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Mecha Drawing

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, March 2, 2018

Emma is indisposed today so it's my turn to step into the breach.
What I want to chat about today is how to draw mecha. I draw a lot of it. It's fun, but it's not that easy.
What is “mecha”? Mecha usually refers to futuristic looking robots that have a human pilot, but can also be normal robots, aeroplanes, tanks, guns or whatever.

Mecha design:
This can be tough! But don't let it be. There are some shortcuts to help you. Here are a list of things to consider:
* What is the purpose of the mecha? Military, fire and rescue, space faring, undersea whatever. All those inform the design. Then there are other things to consider, for example, what is it used for in the military? Scouting, Frontal assault, Transport etc.
* Is it old technology or is it supposed to be brand new?
* Make sure you can draw it over and over.
* Look at examples in other media (film tv, games, other comics), but do NOT copy! Take what's cool and use it to inform your designs, put your own spin on it.
* Copy from real world examples! Look at photos of real hardware, models, touch the real thing (not real robots, but rather real heavy machinery tanks, guns and so on). It helps a lot!

Working example:
For the Trompers in Pinky TA they went through many design revisions. I started with two major influences: the popular two legged “chicken leg” mechs (Star Wars, Robotech, RoboCop, Mechwarrior etc): and Mil-Mi “Hind” D attack helicopters. I wanted the mecha to have an organic, insectile look and the Hind certainly has that!
They had to look cool for the viewer, they had to look like they could work and they had to look like their purpose. But what was their purpose apart from looking cool?

The more I worked with the Hind design the more I realised that it wouldn't work for what I needed. It was too futuristic for the diesel punk look of the Pinky TA universe, the helicopter part was too recognisable, and it was also far too fragile with its big open double cockpit and wings to be involved in the action that the Pinky TA story required

A total rethink was needed. I decided I wanted the Tromper to look old and dieselpunk, but also a bit futuristic. It had to be tough looking and heavy. I needed it to be a long range scout vehicle, capable of crossing rough terrain (too rough for mere tracks), but also capable of undersea travel,so it need to be somewhat streamlined. It had to be small and compact enough to be easily transported, rugged enough to survive battle against troops, able to inflict damage on armoured or fortified targets, but not to survive a tank battle.

You can see where I went in my designs: heavy armour plates, big rivets, chunky tank hatch, old water jacketed Vickers heavy machine guns, and rocket pods for heavier targets: fixed and unguided, primitive weapon setup, but still very effective.
I decided that most of the machinery was in the legs, which would drive struts that move the main pod. This would save space on the rest of the machine, allowing me to make it smaller and more compact.

Making it look real:
How do you make your mecha look like it fits? Should it be old, new, used, what? This is the most fun part! You get to give your machine a fancy paint job and then dirty it up with mud, dust, and rust! Don’t forget the little surface details like logos, warning decals, labels, rivets, dents, scratches, and bullet holes either!

Have you any advice on making mecha?



Tantz_Aerine at 5:06AM, March 4, 2018

Just amazing.

KimLuster at 2:51PM, March 2, 2018

Incredible! I don't how you guys come up with techy-stuff like this, with nuts and bolts, cables, etc, everywhere and it look great!!

AmeliaP at 6:30AM, March 2, 2018

Ah! LOVE it! Mechas are hard to design. Thank you for showing your progress!

Ozoneocean at 6:14AM, March 2, 2018

Good advice Bravo! I'd consider the mecha more like aircraft than tanks, in that it'd be understood they're more specialised and not general use like a tank is, definitely not for the same roles. In Pinky TA they're more of an anomaly than the rule. They perform their task and then they're in for a month of maintenance, haha, at least in Pinky TA.

KAM at 5:52AM, March 2, 2018

I don't admire that stupid DD logout though. I was here. The site recognized me. I typed up my comment and went to post... "You must be logged in to post." Urge to strangle a stupid computer program rising.

KAM at 5:50AM, March 2, 2018

Advice? I wish! The hardest thing for me to draw is anything mechanical. A 3 year old with crayons could draw better mecha (cars, motorcycles, spaceships, etc.) better than me. I really admire artists who do it well.

bravo1102 at 5:09AM, March 2, 2018

There are multiple sites devoted to detail walk around picture albums of real military vehicles and aircraft. You want to depict a character standing on the back of a Sherman tank or sitting in a jeep, you can find a photo matching what you're looking for. But if searching, be specific and it helps to know where to find the real experts(model building forums are great. Talk about people obsessed with detail)

bravo1102 at 5:02AM, March 2, 2018

Think tankette on legs. Similar to the Carden-lloyd and Vickers lights. I would have cut corners and just adapted a historical design with legs. But speaking as a tank crewman you'd be hard put to find a more finicky, harder to operate and more maintenance intensive than legs. The designers who came up with it were going for cool not practical in combat. The rule of thumb is two hours maintenance for every hour of operation. Most of that is the tracks. With legs it would at least double that. But it looks cool. Drawing the real thing,the best way is to have a model you can turn around and look at from any view or just copy photos. With at least half of all on line pictures of any real deal often being multiple views of built up models it's not too hard if you know what to look for.

Ozoneocean at 4:22AM, March 2, 2018

This was the most painful newspost I ever produced! Everything went wrong trying to post it... Not least of which was photobucket shitting the bed XD

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