Land Rover Defender Sketches from the workshop at Bulgaria’s National Academy of Arts

In the month of October 2023 myself and my dear friend Deyan Denkov had the pleasure to offer one week workshop for the master students in the Bulgarian Academy of Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria.

land rover defender design sketches for national academy arts
New Land Rover Defender – sketch examples from the one week workshop for the Master Design Students at the Bulgarian National Academy, Sofia. October 2023

The workshop lasted one week and was organised with the help of, Rangel Chivep, an industrial design professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Arts and open everyone – subject to application. Its primary objective was to enhance the skills of master students through hands-on guidance in car sketching techniques. We delved into fundamental principles such as the essence of volumes and proportions that constitute a compelling car design sketch, emphasizing the significance of developing a strong design theme in order to with a project within the design studio. Students were challenged to propose designs as if they were tasked with reimagining a renowned British icon for Jaguar Land Rover.

Furthermore, we shared invaluable insights gained from our long experience within the Automotive Design industry, shedding light on the operational dynamics of design studios. Through discussions, we shared anecdotes from various projects, elucidating the challenges encountered by designers in the course of a typical day in a Car Design Studio.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all students who joined the workshop class and especially Rangel Chipev without who this won’t be possible.

Porsche 917K sketches & restomod ideas…

Following up my previous post about the Porsche 911 (964) restomod sketches and ideas and still in the mood of celebrating Porsche’s 75th anniversary, here is another shot but this time it’s the legendary and unbeatable Porsche 917K. It would be interesting to see what a street-legal 917K (if such a thing can even be considered in one’s wildest dreams) would look like. Perhaps that’s an idea to go back to? Anyway, I hope you enjoy the Porsche 917K sketches below 🙂

Porsche 917K New Designs
Porsche 917K Sketches

Digital vs Analog Sketching

Digital vs. Analogue Sketching, which one is better? I am often asked by young and aspiring designers what sort of media and tools I use when it comes to sketching. I do hand sketches regardless whether they are analog or digital (with the help of Wacom Intuos). When I say sketches, I really mean sketches and not full blown colourful Photoshop renders over existing photos that are anything but sketches (these also have their own place and purpose of course). So I decided to post some slides and give the young generation some reference and perspective about my workflow. At the end of the day, you can design a whole car with just a pen and a few pieces of cheap xerox paper. I hope this is useful.

Digital vs. Analogue Sketching © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Digital Sketch in Photoshop using Wacom Intuos: Canvas size 19,000×15,000px, brush size 12-15px. No underlays.
EIDO GTR Sketches © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Raw scan of two A4 pages, ballpoint pen on plain xerox paper and a small touch with marker. No underlays.
Jaguar E-Pace Design Sketches © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Jaguar E-Pace Design Sketches: Raw scan of several A4 analogue pages composed into one slide. 0.5mm Automatic Pencil on plain xerox paper, number plate coloured in Photoshop. Using 3D model for underlays.
Misc Muscle Car Designs © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Muscle Cars Digital Sketches in Photoshop using Wacom Intuos Pro. No underlays.
Jaguar XF Design Sketches © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Jaguar XF Design Sketches: Raw scan of two A4 pages with analogue sketches composed into one slide. Black Ballpoint pen (BIC) on layout pad paper. No underlays.
EIDO GTR race spec design sketches © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Raw scan of 2-3 pages with analogue sketches composed into one single slide. Ballpoint pen and a bit of marker on marker pad paper. No underlays.
Ferrari F12, Aston Martin, Lancia Sketches © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Top: Quick Digital sketches in Photoshop using Wacom Intuos Pro. No Underlays. Bottom: Digital Sketches in Photoshop with Wacom Intuos Pro using the photos of the existing car as underlays.
Jaguar F-Type Bespoke Design Sketch © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Raw scan of two A4 pages with analogue sketches. Top: ballpoint pen (BIC) on plain xerox paper, no underlays. Bottom: ballpoint pen (BIC) with red AD Charpak marker for an accent on marker paper, no underlays.
Ferrari V8 Design Sketch © 2023 Miroslav Dimitrov
Top: Raw scan of A4 analog sketch page. Ballpoint pen on plain xerox paper. No underlays. Bottom: three separate digital sketches made in Procreate with iPad Pro. No underlays.

So, Digital vs. Analogue Sketching – the eternal debate. It’s not a battle of absolutes, not black versus white, nor right versus wrong or anything like that. The truth lies in mastering the basic principles: understanding the art of creating a car design sketch – what makes the cars look good on paper, volumes, proportions, and, paramount of all, capturing the essence of the theme. It is also very important to differentiate car design sketch from car art or car illustration – these are two completely different disciplines.

These principles serve as our foundation, akin to learning to walk before we can run. You can’t sprint until you’ve mastered the art of putting one foot in front of the other. Yet, once you’ve traversed that journey, the choice of tools becomes akin to selecting your favorite pair of running shoes – a matter of personal preference.

