How To Modify Your RoboReptile With A Complete MakeoverPosted by Apophenianow on Monday, 16 March 2009
If you are a long time Robo Reptile user or if you just opened the box, this free tutorial is for you. This video is a simple step-by-step guide that will provide and inspire you to renovate Robo Reptile's appearance.
My inclination to keep a large living lizard as a pet has always been tempered with the reality of pet possession. Like so many others, I have been discouraged by the continuous care and feeding of a real reptile. The inevitable weekends and/or evenings devoted to cage cleaning coupled with the uncooperative and sometimes-docile spirit of the average Iguana makes this even less appealing. Like so many of you, I sought other options. My first stop was the RoboReptile.
RoboReptile seemed to provide everything I wanted in a real reptile; it even had features that weren't offered in the real deal. Traits like "responsiveness," a fierce growl, and an aggressive demeanor aren't always available in a living desert dweller. RoboReptile was the perfect pet that I could keep on my desk at work. He was aggressive when he needed to be, and always up for a stroll around the office. He was named "Chompy" by admiring coworkers.
Chompy drew plenty of attention in his original form. Yet, I couldn't help but look for ways to improve the existing model. I imagined how much more attention he would garner with natural reptile colors and features. There was still so much untapped visual potential. What follows is the chronicle of Chompy's transformation.
Keeping Chompy "Real"
I wanted Chompy to be as life like as possible. I didn't want something cute and cuddly and "Pleo-like." I tried a number of different patterns on my computer to get an idea of the over all look. I took pictures and overlaid prospective patterns using Macromedia "Fireworks". I noticed the importance of contrast after examining my prototypes. I could compare Chompy with pictures of real lizards. This helped me visualize what I needed to do. Reptiles have a great deal of contrast and they are still able to blend in. I wanted to imitate the colors and the texture. I wanted something scaly and snake like.
Three Options For The Makeover
I needed flexible covering that would be versatile and realistic. I had a choice of plastic, paint or fabric. I envisioned the colors and textures I wanted based on the looks of a live lizard. I decided that I would have to use all three types of material.
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Step 1: Measure RoboReptile's Dimensions
- 3 3/4 inches from back of the his head to tip of his nose
- Bottom from lower mouth to back 3 inches
- Circumference at widest point 5 ½ inches
- Mouth 2 ½ inches
- 6 inches long
- Circumference 3 ½ inches front base
- Circumference 6 ½ inches at the lower base neck
RoboReptile's Front Legs
- 5" top to foot joint
- Front leg top 3"
- Lower joint 2"
- Circumference 2 ½ "
- Feet 1 ½ " plus claws
- From neck base to tail base 6"
- 6 ½ " circumference at neck
- 11 ½ Circumference the widest spot in the middle
- 10 inches close to rear
- 13 1/2 inches from tip to base of tail
- 6" circumference base
RoboReptile's Rear Legs
- 4" first hip to next joint
- 5" next joint 4'Circumference
- 2" next joint 2 ½ "Circumference
- Rear 3 ½ inches plus claws
Now that we have the measurements, we need to move on to giving Chompy his new skin.
Step 2: Give RoboReptile A Natural "Skin"
I wanted to replicate the colors, scales and the leathery skin of a lizard. I chose a creamy white color for the claws, and the feet could be painted to match other features once I selected the colors.
I determined that the body and neck could be fitted with cloth or flexible plastic that would be tailored to fit Chompy. The cloth or plastic can be removed reshaped or altered as needed. I wanted his tail to be fashioned of cloth or plastic with spiky features added this shouldn't inhibit tail movement.
The legs can have a stretch fabric or plastic of similar pattern. The mouth needs to be red for interior. The teeth should be a sharp white and shouldn't there be a tongue? I also needed to do some work with eyes to make them less slanted.
I needed to watch Chompys movement and action and compare him with a live lizard. I had to make sure his movement wasn't hindered and that none of his features were lost.
Step 3: Painting RoboReptile
I selected a type of Latex paint that's available at craft stores; it's inexpensive and you don't need much. You can mix basic colors to achieve the over all look. The big concern is being careful around the joints.
The first stop on the paint tour was
Chompy's mouth. Chompy happens to open his mouth enough to make this a very noticeable area. The original mouth is white with Black teeth. The spacing and size of the teeth are practical. When he closes his mouth they fit together like the jaws of a bear trap.
