Welcome to another chapter in the "How To Draw Mecha" series! This time I'm going to try to cover "MECHA BASICS" of the "Standard Bipedal Mecha" you see in popular Anime, plus a few other concepts to help you draw Mecha QUICKER AND EASIER!
What is Mecha you might ask? "Mecha" is short for mechanism, a term most often used to describe giant robots usually piloted by humans in Sci-fi Anime cartoons and manga! These "Giant Robots", or "Mecha" are used as tools to handle the tasks in the everyday lives of the those who pilot them, whether it be to aid humans in everyday chores, heavy lifting tasks such as in construction, or for military applications, such as in wars and battling dangerous alien monsters for the fate of the planet, but enough of that! Let's get started with the basics shall we!
THE BASICS OF CREATING AND UNDERSTANDING 2D/3D OBJECTS:
Let's start off with structure! Everything in existence is built up of basic geometric shapes be it Circles, Ovals, Ellipses, Rectangles, Triangles, Trapezoids and many others, but without lines to connect them you might not ever create really good objects. Using these basic shapes and lines together we are able to create amazing objects like so!
See how just a few lines and geometric shapes can create objects we see and use in everyday life! Now that i've got'cha thinking a bit about this concept let's try a little exercise shall we!
Take a look at a few objects around your home, see if you can identify some of the geometric shapes that went into creating those objects! It might seem difficult to see at first, but take a real good look at them! Imagine them in their most basic forms, Circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, etc. Can you see them...? Good, let's move on!
So now you should have a pretty good understanding of how shapes and lines create objects. Now let's do one better and talk about 3D shapes Don't worry, I'll be brief! 3D shapes are created by placing shapes parallel to each other and connecting the two shapes by adding lines from one to the other! The result creates a 3-Dimensional object as shown in these examples:
For those of you who already understand how to make 3-Dimensional shapes, you can move on to the next lesson, the rest of you should practice drawing a few of the shapes in the examples before you move on, it will help you a lot later on! It may seem boring, but it is necessary to understand the basics, if you are to ever learn how to draw mecha really well!
MACHINE(GEOMETRIC-MEANS BLOCKY) VS. ORGANIC(MECHA SHAPED IN THE HUMAN OR NATURE'S FORM WITH LOTS OF ROUNDNESS IN IT'S DESIGN):
PANELING, PARTS AND OTHER DETAILS:
Let's talk about paneling. When designing Mecha, how you build your paneling is important! For Organic-Type Mecha, you'll want to use mostly round shapes and curved lines to bulk-up your mecha in the rough sketching phase of your designs. The complete opposite applies when designing a Machine-Type Mecha, you'll want to use rigid blocky shapes.
In the final stages of your mecha , you should remember to round-off all sharp edges in your design (For Organic-Type Mecha!) to keep your mecha balanced! Too many conflicting shape styles can have a negative effect on your design making your mecha look odd. A few sharp edges are fine, SO LONG as they are on parts like those used for WEAPONRY, they should serve a purpose to the mecha, not just to make it look good! For Machine-Type Mecha, If you have any round shapes in your design, sharpen those shape's edges, unless they are around joints that are suppose to bend!
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES:
There are a lot of different things you can add to your mecha to spice-up it's design, like nuts, bolts, grates, exhaust pipes, etc. Let's take a look at how to draw a few of these! Take these objects for instance, how would we go about creating them with simple shapes and lines.
Alright, so you have a good idea now of how to go about creating parts for your mecha! These are just examples of how to approach the design process. It's always best to use resources and references to help you when you're designing parts for your mecha.
Think about what you have already at your disposal. Those old toy building blocks collecting dust in your closet make great reference material for your designs, or old toy cars, trucks and planes! Get creative, use every day items around the house in their basic forms to build onto your design. You'd be surprised at just how well stereo, or computer speakers look added to the right parts of a design.
GO ONLINE, the internet has a wealth of information to draw inspiration from to help you, just type in keywords revolving around the type of parts that you want to draw for your mecha. If you can't think of any words, try these to help you find what your looking for. (Nuts and bolts, Machines, machine parts, guns, weapons, gears, engines, steam engines, high technology, planes, tanks, cars, boats.)
I bet'cha never dreamed it could be THIS easy, huh! ON TO THE NEXT LESSON!
THE BIG D'OH! THE WOES OF DESIGNING BODY PARTS for your Mecha! (@0@):
They say two heads are better than one! I say the more the merrier! With that in mind, I'll get you better acquainted with the first of many headaches!
Mecha come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes depending on the function, so your head designs need to reflect the mecha's Look and Purpose. Is it a war-machine? If so, then maybe you don't need a humanoid-like face on it, or even a face at all! Let's say you do though, just for the heck of it! Well then it would be better to have it look a bit menacing in the face. A Construction/Labor-type wouldn't necessarily need a face either, because it would most-likely be working away from large groups of people. A Servant-type on the other hand, usually WOULD have a face with certain human-like features on it, to make the humans it interacts with more comfortable talking to it. There'd be nothing more creepier than conversing with something without a face! So keep those points in mind when creating heads for your mecha!
