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Behind the Scenes: Tauro 2030 | A Half Million Dollar Blender Concept - Part 1

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Background

My name is Lee Rosario Jr. and I am a professional Designer/CAD Draftsman at Leidos Engineering in sunny Orlando, Florida. I’ve used Blender on a regular basis for about 3 years now as my preferred tool for creative concept design. My fascination with 3D design began in 1993, at the age of 8, when I opened a library book on basic CAD design and has never left me since. I have always been fascinated by organic forms in nature and apply themes in nature to my designs on a regular basis. Many of my influences come from the works of designer Daniel Simon (Tron, Oblivion, Bugatti, Roborace) and design legend Luigi Colani.

I’ve had designs featured on international design publications Yanko Design, Blender Artists, BlenderNation and CG Masters. As a songwriter, I have songwriting credits on shows such as The Voice, WWE, Say Yes to the Dress, Mob Wives, and for networks such as A&E, TLC, and Discovery Channel.

I earned a degree in Drafting and Design from Valencia College and a Bachelor’s of Science in Music Business from Full Sail University, which taught me how to approach design from an engineering standpoint; however, most of my experience is self-taught. I incorporate many of the principles I learned in college in my personal design projects and my dealings with independent clients. My technical training allowed me to expand my knowledge beyond Blender, as well as increasing my exposure to CAD platforms such as AutoCAD, Solidworks, Revit, Alias, Lumion, Keyshot, and Sketchup.

Outside of my day job, I am an independent 3D designer with a lifelong passion for concept transportation design, arch-viz, and product design, but I also use my 3D design experience in working with various clients from multiple backgrounds. I have worked with several inventors to help realize their designs in the prototyping stages, graphic design presentations, marketing promo material, product development, and patent documentation.

Tauro 2030 - Backstory

In November of 2019, private builder, entrepreneur and master fabricator Scott Dallaire approached me out of the blue about wanting to finance, build, and showcase one of my older concepts, the Tauro. The project would be for his private ownership out of his homebase just east of Los Angeles, California. At first, I laughed it off as “just another wack job”, so I let the message sit on my Instagram for about two weeks. After that time, I decided that I had nothing to lose by investigating some more, so I finally reached out asking questions designed to gauge his response. I asked things you would expect to ask: “How would you build it? How are you paying for this? Am I liable if anything goes wrong? What about the engineering required to get the car running?” The list went on. Much to my amazement, not only did he answer my questions, he went into extreme detail about his background in the automotive fabrication business, how it could be built and exactly how this presents a mutual reward if we are to complete this project. The idea was to build a concept supercar as a “statement car”, a symbol of extravagance, a token designed to attract Hollywood's elite and create, if even a minor, impression within the North American car industry.

I admittedly have no formal training in automotive design, so much of his garage language was alien to me. After a few weeks of trading emails and phone calls back and forth, I was finally convinced and impressed enough to give Scott the permission, support, and files he needed to begin building what would eventually be called the Tauro 2030.

Logistics

In our initial conversations, Scott presented his vision. He wanted to build a unique car that made a statement. It didn’t need to go 200mph (yet) or compete in prestigious races. He just wanted to drive a sculpture that would leave an unforgettable impression everywhere it goes. After reviewing several hundred designs online, he finally came upon my original Tauro design. He said it was love at first sight. He was determined to find me and convince me that it was worth doing, no matter the cost to him. So after two months of searching my name, he found my contact info and reached out. He estimated after about a year or two of labor, the total cost would amount to about half a million dollars, which is technically dirt cheap in the custom car world. At that price, this would strictly be a stripped prototype designed to attract attention for bigger investors.

He addressed several major concerns that I had as a newcomer to the automotive fabrication process. Sure, I’ve passionately and tirelessly designed a great deal of 3D concepts, but never had I been approached about building one. He went into detail about how easily automotive concepts can come together and the extreme amounts of money that go around amongst the obscenely wealthy. He explained that it’s a very underground and undocumented society that only the world’s richest and/or dedicated car enthusiasts are familiar with. For example, he’s seen a client ask for a single custom-designed headlight system that could range anywhere from $300,000 to 2 million dollars. For this particular client, money was not an object. Other clients casually ask for custom tire sets for their private concepts, which are astronomically expensive to request from giants such as Goodyear and Pirelli. So if the client can pay the hefty price tag (and they do), these companies can work “one off” deals and create whatever it is they are going for.

