Drawbot produces portraits… very slowly

This robot artist, the Drawbot, produces images using an Arduino and Processing. A piece of paper is attached to a wall as a stylus connected to a couple of stepper motors scribbles out patterns that gradually become the image seen above. Each drawing is different and can take several weeks of constant operation to finish. That must have made debugging a real problem for [Harvey] during development. We wonder if this would work with homemade pencils?


  1. kirov says:

    i don’t understand why it would take several weeks to do this… regular plotters don’t take nearly as long.

  2. alankilian says:

    Very nice. I started doing this sort of
    thing with a Puma 560 robot arm I have bolted
    to my garage ceiling, but never completed it.



  3. Drake says:


    It appears that the bot will draw “psudo-randomly” meaning it has a goal but how it does it isn’t defined. Look at the page and you can see a close up of the scribbling.

  4. monotype says:

    How does one stop the pen from drying up during several weeks of drawing?

  5. Osgeld says:

    simple, its not a regular plotter

  6. I did a similar thing a while ago, but mine included a pen-up/down mechanism.

  7. pindar says:

    I have a similar painting robot that takes about 24 hours to finish a painting. You can see details and a video of it painting at http://www.vanarman.com.

  8. Xram says:

    Hey! I have that very same pen! Shame it’s been wasted like this; it’s such a fine writing instrument.

  9. alankilian says:

    @Miguel Sanchez: That’s GREAT!
    I like how you just dealt with the
    “sloppyness” of your positioning system
    and kept on drawing.

    Some makers desire an extremely precise
    positioning system, and that removes a
    lot of the character of the resulting drawing.

    Your is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

  10. Miguel Sanchez says:

    @alankilian: the math behind a loaded catenary took me a lot to figure out, and I am not using it on my system (just Pythagorean theorem assuming all straight lines).

    Machine was painting on a canvas with a charcoal stick (I guess it does not qualify as a high-tech pen).

    I did not mention it here, but some may recognize the head positioning of an old floppy drive with part of the original PCB of the drive holding the stepper controller.

  11. Vonskippy says:

    It’d be simpler just to put a dozen monkeys in a room with pens, and sooner or later they’ll draw something recognizable too – pseudo-randomly of course.

  12. DX says:

    Maybe you could pseudo the monkeys to do it. ha ha ha… nicely done.

  13. strider_mt2k says:



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