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.
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.
☐ 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
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? You can 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 spent a lot of time designing and testing a pen holder that's LEGO-compatible. You can 3D print ours using this STL file, or design your own.
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).
Take It Further
There are possible directions to go when building an Art Machine. Take a look at this video and take note of the differences between them.
What motions and mechanisms do you notice? What do you wonder about each machine?
Use these examples as inspiration and the following prompts as starting points for your Art Machine investigation.