He then landed on the statement I will never forget:

“This is the industry I see every day. These are the elite class with endless financial resources who are after a passion for life, much like owning a white tiger or buying an expensive yacht. They want to feel alive. They want something nobody else in the world has. It’s not about practicality, it’s about making a statement and being remembered. They want it first and they want to own the sculpture no one else has. There is an extreme sense of pride in that. These are the people you never see in real life, but they exist”.

That blew me away. In my mind, I told myself, “even if nothing happens, I have to go for it. There is literally nothing to lose”. I was still worried about how this would all come together in the shop, but with his 25 years of automotive experience, he simply explained, “it’s really not that hard to do. People do this all the time and if you know what you are doing and have the means to do it, anyone can build a decent car”. I studied that statement and I started learning the intricate world of custom automotive fabrication. I discovered that car building is accessible to those inclined to learn the craft and find the right people. After all, automobiles are still just boxes on a set of grounded wheels when you break them down to their core. Granted, some are much more sophisticated than others, but they are not subject to the same safety concerns, physical demands, and regulations you would find in, say, the aviation or aerospace industries. These are just cars.

Nonetheless, it was a daunting task. My design training and engineering office experience quickly set in to figure out the puzzle as fast as I could. As you could imagine, there are many puzzle pieces to building a concept car. I knew right away that an extreme sense of organization and ownership were going to be key in the success of this project at the very least. By asking all the right and wrong questions, I started learning what I needed to provide Scott for him to do his work on the car. I knew elements of 3D printing and CNC machining would be involved, so I quickly began learning how to apply that to car building. Technical specs were not a major concern as that would mostly be figured out in the shop. What Scott lacked in computer knowledge, he easily overcame with his quick thinking and experience in the shop. And so he began the process of buying the equipment he would need to complete a task such as this.

The Gigabot 3 was one of the many pieces of equipment purchased for 3D printing part molds and prototyping scaled models for physical troubleshooting.

Ideation - Reimagining the original Tauro concept

I selected the name Tauro because of the inspiration behind the design. Taurus, which in Spanish translates “Tauro”, symbolizes the astrological “Bull”. However, in Catalan Spanish, Tauro also means “Shark”. I’ve always found shark bodies and their hard natural lines to be excellent forms of inspiration in vehicle design. The open front wheel fender design, which resembles the head shape of a hammerhead shark, served as one of the natural inspirations for the design. The open-wheel also allowed for “gills” to be designed directly behind the front wheels which serve as air intakes for the engine as well as air circulation for cooling. The accent lines and surface folds throughout the car body were also inspired from studying shark forms in nature.

One of the initial challenges was the car that was selected to be built in the first place. Of all my designs, the original Tauro concept Scott picked is probably the hardest to build. The complex surfacing, and half open, half closed wheel design made it visually striking, but would prove to be a surfacing nightmare not typically associated with “traditional” shaped cars. Of course this is not to say that Lamborghinis and Ferraris are any easier to design and build, but this definitely presented a unique challenge. Part of what makes the Tauro different is the expressiveness and use of positive and negative spaces, combined with the fluid nature of the muscular forms and tension expressed throughout the car's design language. I wanted to design a car that took advantage of the human eye’s ability to connect the spaces between broken lines to form a “ghost” line that can be associated with the overall form of the car. In a sense, it’s an optical illusion. Furthermore, I wanted different optical illusions to reveal themselves depending on what angle the car is being viewed from. By hiding certain things in negative space and underneath shadows, I wanted to create a sense of mystery within the car’s aesthetic.

Originally, the Tauro was a “futuristic” concept designed to express an idea and generate interest. Fortunately, it did just that. An electric hybrid that would envision magnetic highways (much like Maglev trains, but in reverse) upon which cars could travel much faster and more safely by being “glued” to the ground. This, of course, was just a wild idea I dreamed up to showcase the car. The design did receive some worldwide press on Yanko Design and Trend Hunter, but I left it at that.

The original Tauro concept designed in 2018

The original 3D framework was a network of open polygon shapes that were never meant to be transferred into 3D printing. To save on polygon counts and processing, very few of the components where solid bodies. It was designed to be a graphical presentation. With the right presentation and modeling, it was easy to hide that aspect of the Tauro. When it came time to reimagine the Tauro for fabrication, Scott explained that he wanted everything on the car exactly as it was. He just needed a 3D printable model to create a “Foam plug” and/or car buck to begin laying down the exterior skin of the car. For the most part I was ok with this, but I was able to convince him that for me to pursue the project, I would have to redesign and update the look of the Tauro not only for fabrication purposes, but for peace of mind in my evolution as a concept designer. I had spent the last 2 years picking apart the car and silently thinking about the things I would redesign if the opportunity ever arose. I spent the next month converting the entire car (with all its pieces), into 3D printable solidbody objects.

