VR Tape Drawing

Once famous “Piano di Forma”, so loved by Giorgetto Giugiaro, this Front/Side/Top view design drawing, is best in real scale. Creating a such a drawing is one of the oldest automotive design techniques, yet it remains an essential part of the process at most of the car styling centers. We call it full-size tape drawing. Used for both exterior and interior, it allows the designer to create full size drawing as a black and white outlines, which gives them an accurate sense of its proportions. Such drawings are used further in the process for clay modeling and digital sculpting.

Image on the left: The tape drawing at Bentley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuZJO2jGGe0

One of the advantages of tape drawing is the possibility to step away from the board, find another perspective and let our brain to evaluate the shapes and proportions from multiple points of view. Until now, such a physical interaction with designed objects was nearly impossible when using computers. Today, thanks to VR (HTC Vive) and applications such as Gravity Sketch, we can successfully re-create this process digitally. One of the advantages is the output of 3d CAD data and also an unlimited size of objects.

So here is the very first case study in this direction that I’ve made in VR with Gravity Sketch. I took the technical package data (Originally imported into Autodesk Alias) in the OBJ format and imported it into the application. Although you have to rotate your model by 90 degrees around the X-axis, because Gravity Sketch uses Y-up coordination system, the process of tape drawing itself is a piece of cake. There are few choices of tools, from freehand strokes to bezier-like splines, few types of stroke shapes, symmetry, and some other sculpting and modeling tools. I’ve ended up with basic round curve built point to point with mirror symmetry on. With no need to utilize too much of a UI, the “taping” is very intuitive, and yes, very enjoyable. As you get closer to the center line, points automatically snap to mirror plane; and when you select multiple points at once, you can rotate the group with the twist of your wrist; you zoom in and out in a similar manner as on your iPad, but you need both arms to do it. And that makes the whole creative process even more physical. Which is a good thing.

Learn more about Gravity Sketch at their website:


Using the projection planes helped me to create cross-sections (in red):


Obviously, it is pretty easy to bring the screenshot to Photoshop and sketch over some shaded forms or details.


Short process video:

3d tape drawing at Sketchfab.com: