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These 3D Renderings of Automotive Icons Will Make You Smile

Andrew Ritter’s Instagram bio says it all. His passion is rendering automotive heroes in charming 3D. But mostly, the project is, as Ritter’s account says, “An exercise in having a little fun.” What better sentiment for the world to embrace right now?

This story originally appeared in the July 2020 issue of Road & Track.

Ritter is a 35-year-old Californian, a former automotive journalist turned creative director. He’s always double dipped, spinning his passion for cars from one day job to another. Since 2017, he’s moonlighted as an amateur 3D artist, uploading his work to the Instagram page @ritter.goods.

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His 3D renderings look bubbly, cutesy, deceptively simple, as if Michelangelo freed forms from soap bars, not marble. His subjects are plucked from a pantheon of Ritter’s automotive icons, usually neo-vintage race cars or modified modern iron. The whole project has a pinch of that Pixar fairy dust, nestled in a valley between realism and cartoon friendliness. Ritter’s renderings start life as a digital lump of clay, basic shapes hewn from the vehicle’s front and side profiles. Ritter says forming this basic lump is essential to the finished product, a lesson learned from his favorite professor. From there, Ritter trims and pokes and pulls. The final shape begins to take form. A BMW E30 might need its fenders widened to emphasize the coupe’s boxy hips. A Volkswagen Beetle should have its floorpan welded to the earth, fenders massaged, and a perfectly sized set of alloys (in this digital universe, as in our own, some ideas are timeless).

He cuts out windows and wheel wells. The shape refines further. He perfects each detail, from the spokes on a Minilite wheel to a Baja Beetle’s air-cooled engine tin. After hours of prodding, molding, and finessing, the final image drops on the Ritter Goods Insta page. Then, the next challenge.

And the next. For Ritter, the challenge is essential, if not the entire point. “In this current season of life, everyone is struggling,” he says. “For the first time, all our normals are gone. No one has control. You don’t know when things are going to end. You don’t know what you can do about it. But to have things you can put your hand to and control and navigate the outcome? It’s a great way to maintain and keep some sanity.”

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