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Inside Mazda

The Finishing Touch: Brilliant Colors That Highlight the Beauty of Flowing Shape

Mazda CX-9 7 passenger suv

With his spray gun in hand Kazumitsu Tamai stands facing a beautifully finished model. His sharpened senses spot the subtlest of color changes across a perfectly harmonized physical design. With highly efficient movements, he paints color over color until he achieves a perfectly uniform finish.

Tamai is another key member of the outstanding modeling team at Mazda design. And though his meticulously controlled hand movements he adds vibrant brilliance to the 3D hard models he works on.

Mazda CX-9 7 passenger suv


Painting the hard model is literally the finishing touch in the process. Tamai is highly respected as a painting expert. “My job is mostly about painting colors approved by a color designer with a spray gun, making sure that the paint fully reflects the development model’s image”, says Tamai. A paint’s finish and colors are affected by its properties and environmental conditions, but perhaps more surprisingly, they are also affected by the spray gun’s movements during application. To spray on colors exactly as intended, Tamai needs to rely on his acute senses gained from years of experience; a quality that can’t be described by numbers or even words.

“The job is a huge challenge, which is daunting, but it fascinates me. Repeating subtle adjustments and expressing colors through my own sensibilities, I find the whole process truly worthwhile.” Tamai says that being responsible for the painting phase of modeling makes him keenly aware that his hands directly influence manufacturing at Mazda.


“There are 2 steps to painting – paint adjustment and spray application. Colors are given to me, so selection and formulation of paint thinner and hardener is adjusted depending on the conditions so that ideal colors get sprayed. Then I use a spray gun to control spraying.” Tamai says that the ability to consistently reproduce colors and shades are critical to a car’s paint job.

“The painted color may look stunning, yet if that’s not the standard color it means you failed to reproduce the design intent. The same goes for painting colors that only a certain person can produce. The ideal I pursue is to reproduce the approved colors regardless of conditions and shape.”

red paint


“Soul Red” is Mazda’s iconic body color, and it’s a tough job for those involved in paint.
“A single color is created by layering multiple colors. Each color has to be correctly painted to achieve the color you want.” Tamai continues, “Soul Red is a deep red color. Reproduction requires spraying a larger amount of a particular color. The number of sprays is probably unheard of in the auto industry. The finish depends on the quality of the spray application.”

Tamai demonstrates his almost magical expertise in instantaneously adjusting spray patterns by checking color particles, how the color sets, color shades, depth and luster. Soul Red’s distinct color comes from his skills and techniques evolved over years of experience.

Mazda Design Creates New Products through the Harmony of Brilliant Technology and Ideas

It is essential for clay modelers to collaborate with digital modelers, who use computer software to create 3-D models. In this way, forms created through the art of sculpture can be checked with digital technology. Furthermore, the forms refined through digital technology can be further enhanced through clay modeling. Through this collaborative cycle, an attractive design that appeals to people’s hearts is turned into a tangible form. And what starts as one person’s passion, becomes energy that fuels the team as a whole, creating beauty that captures people’s hearts.