This weeks Lines Of Work theme was to redesign Robocop, inspired by the so-far unimpressive looking redesign photographed by paps at the shooting of the new Robocop reboot movie. This proved harder than I imagined at first, as it was difficult to modernise Robo without straying too far from his original, iconic design. My thoughts on the reboot design that there was not enough silver (in fact there was none) and while I reduced quite a lot of it in my own, it’s still there, and it really helps identify who he is I think.
There’s a lot in this design I DIDN’T include, as it was just taking far too long, and I have other things to work on – it’s strange though, once my brain got going on it I couldn’t seem to stop! Some parts were harder to get right than others – the shoulder pads for example, still don’t sit quite right to my eye. The wheels were hard too, but I’m pleased with how they came out – lots of mechanical men (and women) in the sci-fi world have little wheels that pop out of their feet (Iron-Man had them at one point) but rather than give him roller blades I wanted his legs to transform into ACTUAL wheels – I think they work quite well – they certainly make him look more nimble.
Anyway, as I said, I could go into way more depth on the design, so I’ll feature a little ‘Interview with the designer’ – which is of course, me – to fill in any gaps…
Thoughts from the designer, Dr Chris Saunders
The challenge with the new Robocop model was to create that balance between performance and personality, function and friendliness – the approachability of an automaton. The reason the original Robocop design was more popular as an law enforcement device, as opposed to the ED-209 for example, was not only that it was better designed (in my opinion) but also because of it’s human element – people could relate to it on a very basic level, it’s one patch of human skin showing on it’s jaw bridging that gap between cold hard steel and comforting human flesh. People trusted it, people got behind it – after some time it was even accepted into the Detroit Police force as an equal (although of course, it was far superior) and it was this likability factor I was encouraged to develop (after all, who wants to buy a product nobody likes?).
My first move was to create a more accessible face for the Robocop 2.1 design – his helmet now swings up to reveal a handsome face with minimal cybernetic enhancements to the actual face itself, and even a crop of hair on the front, top-half of his head (polls revealed that most people found the originals bald, stretched skin creepy) – this makes Robocop instantly more approachable and less menacing should say, someone simply want to ask for directions, or a sweet of granny wanting to report the theft of her handbag, or even a comforting look/reassuring smile for the crying rape victim (of course, if they were wearing my OCP funded, patent pending Chastity Belt 3000 it wouldn’t be an issue). he problem with having flesh on show however is that it’s vulnerable to explosives. fire and stray bullets, so the design features a series of retractible face plates for protection. The head also features a blue stripe and gold DPD shield as a nod to it’s fellow human police officers – it’s the little touches.
Another thing we did to keep this element of human interaction/acceptance was to include more of the original host’s personality in the Robocop 2.1’s system memory – this is made up of carefully selected memories, and desires/motivations revealed through the subjects initial psychiatric evalution, all vetted and approved my OCP – so that he is now able to laugh, so disgust, make jokes. In fact, more of his original digestive system was left in tact, so that he is now able to eat actual solids (again, polls indicated that the public feel police officers should be seen to eat doughnuts/hot-dogs – it’s just an image thing) and even ‘share a brew with the boys’ after a hard days patrol. Of course, alcohol and other solids are not processed in the same way as in human, and aside from a few essential vitamins and nutrients are broken in liquid waste, and passed through a new disposal unit located at the groin, developed by my associate Dr Win Ang. It was discovered that doing basic human things such as eating, drinking and going to the toilet not only help it to be accepted by it’s human co-workers, it also helps the mentality of the host itself – the process to cybernetic enhancement can be quite stressful on the brain, it’s amazing how much comfort it can take in the simple pleasures.
The Robocop 2.1 is modular in design, and many parts of it can be easily switched out and replaced if they are damaged, or if a larger, heavier weapon is needed – for example, at the moment we have a replacement left-arm unit that features a collapsable tri-pod and locking unit that houses a massive 50 caliber machine gun, with an ammunition pack that fits on the back of the Robocop 2.1 unit itself (not available in the standard pack). My proudest feature of the design are the wheels that can be activated for Pursuit Mode, but again they can be switched out into something that maybe more suitable (we are currently working on an aquatic prototype for the military know at the moment as ‘Roboseal’, but a similar device will probably be made available for the Robocop series). It also features OCP’s multi-purpose grenades, which can work as the standard grenade by holding the red button down on the top, and activating a 5 second timer that with explode when it is thrown/released. By clicking this button multiple time before it is held down, you can extend the timer by 5 second with each click. The explosive core at the bottom of the design can be removed, leaving a stun grenade that can be adapted into a smoke grenade by pulling back the timer section and allowing the phosphorus gas to escape before detonation. The explosive core meanwhile has a magnetic strip on the back, allowing it to be attached to another grenade for double the power, or for the entire grenade to become a mine, that can only be detonated by the Robocop 2.1 unit at a time of his choosing, at a distance up to 5 miles away!
