Even a Newbie Can Model a Tesla Roadster With This Tutorial
Learning and navigating CAD education can sometimes feel like nothing but a myriad of imaginary splines, plates with holes and any number of brackets and enclosures. Jan-Willem Zuyderduyn created LearnSOLIDWORKS.com aiming to alleviate the grind of learning for both new and experienced SOLIDWORKS users by modeling some of the coolest designs in various industries.
Engineering.com first covered Zuyderduyn’s program when his tutorial for designing a Jumbo 747 plane was released. While the tutorial doesn’t go into all the intricate details of the design—things like electrical systems, fasteners, engine design—it does explore aesthetically creating the model and walks through both the basics of design and helps establish valuable design habits that can benefit both young and old engineers.
The LearnSOLIDWORKS.com tutorials cover a number of different designs, including one to model the Tesla Roadster which walks through designing the gorgeous curves of this vehicle.
One of the three free Tesla tutorials covers the roof while another covers the side of the vehicle, going into detail about adding planes, building the wheel trim with arcs and splines, and starting to bring out the details that make this model look like a Tesla Roadster.
First Steps: The Roof
There are a number of individual eBooks that walk through every component of modeling this vehicle, so you can work off of your previous iteration or you can download a SOLIDWORKS starting file to jump right in. This tutorial was created by Romain Ginestou, a contributor to LearnSOLIDWORKS.com, and he begins the lesson with some of the basics.
The roof is a great starting point for modeling a vehicle because it encompasses a lot of design without being overly complex. The curved profiles span a large portion of the vehicle, giving us a f baseline for the rest of the vehicle.
Ginestou’s tutorial creates the roof as a half that will be mirrored, which simplifies the process. There are four profiles needed to build the roof, which are light blue in this graphic.
Using the SOLIDWORKS starting file, select the right plane and start a new sketch.
In the Sketch ribbon, select the Spline tool and position three points, using the print as a reference.
Add global construction lines by going to the Centerline tool in the Sketch ribbon. Add vertical Construction Lines from each point that was used to define the spline down to the top plane. These lines will not register as profiles in SOLIDWORKS, but they can be used as a reference for dimension during the design process.
Use the Smart Dimension tool to set a specific distance between the front plane and the construction line closest to the front of the vehicle. Set the distance to 1,200 mm. With the same tool, click the frontmost construction line and enter 815 mm.
Now, the spline’s point has been fixed horizontally and vertically. When the construction line and the spline’s point turn black, it’s a visual notification that these elements are completely constrained—they have no degrees of freedom left.
Repeat the process for the other two spline points and their associated construction lines, as demonstrated in this dimensional sketch.
At this point, clicking on the spline will make the Spline Handles appear. These handles allow for adjustment of the curve on the spline, so we can create that sports car top line.
Using the Smart Dimension tool, the tutorial walks through the process of creating specific dimensions and angles on the roof, as well as fully constraining elements to make the rest of the design process easier.
With the use of projected curves and more construction lines, the tutorial combines a few sketches to create the curves, bezels and surfaces of the sports car roof. The tutorial is well-worth a look, but let’s pivot to a different component to see what the process looks like.
Pivot to the Fenders
The free tutorial goes much further in-depth on the details of completing the roof of a Tesla model, but let’s switch to an even more interesting element of the vehicle: the fenders. Using mostly the Extruded Surface and Trim Surface tools, the tutorial walks through modeling up the edges of the fender on the Tesla Roadster.
To start off, add two planes that pass through both wheels’ axes that are parallel to the front plane of the vehicle. These will help keep placement of the wheels centered and keep the arc of the fender tight to the wheel itself, for that sports car look.
In the Features ribbon, go to Reference Geometry and click Plane. Select the front plane as reference, enter a distance of 920 mm and check the Flip Offset box.
Repeat those steps to create another plane 3,950 mm away from the front plane, and you should have something like this:
Those extra reference planes are going to give you solid points to anchor the rest of the design.
Adding the “Sports Car” Lines
The next steps will help the vehicle start to take shape, and the curves that make the Tesla Roadster a sports car will start to emerge.
Starting a new sketch after clicking on the front plane, insert a simple Spline that covers the wheel on the side of the car and make its lower endpoint coincident with the top plane.
Insert a construction line that travels from the spline’s upper end to the right plane horizontally, to help dimension the sketch. Then using the Smart Dimension tool, define the distances of the horizontal end points with respect to the right plane, and set the height of the upper end point to 830 mm.
Make the splines upper handle vertical, and using the Smart Dimension tool again, set the handle’s weight and a 75° angle between the top plane and the spline’s lower handle. Then close the sketch.
By selecting the last sketch in the Features Manager, you can click Insert > Surface > Extrude, and extrude the sketch 1,500 mm toward the back of the car. A little tip: if you click on the arrows next to the Blind parameter, you can reverse the extrusion direction.
Once extruded, this surface is too large for the purposes of this design, so cutting this surface according to the fender arch is next. Using the Wireframe view mode simplifies this process, since only the surface’s edges are displayed, and you can better see the blueprint beneath.
The tutorial goes further in-depth on using splines, equal curvature, and offset entities to flesh out the sexy curves of a Tesla Roadster, including the tricky details of taking the print from 2D to 3D.
Watch this video where LearnSOLIDWORKS speeds through the process of modeling this entire vehicle—and you can slow it to half or quarter speed if you want to model along.
The entire tutorial for modeling a Tesla Roadster covers 20 eBooks, with each eBook covering a section of the car.
To learn more about SOLISWORKS, check out the eBook SOLIDWORKS 2022 Enhancements to Streamline and Accelerate Your Entire Product Development Process.