Replacement Hip

These past two week have been the start of my stricter working schedule, and it has been working well so far.  I gave myself the task of making a more final version of the hip joint, working on a single piece each day.  This joint was designed and redesigned several times, and I could never find a version that really satisfied me.  As I’ve said before in this blog, hips are possibly the single most difficult joint to get right.  Initially, I may have had a joint that looked great standing and moving forward and back, but moving sideways was incredibly awkward.  It took a lot of trial and error to find a solution that looked right from every angle and bend.


The solution I’ve arrived at is a spherical joint making up the hip/top of the butt, with the surrounding leg rotating revolving around the sphere.  The hip area has a ring the sphere sits in that rotates freely in the socket, covering any gaps that might otherwise appear from the joint.  The joint itself has gone through so many design changes I’ve lost count at this point.  I had been using a more common sphere joint, but since they would be sitting so close together within the hip section, there was no room to securely attach any pins coming out from the joint, or I would have had to point the pins upward, which would make moving and posing an awkward task.HipDesign2  Instead, I opted to find a way to put a pin from the pelvis into the joint.  It took a fair amount of engineering, since the joint has to rotate around this pin on two axis without getting in the way.  What I’ve arrived at is a central disk that sits snugly on the pin and rotates on one axis, and then two outer sections that make up the rest of the sphere rotating on the other axis around this disk.  This design seems a little overly-complicated to me, but as far as I can see, it was the only way to get the look I wanted with any degree of structural integrity.

I’m currently fixing the knee to a print-ready form.  As soon as that’s done, I’ll be prototyping a full leg, from hips to ankles.

Updated Concept


I have some new concept art to follow for this piece.  The longer this project goes on, the more outdated the original pieces feel.  The design is largely the same, with some changes primarily to the legs and helmet.  The original had these large plates on the front of the thighs that were getting in the way of the rest of the leg with articulation and holster functions.  At first I liked the way they looked from the side, but the more I stared at them, the more they felt like a weak point in the design.

The same sentiments apply to the helmet.  I still liked the original design, but the shapes just needed to be pushed a little more, mostly around the eyes.  When building this in 3D, the shape of the eyes wasn’t making a lot of sense.  Once again, the more I redraw the helmet, the more the design gets pushed towards something I’m really liking.

Finally, the first design also had these coattail elements around the back.  I lost them in the drawing for the sake of seeing the rest of the design better.  I’m on the fence about putting them again.  I like the design both ways.  I’ll probably give it a few weeks and see how I feel about it.


With the hip complete and a few updates to the earlier geared knee design, the leg is nearing completion.  I’m still testing a few designs for the knee pad.  My initial idea was to have a two-piece knee pad that slides when the knee bends.  That is still very much a possibility, I’m just trying to find a way to do it with the fewest moving parts.

In the next week or so I plan to start prototyping the leg and hip area.  As I move on to the rest of the body and finish designing the structures there, I’ll prototype those parts to fit with current prototypes, eventually building out a full prototype body.  Something like this really helps to see not only what the final product will look like, but also how all the articulation works together and the range of poses it will be capable of.  Seeing it on the computer is great, but a physical product is always better for me.

For my tasks in the next week or two, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on the knee and moving onto a prototype ready design for the shoulder/upper torso area.  The current version works well already, so the main design challenges are to make it more compact and clean it up a little.  Once that’s finished and printed, I will have a mostly complete prototype body.



Back from Hiatus

I’m finally coming back to this project after what turned out to be an extended hiatus.  I ended up stepping away after burning out for a bit, and tried a few other projects.  Luckily, some of those projects were other quick figures which provided some better direction for this figure.

BladeDesignMost recently, I spent some time prototyping the arm blade.  This is probably the single most redesigned piece of the entire figure.  I posted some concept art a while back thinking I had a design I liked, but just days after it went up, I had my doubts about it.  I went all the way back to the idea stage.  I realized I was being way too safe with my design, and was worried anything really cool would be difficult to make.  But, if it’s worth doing, might as well do it right or not at all.  What I do have still isn’t finished, but it’s heading in the right direction.  I’m picturing something where the whole forearm spreads out into this big, intimidating blade display.  It’s difficult to get everything packed into such a small form, but I’m getting there.  I know how most of it needs to work.  Really the issue now is trying to reduce the number of moving parts and create the most efficient mechanism I can.

Design Updates

The rest of the design has been changing slightly.  Every time I draw Orchid Mantis in my sketchbook, I tweak the suit in one direction or another.  And I like it a little more each time.  There haven’t been any major changes or anything, but I’d say enough to warrant some new concept art to follow.  Most of it is better shape designs on the armor pieces.


Recent sketch with newer (better?) shapes and armor pieces.

Some Reflection

After burning out on this project for so long, I felt the need to examine why it took me so long to pick it back up again.  I think for entirely too long, I’ve been relying on motivation alone to get me through this project.  I had been lucky enough to be motivated about finishing this for months, which is a rare feat for me.  I typically burn out on a project after a week or two and want to move on to something else, so I thought I had this one locked down.  It may have taken longer than normal, but the burnout was inevitable.  I wanted to try a few other things to get the creative juices flowing again, and so I did, and naturally got wrapped up in those things.

I think the issue is that the majority of the creative work on this project is done.  Now comes the tedious part where I just have to sit down and make it.  That can burn someone like me out fast, especially when you try to force yourself to spend a whole day doing as much as you can.  So I’m trying a new schedule.  Two hours a day, then do something else creative.  Every day.  Each day I open the file, I give myself one task, rather than trying to do a little bit of everything and end up doing nothing.  This week I’m finishing the hip joint, one piece at a time.  Next week, probably the rest of the leg.  Slow and steady.  Motivation started this project, but discipline is what will finish it.