The new Robocop is a human-friendly device able to patrol tirelessly, and cover almost any emergency a precinct might encounter. It’s amour and weapons make ideal for riot control, but it’s added ultraviolet enhancements enable it to investigate forensic police work too. It is tough, and our team are ready to repair any damages that might occur, and at the end of the day, unlike human police officers, it is expendable – why send a guy with a wife and two kids in to diffuse a bomb, when you can send the Robocop 2.1?
Dr Chris Saunders, PHD
Chief Scientist at OCP Robotics and Cybernetics division, OCP Headquarters, Detroit
And now a word from our sponser….
The Robocop 2.1 unit is available for pre-order now from OCP.com at only $1,499,999! That’s cheaper than a Race car! With it you get the Robocop unit, recharging station and a team of experts into your station to maintain the unit/repair any damages. If you order now, you can get 20% off our Flightpack extra (usually a further $500,000).
Alternatively, if you’re after something larger, with more powerful weapons as standard, why not check out the new QUADROPED-209 at the OCP online store now!
OCP – Building a better Future for Everyone*
*this does not include the destitute, the mentally unstable or the uncultured.
Here’s my entry for the D&AD Illustration brief – a front cover design for Little White Lies magazine. the brief was to create an illustration in the same style of most that adorn the front cover of the magazine, that of a portrait depicting the main character, with hand-written type stating the name of the film itself – there were several films to choose from; I picked the JJ Abrams film ‘Super 8’.
Why Super 8?
I’ve watched Super 8 recently and I thought it was a excellent film – it features a simple if slightly over-used concept, and the genre of sci-fi/horror is not exactly new, but that fits in perfectly with it’s 70’s setting and small american town folksiness. Brilliantly acted by it’s young cast and given the extra sheen (and lens flares) that has made JJ Abrams a popular name, the film reminds me of E.T, and other alien-orientated adventures of my childhood days, such as Flight Of The Navigator and it’s this sense of nostalgia I get when I watch it that makes the film so endearing.
About the Design
I feel portraiture is a strength of mine, but finding a theme-appropriate setting for this portrait was at first, somewhat problematic – I drew several different versions of this same head (that of main star Joel Courtney) each with a different style, and while they were all good in different ways, I could not find a way to link them to the film (other than the fact that it features the main character of course) – most of the screen shots I found on Google just had him looking terrified, so I wanted to try a different approach. Eventually I had the idea of building his face from the tiny alien cubes that make up the alien’s spaceship in the movie – and I think it works really well. I was worried at one point that he was starting to resemble ‘Pinhead’ from the Hellraiser film franchise, but I think by softening the lines I’ve avoided that. He looks quite sad, but then the character goes through quite a lot of emotional turmoil during the length of the film, so I think a slightly forlorn expression is more than reasonable given the circumstances! Putting the text in a Super 8 film strip seemed like a no-brainer to me, and perhaps it IS a little obvious, but I’m hoping no-one else will have thought filling the entire background with the same strips – if only because drawing them took the longest out of everything!
I’m really pleased with the finished design. What the white/grey head loses in depth that some of my other versions had, it gains in a sense of innocence, and spooky, other-worldly light. As already mentioned, I’m chuffed with the background – the time it took to draw paid off, and although I tried several colours, this dark purple/red/brown shade really makes a good contrast to the soft light of the head. The type lacks a little of my usual flare, but makes up for it in impact, and even looks kind of old-school too. Overall it was worth the time, hard-work and money I put into it, and even if I don’t win, I would be pleased to feature it in my portfolio.
Final piece – Line Work
Here’s the head and the film strips as I drew them, before they went through the Photoshop car wash:
As mentioned above, I went through several versions of the head while i was trying to decide which one I would use. Here are the best of the rest:
– Pencils: This is of course, the medium I’m most confortable in, and while it was technically quite accurate, it was the safe option, and therefore rather boring…
– Brushpen: This one was a lot of fun actually. I never usually given myself the freedom of JUST using a brushpen, as usually the inaccuracy bugs me… but I really liked this one.
– Cross-Hatching: This was more my usual sort of style – tight, controlled line – some parts (such as the hair) work better than others (such as the skin tones) but I liked this one too – it seemed quite striking as an image
– Lines: Back to pencil again, this time with the aid of a ruler. I’d never done anything like this before, but I REALLY liked the effect – this was my second choice if the cubes hadn’t of worked.
Just as a parting gift, I though i would share the different stages of my cross-hatching piece. I scanned them in as I was going in case A) I needed a more basic version of the linework for something and B) quite frankly, in case I ballsed it up completely.
Special thanks to Brogan, Martin and Andy for putting up with my MANY questions about the submission of artwork process, and Lucy for helping me make most of the important decisions!