I made an art toy scupture of Junkbot, one of my Robot Roundup characters.
I started by printing out the vector drawing of the character at the size I wanted the sculpture to be. I used this as a schematic so that I could measure his proportions against the print out.
Except for some screws in his arms, legs, and neck, he’s made entirely from polymer clay, even his inner wires. Using a clay extruder tool, I made a bunch of “noodles” that I used to coat his insides with a messy nest of wires. I then made some thicker ribbed tubing by twisting a noodle around a thin wire.
After the clay was cured, I coated him with thinned modelling putty, dabbed on with an old paint brush. This added a kind of cast iron texture.
I airbrushed him with various rust and orange colors and then used thin washes of oil paint to add grease and rust streaks.
I tried a bit of a different style with this digital painting.
This is a character that’s been with me for quite a while now. I call him “Bindlebot”. He’s the first robot I painted after deciding to put more effort into illustration, and I’ve done a few versions of him since then. It makes me happy to know that he’s always out there on his adventure. He’s the logo for Robot Roundup as well as Rainbot for the letter R.
Robot Roundup is the name for my series of robot ABC characters. It’s nearing completion, I can’t wait to share them with you!
My new book Monsters vs. Robots is out now! Available as an eBook on the Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle stores. Two years in the making, I’m really happy with how it turned out.
It’s available in these formats:
A while back I had the idea of trying to program a faux Facebook game about a robot on a journey. The “game” would do nothing except send random status messages to the user’s timeline about what their robot character was doing like, “Andrew’s robot completed the Sar Chasm mission” or, “Andrew’s robot solved the mystery of the abandoned Moon Mine”. A player would do nothing except sign up and their robot would be off on its mystical journey, sending you dispatches along the way. Your robot would complete missions, earn badges and mayorships, and other goodness. I thought it would be fun to create, in addition to poking fun at pointless Facebook games. (Fortunately Cow Clicker did a much better job at this kind of satire.)
I started thinking about what kind of website I would design for the game sign-up and figured it would feature large rotating illustrations of robots in different environments. After a few doodles I decided to see what it would be like to actually paint one rather than doing it in Illustrator or Photoshop. I was fairly pleased with how it turned out and it was really fun. I decided that doing similar works would be a bit more worthwhile than spending time developing a fake game.
In the process I began exploring the idea of creating characters and an environment that suggests a larger narrative, making images that look like they belong in a storybook. Or creating a scene that makes you wonder “what’s going on here” in a way that’s not just surrealist juxtapositions.
It’s also an artistic principle that any kind of image with another person in it is instantly more engaging than one without. And robots, being simple geometric forms, are much easier to draw than people, but you get some of the same instant engagement & empathy for free, especially by showing them doing human activities.
Just beware of the uncanny valley.