As daunting as the task was, this actually was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me the opportunity to redesign the car with softer and more cohesive surfacing. I had always wanted to update the design. I redesigned an entirely new wheel system which is a major part of the Tauro’s immediate appeal. The car still had the extremely low ground clearance Scott wanted (inspired by Lamborghini's MIT Terzo Millennio concept), which is easily accounted for in the real world with a lifting hydraulic system and some slight modifications to allow for driving. However, for the most part, the challenge was to redesign the car, but keep the overall design familiarity intact so that it would still be recognizable as the Tauro he fell in love with. After presenting the new redesign to Scott, we finally decided on naming it the Tauro 2030. We decided on the name after we agreed that we wanted the car to live about 10 years ahead of its time. We want to propose an idea of what cars could look like 10 years. I’m an avid fan of science fiction, but I knew early on that an ultra wild design was not the dominant statement I wanted to create for this car. I wanted to create something people can identify with now, not 100 years from now.

Modeling (Blender 2.8)

One of the very first things on my agenda before redesigning the car in Blender, was to figure out my strategy for analyzing the original Tauro (designed in Blender 2.7) and figuring out my plan of action to transfer and “trace” over the old design. I had to figure out what made the Tauro what it was and retain that language in the rebuild. Easier said than done in Blender 2.81. I essentially had to start from scratch for the most part, except with the original model serving as a general guide for tracing. I had to organize the project to an incredible extent, mapping out the different phases and pieces I would need to cut from the car. I had to strike a balance between the aspects of the car I wanted to change and the other aspects that I had to recreate from the original to fit the updated model.

Phase 1: Original model import and rebuilding the curve network.

For those who have not heard the term before, a curve network is simply a group of lines in a 2D or 3D space that will eventually form a general recognizable shape. In my case, since that network is built from Bezier lines, I can easily pull on the lines to mold the car to my liking. I explain this a bit more in my ROVO Concept article on Blender Nation. I started by bringing in the original model. I studied it for a while, analyzing all the angles to refamiliarize myself with the original shape and body language.

Once I decided on the lines I wanted to build from, I began extracting certain accent lines (edges) from the original to use as the skeleton for the new model. As I went through the various phases, the new solid body model began to form into what I would eventually use as my primary shrinkwrap base model. As I have explained in my previous BlenderNation article with the ROVO Concept, I learned the shrinkwrap surfacing method through purchasing CG Masters Master Car Creation Tutorial Series and the CG Masters: Hard Surface Modeling Series , which I’ve found incredibly useful for designing smooth, hard surfaces in my Blender concept design. Although Blender is not designed around Class-A surfacing, I’ve found that these principles and practices get me close enough in transferring my ideas to the 3D printer. The transformation process took about 1 month to complete.

Because some of the major components would be 3D printed or CNC milled out of foam to create the “plug” to model the fiberglass skin over, I had to keep all my design decisions rooted in the “real-world”. In Blender, this is a very difficult task as it involves a lot of trial and error in the real world. With product design software (such as Solidworks), a lot of the real-world applicability is designed into the software by nature. I redesigned the entire engine cover area, which sits behind the driver seat, to be more fluid in design, as opposed to the sharp-angled drop of the original. I chose to incorporate more of a universal sense of fluid surfacing in some key areas (such as the fenders) in place of the original hard-edged surface accents in the original Tauro. This approach helped not only update the look of the car, but it also helped develop a sense of harmony for the car from front to back. The cockpit area became much more rounded, losing the dorsal fins, as opposed to the original flat roof design.

This helped create a much more fighter jet style cockpit, which is more in line with the modern aircraft designs, such as that of the F-22 Raptor. Some of the design shapes were also inspired from LMP Le Mans Prototype racers such as the LMP2 and LMP3 class competitors, while other design choices (like the single center-mounted windshield wiper) were inspired by the Koenigsegg Agera. I was given the freedom to create however I wanted.

Fabrication

After months of design changes and design planning, construction was finally set in place in April 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic in North America. I was afraid that the state of the economy would put an end to the project, but much to my surprise, Scott had ensured that the project was still very much alive. The first pictures I received were of the rear differential paired up to the dually truck style double-mounted rear tire section. This was done in place of fabricating a custom tire wide enough to fit the rim spec required to keep the wide tire look of the Tauro. Scott insisted that the look must remain, so he finally decided on this setup. The cost of designing a special tire would be astronomical, so this was not a feasible option.

