Another term with shipyard origins. A spline is a long strip of flexible wood, sprung steel or plastic which is used as a guide to draw or model smooth curves.
Held against its natural spring either at the ends or at a number of fixed points with weights, it will take the line which minimizes the energy required to bend it, and adopt the smoothest possible 'natural' curve in its attempt to straighten itself out.
A spline may have a constant or tapered section. A constant-sectioned spline held only at the ends will produce a constant curve; a tapered spline, held similarily, will produce a curve which will accelerate, or speed up towards the thinner end: it will be, effectively, a French curve.
In the days before computers, long splines were also used by car body engineers at full stretch on full-size drafting tables. But, in the 1940s, mathematicians studying the spline shape derived a formula known as the spline curve or function, which led to its use in computer-aided surface design.
1) The term 'styling' tends to be used in a dismissive, derogatory sense to imply superficiality. This however, denies the notion that it may, in itself, have some value, not merely be skin-deep, second rate design.
Style is closely linked to fashion with its ever-changing seasons, but somehow the stylistic changes that conspire to produce 'this season's look' in the fashion world, while often polarizing opinion, seem to escape criticism. Some cars with a high style content often turn out to have a short 'honeymoon' period: Chrysler's PT Cruiser and Crossfire initially had would-be purchasers queuing, but quickly became very 'last season'.
A 'sense of style' can be created (and thereby conferred on the owner) and there are certainly cars which cut across social, gender and age boundaries and achieve timeless stylishness by not following trends or the dictates of fashion.
At its superficial best, styling may dominate function, but shouldn't compromise it. It is an exercise in form and semantics - the emotional trigger that attracts us in the first place, and like anything else it can be done supremely well or truly badly.
2) 'Styling' as an abbreviation of 'Styling Studio'. For example, Jaguar hung on to the term longer than most automotive studios, but changed it on the appointment of Ian Callum as Director of Design. However, it was always useful in differentiating a Design Studio from those other areas where design activities happened - chassis design, engine design, etc.
Full-sized or scale line 'drawings' of side and end elevations of a design made on translucent plastic film stretched on a vertical surface over a 10cm grid (known as 'tens lines') and package information, using rolls of black masking tape, photographic tape or purpose-manufactured Japanese drawing tapes.
These crêpe tapes are stretchable for creating curves - but have enough 'body' for these curves to flow naturally - and are lightly sticky, to enable regular repositioning for line-adjustment purposes - the equivalent of 'rubbing out'.
Their purpose is to provide accurate, measurable, linear information relative to the 'tens lines' grid to the team of sculptors or modelers working on the clay model. In this sense, they are purely functional and are not pictures. However, the addition of airbrushed color, light and shade, and the full range of tape widths creates the 'tape rendering' which, in full-size form, can quickly and cheaply provide an accurate impression of the 'presence' of a design proposal - albeit in elevation. A whole extra dimension is achieved in the bigger studios using full-size, fully rotatable, 3-D digital images projected on to 'power walls'.
The same tapes are used in 3-D too, for much the same purpose, providing a line for modelers to work to, or adding definition to clay models of any scale.
The slight transparency of vellum and the thin white paper in layout - or marker - pads allows the use of underlays to aid the sketch and sketch development process.
Elevational package drawings, photos with useful perspective placed underneath, will show through and can be sketched over as can previous drawings, making adjustment or improvement straightforward. Some view this as 'cheating', but it's really a way of speeding-up the creative process and is standard industry practice.
If spirit-based felt-tipped marker pens are used, layout pads of 'bleed-proof' marker paper will prevent the ink seeping through and spoiling the underlay (but this will slightly 'deaden' the colors).
Car Design Glossary Part 1