Robot A Day April 11

Today was the first day of the Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park. My partner Babs and I went to check it out after I finished working, as it’s conveniently right down the street from where we live. We had a great time, met some cool folks, and had some excellent conversations about art (with several people), quantum physics and fractals (with potter Don McWhorter), and the ins and outs of working the festival scene (with pastel artist Jack Brumbaugh). Then Babs and I went to happy hour, which became happy evening, and consequently I failed to produce a robot for the day. 😦

Instead, let’s take a look at some art from the cool folks I met, and then I’ll show you a robot from the vaults.

Don McWhorter is a ceramist from Carrolton, GA, who is currently making some amazing pieces featuring imagery of leaves and vines, which he creates by both freehand drawing, and enhancing images he makes by pressing actual leaves into the clay with additional drawing.

DonMcwhorterPot1I am sorry that I do not know who to credit for this fantastic photo…it came from the Central Pennsylvania Festival For The Arts website. You can contact Don at potterysong@yahoo.com.

Jack Brumbaugh does pastel drawings on canvas, featuring images of ripples and reflections on water. The images are poetic and meditative, and I love his color palette and the visual texture of the pastel on canvas.

ariel'spoemwebYou can find Jack online at www.jackbrumbaugh.com.

Finally, my robot for today. This is a digital painting that I did back in 2011 in Corel Painter. I have always liked cubism, and like to play around with the style from time to time. This piece would most closely align with synthetic cubism, a later period of the style.

cubist-robot-1b-18x24webGet down to the Dogwood Festival if you can! It’s continuing today and tomorrow. www.dogwood.org

 

Robot A Day April 10

One of my favorite places to spend time on the interwebs is the Alphadrome (www.danefield.com), a forum for toy robot, raygun, and space toy collectors and enthusiasts, with a focus on vintage robots and space toys. If you ever have a question regarding these toys, this is a great place to go with it…they have an extensive database, and probably the greatest brain trust of information regarding these toys anywhere! The members have always been very generous in helping folks with their questions.

Once a year, the members get together for a gathering…BOTSTOCK! It’s a weekend of hanging out, catching up, and swapping and selling. This year will be the eleventh Botstock.

Today’s robot art is my poster design for this year’s gathering. Whereas in the past, the competition was pretty fierce, for some reason this year there were only two official entries…puzzling. They may end up just using both, rather than crushing the hopes and dreams of one artist. That’s fine by me, as I like the other guy, and no prizes are at stake this year (aha, maybe that explains the dearth of entries!). As this is a poster for an event that everyone attending already knows all the details about, I was able to keep the information on the poster to a minimum, and focus on the visuals. I executed the design using Photoshop and Inkscape. Inkscape is a free, open-source vector art program… If you can’t afford Adobe Illustrator, it’s a great alternative.

As the name “Botstock” is a play on the Woodstock festival, I decided to go with a psychedelic theme for my poster. I really love doing psychedelic lettering, despite the fact that it can be ENORMOUSLY time consuming. I think the face-melting results are worth the effort…how about you?

Botstock11DaveFullHere’s a detail shot:

Botstock11DaveDetail2

 

Robot A Day April 9

Well, in my typical A.D.D. way, I’ve managed to fall behind on my blog! I’ve been making robots, but fell behind on posting them.

For April 9th’s robot, I present my latest Folkbot. He doesn’t have a name yet. This guy is actually the closest to the original conception I had for the Folkbot idea, in that the pieces I used to assemble him are more worn and weathered, rather than that look just being simulated. I really like the look of the weathered parts…what do you think?FolkbotBlogApril9

Robot A Day April 8

Today I’m continuing my project of photographing my collection of chrome robots under colored lights. This is the limited edition chrome R-1 Robot released by Rocket USA – presumably in 2000, judging by the date on his chest. The “RUR” on the robot’s chest is a reference to the play “R.U.R.” by Czech playwright Karel Capek, in which he coined the word “robota”(based on a slavic word meaning “hard labor” or “slavery”) for the artificially created humanoids in his story; this was the root for the English word “robot”.

