Drawing Robots

Professional artists typically have excellent eye-hand coordination and fine motor control skills. They are able to translate a scene into a painting that captures the scene’s essential characteristics while also incorporating their own perspective.

Not everyone has the years of training and innate skills required to create an image in this way. However, drawing robots enable anyone with the interest to precisely draw the lines in an image. There are many different types of drawing robots. The Scribit drawing robot, featured in the Museum of Modern Art, can transform a wall into a canvas.

In contrast, the Line-us drawing robot is a personal-sized drawing robot that can sketch drawings on a postcard-size card or piece of paper.

However, the drawing robot that we use as a workhorse in the Make to Learn Laboratory is the Silhouette Portrait. The Silhouette Portrait is a digital die cutter that can cut out any shape that can be drawn on the computer.

However, the cutting blade of the Silhouette can be replaced with a pen. The pen can then accurately draw the lines of an image.

The Valentine card in the illustration was created in this way.

The Internet provides access to designs from across the ages, from the first cave paintings to abstract modern designs. In the United States, designs published before 1924 can be used without copyright restriction. Many designs created after that time are also available for non-commercial use. And, of course, designs in nature can always be used freely. 

The Valentine’s card began as the design shown in the illustration below.

The Silhouette Studio design program was used to trace the lines in this design. (The basic version of the Silhouette Studio graphic design program is available as a free program that can be downloaded from the Silhouette America web site.) The program’s Trace function highlights the lines in the design that have been traced.

The outline of a heart was then superimposed over the design. With both objects selected, the Intersect tool (found under the Object > Modify menu) was used to cut out the shape of the heart.

The final pattern in the shape of a heart looked like this. The Silhouette Studio Send menu was then used to send the design to the Silhouette Portrait machine. A pen in the Silhouette machine precisely drew each line of the design in a manner that would be difficult for anyone but a highly skilled artist to draw by hand.

An accessory for the Silhouette machine, Foil Quill, can gold or silver foil to emboss a design on a card. Foil is taped onto the cardstock. A heated stylus then melts the foil onto the card as the design is traced onto the card by the stylus.

The result is a pattern traced in foil that any recipient would be pleased to receive for Valentine’s day.

A YouTube screencast that illustrates the process of creating the design can be viewed here:

            Embossing a Valentine’s Day Card