Draw a Robot a Day with Dacosta

Draw a Robot a Day with Dacosta

What does a designer and illustrator do when he can’t stop thinking of robots? Draw one a day for a full month, of course. Dacosta!, a designer and illustrator based in Vancouver, Canada, is jumping into March 2014 with March of Robots, an Instagram challenge for himself and other robot-obsessed folks out there.

Dacosta! wants to add to the March of Robots excitement with an book and companion app that will have all of the robots that haunt his dreams and waking life. Support the Kickstarter to bring this book to life.

Want to draw along? Read our interview with Dacosta! below for the rules of March of Robots.   

What is Chocolate Soop and what does it have to do with Robots?

The name Chocolate Soop is all about two things I loved as a child, but see differently as an “adult.” As a child chocolate was simply fun, delicious, and irresistible. Soup, similarly, was simple and tasty, uncomplicated.

As an adult, I see chocolate as sophisticated, refined, and perfect for self-indulgence and soup is a nourishing, uncomplicated comfort thing for the soul. All that comes together in my view of how I perceive design. The connection to robot is pretty simple. I just really LOVE robots! I go out of my way to work on projects that involve robots, whether it’s designs for a mascot, animation, toys or video games, it’s all exciting territory to explore.

What is the March of Robots?

MARCH of ROBOTS! (MoR!) is a positronic double punch of robotic goodness. It’s an Instagram daily sketch challenge focused on the theme of robots. It’s a community challenge I started a couple of years ago during the month of October which was called #botober after being inspired by other challenges in that same month. The idea was to challenge myself to see if I could do it. It’s been good fun but I didn’t want to wait an entire year before doing it again. October is actually a little crowded with INKtober, Drawtober, Monstober, Sketchtober, etc. So I decided I was going to find another month to do it, and March seemed like a good opportunity to do something interesting away from the crowded space

As I was planning out the next steps for MoR!, I quickly realized that it could be more than just an IG challenge and thought that doing an art book via Kickstarter at the same time may be fun. I LOVE artbooks! I can get lost in an “Art of” book or an artist’s portfolio. It’s great to see the way they think and approach a theme or concept. Very inspiring. So I wanted to do a book of my work to share with others.

The Instagram challenge will run for the entire month for 31 days, but the Kickstarter will run a little longer from March 1 to April 14 midnight EST. March 11th is the anniversary of the Great Eastern tsunami in Japan so I want to make sure to do a drawing around that and there are also some points in April connected to Isaac Asimov, and Astro Boy that are on my list. Heck there’s even National Robotics Week 5-13th as a nice finishing note. I encourage everyone to come out and participate and show your robot love.

The 3 Laws of MoR!

(1) Drawings can be digital or analogue, but it must be drawn by you and it has to be a robot (or depict a robot as the dominant figure in the scene).

(2) #Hashtag drawings with #marchofrobots

And lastly…

(3) Have fun with it. You don’t have to do a drawing every day, but you are certainly welcome to do so if you want to go all the way. Just set yourself a goal and stick with it.

Why Robots?

Because robots are SERIOUSLY AWESOME!!! They’re no longer relegated to being just fictional characters in comic books, cartoons and movies. I grew up in the 80‘s watching A LOT of Japanese anime and science fiction films. The seeds planted in those works of fiction like Forbidden Planet, Isaac Asimov's I Robot, Astro Boy, Star Wars, Batteries Not Included and Short Circuit just to name a few, have begun to germinate in today’s science fact. Robots are a reflection of what we are capable of, and where we have the potential to go. We’re developing machines that will directly shape the way humanity moves forward on this planet and beyond. I can’t imagine how robots won’t touch every facet of our daily lives.

What tools will you use to draw all of these robots?

While I always have a selection of COPIC sketch markers and a sketchbook in my backpack, these days I pretty much work 100% digitally. Corel Painter, Sketchbook Pro, and of course Adobe Illustrator fortified with a great set of plugins from Astute Graphics are my tools of choice. I make it a point to work outside of the studio for part of my day. I’ll find a corner in a cafe and park myself. I don’t go anywhere without my gear, which normally means laptop and Intuos tablet in hand, but now that I have a Cintiq Companion it’s my go-to piece of kit.

Working digitally gives me the most flexibility for my process. Whether I’m starting with a specific idea or I’m stumbling around in the dark (which seems to happen more often than not, haha), I tend to push things around a lot until they start to take shape and feel like something interesting so for me being digital means I can go from “start to socials” with far more easy.

What is your robot drawing pro tip?

Good question. I think the first thing I would recommend, is that you always remember to start with the idea that at a base level robots are machines designed for a core function. They’re designed to do a job. So I think whether you like to draw massive, cool aggressive looking mecha - like the ones in the movie Pacific Rim - or super cute, friendly robots like my all-time favourite Astro Boy, your design choices (look and feel, shape language, colours and environment) should communicate and support the story you’re trying to tell. Even when designing a robot that has gone beyond its initial function design or exceeded its programming, you want the design to reflect that difference. Thinking about the “why” anything is the way it is or does what it does, will help clarify your solutions to any design challenge. I hope that’s helpful.