904e – a masterclass in collaborative digital concept design

Robin Oldroyd
Robin Oldroyd August 12, 2020 3 min read

If you want to see industrial design, automotive concepts AND digital rendering all in one place, look no further than the portfolio of award-winning senior designer Mike Turner.

I’ve enjoyed a 20 year+ professional relationship with Mike that comes with a high regard for the simplicity and clarity of his designs. It’s been a pleasure to keep him up to date with our technology as its evolved, and share tools and tricks for getting the most from Alias and VRED.

Mike’s portfolio summarizes his diverse career and restless nature: construction vehicles, trains, motorbikes, cars, buses, phones, watches, toys – and even land-speed-record cars – have all been subject to his professional scrutiny. Seeing Alias used so diversely and extensively is reason enough to check out his work.

More recently, he’s begun developing digital concept cars in his spare time. He’s often revisiting classic racing cars but giving them a twist using his professional eye for detail while balancing with a sense of fun and escapism. So when I saw teasers for his latest after-hours collaboration with senior JLR designer Tom Underhill, I knew we were in for something special.

Their project gives a glimpse into the process of creating cool vehicle designs: developing a concept from initial 2D sketches into a well-resolved Alias 3D model and authoring VRED final renders that convey all the emotion, character, and attention to detail of a physical concept.

Their vision was to re-imagine the classic Porsche 904 GTS as an all-electric 2-seater sports car, focused on simple driving pleasure and suited to competitive motorsport. From that vision, they explored and defined two distinct (but closely related) concepts based on a common platform and design language: a refined production vehicle and a raw race car. It’s clear they’ve had a LOT of fun exploring numerous design iterations and making ongoing refinements.

Take a look at the concepts, explore the detail, and learn how they evolved both designs.

The Porche 904e:      Digital concept car design by Tom Underhill and Mike Turner. Developed from Tom’s initial 2D sketches into 3D digital sketch-models which are then refined and fully detailed. Work done extensively in Alias and VRED

Link to Porsche-904e

The 904e Racer:        Digital race car design & concept images by Mike Turner and Tom Underhill. Imagined as a fictitious race series featuring iconic teams and tracks and driver rivalries. 3D Alias model, complex livery development, and racing images produced by Mike using VRED. These stunning images make you fall into the story and are a great example of a creative idea being collaboratively elevated by two minds in synch.

Link to 904e-RACER

Interior Design:         According to Mike, it was apparently only ever supposed to be “a few basic placeholder surfaces glimpsed through the windscreen,” but like every other aspect of this project, the interior has been extensively developed and detailed using Alias and VRED.


Link to Interior Design

The Making of…:       The story behind the project: the journey from sketch to fully developed 3D model and renderings, with supporting commentary outlining the key steps and thought process. Seeing a designer’s ability to move fluidly from concept to refined 3D Alias data set is something to take in. Rendering in VRED has allowed the designers to explore every possible camera angle, define multiple (often complex) livery variants, control lighting, background, etc. This is an outstanding body of work that brings a smile to my face – especially when reading the supporting text and understanding the care and attention they’ve put into this project. It’s a real labour of love.

Link to the making of 904e

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