da Vinci-inspired drawing machine brings Renaissance auto-sketching to life
Pop-up book maker and paper engineer Robert Sabuda has teamed up with the Leonardo da Vinci Robot Society to create a build-it-yourself drawing machine that's based on a rumor, that da Vinci's so-called Robot Knight could not only sit, stand and hug guests at parties, but could also draw. The Drawmaton is the result, which is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter.
Leonardo da Vinci's Robot Knight is reported to have been displayed at the court of Milan in 1495, wore armor and moved courtesy of a series of pulleys and cables. Mark Rosheim of Ross-Hime Designs reconstructed the automaton for the BBC in the early noughties and found it to work pretty much as expected. The team behind the Drawmaton reckons that it was also able to draw.
"Since humans have been fascinated with the ability to draw since the dawn of time, we thought now was the time to find out if the Knight really had this skill," said Sabuda. "Of course we're not reproducing the entire Knight! That's WAY out of my area of expertise. We've just focused on the drawing arm itself and its accompanying programming."
Sabuda and his team reportedly looked through da Vinci's Codex Atlanticas, worked out the mechanics of building a drawing machine and brought it to life.
The Drawmaton kit includes laser cut wood and metal pieces that are assembled by the user, and comes in three flavors – the Robot, the Gambler and the Slayer. All work in the same way, an ornate Pelato disc is placed on the big cogged wheel and the machine set in motion using the small gear knob below.
The hand end of the arm to the top of the machine is given a pen to grip and positioned inside the drawing box or off to the side and the patterned edge of the Pelato guides the hand to create a simple line drawing.
Up to eight sets of Pelatos can be had, but the project is also working on software that will allow users to create their own drawings buy converting digital works into Pelato disc patterns to cut and decorate.
Kickstarter pledges for a Drawmaton kit start at US$99 for the Robot model with two sets of Pelato discs. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in June 2019. As you can see from the pitch video below, whichever flavor of Drawmaton is selected, it's sure to be a conversation starter.