Power of Random

January 2014

Power of Random: Reshaping the form-finding process in car design

Nowadays the computer plays an important role in the automotive design process. It’s mostly used in the final stages of the design process; for final renders and 3d models. With this project I want to show that the computer can play an important role in the earlier stages too. I created my own sketching method by using the computer’s primary function: calculation. I made graphs of fractal functions and manipulated them to create automotive shapes, experimenting with both interior and exterior.

Introduction to fractals
Introduction to fractals

The Sierpinski triangle above is a fractal that is easy to understund. It is created by placing a white triangle upside down inside a black one, and repeating this for the new black triangles that appear. You can continue this process infinitely. Their main characteristics, the infinitely self-similarity, can be found in nature too.

Fractals in nature
Fractals in nature

Step 1: Generating the fractals

So how can fractals be usefull for design? I used software capable of generating fractals with highly complex functions, which makes their behavior somewhat random. On startup it will offer you 100 randomly generated images. You can play around with different functions and modifiers to further manipulate them, and find the form language you like.

Using Apophysis to generate fractals, transform them into cars
Using Apophysis to generate fractals, transform them into cars

Step 2: Playing around

After this the real fun starts. I took the fractals and converted them to Photoshop brushes. With the brushes set to random rotation and size you can start brushing around till you see something you like. This way of working feels very intuitive, since you can see al the lines in front of you and manipulate them to your linking. The curves that are generated have a nice flow and a natural feeling, perhaps because of the self-similar behaviour of fractals.

Some interior sketches created with fractals
Some interior sketches created with fractals
Exterior explorations
Exterior explorations
Exterior explorations
Exterior explorations
Sideview on D-segment package
Sideview on D-segment package

Step 3: Determening the design

After playing around and finding something you like, you can sketch and render over the fractals to determine your 3D shape. Amongst designers the fractal sketches often lead to different views on what it could be in 3D, which leads to nice discussions and insights.

Exterior topview render
Exterior topview render

Final Design

Based on a vehicle with an inversed 2+2 package
Based on a vehicle with an inversed 2+2 package
Interior from fractal to render Interior from fractal to render Interior from fractal to render
Interior from fractal to render
Final design renders
Final design renders