Friday, 13 April 2012

Astromech Droid for all your space cruiser maintenance issues

I've been refitting my Mech-bot for Turbosquid it's an old Space Temple model so I had to gut it to make it more user friendly. You can see it in the third shot of Space Temple, It makes a good background character for sci-fi films. There are many films that I was influenced by when I made the Mech-Bot, Star Wars for one but also Silent Running and Disney's the Black Hole. I was also influenced by Red Dwarf's scutter robots. It's probably closer too a scutter than an R2D2. I see it as more of a background than a side kick character.

I've been using versions of this model for years you can see a much older variant of the Mech-bot in the clip below, back in the days when I avoided texture mapping. That little bit of animation is from a short film I didn't manage to finish. I keep going back to it because it's fun and easy to animate, it probably makes more sense learning to animate with a character like this than diving into a character with arms and legs.

The robot is a poly model skinned to a simple skeleton with an IK rigg. It has wire handles and the mesh is on a separate layer so that you can select the control you want without any fuss. It was built using Maya. The scale is set to just above knee height on an average human. You can edit the size so if you wanted it Godzilla size stomping on buildings you can. The animations will scale too without any problems. At the front of it's nose it has a set of tools that can be animated (you can see them in the anim demo embedded lower down). The light in the right eye can be animated it has a custom control so you don't need to fiddle with the materials. It's great for getting a Terminator style power down effect.
It comes with nine animations
  • Mech-Bot Idle
  • Mech-Bot Run
  • Mech-Bot Turn On Spot Left
  • Mech-Bot Turn On Spot Right
  • Mech-Bot Power Down
  • Mech-Bot On
  • Mech-Bot Work
  • Mech-Bot Stand to Run
  • Mech-Bot Run To Stand
With these you can put together a nice little sequence and have the Mech-Bot character power up, run round a scene interact with or fix your sci-fi props and power down again. You can see more detailed specs for this character by viewing the Maintenance Robot page.

The corridor below is looking a bit Event Horizon, It's a very simple background that was fun and quick to make. A pretty much ideal setting for the Mech Bot, It would be cool to see a power droid coming the other way. I've tried to make the robot look characterful in it's movements. It's intended as a long suffering well used puttering sort of droid that sputters as it powers down and rattles slightly when it's idling. I wanted it to feel like it had maybe developed a few bugs and was verging on personality rather than merely machine.

For Turbosquid I also include a diagram showing the model in the Maya viewing panel so you can see all the animation controls. It's tempting to add labels for flux capacitors or sublight hyperdrive engines but I managed to control my inner geek.

I also have to provide wire frames which look nice in their own right. I am starting to enjoy the  presentation side more. It's something I tend to view as a bit of a chore, in the past my main focus has been making sure the model looks good and works well.

 I decided to shelve the witch I was working on in my last blog entry, she wasn't getting much response and other jobs kept getting in the way. I may continue with the model at some point.


  1. WoW pix I missed a lot you got really good! I love the Mech-Bot:)

  2. great job and excellent quality!
    I congratulate you I love your blog

  3. I've got to say, this is one of the most original/different blogs i have come across so far! I absolutely love what you do, it must take a lot of time and effort and stuffing around.

    /following :-)

  4. Thanks Catherine, they do take me quite a while to build, it's great to have people see it. Thanks for the great comment.

  5. Amazing work Desperado!

    Are you currently working?

    email me when you have the chance:



  6. Thanks JP. I'm currently busy, will mail you when I get a chance.

  7. This is ridiculously good. It's so different and entertaining. Definitely following and I gotta tell my brother to check this out 'cause he loves stuff like this.

    Great blog and was fun watching the way your skills improved and the mech-bot improved in appearance.

  8. Thanks very decent of you to spread the word, and great to have a new reader.


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