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Steam Punk Paper Robots and How They’re Made

It’s been a stressful few weeks, updating the website took a little longer than expected, but with a little help from the wonderful people at Smart Hosting and the Sheffield Google Garage everything’s up and running relatively smoothly.

For those wondering why the previous version of the FUT website was having trouble loading, it stemmed from the portfolio thumbnails all loading simultaneously. The pages wouldn’t display until every portfolio thumbnail had loaded (allowing the page to load in as one smooth animation) instead of loading one project at a time. This process mixed with myself not optimizing the portfolio images to display quickly left the website with simply awful load times.

You’ll be happy to read that this latest rendition of the FUT website was designed specifically with load times and sustainability (being able to add hundreds of projects) in mind as well as a while new category system, which will, if nothing else, make my life a little less confusing.

One of the more self indulgent aspects of this new website layout is the “Designer Notes” section found on each project, this is a space for me to reflect on what was going on in my life at the time of the projects design and talk about what inspired and motivated me.

The following is a “Designer Notes” section for one of my oldest downloadable paper toys Clink and Klank.

Clink & Klank are one of my favourite creations in my almost ten year paper toy carrier. I can still recall working on the template, on my mums old, clunky computer in the dining room of my childhood home, using Powerpoint 2003 and wishing we actually had enough ink left in the printer to build what I had been working on.

The toy ended up very different from what I had originally intended it to be. I was inspired by Matt Hawkings’ paper craft Mechanical Man. It was a limited edition print and used a metallic looking silver card as its base. (If I recall correctly I got a couple of the prints for my birthday, much to the confusion of my family who couldn’t understand that all I wanted was a piece of paper with some lines on it.) I wanted to follow suit and design a limited print of a steam punk robot duo named Clink and Klank. The first version of Clink featured a large, tall robot, with a chimney, long drooping arms and a thick jaw extending bellow its relatively small head, Klank on the other hand was smaller, with inset eyes inspired by Marshal Alexander’s work, with shorter arms placed onto its hips. Klank, was far better looking than Clink and so the original version of Clink was scrapped, Klank became Clink and a new, even smaller and simpler Klank was designed to fit onto a single A4 Page.

The realisation that not only could I not afford to do a limited edition print (I couldn’t even afford ink) but that even if I did do a limited print, no one knew or cared who I was, and so no one would buy them led me to release the model for free, but not before adding a number of gradients and shines to the template to give the appearance of an aged bronze.

Since its original release (I believe around 2007 or 20018) the template has gone through many different changes and adaptations, the latest of which are a new texture, less cluttered with gradients and instead featuring a simple weathering. The tabs of the model have been rounded out and neatened up as well as the colours being brightened to contrast against the black of the non-metallic sections.

Overall clink and Klank made for a great example of what I considered a “good” paper toy design for many years. Each toy was a single piece when cut out, featured an interesting element and although where relatively expressionless had character.

As an extra side note, I’d like to add that when I released this toy, people quite rightly said they saw similarities between the model and Marshals black and white robot. At the time I acted as if this wasn’t the case, but now I am more than happy to admit, I totally ripped off the eyes.