Yang’s guide on…
SAVING YOUR FUCKING TIME
An educational rant about your stupid file sizes, your trivial details and your shitty boring designs.
In other words, it’s me going through my workflow, my attitude and my design methods so you’re not that person.
Hi, I play the Automation game and make Chinese designs. I’m okay at the game I guess.
Whenever I get mentioned, people usually say things like…
“how the hell can he design an entire car in 2 hours?”
“he churns out good looking cars at sweatshop rates”
“yang can spit out a car in 20 min and be just as liked as anything i make ”
Having experience in the game helps, but even more importantly is knowing how to manage your time, nonetheless accept that nothing in this game will be perfect and approximations are the way to go. I’m a full-time engineering student who has to study for exams which occur on a weekly basis, cook for myself, walk myself to school and back, sleep a reasonable amount of hours, the whole nine yards. I don’t have a ton of time on my hands. Despite this, I still manage to make enough time to play Automation and churn out a reasonable design in just about 3 hours. My secret is this:
Pace yourself. Take time on the most important things, cut corners when you can.
In other words…
MANAGE YOUR FUCKING TIME
You can spend days upon months upon years making a single car in Automation. You can detail it to the max by spamming bumper bars and patchwork, down to the millimetre and pixel; or you can find a more efficient method which gets the job done in 3 hours at 1/5 of the file size.
To prove my point, I decided to churn out a very mundane and mediocre Japanese luxury sedan design in 10 minutes tops.
Corporate needs you to find the differences between this picture…
…and this picture.
Any significant differences? Not many. they both look like rather boring and mediocre designs which don’t really fit the quota.
However, the top design took me just about 10 minutes to do. I hastily slapped on a bunch of fixtures, ill-proportioned and called it a day. Most of it was vanilla mind you.
The bottom example took me just about an hour and a half. I spammed about 110 bumper bars to make a grille pattern, made some custom MDHL headlights and taillights, rear defrosters, custom third brakelight, and did a bunch of detailing in the bumper bar department.
Frankly, it looks just about the same, and you probably wouldn’t have noticed most of them if I hadn’t pointed them out.
Here are all of them close-up. Notice how these elements aren’t the things that drag your attention right away. It’s because they are all merely trivial compared to the base design of the car.
Because people loooooooove to flex their file sizes for some reason, here’s a quick comparison between the 10 minute design and the 1.5h design:
Design_Example_-_I_did_this_in_10_minutes.car (28.2 KB)
Design_Example_-_BUT_THE_DETAILS_MEN.car (131.9 KB)
There’s a significant gap between the dick sizes of these cars, but with little to no gain in aesthetics. It’s almost like you can have a gigantic dick but no one will think you are a good person because you’re a surface-level asshole.
In more straightforward terms, file sizes and trivial details don’t mean shit to your design. At all. The base design is absolutely everything and is the quickest way to make an attractive vehicle.
The Fucking Base Design
You can be making a nice Japanese luxury car with a ton of cool and RAD details, but if it started off as a mid-spec Toyota, it will always be a mid-spec fucking Toyota. So many people half-ass this part, hop straight into the i n t r i c a t e details and whine about why no one likes their designs. I don’t know, maybe it’s because you rushed your fucking design on the get-go?
Morphing and Engineering
The early stage of the base design doesn’t just involve your fixtures. It involves your morphs, your wheel size, your ride height, all your engineering. This new Lancer body spawns in with some pretty large wheels, and a very Mitsubishi-like profile.
Simply adjusting some of these parameters to your liking changes the entire car, and brings you closer to your intended design. Many people don’t mess with morphs or do them in some minmax fashion that makes the car look like a submarine. Do not sleep on your morphs. They can transform bodies into entirely different things.
Option 1: The Fixture Slapping Method (not recommended)
This is if you don't know where to start
It’s literally what it sounds like. If you don’t know where to start, slap some fixtures onto your car until something works, then branch off from there. While you’re in the process of doing this, rotate your fixtures, flip them, rescale them. See what happens! Your brain will eventually click and say “this looks good!”
