Mecha! Are there any mecha and anime fans out there? Critiques please.

  • Hi,

    After watching Jake's Power Drawing Class I am stoked to do some art! 😃

    I am into Concept Art and Mecha Design, so I thought I would post some of my designs on the forums for critiquing. I am thinking of making this a weekly thing and post a new mech design at least once per every week(or maybe two weekends depending on my schedule), depending upon how the feedback goes.

    My first design is for a Search and Rescue Robot. It has a slightly asymmetrical design on each arm for more versatile abilities and functions. One with a laser camera kind of thing on one arm and the other arm with something like double spot lights on the shoulders. It's hands are also each a different design, one more similar to a human hand the other bigger and bulkier like more like a claw.

    I started coloring it in Photoshop, but I was not sure about how to take this piece to the next step, but after watching the live stream of Jake's Power Drawing Day I see how the legs needed some work with the perspective. Its left (our right) leg seems kind of wonky, so I went back to the line art and did a draw over on it. I have included the original and my revised draw over so you can see the before and after.

    The cockpit and pilot needs some love, but I am not sure how to show the shine and transparency on the glass, as well as the pilot looks a bit stiff and jammed into the cockpit. I need some help here.

    Any critiques and comments are welcome.
    Please and thanks!

    alt text


  • @alexsen

    Hi Alex. Cool job. Congrats on taking on something so complex. Here are my thoughts on how to improve this piece.

    1. Pose- Version #1 and version #2 say different things about the way this mecha is standing. #1 looks like it's right leg (our left) is stepping forward and the other leg is back a bit, yet both feet look firmly planted on the ground. #2 looks like both feet are on equal footing.

      In both versions, it's left leg(our right) is pointing toward us and is out of alignment with the rest of the body and the other leg. This give the impression that it's weight is being placed on it's right leg (our left).

      I'd encourage you to stand up and try to replicate the stance you are trying to achieve with this mech. Try to place your feet and knees to the angle of your mech. It may help you resolve the pose to feel more natural.

    2. I think the angles of the text on the mech could be better angled to represent the forms of the suit.

    3. The highlights on the glass are really dependent on a lot of variables: the angle, shape, transparency, tint, thickness, and texture of the glass as well as the lighting situation behind the glass and the environment outside of the glass. It also depends on your personal style. But one simple way to do highlights on glass is to draw a large shape on the glass in a light color, lower the opacity, further erase some opacity in key spots, and then add a stronger point highlight over top.


      This is only one technique. I'd recommend learning about reflective and transparent surfaces and doing
      studies to find your own shorthand technique and be able to play with more high light styles.

    4. I think you need more contrast on the piece as a whole. A good way to do this would be through lighting. Emphasize one or more of the 3 shadows types- form shadows, cast shadows, and occlusion shadows. You can do this through linework or color work, or both. Take a look at a variety of Jake Parker's work, or other's mech work and you can see varying ways they've expressed shadows. Sometimes they play up form shadows, sometimes it's mostly occlusion, sometimes they really play with cast shadows. Sometimes it's a combo of 2 or 3. Whatever the method, it really helps the piece feel more tangible. Right now you have some general shading that is very light and does not quite define the forms very well and if I zoom out on the piece, it's not as readable as it could be.

    Hope my input helps! You have a really good start. I always admire people who take on mechanical subjects with a lot of structure.

  • Awesome design! I really like the paneling. I just joined the forums, and later on, I will leave a more detailed comment, I am a very big mecha fan and I am curious, what's the story behind this particular suit?

    Edit: Never mind! you had very thorough description, I only looked at the title and image since I had to answer in a hurry, my bad!

  • Ok, now onto an actual critique, most of my comments are mainly about the mechanical and practical design of it. For the most part, it has many interesting shapes, but I see some flaws in functionality. For example, your torches are attached to the shoulder of the mech, which seems to be a very mobile joint, specially during work. The point of having torches in vehicles is to provide uniform lighting on the front, which is where the driver/pilot will focus his attention, and is where the road/enviroment to be traversed is, so if they are on the shoulder, during travel they might be fine, but while interacting with the environment, they wont provide uniform lighting, thus the pilot won't be able to see what he is doing. You might want to have a way of lighting in odd angles/not the front, so as a secondary set of light they are fine for that purpose, but as a main source of light during rescue operations it might prove problematic.

