Sunday, 3 May 2009


All together now!

In order to make the base look a bit more relevant to the robot and less dull I have created railings lining some of the outside and sculpted a lampost from milliput, which the robot will be positioned under. There are just a few more details to add, such as the aerial at the top of the robot's head and the paint for the railings and lampost.


In order to rust the robot, once I had connected it all together I lay it for several days in a solution of bleach, water and salt. This gave it a light rust all over, which I have then sanded back in places to reveal the metal underneath. I now plan to use watered down black paint to darken the grooves of the robot and make it look more old and weathered.

Completing the wheelchair

The work completed on the wheelchair since my last post has been attaching the wheels and finishing the painting. I painted the wheels to look like darkened brass, matching some of the wheelchair. Given that the character is for stop motion animation I have made them in a way to allow the wheels to move.

Base problems

I had planned to crete the base of my character by painting in the different colour sections of the pattern and using pencils to darken areas and draw in cracks. I wanted to use pencil rather than paint to shade areas as I thought it might echo the sketched look of the game. However I was not happy with the result of the base, which I thought looked too flat and didn't match the rest of the work I had done on the charater.

To improve the base I decided to add texture to it by smothering it in a thin layer of polyfiller and sanding it back slightly. This gave me a natural looking stone effect and I sculpted in some of the cracks and crevasses where the different tiles met. I also decided to make the stone colour more rich and yellow, whilst toning down the turquoise colour. I think these changes make the base a lot more effective.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Robot Legs

I'm working on making the legs separately so that I can construct them in a way that enables them to move. Although the robot is in a wheelchair and given the design of the character his legs are not able to support his body weight, I would still like to give the hip and knee joints some moveability for the purpose of animating.

I laser cut the shape of the top half of the leg and using milliput and wire I sculpted a design on top. For the knee ball I sculpted this from milliput and for the lower leg I used wooden dowel and sculpted on the end to make feet. I then made silicone moulds of all these separate componants and cast them in metal powders.

Wheelchair Development

Previously I was going to use dark leather to make the seat of the wheelchair, however this is not in keeping with the illustration of the character, therefore I brought a leather bag from a charirty store which was the right colour and I am using this instead.

I started by padding the seat with some foam and using superglue to stick the leather to the chemiwood chair.

Once I had finished covering the chair in leather, I have used copper plated tacks to represent upholstery pins, running along the inner edge of the front face of the chair. In order to hide the seams of the leather and to make the wheelchair look more authentic I wanted to create a rim along all the outside edges using brazing rod. However it proved too difficult to bend the rod into the shape I needed for it to butt nicely without leaving gaps. Therefore I have instead used rolled out lengths of milliput to do this, which I will then sand back and paint to give a metal effect.

Casting the Robot

I have now cast the robot in a combination of aluminium and iron metal powders with fast cast resin. I used a 50:50 ratio of fast cast to metal powders. The metal powders were made up from equal amounts of iron and aluminium. This is so I can get a shine to the robot but also rust it.

In order to fit the ball and socket joint of the neck in to give the robot head movement, I had previously created a recess for it to sit in. After gluing the joint into place in the recess I covered it over with milliput and painted resin over the top for it to join seamlessly with the rest of the robot.

Below is the final cast, which I will then work on sanding down and rusting. My next step is to add the leg componants.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The stand

I am making a very basic environment for the robot to be set in. From Amanita's design I really like the pattern of the floor that the robot is on. I have decided to make a circular base of this design to display the character sat in his wheelchair. Part of the appeal for me of Machinarium, is the sketchy appearance of the environments. With the base I am making I really want to try and incorporate this sketched illustrative look into it. I plan to do this by actually shading adding the detail of things like the cracks by hand using pencils. So far I have given the base a basic cellulose base of stone colour and have painted one coat of the pattern in a mint green colour.

The wheelchair

I have created the basic structure of the robot's wheelchair from chemiwood. I heat bent the top of the seat to give the back of the chair a sloping back. I now plan to pad the seat and back with a layer of foam and then cover in leather. However I am still unsure as of yet to which leather effect I want to use.

The wheels I have created through laser cutting the basic pieces, sticking them together and using milliput to sculpt detail on them to make them look more authentic as wheels with spokes that flare out as they join the outside wheel, like the image of the train wheel below.