Obviously this doesn’t look good, but you now have a general shape you can work with for your design. This is the most important step. You have to choose a good headlight and grille combo based on your idea and if you fall short here, your entire design will fall short.
Once you spend an ample amount of time working this out, you can now proportion it to your liking. Spend a lot of time on this too. Proportions are everything. Note how I switched out some materials too. Once you’re happy here, THEN you can move onto the major details.
However, this method isn’t second nature to a lot of people and usually takes a ton of time cycling through millions of combinations, which leads me to my main method.
Option 2: Copying!
The recommended method!
These few frames from Shirobako episode 8 are wonderful. I cherish them dearly as they summarize how I design my own cars when I don’t know when to start. Many will argue that it will water down your creativity, I argue that it will save you hours upon hours of time when you don’t know where to go.
Right now I am attempting to make a 2005 Japanese compact sedan. I could start fixture slapping but that will lead me to a ton of roadblocks and a lot of wasted time. Instead, I will use this amazing tool called Google! I will literally search up “2005 Japanese compact sedan”, not “2005 American sedan”, “2005 luxury car”, “2005 truck”.
Fun tip: Search it in the country’s language for more localized results.
This is where most people falter in vehicle design. They want to create a premium vehicle yet use a Toyota Camry as their reference. No, you’re not a shitty designer, their criticism isn’t stupid, you just don’t know how to design your class of car because you’re too much of an idiot to not consider SEARCHING IT UP ON FUCKING GOOGLE.
Although some stuff shouldn’t belong in there, we already have a few designs we can take elements from. The Aerio has a nice lower fascia so I can use that as a starting point and go from there.
From here, you can adjust its proportions, add more or even remove things if you want. Keep doing this for the upper fascia, headlights, and the rest of the car while putting your own spin on them and you’ll get to something good. Make sure to keep cross-checking with Google or your favourite car info site to see if you’re on the right track!
And there we have it. Copying just one grille has allowed me to pick and pull a couple things to use for the rest of the vehicle. Once you find a nice reference vehicle and take some inspiration from part of it, the rest of your design will snowball. This is how I start my design 9/10 times and is probably the reason why I finish my designs so quickly. This method works even better when you already have some existing designs from your company, as you can modify and propagate their looks across the entire lineup.
Of course, don’t copy your reference cars verbatim. You’re not really benefitting from doing that either as your base design will end up generic, soulless and WILL be compared to its real-life equivalent ad nauseam.
This should be where most of your design’s time is spent on, not the fucking details. It comes from the long time saying of polishing a turd. If your car’s design looks like something that can be done by anyone in 5 minutes, hell, even an unintended 1:1 replica, that’s not going to help either.
Individuality in base design is how the best of the best became the best of the best. It’s how people like ProfessorP3PP3R, titleguy1, mat1476, On3CherryShake, CorsicaUnknown and many others rose to their stardom.
If you can spend a good chunk of time making a good base design that isn’t generic, or a direct replica of a real-life car, you’re already one step towards the top.
The Fucking Details
Spend the least amount of time on this. Don’t get me wrong, details are cool. If done correctly, they make a car look wonderful. If done incorrectly, your car will either look like the face of a middle schooler who just discovered makeup or a steaming pile of generic garbage that could have been done in 1/10th of the time.
Obviously there are a ton of things that will result in tedious work, but when there is a shortcut, I will 100% take it. These are super obvious ones but I apparently have to spell it out because file sizes are the ever-triumphant king to some.
Holy shit writing that header is already giving me an aneurysm
HOLY FUCKING SHIT people looOOOOOVE to flex the fact that they can spend 3 days without food or sleep spamming bumper bars on their car, just for it to look like something you can do with two pieces. Your dog may have died but mmmmm yes my sweet NUT REACTS!
I’ve seen people literally wrap 7 pieces of bumper bar around a bumper like this. Honestly…
what the fuck are you doing
This on the other hand, is two long pieces. It literally looks the fucking same. Why do people flex this. All you do is make us let out a big long sigh at the fact that you wasted 3 hours of time on something that could have been done in 30 seconds.