I again layered two different photos to produce this image, but this time combined it with a little bit of creative masking. Masking is a method of completely or partially concealing parts of a layer in Photoshop. Here are the two original images:

Purple_RUR_web RedGreen_RUR_web

I put the purple robot photo on top of the red-green image. I then used a mask to remove parts of the purple robot; the mask included a gradient blend, which is why you get all that cool color mixing. The mask makes the purple image completely transparent in a circle that is centered over the robot’s face; then the circle lets more and more of the image show as it expands outward. By the time you get to the bottom part of the robot, you are seeing all of the purple image, and none of the one underneath.

I also used the airbrush tool on the mask in order to reveal some details of the robot’s rivets and grills from the second picture, to heighten the illusion that the robot was being bathed in golden light from above. Here is the final result:

Chrome_High_Wheel_Psychedelic_3b_web

I did the photography for this project with an amazingly simple and cheap setup: A small softbox cube that I paid about 25 USD for on eBay; two gooseneck desk lamps from Ikea; some color-changing LED bulbs that I scored on eBay for around 13 USD each; and a Canon Powershot SX50HS, a great point-and-shoot camera that’s simple enough for a beginner, but has enough features to serve as a take-along camera for a more experienced photographer. You can get one at the time of this posting for about $350 USD, maybe even cheaper if you’re lucky. The results wouldn’t fool a real professional with their quality, but you can blow most anyone else away!

I would like to thank my new friend Steve Day for gifting me with this lovely robot, and also give a shout out to his business, The Little Robot Shop, based in the UK (but poised for world dominance!). They make fabulous greeting cards, wrapping paper, posters, etc. featuring cool vintage robots, and will be offering a few of my designs soon. Check em out! https://www.facebook.com/littlerobotshop

 

Robot A Day April 7

Chrome_High_Wheel_Psychedelic_18_web

Here’s my contribution for today. I put my HaHa Toys chrome High Wheel Robot into my softbox and hit it with some colored lights, then took a few photos. This is actually a combination of two different exposures, one that had the crazy color I wanted, and another that had better detail. It’s the first step of a project I’ve been thinking about for a while – I actually purchased this robot specifically for this purpose (ummm, and to add another robot to my mighty robot army in progress!).

My eventual goal for this project is to get a spiffy psychedelically lit image to use as source material for a vector art project. For you who are wondering what in the world that is, it’s basically a way of making an image that can be reproduced at any scale without losing any detail.

If you’ve ever tried to blow up a tiny digital photo, only to see it come out all blocky and chunky, then you have seen the limitations of pixel-based art. All of your digital photos are composed of tiny little squares of color…if you blow them up, the squares get bigger and bigger, until they become very obvious and distracting.

When you make a piece of vector-based art, the computer basically comes up with a mathematical formula for your image. you then tell the computer what size to make the image, and what resolution (how many pixels to use), and it does all the dirty work for you. The end result is that your image will look just as crisp and clean blown up to billboard size as it does when you print it out on your home printer.

If you imagine an image like this one printed out so the robot is about the size of an average human being, you’ll get an idea of the end goal of this project. Pretty sweet, huh?

Robot A Day April 6

image

Does this guy look familiar? He’s been through some changes since you saw him last. Still have a way to go; now you’re getting a little peek into the mechanics of obsession. Countless times I’ve had pieces where my friends were saying, “Stop messing with it! It looks great!”, but to me it wasn’t…quite…there yet. You artists know what I’m talking about – it’s a very blurry line between taking it there and taking it too far. Sometimes you only see the line after you’ve already crossed it.

That’s one of the beauties of working digitally…there’s no “original” to destroy by overworking. You can save a version at any point in the process, then open a copy and work it to your heart’s content without worrying about sacrificing all the work you’ve invested. It really takes the pressure off.

This will be the last appearance of this fellow in the Robot A Day challenge – time to move on to something fresh. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject – can you remember a piece that you feel like you didn’t take quite far enough, or one that you ruined by working too hard? Artists other than visual are also welcome to respond!

This robot was inspired by the Strenco robots produced in Germany starting in the late 1950s (if I remember correctly). It is not intended to be a faithful reproduction; if this were a movie, it’d be one of those “inspired by a true story” ones. 🙂

Robot A Day April 5

image!

Here’s my robot for today. I have no idea what that mysterious white square is…some glitch when saving from Procreate. I think this might turn into a two-dayer…I want to work on this some more. There’s the whole ADD time management thing popping up…I am supposed to be completing one robot a day, so something this detailed is a lot to tackle inside that framework. But what the hell, it’s my dang blog, and as far as I know, I’m the only one reading it!  😉