The moulding process

To mould the head and body of the character I built styrene boxes around them in preparation to pour silicone over them. For the head mould I used wooden dowel extended from the eye sockets of the robot to create the pour holes. There is one bleed hole created from another piece of dowel holding the weight of the head upright from the recess I created on the underside.

For the body I created a pour hole by extending the neck of the robot, and I have made two bleed holes from wire rod extending out of the recesses where the legs will slot into.

Moulding Difficulties

I finished sculpting my character early last week and have also moulded it. However when it came to deciding how I was going to go about moulding it I had a bit of difficulty. I had sculpted my figure as one piece on the armature. As I wanted the final cast to also have the armature within it to give the character the same movement it has now it required the head and body to be moulded and cast separately and then have the armature drilled into them. As I had sculpted the robot as one I had to pull the head apart from the body, which actually happened more easily than I thought it would! I also had to create a recess in the underside of the robot's head for the armature of the ball and socket joint to sit into once cast.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Sculpting progress

I have been working these past couple of weeks on my robot character sculpt, when I haven't been able to work on the other project of my final major, the mobile phone. I am quite pleased with the progress I'm making on it, and I believe after a few alterations I will have the character ready for moulding. I like the chavant clay that I'm working in however I am finiding it a little bit difficult to create a smooth finish with it. It could be debated whether I should have used a hard based material such as sculpy or milliput which I could then sand down to a smooth finish, however as I'm casting it in resin I should be able to do this anyway later on if I'm not completely happy with the finish.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Metal Powder Samples

As I am in the process of sculpting the robot this week I have been experimenting with metal powders in resin to create different effects that I could use when casting him. As the picture of him shows the robot is quite rusty but in places looks quite metallic. The metal powders I have been using are iron and aluminium. The aluminium powder polishes up to a better shine than the iron, which remains quite dull. However aluminium doesn't rust. I am happy with the results I am getting from combining the aluminium and iron powders. I can create an effect that gives me the shine and rust that I need. I have also tried painting the rust effect by hand, but don't think this is as effective.

Creating rust: Leave the sample in a solution of bleach, water and salt for over 24hrs and longer depending on how set in you want the rust to be.

Laser cutting

For the wheels and the legs of the robot I have used the laser cutter to create the componants in acrylic. I will then use them as a base on which to sculpt more detail with the chavant clay.

Friday, 30 January 2009


WHEELCHAIR: I plan to make the seat of the wheelchair from leather. I made the sample below earlier in the week by sewing leather around foam padding and using bronze tacks to create the studs. I do want the leather to look a bit more worn though, so i'll experiment with trying to age it.

Below is the look I am aiming for.

Creating the Armature

As I am making this model to hypothetically be used for a stop motion animation, the character needs to be able to have flexible joints and moveable parts. The robot character is wheelchair bound and so the most important joint for him will be that which connects the neck and head. I have found a ball and socket joint to give me a flexible movement and it will be the starting point for the armature.

I have added onto the joint by silver soldering another couple of pieces of thread to elongate both sides. I also created with thinner wire the arms and top of the head which I will add the chavant clay on top of.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Starting to model

Today I've tried massing out the basic size and shape of the robots body and head. The chavant clay I am modelling with the NSP grade, which is sulphur free. This minimises the risk of it reacting with the silicone rubber I intend to use for my moulds. The clay is medium firmness, I've found however it is far too firm to sculpt effectively with it at room temperature.

TIP: Warm chavant clay up in the microwave for a couple of minutes to soften it and make it more pliable. It can if left in the microwave for too long start to liquify!

Since heating it up I've found it much easier to work in this material. I heat it to quite a soft state so it's almost like normal clay, however within a short amount of time it will cool back to its original firmness. I was originally going to use sculpey to model the character, however I haven't worked in this material before, so I decided to give it a shot and I am finding it very versatile at the moment.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Sketch model

Today I created a very rough cardboard sketchmodel of the wheelchair the robot character will be sitting in. This is to help me establish the scale at which to make the character when I am sculpting.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Materials and Processes

To make Machinarium's robot character, I intend to use chavant clay to make the body and head, which I'll then mould and cast in resin. I'll use metal powders within the resin to create the effect of metal. For the character's wheelchair I plan to use metal for certain parts and possibly leather to create the seat.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


For the second task of my final major project I am going to be creating a robot character for animation. I am basing the character on one of the robots from the new Flash game called Machinarium, created by Amanita Design.