Any idea how car designers create the large seamless lather bump texture?

There are many online tutorials for creating leather like textures with Photoshop but the use of those filters very much often produce very repetitive and clean results. Natural leather and what they use for car dashboards has a large amount of irregularities.

I am curious if they use a special procedural program to generate such patterns or if they use a different approach.

Anybody has an idea?

Maybe they use real pictures and just make it into a pattern texture.

Free tool: Allegorithmics MapZone2
Paid tool: Allegorithmics Substance Designer, or just e.g. the “Turned Leather Substance” for 5 USD:

Be sure to run the Substance Player (Unity) to try it in realtime :wink:

I doubt there are any better tools out there for procedural textures.

Yes I do. I think it’s actually molded in clay, manually. That is if you’re talking about molded dashboard detailing in modern cars. I’m pretty sure the original molds are made by hand.

I always thought they just use insanely large textures or at least large enough for repetition to not become noticeable.

Oh, you mean in real life :slight_smile:

Coincidentially I know this for Opel. I guess it’s not much different for other manufactuers. They select a very nice looking rough leather, the real thing from animal skin. Then it’s made into a mold on a huge metal drum.
Then there is a guy, you got to especially love it Claas with your background, who uses hammer and chisel to make a seamless pattern to close the pattern around the drum… after that, endless lines of fake leather comes out.


mh makes sense. I assume this way they also produce the pattern for fake leather. Isnt that pattern pressed into the fabric?

cek its usually plastic injection molding. the molds are carved/milled rather than cast. its carved into two blocks of steel. basically a cars dash is all hand carving. its an expensive and time consuming process to make the mold, but then when you put the mold in the injection machine you can pop out a piece every 10-15 seconds with good cooling. but the pattern is all done by hand. ot it was in the 90’s. i’ve never seen a sns large enough to make a mold that size so i supose they are still hand milled.


interesting topic - while I am very familiar with product design I never worked for transportation or looked into how the molds for the dashboards are texturised. I tried to google some articles but did not find much. doubt there are any better tools out there for procedural textures.

I’d have to lie saying I know, but you can guess.
I do know fake leather is some sort of fabric, be it cotton cloth or some sort of nonwoven fabric, with a plastic layer on top. Usually it’s a polyurethane, and also PVC. PU is nice you can control it’s properties like stiffness, airflow and stuff, while PVC is stiff, airtight crap…

In any case I see two ways to work with it. Either you apply a hot film of liquid plastic on the fabric, and then use metal rolls to emboss the texture in the material and cool it at the same time to solidify.
The other guess would be after the fabric and plastic is combined and cooled, you use a hot roll to “melt” the texture in the material.

making seamless repeating texture , from single photo using blender

cek the only reason i knew was because i worked at an injection molding plant. i was sent out to pick up a rush order mold and talked to the guy for a full day while he was finishing a mold while watching him work on it. he considered himself a sculpter more than a millwright. the only time i ever seen him do any textured work rather than a smooth finish was a oistol grip for a pump shot gun. he used after getting the mold down to the lelel of the bottom of the bumps he used something like an air powered dremmel with a ball tip to carve the divots and a minature gringwheel to carve the straithlines and hash marks. even small molds like that one were expensive and costs around 50,000 . (it was about 2 cubic feet, two 1X2X2 halves amd made 3 grips at a time, 3 left sides and 3 right sides which were then scred togerther on the gun.) the molds are so large so you can keep water running thru them to keep them cold and harden the melted plastic into shape as fast as possible. the drop time on that part was about 15 seconds so you were making a grip every 5 seconds. the abs plastic beads cost about 30 cents per grip and the gun manufactures paid us 70 cents per grip. thats 1.20 a drop, 4.80 a minuet, $288 an hour. the machine ran 16 hours a day for around $4500 a day. and abs is the expensive plastic. at profits like that its easy to see how you can afford hand made molds. the mold pays for its self in 2 weeks of 3 week run, and if the part demand is high enough for more runs the next runs are pure profit. we had some molds that we didn’t use anymore that were over 5 years old and nobody wanted those parts, but they are alsmost indestructible being big blocks of steel. 1 mold could put out millions of parts given enough time.

we never made anything as large as a dashboard but the principles would still be the same.


thanks for the insight - a very fascinating area. Those model makers (from the car industry as well) are pretty great sculptors.


Thanks for the links.

Haha, at least my complete misunderstanding of Claas inquiry helped out someone :smiley:

Uhm, you did not really misunderstand me. I was not sure if they use a digital approach to texture the molds with a CNC or use any other technique. Honestly while I have a focus on product design, strangely that part I never got in contact with.

Well, to my shame I have to admit I thought you’re just looking for a solution to create somewhat realistic seamless leather textures :slight_smile:
It took me till Farmfield’s post to realise what you’re after hehe.

The best company for this sort of thing is…

Plenty of info there on how they do it. They produce catalgues showing the molded textures, used them many times. They produce a pattern that is then chemically etched into the injection mold tool, no CNC machining required, to produce the texture (fake leather etc).

Mold Tech are pretty much the industry standard for this sort of thing.

I’d just use a real pic.