What you’ll need:

  • A clear sheet of plastic (or a window)
  • Some markers: I use Prism color, but you could use colored pencils
  • A flashlight: A flat one works great, but you could also use a window
  • Paper
  • A camera
  • A printer with a copier

Lets Get Started

The first thing you need to do is get your camera and take some pictures of the car’s interior or find pictures of it online. You can also do both if you need to. If you can find a photo online with the seats, headliner, and doors all in one shot, it will be very helpful.

Take pictures of the seats, door panels, etc. You should have a reference photo for every aspect that you wish to design. Once you have the pictures, print them out. You’ll only need one photo of each part of the car.

The process begins by placing your photo onto your piece of plastic. Tape it down so it stays in place.

Next, put a blank piece of paper over the photo and tape it in place as well. This will be how you create your template.

Place your flashlight underneath the plastic so you can see the photo through the blank paper, allowing you to trace out the main lines.

You don’t need to trace the parts that you’re going to change and you don’t need to worry about too many details. You just want a basic outline of the seats and door panels so you can work on your customizing. If you don’t have a flashlight, tape the pictures to a window and trace it using the sunlight.

Carefully trace the photo so you have the lines as clean and accurate as possible. Doing so will give you a better starting point for your design.

When you have the outlines of the seats, doors, windows, etc., you can take the piece of paper off of the plastic. Now you have your template for your car design!


Sketching The Design

Make multiple copies! of your tracings so you have a few different pieces to work with. Don’t worry about making a mistake. If you run out of copies, just use the original tracing and make more. You’ll start the design with a pencil. Go online for inspiration or check out some magazines and books.

One I use is the Automotive Custom Interiors Idea Book, which features many photos and cool ideas.

Give yourself plenty of leeway for your creativity to spark. You might start on five or even ten designs before you get a great idea. Just keep sketching until you find something you like.

Start by sketching some things onto your template. You might try some pleats, or adding a design to the door panel. Once you have a design (or a few) that you like, you can copy them so you can start coloring and deciding on the fabrics you’d like to use.

Coloring The Design

Prisma color markers are easy to find at art stores and come in a variety of colors for you to customize your drawings to a great extent. You can also use colored pencils. The only thing that matters it that you have a variety of colors to choose from for your design.

On this project, I made my darker colors the contrasting pieces rather than the main portion of the interior.

However, you should experiment with a few different styles and decide what you like best and what will work best for your project.

When you’ve got a few different colored drawings, you can decide which one you like best and get started with your upholstery project.