How can something seemingly so simple give people such headaches! Not knowing what type of eyes should go on your mecha can be a pain sometimes, but it can go over a little smoother if you follow these guidelines!
1. Public Service, or Human-type should have human shaped, or visually friendly looking eye shapes!
2. War/Battle-types can have a number of eye shapes depending on the face of the mecha. When drawning eyes, I like to give them a nice slant to give the impression that my mecha are looking for a fight! Eye shields are some of my favorite types too, because they tend to give my battle-type mechas a more cold-calculating personality than if I were to give them simple shaped eyes, but it's up to you which you choose here!
3. For Construction/Labor-type mechas I find it better to give them between 0-1 eye, it makes them look less people friendly and more labor-minded... If that makes sense! Again, since they're work-horses for the places they reside in, they most likely won't come in contact with too many people, so they're better off with as expressionless a face as possible! Unless your character calls for it!
Here's a few chest exercises they don't teach you in the GYM! When tackling chests keep it simple at first until you get the hang of it! start your bases off like in these examples, then build from there! Try to keep a sort of "harmony" going between how you design it with the rest of the body. If your head has a lot of "roundness" to it, maybe you you'll want to incorporate that "roundness" into your design. Make it stand out in parts of the shoulders or breastplate areas!
ARMS AND HANDS:
All thumbs when it comes to drawing hands for your mecha? Well that ends today, for when I am done with you, you shall be the master of this domain! When drawing arms and hands for your mechas you should take cues from anatomy, based on how much you wish your mechas anatomy to resemble that of your reference. Here are a few examples of what I mean. Be sure to include "Joints" for where fingers, arms and wrists will bend!
LEGS AND FEET:
How do you like your LEGS, scrambled or sunny-side up? Whether you like Bipedal, or Reverse Joint leg styles, drawing these can give you nightmares, so I've put together a few basic forms you should consider trying! The Bipedal style is modeled after the average human shaped leg, so it's pretty straight forward on how to build them. The Reverse Joints on the other hand, are styled like a birds legs and give mechas extra spring in their step! When adding boosters to your legs, try to build them close to the hind joints, or muscle of your mecha's legs, that'll give you more room to add extra parts if needs be! With the bipedal style, just about any type of foot style will do, but extra care must be taken with the reverse joint's legs and feet. With this type you'll want to consider how much weight your mechas legs will be carrying and design them accordingly! "Widder Is Better" for Heavy mecha!
SIXTH FLOOR, BOOSTERS, WINGS AND OTHER MOBILITY ENHANCEMENTS:
Mobility enhancements can come in a wide variety of shapes and styles in the classes of LAND, SEA, and AIR! Here we'll test the limits of our imagination to see what we can come up with!
BOOSTERS/THRUSTERS/Wings: When you have a need for speed, nothing else will do! Alright let's start with boosters. Depending on your mechas speed requirements you can go with a small, medium, or large booster pack, So let's look at an example of how to build one from the ground up! I can't stress enough just how easy drawing mecha is once you understand the basics! Start by placing a few cubes where the shoulder blades of your mecha would be (You should ALWAYS start out this way!), this first step governs the direction the rest of your shapes will take, because each new shape you add will lead your mind to create a shape to coincide with last one created, so in a sense the mecha is practically building itself! Once you're done with your build, add some details, like grates, or vents, maybe a symbol or two and you're done!
Not an Air man, then maybe something a little closer to the ground would be easier to defeat! Wheels are, by far, the FUNNEST parts of a mecha to design for(Well that and Boosters)! You just have to choose a type and start piling on the shapes!
Do you hear the beckoning call of the sea? Then maybe this is the place to be! Propellers and fans are somewhat easy to design, depending on which type you'd like for your mecha. I believe I gave an example or two about how to draw fan propellers earlier on in this tutorial, however if you can't quite get the hang of it yet, here are a few more from the front to help you out!
BFG'S, A SIMPLE GUIDE TO DESIGNING MECHA WEAPONRY:
Designing weapons for your mecha can be a very daunting task, but it doesn't have to be! Just follow these simple steps and you'll be building devastating weapons for your mecha in no time!
Step 1. Gather a few references of weapons from every time period, from online.
Step 2. Take those references and break them down into their most basic shapes to give you a guide.
Step 3. Build on top of those shapes with shapes of your own to your hearts content!
Step 4. Finalize your weapons with some nice linework and details! Done, simple and clean!
SIZE RELATIONS, WHEN TOO BIG ISN'T BIG ENOUGH:
Real quick! How do you tell how big a mecha is after designing it? Well that depends entirely upon what's in its immediate vicinity and what that object actually is. What a mecha is standing next to in your image will dictate how tall or small your mecha is, but I'm sure most of you already realised that! Just thought I should bring it up, just in case!
