Little Robot Claymation Adventures


The name of this video is:

Walking-feet-from-behind-Camtasia-edits-slo-mo-added-v1.mp4 (it’s 48 mb)


A smaller version of this mp4 follows (its 15 mb)

I do not yet have the skills for a formal animation of the motions of the Little Robot. That will show up in the future (I hope).

I realized that the walking motion of the Little Robot could be sort of “digitized”. If one considers the action of just walking along in a straight line, doing nothing else but walking then what would be needed to describe this?

Well, let’s plant the right foot, and put the robot’s weight on that foot. This would allow the left foot to be lifted up and swung forward. Then the left foot could be planted and the weight of the robot transferred to the left foot. This would free up the right foot to be lifted up and swung forward to be planted in a new location.

When the right foot is planted like this, and the weight of the robot is transferred off of the left foot and back onto the right foot, at this point the robot has completed a “cycle”, because (from a stance viewpoint) the robot is exactly back to where it was at the start, except it has moved forward by a total of one swing of the left leg and one swing of the right leg.

I took these steps (one left leg swing, one right leg swing) and divided them into 11 separate incremental sub-steps for each leg swing. This generates a total of 22 separate sub-motions that describe moving the robot through one repetition of a walking sequence.

And if one wanted to demonstrate (for example) 5 sets of this sequence, then there would be (5 sets) times (22 sub-motions per set) = a 3D drawing with 110 individual “poses” or “stances” of the robot in the drawing.

Of course, you wanna’ see a mess….. well, put 110 individual robot pictures into a single picture…


from-view-for-2D-exports-closeup-feet-from-back-v124.jpg (rendered by Sketchup 2016)
from-view-for-2D-exports-closeup-feet-from-back-v124.jpg (rendered by Sketchup 2016)
from-view-for-2D-exports-closeup-feet-from-back-v124.13.jpg (rendered by KeyShot v6)
from-view-for-2D-exports-closeup-feet-from-back-v124.13.jpg (rendered by KeyShot v6)

But, Sketchup allows layers and where is the rule that one cannot have 110 layers in a drawing?  And if you look at the renderings above, you can see what happens if only certain layers are allowed to be visible. By the way, did anyone notice that we got the same rendering from KeyShot v6? That’s such cool news (at least to me) it means that KeyShot is now recognizing Sketchup layering conventions…..YAY ! I can do Claymation of the robot with KeyShot renderings… more to do later.

The net result is that one can set only one layer as visible, then export a 2D jpg of that situation. Then one makes that layer not visible and makes the next pose or stance visible and (this is essential here) DOES NOT CHANGE THE CAMERA ANGLE OR SETTING. So, export the next 2D image, and cycle again. Off we go…HiHoHiHo

There are good video editing programs where one can sequentially load in these 2D exports one by one into a timeline, where the sequence is properly maintained.

To get more detail, I called the stance that starts all this to be Stance 03, so Stances 03-11 get the left leg and foot moved forward by one swing of the left leg. Stances 12-22 get the right leg moved forward by one swing. I set a listing of A as the first go-round of this walking sequence. Thus Stances 03A-11A gets the left leg moved forward. So to get 5 cycles of this walking, then we go to listings of A-B-C-D-E.

The whole set of pictures to be exported then goes:

A03, A04,A05, A06…etc up to A22, then we would export B03, B04, B05….etc up to B22. And to get to 5 cycles of this we would finally see E03, E04, etc.

Remember, what would the layers be?

Layer A03, Layer A04, ….etc to Layer A22, then

Layer B03….. to B22, all the way up to Layer E22.

When we export the A03 2D picture, we make all layers not visible except we make the A03 layer visible.


And, for those of you who follow this pistonrobot adventure, you will know that I prefer to get really way up close and into the tiny tiny details of everything, and to “look” at this from all the angles I can think of.

The problem with this Claymation or Stop-motion style of generating videos, is that there’s 110 individual exports needed for each view that one wants to turn into a video. (At least in the manner that I chose to do this) Each 2D export includes 1) make invisible the current layer, 2) make visible the next layer in the sequence, 3) create the export, give the exported image a name and a location, 4) go back to 1) above. Then, after all 110 exported images are in place, open the video editing program, and import all these images in the proper sequence and request the video editing program to “stitch together” all these images into a reasonable looking video. Then render it.

The feet and ankles are intriguing to me, so I started there. I am working the Claymation for a view from the side to show more of the leg-hip-knee action. I’ll get it uploaded when I can.

If anyone wants to try this, I will add the  Sketchup file with the stances and layers. But, I will caution everyone, I do suggest that you download (at least the free version of Sketchup) and do some “looking around” in this drawing a little bit because it is exceptionally easy with all these Stances, and Labels, and Layers to totally mix yourself up. Have Fun !

The Sketchup drawing file is below:

view for 2D exports closeup feet from back v124 view 01