Study mechanical pieces for credible Concept art engines |TIP88


I would like to create more “credible” concept art engines. For that, I need to study mechanical pieces having a basic understanding of the functions. That will be my “raw” material.

To increase my creativity while I sketch Concept art engine, I feed my memory of forms. It’s good sometime to select my own inspiration pictures. E.g: going to Product design expo, art musuem, getting the Artbooks of your favourite movies… or Google image”.

Sewing machine bobbin case

When I was a kid, my mom had a sewing machine at home. I remember playing with that above bobbin case that I already felt modern and elegant. I guess that’s what attract me today to draw it. It was so small yet composed of many rounded mechanical pieces, some more a bobbin could perfectly fit in.  

Ok, it looks complicated. How to start ? By identifying the main shape: a cylinder. I trace 2 ellipses for the above surface skipping the bottom one. Only the upper surface interest me. Then the game is about detailing respecting some basic rules of perspective. I will explain more about it in further articles.


This bobbin looks already like a spaceship. Note that the bobbin is symmetrical. That’s a major information you need to identify before sketching anything.

The sewing head

I like this shape. It reminds me a walking/jumping robotic foot.

It’s quite interesting to draw some in multiple views.

Tonight, let’s explore the tough part of the machine!

I have chosen this picture for its complexity. I won’t draw everything as it is (I guess I would go crazy :)) but extract the shapes that interest me. Actually, after a couple of hours seeing it, it looks less complicated to me. I guess my brain has already get familiar to certain shapes. 

It’s a big mess. But it’s ok. It’s a combination of doodles for me to train. It took me about 3 hours. It’s definitely too long because I wanted to sketch as many shape as possible. Next time, I will draw with an even looser hand to sketch faster and explore more.

As soon as your brain has memorised the “logic” of a shape and mechanism, you should be able later to redraw it neater.


Have you notice that most of the shapes use ellipses.

Because I draw metal pieces, I feel suitable to use a cold colour marker.

The cafe closed at 2am and I was the last client. Time to go home, write this article and go to sleep !

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About The Author


If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my career, I believe that they can also help you to learn, and help you with your projects. Whether Design is a job or a hobby it doesn’t matter, so long as you do what is important to you.


  • brucechuckchuck

    Reply Reply January 14, 2015

    great tip 🙂 I will do personal study of machines as well to improve my mechanical knowledge, I never bothered for some reason or maybe i never noticed

    • Chou-Tac Chung

      Reply Reply January 14, 2015

      There is machinery everywhere. Even outside try to observe all these intricate pipes, cables, train “wheels” and so on and take them in picture. You can bring these inspiration home. Or even better, you draw all these on the spot.

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