clay is its ability to be reworked and continually adjusted. This freedom of form development is rarely matched by computer. By making a clay model, the designs get „reality-tested“: you see if something does not work out the intended way or if the ergonomics is not right. A small change can have big consequences to the whole range of vehicles. Therefore designers and clay modelers have to work together very closely.

Once a vehicle is completed, one of several next steps may be taken. If the vehicle is to be shown as a concept, it might be painted and detailed but will more likely become the template for ‘hard modellers’ to use to create a production look-a-like with individual panels, real glass and details as well as an interior.

If the vehicle is ready for production, it will usually be scanned using 3D digital equipment which will in turn create a new CAD wireframe model. This will be passed on to engineers who will begin the process of creating panels, componentry, drivetrain and propulsion based on the design.

Words and images VIA Kiska’s tumblr. More photos there too.


  1. marcus 4 years ago

    Love these kind of photos! More, more please!

    Great engine layout design -swedish.
    Great industrial design -swedish.

    I had to be a bit nationloving this time! :-)

    Cheers, Marcus

  2. NeoGeniX 4 years ago

    Great read, love this stuff!

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