For me, the allure of analogue sketching holds sway. There’s an intimate connection forged between pen or pencil and paper, a tangible expression of creativity that resonates deeply. However, in this realm, preferences are as diverse as the sketches themselves.

In the end, the essence lies not in the medium but in the mastery of the craft. Whether your strokes grace the surface of a tablet or dance across the fibers of traditional paper, what matters most is the passion and dedication poured into each sketch.

If you would like to see more examples of my sketches whether digital or analogue, please visit this link: sketchbook

iPad Pro Sketches, quick Lotus Esprit Design themes…

My first “proper” iPad Pro sketches. After having it for some years, I never got around to using it for my design work – I usually stick to Wacom Intuos Pro and Photoshop. I must admit I struggle with it and find ProCreate extremely frustrating and fiddly software to work with. The brush settings are eithet too hard or too soft, never right. For something that’s meanth to be a simple app for the iPad – i.e. replace the computer software I find it too bloated with useless settings and. One of the sketches is actually done on Autodesk Sketchbook, which seems more adequate and fit for purpose.

If you want to see more examples of my sketches digital or analogue, please loot at my sketchbook page.

iPad Pro Sketches, Lotus Esprit

Lotus Elise Concept for Paris 2010

When I joined Lotus in January 2010, the groundwork for the showcars was already in full swing. Upon stepping into the studio for the first time, I was greeted by a bunch of tables positioned in the middle of the clay plates, where approximately 10 1/3 scale models were taking shape (as shown in the image below). Essentially, I found myself playing catch-up, as the 2D theme selection had already been finalized, and the designs were swiftly transitioning into 3D through the aid of clay models. Nonetheless, I was given the opportunity to propose a design for the future Lotus Elise Concept car – provided I could devise a compelling theme proposal in 2D and subsequently bring it to life in a scale model within the tight timeframe of 10 days before the theme selection for the full-size clay development commences. This task was to be undertaken with limited assistance on the clay model, owing to resource constraints.

Lotus Cars Design Studio, Scale Models
The Lotus Design Studio in Hethel, England. Picture is taken some time in January 2010. Credits: Lotus Cars magazine.

I was immediately hard at work staying till very very late in the design studio. In the 5 days prior to starting my scale model I managed to create a very modern and “avant-garde” looking theme which was then given the chance to be further developed as a 3rd scale model. You can see a small selection of the exterior sketches below.

lotus elise concept design sketches

For the first time since my days at Coventry University, I found myself dressing down and getting hands-on, loading clay onto the model buck due to limited modelling support available for my clay model. Nonetheless, working closely with the clay modelers, we did a strong proposal for the Lotus Esprit Concept car, which ultimately won the theme selection for full-scale development – despite facing the shortest timeframe to refine the theme in both 2D and 3D. Exciting news, indeed! However, as is often the case in car design studios, internal politics intervened, and another theme from a colleague was chosen to progress to full-scale development. The rationale? My proposal was deemed too bold and futuristic. Check out the scale model on the picture below.

Lotus Elise Scale Model
1/3 Scale model of the Lotus Elise Concept presented at the 2010 Paris Motor Show

My workload was far from being complete. There were numerous tasks ahead for the small design team, and I was promptly involved in the interior design of all the concept cars – simultaneously developing four seats, co-designing the Lotus Eterne Concept, which was later integrated into the mix, and everything in between.

lotus esprit concept seat design sketches by miroslav dimitrov
Design Sketches of various seat designs for the Lotus Concept cars.
lotus elise concept 01
2010 Lotus Elise Concept enjoying the California sun. Image Credits: Lotus Cars.
lotus elise interior
2010 Lotus Elise Concept – Interior. Image Credits: Unknow.

From Lotus: “The Lotus Elise you can buy now is still a fantastic car, make no mistake, Lotus remain very proud of it, but this is a natural progression for us moving forward. The Elise 2015 will also be class-leading in terms of performance and efficiency but it will do more than that it will take the Lotus Elise model to the forefront of its class across the board. The design of the Lotus Elise 2015 is perfect for the target market, it’s young, strong, confident, verging on ruthless, it mirrors the engineering and technology. It’s the next generation Elise for a new generation of Lotus drivers.”

Lotus Concept Cars, Paris Motor Show 2010
The entire range of 2010 Lotus Show Cars. You can see the Elise in the middle.

Ferrari 599XX Sketch for Corse Clienti

Here’s a striking red sketch of the Ferrari 599XX I did back in 2009. Originally, this sketch served as an exclusive invitation to a select group of Corse Clienti members, offering them a glimpse of our track-focused weapon we designed and engineered in Maranello.

Ferrari 599XX Exterior Design Sketch by Miroslav Dimitrov 01
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