Before jumping into designing your mecha, you should know what type of mecha it is you wish to draw. Is it gonna be a light-agile mecha with high mobility, a Heavy miltiary-type, carrying enough weapons to take out an entire city, or will it be a mid-grade armor type, that is a balance of both, BUT WAIT! Should it be ORGANIC, or more MACHINE-LIKE? Let's take a look at those examples in more detail!
LIGHT ARMOR-TYPE MECHA:
Let's start with the 1st armor type, the Light Armor-Type Mecha! "If your the type that doesn't feel very comfortable drawing a highly detailed mecha yet, maybe this is right up your alley!"
You'll want this one with a VERY simple skeletal structure for starters! We're going to put a basic frame on this mecha too, so all we'll need is a few basic shapes to bulk-it-up! When defining your mecha in the bulk-up and finalizing phases, keep your armor paneling small, just enough to define the shapes of its chest, shoulders, forearms, legs and thighs. Remember its suppose to be a LIGHT mecha, so keep it fairly simple! Now add the boosters/thrusters to its back and legs (you can place boosters/thrusters just about anywhere on its body, it's your mecha, but be sure to keep them at a reasonable size. Okay, now that we have a good base to work with, we can finish up by adding details to bring our little mecha to life!
Good job, now try this out for yourself! Add parts to this mecha's body the way I've taught you so far, using your own imagination and references! Don't worry if it doesn't come out looking perfect, it's just for practice! So how did ya do, feeling more confident, is it becoming easier to understand? If so, then great, move on to the next one! If not, don't feel bad, not everbody gets it on their first try, that's why it's practice! You'll get it with time and PRACTICE, just don't give up!
MEDIUM ARMOR-TYPE MECHA:
Alright, now we'll tackle the 2nd armor type, the Medium Armor-Type Mecha! "For those of you who like a little more meat on your mecha's bones, this one's for you!" The skeleton for this one isn't much different from the Light Mechas, however when it comes to bulking-it-up, you'll have to work a little harder than before, so put your thinking caps on! When defining a Medium Armor-type mecha you'll pretty much start with a Light mechas frame in the bulk-up process and add slightly bigger shapes on top of that until you have something roughly similar to this guy here! Your boosters/Thrusters can be a little bigger too depending on what abilities you want to emphasize on your mecha! Now that the base is done, it's time to finish up with our final line work! Add lines to anywhere that seems too bland or empty to further define your mecha!
It's that time again! Great job in keeping up so far, I commend your diligence, but now it's time to get YOUR hands dirty with another practice exercise! Using just your imagination, references and what I've taught you so far, turn this guy into a mighty mecha!! If you were able to get through this one fairly well then give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it! You are not too far away from designing really great mecha! Keep it Up!! Next up is The HEAVY ARMOR-TYPE MECHA!! You'll have to re-think your strategy a bit when handling this task!
HEAVY ARMOR-TYPE MECHA:
Last one on the list is the 3rd armor type, the Heavy Armor-Type Mecha! "Whoever said Bigger Is Better, wasn't kidding!" We'll have to start with a much Bigger and Wider skeleton for this guy, For his proportions to work mechanically. Many people have tried to turn a light, or medium framed mecha into a colossal Heavy Armored Mecha and Failed because of one thing... Their skeletal designs just wasn't BIG enough to support their idea properly, resulting in a mess of jumbled parts mushed together in small amounts of space! When designing Heavy Armor-Type Mecha you have to keep in mind that the size of your mecha will be much more than what is normal and design your skeleton accordingly, or else you'll find yourselves making the same mistakes others have made (Including Myself) over and over again! When in the bulk-up process of your design you'll want to use great big shapes to get things started and build upon that with medium, then smaller shapes, to further define your mecha! When you design the legs you'll have to be sure to make them big enough to support the weight of your mecha, based on what you plan on having it carry for weapons! A huge upper-body tapering down to two thin legs will make the design ludicrously proportioned! Once you are satisfied with the look of your mechas base form, it's time to flesh it out with a final sketch! Start adding in as many details as necessary to fill in most the empty space. Don't forget to use your references, your gonna need them for this guy! Make giant boosters/thrusters for your mecha, it would take a lot of thrust to move this colossus and it should be represented properly in your design!
Excellent work on getting this far, you're almost done! You know what time it is NOW right? Yep, it's time to do it yourself again! So it's time to pull out all of the stops, push your brains to their limits! Using nothing, but your own imagination and a few of your own references, make a Colossal Heavy Armor-Type Mecha! Wow, now I'm sure that one was PRETTY difficult that time, but you still did it! You made it through to the end, didn't you! You're now on your way to becoming a truly amazing MECHA Artists! Don't stop here though, there's still much more to learn out there! Continue to challenge yourselves, step out of your comfort zones every once in a while and try to design something really unique and exciting! Keep at it and some day soon we may see an Anime or Manga starring Mecha that you've created!! That's it for this tutorial! I hope this was a BIG help, GOOD LUCK to you all! KEEP PRACTICING!!