In place of the electric engine of the original concept, which would technically be easier to implement design-wise, Scott insisted that the car be fitted with a Mercedes-Benz W140 S600 V-12 6 Liter Engine. This is the same engine used in the Pagani Zonda hypercar. The engine is currently being restored and rebuilt in New Jersey, about 3000 miles away from the car in California.

The LED wheels presented a particular challenge as the size required did not exist and they would have to be custom made to fit the design spec of the car. We settled on 30inch rims on the back and 25inch on the front. The rims would have to be welded from two separate rims to become one. The turbine spokes and their complex design would also present a challenge as they would require fabrication in pieces without access to a 5 axis CNC machine. This was also done to keep the cost down for the prototype build. I had to cut the turbines in Blender and produce a solid model that would pass the 3D printing phase to then become molded into the wheels at a later stage.

I used Blender to produce the STL files and then called upon the use of STL prep software such as Meshlab and Meshmixer to fix issues with the STL file, before passing into a 3D printable stage. These have proven to be incredible tools for STL file analysis, repair and/or rebuilding.

For the primary car body or monocoque, Scott requested that I create a “vehicle buck” so he can eventually form the skin around the buck model. A vehicle buck is used extensively in aircraft and automotive fabrication as a relatively cheap and quick way to start getting a sense of the body of a car by cutting and assembling a skeletal system to provide temporary support for the skin molding process. Because in this particular case we are creating the entire skin out of fiberglass composites and filler, we will not be constrained to some of the limitations of sheet metal work. This approach does present other challenges, but it was decided that this would be the best method considering our budgetary constraints.

To “build” a buck model for the car, I used the free software Slicer for Autodesk® Fusion 360™ which is an incredible tool for this task. By importing my STL model produced in Blender, Slicer analyzes the model and mathematically not only produces all the panel cross sections needed to achieve your specified level of detail, but also provides the numbered cut sheets you can send to the machine shop and the instructions on how to assemble the puzzle. It basically does all the work for you. Without this software, I would have had to figure out a way to strategically slice up the blender model and then take the time to figure out how to assemble it in real life. Not to mention, I would have to manually produce cut sheets the shop would use to machine the pieces.

Presentation

For the presentation of this project, I chose a combination of Blender’s Cycles render engine and Luxion’s Keyshot 9 to set up the highest quality renders and media presentations as quickly as possible. If the ultimate goal is to attract the attention of the super-elite class of investor, I had to find a way to create flashy, yet cheap media presentations. The challenge was to develop a specific mood for presenting the car. I decided primarily on a white and black color for the car.

The White theme, which projects more of a clean and approachable color, showcased well in daytime situations, allowing the viewer to inspect the linework of the car. I chose to show action shots in outdoor situations to let the viewer imagine themselves in the car.

The black (my favorite) theme presents a much darker, more mysterious, and moody image. Although it hides a lot of the shapework of the car, I found it creates a sense of mystery and predator-like aggression. To me, it symbolizes a panther waiting to strike. It’s like the mythical monster in the dark cave ready to devour the streets. It only shows itself just enough to create this particular mystique. It’s also a wonderful way to highlight the unique lighting of the car.

To bring a more intimate experience to the viewer, I created a turntable of the 2030 and a 360 interactive YouTube video as a simple way to “walk into” a fully 3D space and stand with the Tauro. You can find those links below:

Purpose

To sum things up, the Tauro2030 represents a statement. We want this to say, “this is for the bold who dare to venture into a space no other can occupy. There are no rules where we are going”.

This is for the individual that wants to be heard, but can only express themselves through art and form. Something for both owner and spectator.

In that respect, whether this project will succeed or not remains to be seen. It is my hope, as with all my projects, to inspire other designers like myself to feel free to create whatever it is they want to create. To go after whatever they want to go after and not worry about “the rules”. “The rules” after all, are imposed by the limitations of others. I'm thankful that Blender 3D software can help facilitate that journey every day and it will continue to be an invaluable part of my workflow. I hope to be able to return with a “Part 2” of this worth reading. As of this point, we are developing a company name and website, but more to come in Part 2. To be continued….

Thank you for reading.

About the Author

Lee Rosario is a professional 3D and 2D designer based out of Orlando, Florida with experience in mainstream music media, utilities engineering, and graphic design industries.

 

About Author

Abby Crawford

I've been a part of the BlenderNation team since 2018, producing Behind the Scenes and Meet the Artist features that highlight Blender artists and their work.

2 Comments

  1. I had no idea Blender (and polygon based modelers in general) could be used in production, good to know.

    The project is very interesting, thanks for sharing and looking forward for part 2!

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