Hydra Design Labs, a full service vehicle design studio in California, has created a new offshoot to its business: Hydra101. The new online automotive design store and learning annex – the first of its kind – is aimed at providing professional as well as up and coming designers with the resources necessary to gain adequate training in automotive design.
Launched in Southern California in 2010, Hydra Design Labs is comprised of four designers: Jon Hull, Mike Desmond, Gary Ragle and Chris Schuttera. Together they bring nearly 60 years of automotive design experience to the fore. Each designer was hand picked for their varied experience creating forward looking concepts, production car exteriors and interiors, hot rods and motorcycles as well as military vehicles, movie cars and airplane interiors.
“While each designer has the experience to run a project individually, it’s the varied skillsets of the designers that makes Hydra Design Labs exceptional,” says designer Gary Ragle.
Due to the varied specialties of each designer on the team, Hydra Design Labs has been able to achieve highly effective results for both OEM and private clients such as Nissan, Infiniti and Northrop Grumman.
Ultimately, the designers really enjoy working as a team.
“We have made an effort to free ourselves from the cutthroat, competitive nature that is typical in large automotive design studios,” Ragle continues. “This collaborative approach is a great strength to our studio and quite unique within the industry.”
Hydra101 harnesses the skills of this design team to create automotive design software; 3D 360-degree model scenes for renderings and animations; and car design tutorials, each of which is shaped by a designer with at least 10 years experience in the industry.
The new website features two types of free tutorials: a ‘quic-pic,’ which includes step-by-step images that provide quick tips or tricks; and short video tutorials that explain various aspects of design, sketching, 3D modeling and other topics. Hydra101 also sells full-length video tutorials that focus on larger projects.
The design team at Hydra has also created its own line of Photoshop plugins specifically developed for automotive designers, the first of which is called Hydra HDRI Pro.
“The plugin creates a spherical HDRI image,” says Hydra Design Labs President Jon Hull. “This image is used inside a 3D rendering program such as KeyShot to illuminate a 3D model using the high dynamic range of the spherical image.”
The 3D rendering uses this image to calculate the direction of light and shadows to create photo-realistic rendering, making the new plugin a viable alternative to images made using equipment costing upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.
“With our plugin anyone with an iPhone or Android and a copy of Photoshop can create unlimited numbers of their own HDRI images,” Hull added.
The Hydra HDRI Pro plugin will take a normal 8-bit image and transform it into a 32-bit image, Hull explained, simulating the same exposures of a typical 32-bit HDRI image. Combined with the 360 Panorama app from Occipital, which enables people to capture spherical 8-bit images on their phone, users can then create the 32-bit HDRI with the Hydra plugin.
The company also devised Hydra JPG Degrader, another Photoshop plugin that adds JPG compression, noise and chromatic aberration to an image enabling users to more match photos when compositing.
Hydra Design Labs is set to continue developing new, groundbreaking and innovative products and software plugins for automotive design applications and make these available to the design community through the Hydra101 online store.
These tools complement Hydra’s core services designing client projects from ‘ideation to fabrication,’ for which the company also offers full design, engineering and CAD services, including reverse engineering, laser scanning, prototyping, and manufacturing.