Modeling and Texturing a Classic Fiat 500

This week, we learn how to model and texture a classic Fiat 500 car in open source software including Blender and Gimp.


The old Fiat 500 is one of the most famous Italian cars in the world. This tutorial is dedicated to all people who love beautiful cars and especially the Italian style.

For this work, we will only use the open source softwares Blender, Gimp and Inkscape - you can freely download all of these programs from their respective websites.

The first thing to do when you decide to model a car is to look for some good reference images (front, rear, side and top view). Fortunately you can easily find tons of pictures of the old 500 online.

Open the images with Gimp, cut them to the same size and use them as a background in the Blender viewport (see my Vespa tutorial for details). Now we'll start with the modeling!

Step 1: Modeling the Body (1)

Open Blender and use the image reference as the background (don't forget to change the view mode in orthographic numpad 5).

Delete the default cube and from the top view (numpad 7), add a plane (Shift + A > Plane). Jump into Edit mode (Tab key), delete the left side of the plane and add a Mirror modifier (we'll only work on one side of the car) and Subsurface.

Now extrude the vertex (E) and follow the main lines of the model. Try to maintain the same distance between them and don't use more vertices than needed!

Continue to model the body by extruding the vertices and moving them. Enable MatCap display (N > Display > MatCap) to check if there are artifacts on the model.

Modeling the body of the Fiat 500

Step 2: Modeling the Front of the 500

The front part contains the holes for the headlights and for beginners it might be more difficult.

Model the profile of the front part by extruding and moving vertices. Then, in Edit mode (front view), place the 3D cursor in the center of the headlight and add a circle (6 vertices). Connect the vertices with the front part of the structure using the Fill command (F). It will be better to work only with quads, especially when the Subsurface modifier in enabled.

Front modeling

Front modeling

Step 3: Modeling Wheels and Tires

The tires and wheels of this car model are very simple to model. Add a circle with 16 vertices, extrude the vertices and model the first the central part (add the extra cuts for highlights on the chrome).

With the same procedure, model the outer part of the wheel and the tire. Also, for this part of the model, make sure you've enabled the Mirror modifier and Subsurface.

Wheels and Tires

Wheels and Tires

Step 4: Add Details

Small details make all the difference in a 3D graphic work, and make a model more realistic. Add chrome gaskets around the glass, wipers and bumpers. To add the gaskets, jump into Edit mode and select the vertices of the body close to the glass, then duplicate them (Shift + D).

Separate them (P) into a new object, then convert it to a Curve (Alt + C). In this way we can edit the thickness of the curve using the shape and geometry pane on the right side of Blender windows.

Add details

Add details

Step 5: Light Setup

The light setup is very simple for this render: we'll use a single emission plane on the top of the car. We need a couple of extra channels for the post-production, so enable the Cycles render engine, go to the Layer menu and turn on the Glossy Direct channel. At the end of the render we'll use Gimp to highlight the reflections.

Light Setup

Light Setup

Step 6: Materials and Textures

I usually use simple material setups for my work, so we're going to do the same here. If you want to use the same shaders as me, then you can download them.

Use a standard glass material for the glass and a glossy shader for the chrome material (Roughness set to 0,15).

The car paint should be a mixture of diffuse (80%) and glossy (20%) shader. To make the paint material more realistic, mix two or more colors using a Layer Weight node (download this Blender file for more information).

The checkered stripe will make our 500 look more racer-like. Select the car body, jump into Edit mode and, in Side view, hit U > Project from View. Next export the UV layout and use Inkscape to create the pattern.

Select the tires, then in Edit mode select the side vertex and mark the seam (Ctrl + E > Mark Seam). Unwrap, export the UV layout and use a tire pattern as a bump map (there are lot of files online).

Materials and Textures

Materials and Textures

Step 7: Render Setting and Post-Production

Set Render Samples at 500 and hit F12 to start the render.

At the end of the render process, save the images (Glossy Dir and Combined channel), open them in Gimp and use the Glossy channel to improve the reflections (set Blend mode to Add or Overlay).

Render and Post-production

Render and Post-production

Click HERE to see the previous tutorial in this series.

Want to start from the beginning? Click HERE to see the first tutorial in this series.

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