This is a formulaic method of creating an original transformer design. This strategy will create a robot mode of given proportions with a randomized distribution of vehicle mode parts from a given vehicle mode. Designing a transformer with this method takes around 10-20 minutes per part and results in a simplistic layout design that can possibly be further refined.
- Choose an alternate mode for the transformer. Referencing can be done on the internet, though a real life reference will work better as front, right and top views will need to be drawn of the alternate mode.
- Lay out the top, right and front side views of alternate mode on a piece of graph paper. When drawing the views, it is helpful to draw a box that will encircle each view, and then drawing the view inside. Each view can be an outline of the overall form, save for any separate parts that are desired (In this case, the wheels are drawn separately because they will be independent of other parts in the final design).
- If the design is going to be symmetrical along an axis, then split each view where that axis is relevant, though keep the other side for symmetric parts that will cross the axis. Snapping the drawing to the gridlines of the graph paper can make the drawing easier and will simplify the physical design process later. When laying out each view, use a straightedge to make sure that a feature in one view lines up with the same feature in a different view. It is important that the end drawing is basically a 2D representation of a 3D object.
- Lay out the top, right and front views of the robot skeleton on a separate sheet of graph paper. These views do not need to be much more detailed than stick figures; what is important are the proportions of each line because this will be the guide for the robot mode. robot mode views should take up approximately the same amount of space as the alternate mode views to ensure that the form is used efficiently; a larger skeleton would create a spindly robot and a smaller skeleton would end up with a lot of unused mass.
- The robot skeleton should be drawn to the same scale as the alternate mode on the other piece of paper to ease the transfer of distances later. Making sure each limb lines up to an approximate gridline is also important, as it will make the design phase much easier.
- Choose a piece of the vehicle mode that looks like it could be used in robot mode. This is going to ground the design and create a starting point to develop the transformation from. Using a pencil, outline the form from the vehicle mode in all three views. Redraw this outlined form in the planned place on the robot mode, make sure that the part is the same in both modes (i.e make sure that the same views are visible on both sheets of paper). If the part looks OK, outline it on both sheets in the same color of colored pencil.
- Pick out the next form on the vehicle mode by choosing a limb of the skeleton that is adjacent to the part just chosen. What is most likely already decided is the the height of this part, so the width and length can be set to whatever looks aesthetically desiring and won’t occupy the volume of another part. after the basic views of this second part are drawn onto the robot skeleton, place the same part somewhere inside the alternate mode drawings (the piece should be touching the previous part and if it does not line up exactly, follow the steps below to design a hinge
- Design a hinge assembly. Sometimes the part as it is placed in the alternate mode may not line up with it’s placement in robot mode. A hinge can be designed that will allow two parts to relate to each other exactly in both robot mode and vehicle mode while still allowing the parts to be connected.
- Draw the two pieces on another piece of paper, the exact same size and the exact same position as they are aligned in the alternate mode. If the pieces only need to be manipulated in one plane of movement, then one view is fine. Otherwise, multiple views of the relation will be required depending on how many planes the part will be rotated across.
- One part will be mobile and the other grounded. Draw a dot to symbolize the axis that the piece will be rotated around and then rotate the piece about that axis (keep in mind that the part should ideally be moved into position with as least rotations as possible). Draw this updated view directly below the first for reference. When rotating about the axis, each point of the part moves in a circle. If any point of the mobile part clips the grounded part, shear the collided section off by drawing a curve from the nearest 90-degree extension from the axis past the point of collision with a red colored pencil; any part colored in red will be the new feature of that section of the part. If the part is now rotated into the correct position, then skip the next step. If not, continue on to the next step.
- Select another point that will be the axis for rotation and rotate the part about that axis. Repeat this step as many times as possible to get the part in position. make sure to record the axis of rotation for each movement.
- Record the position of each axis relative to the mobile and grounded parts (and possibly the other axis) of the first drawing on the third sheet of paper. If there is only one axis point, draw a circle around it that will symbolize the hinge assembly (preferably the diameter of whatever the smallest increment is on the graph paper for simplicity). If there is more than one axis point, draw a single path to the axis points using straight 90-degree lines. If the axis of rotation is located off of both parts at any given point, an extension of one of the parts might need to be drawn in place of an additional assembly. A hinge part is generated by making an eighth-inch border around the part and making the part a quarter inch thick. If more than two axis are used, the hinge assembly will require <the amount of axis points – 1> parts. The hinges will be stacked. Draw the position of the hinge(s) in both the starting and ending assembly. The hinge(s) should be the same shape, size and relation to each other in both assemblies. The hinge assembly will substitute some of the volume in the starting parts, so make sure to account for that.
- Draw the hinge into both the robot mode and vehicle mode views. Use the third page to reference the position of the hinges.
- Continue to add parts to the robot mode by using pieces of the vehicle mode. Make sure to to not use space that is used by another part(This is why there are three views) and use up as much of the alternate mode’s mass as possible to minimize extraneous parts. It is OK if not all the mass of the vehicle mode is used up. Outline each new piece with a new color of colored pencil.
- After the robot mode skeleton is completely covered, fill in the vehicle mode by assigning any extra mass to limbs. It is suggested that the vehicle mode layout (and possibly the robot mode layout) be traced to account for the extra design. More hinge assemblies may be required to deal with these parts.
- Produce the design in some way, like a 3D model. Some parts may require further refining and checking, which can be done by redrawing the design and modeling the design in some form. The hinge assemblies are designed to be filled with a small pin the diameter of a paperclip (~ 1/32″). The design may need further development depending on the desired means of production.
- Keep with it. What is probably the hardest thing to do (next to the design process itself) is the ability to be OK with the final product regardless of how it turns out. A transformer’s alt mode won’t be as accurate as a model of the same thing, and It’s robot mode probably won’t be as pose able as a general action figure. The key is the compromise, and a design that might fail in some ways can surprise in others.
- Keep the colored pencils sharp
- A mechanical pencil is probably more effective at drafting than a sample one.
- The above 3D design was modeled in Autodesk Inventor. Inventor is free under a student license, as are possibly other 3D design programs. Modeling the parts can be an effective way of helping look at a design, if a computer is on hand.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Graphing Paper (2-4 sheets recommended)
- Colored Pencils (+12, amount depends on how many unique parts the design will have)
- A straightedge