    Second, the mobility on your legs seems very limited at the hip/torso joints and also on its ball and socket joint that connects the upper and lower legs, the second degree of movement. Mobility during flexion, which in this case pertains to a reverse joint, is very great, something like 120+ degrees or more to the front, but in extension it seems to be barely over 0 degrees. If this was a regular "front knee" design that is not a problem, but since this is a reverse joint, it severely limits mobility. I can't "see" the back of the legs so your design might have a back socket/canal/space that permits better movement than what I describe or it has another compensating mechanism, but as is, in this view, it visually communicates stiffness in a vehicle wich, judging from tis function, should be very mobile and nimble. I think you tried to do a reverse joint, as in avian legs combined with a more hominid like proportions, and it can work, but you need to keep these movement considerations in mind.

    My suggestions to these problems if you decide the critique is accurate or helpful, are to put the toches, or an additional set of torches, on the sides fo the cockpit or over it to provide uniform lighting, and to offset your knee joint int the legs, turning more into a hinge with ball joint to preserve abduction and adduction which is why i suspect you used a ball and socket joint there. I can draw to you my suggestions if you'd like too!

    Hope this helps mate. 🙂

  • @cesarandradeart

    Hi, thanks for the critiques! CesarAndradeArt, those are good points you made. I saw what you mean, so went back to the rough line art and I did a redraw of the legs and also added lights on top and in front of the mech. Hopefully it make more sense now. TessaW, thanks for your input, it was hard finding the right info on light reflections, like you said, there are many ways you can do reflections. Usually the reflection is of the light source and environment around the subject. Sounds obvious, but it didn't occur to me when I was designing something from out of my head. Now I have to figure out what kind of environment is around it that can be reflected.

    Here is an update of the line art I have been working on. It's been ghosted out so I can redraw on top of it. I plan to clean up the line work once I figure out the inner mechanics and hammer out the overall structure. Thanks again for the input! 😃


  • I did another mech with legs that had a similar Chicken Leg design to the one on the original post, but this time I kept the design simple and tried to focus on putting such legs in perspective. I am still working on the other piece, but just trying a different approach to figuring out how the legs work and the mechanics behind them. 😛 Comments and crits are welcome!

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    I have been doing some sketching trying to figure out the leg mechanics of the SAR Mecha. I am not sure if I am making progress or just fudging it - I might be exaggerating the proportions of the parts I am drawing when in different positions. Also it might be right in my head, but it might not be able to bend that way in real life.... I haven't done much technical drawing, or at least not enough to get satisfactory results from it. So, I am not sure how I can figure out how the legs would work or function properly IRL. Is there is a better way of how I could improve my understanding of the movement of the leg mechanics?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • I finally got the revisions done on this piece. I re-colored it and added some more darks, as suggested by TessaW, but I am not sure if the lighting is working yet. I am having trouble figuring out how the light works as some of the sources of the light comes from the mech. Otherwise, I am not sure what else I can do to improve it...

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  • I like your design @alexsen , and I like you and @CesarAndradeArt are working the technical details of functionality good points. What @TessaW said about the reflection on the glass is important for getting that believable quality, and taking your work to the next level. That advice about the reflection will also apply to the entire mech you need to make decisions about the materials and lighting condition. look up these term, 'ambient occlusion', specular highlight',The design is cool and good thought is apparent in the proportions, but the rendering is not complete.

  • Neat design! Reminds me a little of the Destroids from Robotech.

    As for getting the lighting right, I'd suggest not worrying about the light from the mech itself until you've got the primary lighting done. (key lighting? I dunno, but I mean shade it and light it as if there's no extra light coming from the mech unless there's, of course, NO light other than those lights. Anyhoo!)

    Pick a primary light source direction. Identify the basic shapes that make up the mech. Place shadows and highlights. Once that's all done you can fiddle around with bounce light and light from the running lights on the mech.

    Is the exterior of the mech reflective, or dull?

    It's coming along nicely. I think once you figure out the lighting it'll look really cool!


    I may do a draw over later on if that's okay.

  • @art-of-b

    I haven't actually thought of surface texture, but thanks, good to know. I haven't seen a rescue chopper or vehicle in real life, but I imagine they would be shiny. Yeah, go ahead, have at it!~ A draw over would be awesome. 😃

  • Such an amazing design Cesar! Mecha enthusiast here.

    For the critique:

    I would make the line work thinner and add some texture to the armor (Brushed metal)

    If you want to add reflection on PS do the following. Draw some white shapes on top of the glass cabin and set them to soft light mode. Then make the edges softer with the eraser.

    Last but not least get a soft brush (White) and decide where your reflection will go.

    You've inspired me to work harder on my mecha designs!

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