Securibot – step by step process

Hi folks! I decided to do a little step by step on my design process. A big thanks goes to Anthony Jones, this man is a great inspiration to me.

Intro: I always begin with an idea and a little backup story. Without it, it’s all a random act of technical display. For this piece I chose a subject that I explored too little (until now) – robot heads. I imagined a security robot and invented a little back-story for it. I tried to come up with a cool design and also to display some visual cues about the functionality features and the universe in general. During the brainstorming I do self art direction, choosing reference material according to the theme.


Securibot_step_1 copy

1) Using a big round brush I start putting down blobs of ‘material’. I call it material because at this point color is of no real importance for me. I am only interested in establishing some cool shapes and a visual language. The colors only serve to indicate the material. I am aiming for 3 final materials: a) soft rubber-plastic, b) hard metal-ceramic masking panels, c) LEDs and spot lights. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Securibot_step_2 copy
2) From shape to form, I start defining the edges and planes. This stage is critical to the design. The visual language is composed of slick rounded forms and flat planes. I am aiming to show forms that are rounded because of two reasons: a) in my little context story this robot is used in interior spaces (hospitals, banks, office buildings, malls) and it must not look too oppressive. Although not a brawler or roughneck, it should communicate a mix between the classical police enforcer and the polite, at-your-service bureaucrat. How do I do that? Using a ‘dance’ of rounded edges and flat planes: strong, vertical frontal plane tamed by curved, sleek sides. Oh…and trends are also important 🙂
Securibot_step_3 copy
3) It is still looking like an angry dog, and that will be addressed soon. I am almost done with the light material, pretty happy with it as a big form. This will change a little as I refine, but the big landmarks have been established.
4) I started with detailing the dark material into forms. I am thinking of design and functionality. This isn’t just a mask, like the light material, this is actually the bits that allow for movement. I will render this into a plastic-techy material, like a smart rubber. I find this to be an ideal solution for aesthetic reasons (it’s rubbery, soft and dark, contrasting to the shiny hard, metallic mask) and functionality (it’s flexible, allowing for bending).
5) Rendering. From now on it’s more exploration and detailing, while molding the piece into a coherent mass of pixels. That means I am looking for ways to make the character tell a story (or at least give hints) through details. As you can see, I changed the frontal plane to something more rounded, taming the angry, blocky look. I added a soft part resembling a nose, as I wanted to make it a little more human. That change in the dynamic of the lines turned our robot into a more calm, neutral individual.
6) I changed the temple area into a more complex system. I made that decision because there already were two big, simple light areas around it. This way I introduced more visual balance.
7) More details. As you can see, I am moving from big shapes to small, while trying to maintain a balance between simple areas and condensed details. Hinges, straps, lids, structural stamps, screws and bolts, these are all great space fillers and also add functionality and authenticity to the design.
8) This step might look somewhat redundant, but actually it is very important: reestablishing the light source. During the design a lot of the initial form might get flat due to constant exploration and brushwork. After I am happy with the overall design, I do this extra light pass, to reinforce those areas, insinuate more 3d into the piece and show more materiality through specularity. Also, I take a break because the next step is crucial and i need to tackle it with fresh eyes.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Securibot_step_9
9) Finishing the head. Phew! After careful consideration, I add a final pass of detailing, establishing the personality of the ‘face’ Neutral look, neither, threatening, too friendly, dumb or smart. I add more complexity to the ‘chin’ and ‘mouth’ areas to contrast with the big grey eye-resters on the left. Remember I was talking about 3 materials, on of them being lights? Finally, here it is. I think they are a good indicator for 3 things: technology, stance and aesthetic. The default stance in my depiction is orange – right between green (friendly, assistance) and red (hostile, threatening). Also, it serves the purpose of the robot “Behave, I am dangerous!”, as the yellow/orange + black color scheme is used in nature by wasps, hornets, poisonous frogs and reptiles.
10) Finally, I painted the torso, for better framing and pose. Also, it adds to the personality. Same proportion rules, same visual language, alternating between materials, rounded areas with hard surfaces. Same process. Voila!

Afterthoughts: in the presentation image I added some stickers, more details and changed the torso a little bit to make the robot bulkier and give it more resolve. Traps and deltoids, that’s the trick 😉

I hope this will be helpful for some of you. It’s in no way academic or a ‘must do’ process, it’s just how I am doing things. I will follow up in the future with more processes and case studies, in which I’ll talk more about design, aesthetics and “why did you do that and not the other thing?” situations. Cheers!