Same for side trim. Just slap your fucking bumper bar on there bud!
From far away, the difference is negligible from precisely aligning it to the millimetre. Unless you’re that
person who criticizes people’s designs because one piece of trim is 2 microns off from the JDM spec Mitsubishi Galant ultra Japanese Kaminari Edition Girls Und Panzer special (mostly because your design is shit and you have to find a way to flex your s i c k d e t a i l s), no one will notice a thing. I’ve let plenty of these flaws pass in my final designs and no one batted an eye.
Most of the time too, you don’t have to outline things in bumper bars, or Gizmo’s shaping kit if you’re on stable. Open Beta has some incredible molding fixtures that completely transform how things look. Just find the least tedious (and most feasible) path instead of going with the most tedious. This is also why my ever-so-glorified
file sizes are tiny. Because I take shortcuts. Bumper bars are nice but they’re not a one-size-fits-all weapon. Spamming them on your car will not make it pretty. Spamming them in your pork will not make it taste good. Spamming them in your toilet will not unclog it.
Not going to go in-depth with this.
Why the FUCK would I spend ages doing something like this?
When I can just click one fixture and do this?
Obviously this doesn’t apply to modern grilles as those get insanely complicated and require a ton of tedious work. But for very generic patterns? HELLO?
The Fucking Attitude
You see, I have no problem with people who hyperdetail their cars. It can be cool at times, it’s your life, do what you want with it. If you’re not efficient, that’s fine. That’s why you’re reading this, to be a better designer without investing an entire year into a car.
HOWEVER, when all you do either here or on the Discord is derail ongoing conversations, get cocky, or look down on people from your fake ivory tower because you’re better than them at enlarging your file sizes and putting trivial details on your boring cars, know that I say this from the bottom of my heart…
…you’re equal parts a shitty designer and an even shittier person.
If you’re a stuck-up dickwad, no one will like your designs in the first place and none of this guide will even matter. Being rude to others, whether in the form of one-upping, flexing, or just being insufferable on a day-to-day basis is a good way to make people have a hard time liking your designs. This is the same debacle that Chris Brown, XXXTentacion, Carnage and many other artists suffer from today. Hell, some people in the Automation community suffer from it too.
With all these given, I was able to turn this awful Japanese luxury sedan…
All it took was a few modifications to the base design’s proportions, some body height modifications via. some incredibly lazy bumper barring, and material swaps. No trivial details, only necessary ones. No forcing some tedious work when there was an easier path available, everything is a-ok. You can zoom right up to the vehicle and find a bunch of little defects, but from afar it is miles better looking than the hyperdetailed version I spent forever making everything intricate on. The most work I did here was toss on a few grille inserts to give it some texture, but that’s about it.
And of course, because I have to spell it out to everyone, the file size is incredibly small, while looking miles better too.
Design_Example_-_New_and_improved.car (45.7 KB)
Best of all, it doesn’t lag in photoscenes and doesn’t blow up in a million pieces from a little tap in BeamNG!
Of course, there are some other smaller tips I can give. If you are REALLY stuck, take a break and come back later. If you are feeling hopeless like you can’t make good designs anymore, that’s okay too! We have our off-days. Not everyone can churn out a design in 3 hours tops, and it’s fine if that’s not your thing. If you want to spend forever on a design, that’s fine too! If you want to be quicker, this guide shares some of my tips, albeit being incredibly obvious and generic.
The most important tip I can give is this:
Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a cocky idiot who thinks you have some god-given gift at designing, and can sit on a fake throne and judge people from above, yet throw a fit once someone criticizes you. No one’s designs are perfect, there is no best designer, there is only a favourite designer, and that favourite designer is an opinion exclusive to you.
Be nice to others, help people out. We are in the Automation community not to become the best designer, not to degrade others for having worse cars than us, but because we share a unified passion of loving cars, their design, their engineering, their everything.
So quit the flexing, cut it with the one-upping. We all have potential, and the first step to unlocking it is to be the person you want to talk to, and see as a role model in our day-to-day lives.
Some relevant quotes