Humanoid robot




Hi, it's Nadia!

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a humanoid robot.

I'll draw in a 2 points perspective. If you don't know about perspective, please read this first, it's basic of perspective ^^


First it is necessary to think how the robot will move.

Human body has 6 types of synovial joint, but for drawing a robot it's just 3 that are necessary and they are:


1. Hinge joint, for elbow and knee (and depending on the design, it might be fine for the wrist and ankle as well ^^)


2. Pivot joint for head (wrist and ankle)


3. Ball and socket joint for shoulder and hip joint (yes, here as well wrist and ankle ^^)


(Of course if you prefer you can add the others joint: saddle, plane and condyloid. I've just written those three because for me it's easier ^^)

This is a really general way on how to design a mechanical joint:

As you can see, they seems really simple. It's just for know how they can move. When you have it in your mind, and you can imagine it like in 3D, try to draw it in different poses, it will be easier to draw a robot later ^^

1. Hinge, it's like a normal hinge, that you just need to add details and different shapes to create it

2. Pivot, it's a simple cylinder that can rotate completely. I've drawn it like in the example or if it is made with 2 parts or with only a cylinder in a cylinder (the most used ^^)

3. Ball and socket, it's just a ball with attached a cylinder or other for add arms or legs!


Usually for elbow and knee, it's used hinge and pivot combined so they can bend and rotate.

But it can be used the "ball and socket" for all the joints, it's up to you and what you prefer!

With using more hinge it can bend differently (so it's actually not needed the pivot joint for elbow if you prefer ^^)


Since they are humanoid based, this robot has this shape as base:


But it's not necessary to have this same shapes for everything! Change shapes as you prefer, you have unlimited possibilities!

Try to create different shapes before design your robot, it gives you a lot of ideas!

Drawing robots is easier than drawing human, because you can exaggerated on shapes and it's always nice! ^^

For example, you have different combinations for arms and legs.

You can think of the arms in 4 shapes:

Shoulder, arm, forearm, hand

Leg as well:

Hip, leg, calf, foot

Here is an example of an arm (or leg as well):

1. Shoulder

2. Arm

3. Forearm

4. Hand foot


But you can think of this example also as leg parts:


1. Hip

2. Leg

3. Calf

4. Foot


As you can see this are just few example, and think about that you can change the size as you wish, so there are endless combinations ^^

But it's not just this! When you've found the combination you like, you can choose the way that every part is made! If it is a cylinder shape, or parallelepipeds or more parts connected that are in different shapes etc:

And then, when you've decided this, you just add details ^^


For adding details I first think about when and where the robot is set.

If it is set in a fantasy medieval time or steampunk or modern or sci-fi etc. If you think this first, you can search for references of that period, so you can use those material and object to create the robot!


This is an example of the same arm but with different details:

1. Steampunk

2. Vintage

3. Sci-fi

As you can see, I've done few parts more detailed, and the other parts simple. This is beacause of the 70-30 rule.

This is a rule that helps in character design. It means that in all your design, the 30% is detailed, while the 70% is simple.

With this method, the focus of the image will be on the 30% detailed and also the viewer can "rest" their eyes on the simple part ^^

It also can be used for colors, using one color in most part and then few parts with other colors!

For the head is the same. You don't have to do just a head with 2 eyes, 1 nose, 1 mouth. Make different shapes and details, draw just 2 eyes without nose and mouth, or one eye, or more eyes!

Don't make just a round face. Create it, round, oval, flat, squared, triangular, hexagonal, squashed, streched, with more parts! Examples:

Robot design

I usually use this method:

  • First sketch

  • Sketch

  • Ink

  • Color


I don't think of them as an assemlbe of metal piece at first. So it's not mechanical the first sketch, I just scribble down some shapes, to find the mood and the pose. It's not really clear right now, but I'm drawing in a 2 points perspective view:


(For creating a more detailed robot, you can think about if it was created for a job, like cook or inventor or postman, etc... They will have more details that will help them during their routine ^^)


This is the speed drawing, (10 faster than real time) but you can see I don't stop on details here:

This is the realtime drawing, it takes me 30 to 40 seconds to draw one. I try to stay loose, so it gives to the robot an organic look. This is best for sci-fi design, but as I said before, I use these just as base, so I can make them steampunk if I want to! ^^

When I've found a sketch that I like, I copy it in a new layer and I create a new layer for another sketch for adding details.

I did two sketch, because I wanted to show that in the first is what happen if I follow the base:

And this is the sketch that I do if I change shapes meanwhile I do the line:


I change the layer color of the sketch so it become blue and I can see it better.

I create another layer for the ink:


I first do the flat colors, and I create a folder on which I add a mask.

In this way I don't have to erase all the time if I go out of the line ^^

Now I create a flat grey base and on top of this a new layer set in "Normal"

In this layer I add black shadows, and it's ok if they seems dark, because later I'll use "overlay" mode so they will seems nice with colors! ^^


When you add shadows, keep in mind the shapesand material you are coloring. If you want to do a metal surface, it will be different from a plastic one! As I did on the forearm that is more opaque than legs and other parts so it has not all that reflected shadows:

I hide the flat grey layer and I set the shadows layer on "Overlay"

I've duplicated it (because it seemed to me that the shadows were too light) and lower the opacity to 40%

Now I add color effects:

  • I've created an "overlay" layer and with the gradient tool (sometimes I use a soft brush as well ^^ ) I've added a bit of orange light on top left. I then lowered the opacity of the layer to 24%


  • I've created a new layer in "multiply" and then added a big soft blue shadow on legs. I then lowered the opacity to 54%, to make it light


  • I've created another "overlay" layer and with orange and blue, I've added other light with a soft brush. I've lowered to opacity layer to 25%

I've created a new layer in "Normal" and with a pencil brush I've added rim lights.

Rim light is really helpful to make pop the robot because it define it's outline:

And lastly, I've created a "soft light" layer to add those light green reflected light:

And this is finished! ^^


Thank you for reading this far! I hope it was useful ^^



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