02. Drawing Machine

Drawing machines are often automated devices which allow a drawing material to create patterns or marks onto a flat surface.

One of the previous drawing machines I researched is a design which creates marks based on the sound emited from the base of a surround system. This utilizes sound to create various patterns and marks for each song or instrumental played.

This design is a harmonograph which utilizes momentum mobilised by swaying weights in order to create various spirographs.


This web address describes step by step instructions to build a drawing machine which utilizes the vibrations of a drill to move around a ball covered by pencils to create dents and lines onto paper.




This is an image of a drawing machine, operated by batteries the gears allow to legs to walk thus creating tracks to form patterns.



Drawing machine in which a pencil is, via a string, tied to a tree outdoors. The Machine drew a different drawing everyday of Summer 2006.


As part of Group J – ‘Handmade’


Our initial design idea involved a tin can and an elastic band which when twisted and released, the rotation would create a vibration causing the drawing machine to move as well as rotate the pencils attached to the end of the band. Attached to four pencils or pens the movement would create stream of points on the surface into a random pattern. However due to the a design miscalculation this was not possible, as the centre of the elastic band would be rotated in the middle of the band, which would not allow the pencils attached to rotate.


This design being a failure led us to initiate our alternate design. ‘Pendulum’, the name given to the design as it involves swaying like a pendulum.


The design requires string and a bottle with some liquid content to add weigh which ensures the tip of the markers or any drawing material which is attached to the bottle. The tip of the drawing material should be in contact with the surface of the paper on the ground, and the string is tread through the centre of the bottle cap and knotted to keep the bottle suspended.


The opposite end of the string should be tied onto a height with a wide range to free space to allow the bottle to sway in all directions, ensuring the tip of the marker is still in contact with the surface. Examples of objects to which we can attach it onto are :- Ladders, tripods, rails, tables, chairs or even the ceiling.

We chose to attach it a ladder as it is portable, as a prototype we used a shoelace to attach the bottle to the ladder and taped a marker to the bottle. The drawing machine works by simply swaying the bottle in a circular motion or back and forth.

The swaying drags the marker across the paper creating different marks in random circular and sideway motions. A swirl is one of the possible outcome as well as marks as the one below :-

To improve the design we could use larger bottles and place it at a higher range.

To enable a faster interchange of drawing materials, I added the pencil holder of a compass to the bottle.

Possible outcome :-

To get an alternate set of results, I attached the string to the opposite sides to create a swing like effect.

Although the design limits mobility therefore we are given a different set of designs. The pendulum swings mainly back and forth, however it has a limited sideway warp whilst swinging.

Possible outcome :-



An alternate model of the pendulum created by a member of the team was made through the use a tripod and tennis ball. This follows the same principle as the bottle, for the tennis ball serves as a weight to create momentum to allow the marker to create patterns.

Possible outcome of this design:-


One Response to “02. Drawing Machine”

  1. Pete Says:

    good stuff Pete

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