Learning how to build your own mechanical toy isn’t an easy task, normally something resigned to the world of professional engineers. That was true until Disney released a set of software that makes the design process accessible to people of all ages.
The first piece of software can take a drawing of an articulated character and produce a type of animation that pre-dates video and film – gear-driven mechanical characters, such as a dancing clock, a galloping horse or a person pushing a heavy load.
The other set takes digital characters that are without form, rather than articulated, such as jelly monsters, plants and jiggling buildings, transforming them into elastic figures that can simulate the movements of your digital designs.
Apart from making this type of design accessible to the general public, it also opens up the number of possibilities for professional designers as well. That’s because even though mechanical characters have been part of the toy industry since the 19th century, the design process is still largely trial and error, even for the experts.
Once you’re happy with the design of your characters and how they move, you can use 3D printing to produce a physical representation of your design – testament to your new engineering skills!
Even though the characters are restricted to cyclical movements for the time being, the software is a huge step towards designed mechanical characters that are able to interact with their environment and perform more complex movements.