Art and Technology

Make a Drawing Robot

Make a spider-like robot that draws pictures!

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The idea

Do you think robots can be creative?

Artists have been using machines to create artworks for a long time. In the 1960s artist Harold Cohen used computers as a creative tool to make computer drawings. He created AARON, a computer program designed to produce art on its own.

The plan

Inspired by Harold Cohen, we are going to make a robot that draws! We are going to program an Arduino (this is a small computer, which can receive and send data). It is a little fiddly in places so you may need an adult to help you with it.

Harold Cohen, ‘Untitled Computer Drawing’ 1982
Harold Cohen
Untitled Computer Drawing 1982
Tate
© Harold Cohen

What you need

A photograph of things you will need
  • Arduino
  • Breadboard
  • Transistor
  • Resistor
  • Single core electrical wire reel
  • Gaffer tape
  • Counter weights
  • Jumper weights
  • Capacitor
  • 3v motor
  • Motor mounts
  • Motor horn arm
  • Wire
  • Batteries
  • Battery holder
  • Decorations: feathers, pipe cleaners,
  • White paper
  • Pens

Step 1

Mztek (a group of women coders) made a detailed instruction sheet on how to build your drawing robot.

Download and printout the instructions and go through the steps with an adult.

Download instructions

Step 2

Photograph of kids at a computer

© Tate

Check out your Arduino – make sure you know where the digital pins are and how to power it.

Get to grips with the software. Download the Arduino software and test it out. Then upload the sensor code to your computer.

Download Arduino software

Sensor code

Step 3

Diagram showing how to attach wire to pencils

© Mztek

Set up the breadboard and add in the motor.

Add the legs. Wrap the sensor wires around the spider legs.

Connect Arduino to the battery.

Step 4

Kid playing with drawing robot

© Tate

Decorate your robot and add in the pens to the end of the legs. Place some paper on the ground and send your robot for a spin!

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