Bright blood red seemed like an appropriate color for the interior of Chompy's mouth. I carefully painted the interior of mouth by starting all the way in back to his throat and moving forward. While I was in there, I noticed a need for a tongue. Robo Reptiles can keep their mouth open while you do this. Turn him on and wait till his mouth is open and then turn him off. When I was finished painting the inside of his mouth, I whitened his teeth with a bright clean platinum white. I installed a tongue after the interior of his mouth had dried. Lizards rely on their tongues for all sorts of things. Reptiles tend to extend their tongues frequently so you will want something that is red and flexible. I used a small red balloon that I stuffed, stretched and cut to my liking. I installed it as far back as I could. I glued it to the back of Chompys throat with Crazy glue. I made sure there was enough room for tongue movement. I wanted it to be pronounced when he opens his mouth. The mouth was finished with Red interior and Teeth titanium white
My next step was to work with roboreptiles head. Chompy's cranium went through a number of different phases and attempts before it was finished. I had to be careful about what I painted and what I covered in paint. The head has four areas that require caution and should be left unpainted. The two ear holes that are on both sides of the head.(the audio motion sensors ) The top part of the head that's his IR reader and the jaw hinge and eye area.
I found colors that would work and I moved on to modifying the exterior of Chompys skull. I wanted to accentuate his facial features. The intention was to make him a more serious looking lizard. A nice shadowy brown guarantees a more sinister look. The eyebrow extension really made Chompy's eyes stand out. It also made him look at lot more sneaky and mean. In order to do this I needed to fabricate some material. The material had to meet the top of the head and needed to flow smoothly into the rest of the design.
Step 4: Give RoboReptile A Sinister Look
The "plastic fabrication process" was a lot easier than it appears. My secret source for the plastic, which formed the distinctive sharp row of spiky spines rising vertically along Chompy's arched tail and neck, were plastic leaves from artificial house plants. The cheap plastic leaves that you find on fake houseplants in
offices and restaurants make perfect spines and fins. These plastic leaves are plentiful and easy to find. You also don't need very many to out fit an entire reptile. The life like plastic foliage can be cut and painted.
The eyebrows were comprised two even parts of a plastic leaf, which I trimmed to be identical. I shaped the plastic to fit evenly along the edge of the head above the eye. I clamped them tightly against the edge of skull above the eye. So they would be flat and smooth against the surface. I squeezed a small bead of super glue along the edge of the plastic to fit perfectly along the edge. The clamps provided pressure to make sure the bond stayed. I left it dry over night. I was pleased with his new sinister look. I also thought I needed to do something with chompy's beak. The rounded slope of his nose made him seem way too friendly.
Chompy also likes to hammer his nose into wall and other hard surfaces. I wanted to extend his nose with something more resilient. I gave him a duel snout extension made of silicone glue. Its an easy process you just add the appropriate quantity of silicone to the end of the nose and mix in some paint or add it later. The glue dries to a rubbery solid in about 24 hours. It really helps him absorb some of the snout shock and makes him look more vicious.
The face and head art took a new direction when I decided how I would cover the rest of the body. I wanted something that would match and blend. I wanted the look and feel of scales. I repainted the surface and I added dots that had similar color as the body.
Step 5: Finishing The Body
RoboReptiles head and neck and tail move in a realistic and natural manner. I wanted to accentuate that movement. I also wanted to achieve a cohesive look.
I wanted a sock like cover for his tail one that would allow uninhibited movement and have flexibility and distinction. This would be done with the same fabric that I covered the body in. I also wanted to have a spiky tail similar to the neck. A triop to the fabric store revealed that there were a lot of choices for material with Reptile patterns. After some mild embarrassment at the counter I found the perfect cloth. I bought a yard of it for less than four dollars and it was way more than I needed.
I used a cut up plastic bag to make a pattern that would fit then I cut the fabric to match the pattern. I made sure that there was a lot of flexibility and overlap. Lots of reptiles have natural baggy skin and there is a lot of over lapping areas.
The first stage was creating a neck with spikes The next stage was creating a body covering. Then I painted the feet. Then I experimented with the legs. After which I finished with the tail.
The body covering went on easily after some resizing and careful consideration about movement. I made sure that the covering on the legs were independent of the covering on the body. I cut the fabric to fit the body and carefully tucked it under the neck fabric and under the fabric for the legs to make it
look natural. I did some touch up painting on the spikes and on the fabric close to the spikes so it blended in well and looked balanced. I applied fabric to the body and legs with plastic cement glue.
Step 6: The Final Touches
The last stop was the tail. I cut out long conical piece of fabric and added the spines. The fabric slips over the tail and is fastened to the fabric on the body. The tail kept it's full range of motion and accentuated it's realistic movements.
This project put Chompy one step closer to reality. The process was fun and I was better able to explore and understand more of Chompy's functions. It also confirmed that there is room for amazing improvements and unlimited new super powers. Stay tuned for more.