7 best car design software [2020 Guide]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • Car design software allows you to simply and efficiently access all the required tools in order to simplify the process.
  • Even though designing cars can be a daunting task, using the top software options described in this article will most certainly get you started on the right path.
  • If you want to be up to date with the latest and greatest information in the industry, visit our comprehensive 3D Design section.
  • If you're interested in design software, then you should bookmark our extensive Graphics and Design Hub.
car design software windows 10

Automotive design is a type of design primarily concerned with developing the visual appearance and aesthetics of a vehicle. In order to be able to design a car, you will need specialized software (CAD).

CAD stands for Computer-aided design, and it is the use of computer systems to help you create, modify, and optimize your design ideas. CAD software is extremely useful as it enhances the productivity of the designer and it also creates the necessary documentation.

One of the main advantages of using CAD software for car design is the fact that it is way easier to master this type of software than to use the classic pen and paper. This type of software allows you to share the designs with others easily, great detail when it comes to measurements and your intricate design can be rotated and observed from any side.

Car design software to create the next Ferrari or Jaguar

Adobe Illustrator (recommended)

Adobe Illustrator Software

Our top pick for the Best car design software is Adobe Illustrator. This powerful software gives you an incredible array of tools that can help you design the next flagship car.

Adobe Illustrator was built from the ground up with the idea of design in mind, and this has permitted the creators to pack it full of incredible tools and features that can simplify the design process.

Because the designing process is so well thought-through, this enables you to focus on the details of your creation, without worrying about limited capabilities.

Key features of Adobe Illustrator:

  • Anchor points with custom sizing capabilities
  • Full integration with the Creative Cloud suite
  • Fast rendering speeds for the blur, drop shadow and glow effects
  • Puppet Warp tool that enables workspace optimization
  • Properties Panel offers you customized options depending on the selected elements
Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator

Create the car of your dreams with this top vector-based design software used by millions of designers all over the world.
Free trial Visit site

Read our full review of Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop (suggested)

Photoshop CC - Best car design software

Adobe Photoshop is another great software option if you want to design beautiful cars. This application has offered users a way to design unlimited amounts of life-like projects, digital art, game characters, etc.

Because of its powerful set of features, Photoshop has been considered the most useful computer design app.

Even though in this guide Photoshop has occupied the second position, it is truly a beast when it comes to design.

Here are some of the key features of Adobe Photoshop:

  • Very powerful 3D design capabilities
  • Object selection based on AI 
  • Surface Dial option that allows you to adjust the sizes of your brushes, opacity, and more
  • Automatically converts Smart Objects back to layers for fast editing
  • A wide array of pencils and brushes (over 1200)
Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop

Design your gorgeous car with Adobe Photoshop and make the best of your creative ideas.
Free trial Visit website

Read our full review of Adobe Photoshop

Alias – Autodesk

Autodesk Alias - car design

Alias is a software designed by Autodesk and it is an incredibly powerful tool that you can use to work on industrial designs but is specially designed to be used in automotive projects.

This program has a wide range of tools that are very useful for sketching and modeling, and it allows you to easily go from 2D sketches to 3D models. It is actually used by Aston Martin to develop their car designs.

Key features include:

  • Sketching and illustration tools – draw, edit, craft shapes, add details and materials, review
  • Ability to define a surface from scanned mesh
  • You can easily add helix surfaces in Freeform
  • Enhance design reviews with VR
  • Dynamo integration – allows you to quickly generate repeatable patterns
  • Snap, scale, pivot images
  • Multithreading
  • New interface enhancements – customizable keyboard controls, snapping, marking menus, etc.

Download Alias from Autodesk

3DS MAX – Autodesk

Autodesk 3DS MAX - Car design

If you need to work on automotive designs, 3DS Max from Autodesk is an interesting pick. This is a highly accurate tool used by professional designers. Virtual Reality support is also available.

3DS MAX is a powerful software that can be used for shape modeling, that is why it can be useful to make a great car body. 3Ds Max could be a real advantage for your design process as it can totally help automotive manufacturers to create realistic car designs.

Key features include:

  • Easy and robust modeling
  • High-end rendering
  • Efficient 3D animation
  • Flexible interoperability – Revit, Inventor, Unity, Unreal compatible
  • MAXtoA integrated plug-in
  • Open Shading Language (OSL) – create OSL maps from simple math notes
  • 3D Boolens – ability to create parametric Boolean operations

Download 3DS MAX from Autodesk

Blender

Blender - car design

Blender is an open source 3D software that bolsters a wide range of useful tools for automotive designs. It has simulations tools, supports NURBS surfaces and polygon meshes and if you are an advanced user, you can develop your own features.

Because of it’s big community, Blender offers you a wide range of training materials and courses.

Key features include:

  • Cycle Render Engine – Ultra-realistic rendering, real-time viewport preview, PBR shaders and HDR lighting support
  • Modeling, sculpt, UV – Creating, transform and edit your models easily
  • Advanced sculpting tools and brushes
  • 3D painting with textured brushes and masking
  • Python scripting and a customizable Python controlled interface
  • VFX – it allows you to import raw footage, track it and mask areas
  • Animation and rigging
  • Combine 2D with 3D

Download Blender

Rhino 3D

Rhino 3D - car design

Rhino 3D has many 3D modeling tools, and the drawings are so accurate that you can use them to even design prototypes of complex machinery. This program allows you to get the 3D capture of existing data.

In Rhino 3D, the accuracy of large projects is guaranteed because of its control over annotation styles and history for different dimensions.

Other features include:

  • Free-form 3D modeling tools
  • Compatible with all other design, drafting, CAM, engineering, analysis, rendering, animation, and illustration software
  • Read and repair meshes and extremely challenging IGES files
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Fast even on an ordinary laptop computer
  • Affordable purchase price and no maintenance fees

Download Rhino 3D

LightWave 2018

Lightwave -car design software

LightWave is a leading car design software that offers powerful modeling tools with the ability to create smooth subdivisions surfaces interactively.

This program has a simple to use layer-based system (nodal system) and it allows you to easily manipulate the filters, animations, and effects. You can easily duplicate objects in a scene using it’s Instancing feature, and also randomly select, scale and position even surfaces that are entirely different compared to the source.

Key features include:

  • Physically-based rendering system
  • Render and light buffers
  • Volumetric engine
  • OpenVDB support
  • Surface editor, material nodes and surface preview
  • Virtual Reality camera
  • Integrated FiberFX
  • Layout-based parametric shapes

Download LightWave 2018


In this article, we explored some of the best options on the market for car design software. This list presents you with a description and an overview of features so you can easily choose the best option according to your creative skills and needs.

Let us know what you chose in the comment section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated in April 2020 for freshness, and accuracy.

FAQ: More information about car design

  • Can I design my own car?

You can definitely design your own car, using one of today’s top car design software, such as Adobe Illustrator.

  • Which software is used to design cars?

There are plenty of car design software programs out there that one can use. See this updated guide with the latest top choices for some ideas.

  • What programming language is used for cars?

C and C++ are the most used programming languages in the automotive world.