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LEGO® Art Machines

Projects
LEGO® Art Machines
LEGO® Art Machines
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Build a robot that draws as it moves.

This project takes a classic tinkering activity — Scribbling Machines — and gives it a LEGO twist! Art Machines are moving drawing contraptions powered by a LEGO motor. Add markers to LEGO technic pieces to create surprising and delightful art machines that draw patterns as they move.

 


 

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Materials

We think of these materials as suggestions and inspirations for learners to take their ideas further, so please remix, iterate, and complexify them in your own way. 

☐ Motor: LEGO M-Motor with rechargeable battery block. 

☐ Markers: Or any drawing tool.

☐ Pen holder: Experiment with pipe cleaners, binder clips, and rubber bands, or 3D print your own LEGO pen holder (learn more below).

☐ LEGO Technic Parts: LEGO pieces offer lots of possibilities for investigating motions, mechanisms, and linkages. 

☐ Paper: Use paper to create a big surface for jumping, flipping, and spiraling machines.  

 

Art Machines Kits

To take the prototyping process further and expand the group of people testing out this activity, we assembled kits as activity starting points and distributed them to a wide group of collaborators. 
Download Kit Materials List
Order from Brick Owl 

 


 

Get Started

Once you've gathered materials, watch this video for an overview of how to build your own art machine. This project is an opportunity to explore linkages, pattern-making, iteration, and how small changes can have a big impact on its motion.

 

 
Make a Pen Holder

How will your art machine hold a marker? Use materials like masking tape, zip-ties, and rubber bands, or even try hot gluing a technic beam to a clothespin. Be experimental as you combine outside materials with LEGO.

We also designed a pen holder that's LEGO-compatible. You can 3D print ours using this STL file, or design your own. More about our process and how to print your own →

 

 

 

Build a Base Model 

We’ve found that it’s helpful to have the motor and battery pack connected together in a single unit. We developed a series of “base model” ideas to help get learners started with a few examples of different types of motion before attaching markers. Each of these base models can serve as a starting point for remixing, iterating, and complexifying as learners follow their own paths. 

These 3 sample base models feature off-set weight (top left), linkages (top right), and propulsion (bottom left). See how they move in the video below (bottom right). 

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Take It Further

There many directions to go in when building Art Machines. Look at this video and notice the differences between them. What motions and mechanisms do you see? What do you wonder about each machine?

Use these examples and the following prompts as starting points for your Art Machines investigation.

 

 

 

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Invent new pen holders. 
Test out binder clips, clothespins, 
tape, and other materials. 
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Use a hula hoop to limit movement.
Create a pen to constrain the range of movement of your machine. 
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Try different drawing materials. 
Test out markers, crayons, and other art supplies. 

 

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Create patterns that aren't circular. 
Can you make your art machine
draw in an irregular path?
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Add some personality! 
Give your machine more character
by adding eyes and other features. 
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Make a gallery to compare patterns. 
Showcase the variety of different ​marks that art machines produce.

 


 

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