Drawing (conversations) machine #3



– in collaboration with Daniel Castaño – 


Following our previous prototypes, we decided to continue with the same aesthetic the wood was providing us. This time we made cut and sand precise pieces of wood for our machine, change the cardboard for acrylic and the tape for wood glue and nails. Because of the previous machine, we had a better understanding of the dimensions this final prototype would need. Our idea was not to hide our motors or wires but to keep them on view, take advantage of how colourful they can be, it was an important part of our design.

For the micro servos, we decided to go with acrylic, make pieces that were able to connect them both servos and with the pens. Cardboard was very important for this process, with the laser cut and many tries with cardboard we made sure our measurements were correct and not losing any valuable and more expensive material. All the pieces were thought to fit together through pressure and secured with m2 screws and nuts.

The pens needed to be easy to change and adjust to the servo arm, to be as weightless and simple as possible. We created an arm that would work as a gear or servo horn by itself and to complement it with a nut-screw system for the pen adjustment.

The acrylic connection between the motors was an idea brought up by Daniel Rozin. It took us several attempts to make a functional (complete) one piece, given the properties of the material which bends under heat, we ended up making extra for this process. for one good piece other five didn’t work due to deformity or for the fragility of the piece itself.

The size of the piece was one of the main reason the bending was difficult, a better solution would have been experimenting with 3d printing to adjust the motors and the pieces with levels within the material like the servo motors horns have where the screw goes rather than fitting through pressure. In general, they worked well for our purpose, they didn’t get loose while the servo moved (no matter how aggressive that movement was) nor they felt under the weight of the other components.

With the size of the drawing machine, the dimensions of the Stabilo mini point pens worked perfectly, the basic colours complied with our aesthetic, the trace left on the paper roll was smooth and vivid. The weight of each pen was enough for our micro servo motor arm to not collapse and work well.

For the paper roll, acrylic parts were made off to fit the gears, they fit fine but to make space for these parts the inner roll was cut on the edges of both sides as clean as possible. At the end, the cut didn’t look that nice and our transparent acrylic didn’t help at all. Even though they worked and fitted fine we decided to use the 360° servo motors round horns instead.

Part of the intention of the drawing machine is to record somehow intimate conversations or at least close ones, and even if that doesn’t happen and its all fun gibberish, we knew we wanted them close to the main mechanism and high enough to make less awkward. So, the microphones were installed at a position where they were as high, close and exposed to the mechanism as possible, also as far away from the path of any motor, pen or motor arm.

One thing we were careful while making our connections was to mind the kind of energy each of our components needed. We had 3v, 5v and 12v on our hands. Organizing and labelling the breadboard and wires was key to not fry anything or get lost in all our wires.

We started with simples codes that both of us had from previous projects or from code examples on tutorials (Adafruit’s microphones). Once each component worked on itself we combine them little by little, coming across several issues while writing our code on the way. For example, if we used delays on any motor, those delays were overwritten to all our motors; our 360° servos never stopped whenever we told them to; most of the code was always followed by a physical change in the mechanism; if the degrees on the micro servos didn’t work well we moved the started point of the arm rather than trying to go to the exact position with the code, which made the code change all the time.

Some other little bugs came along, for example, the starting movement of the motors was very aggressive, Daniel was brilliant debugging and made them go as smoothly as possible; the rolling paper go as slow as our motors let us, which allow the pens to draw the peaks of the sounds and the microphones don’t cross each other that much when exposed to the same noise, neither do the arms. A button was added to give the user some control at the beginning and end of the drawings, it also changed the enclosure design a bit.

Using our components as an aesthetic asset was always intentional, show the colourful guts of the machine was important. An acrylic enclosure was planned to hold the connections, support the machine and let the user see through it, but all fade when the weight of the machine was a little too much for a DIY acrylic enclosure, a pair of wooden blocks added to the base helped the structure but hide the Arduino and all our colourful wires in the process, a wood enclosure turned out being a better solution.

Even though our paper roll can run, we made the deliberate desition of containing it. This was closer to our project references and as a final drawing of someone’s conversation through repetition and noise. For us, these artefacts were not only pleasant and intriguing, they became the leitmotif of the whole effort.



 DRAWING (conversations) MACHINE












Drawing (conversations) machine #2

««««««« Post under construction »»»»»»»



– in collaboration with Daniel Castaño –


Cardboard, tape and wood prototype


There was an interest from the beginning to make our drawing machine as simple, efficient and budget-friendly as possible, with the paper roll running without much problem on our wood structure, while the main task was to figure how the machine would function properly with all its components, the looks were also very important for us. What works for the deadline? our budget? more components? is this material ok? Because we had many questions we decided that our best course of action was to continue with what we had: glue, tape and cardboard for rapid prototyping. If the code and the structure worked as close as we wanted them to, then we would start cleaning and refining our design.

This prototype had the following materials: Two (2) 360° servo motors  –  Four (4) micro servos  –  Two (2) microphones amplifiers  –  One (1) Paper roll 2 1/4″  –  Two(2) Stabilo point pens  –  One (1) Arduino UNO  –  One (1) breadboard  –  Jumpers  –  Plywood board  – Wood board 2 in. x 2 in  –  Cardboard  –  Electric tape  –  Double sided tape  –  Wood glue.

The biggest issue once we combine all the components was figuring out the degree zero on each micro servo, that piece of information let us know which servo worked better for either the base or the arm. Once we got the degrees we continue with the angles, how far could they go without hitting each other or getting out of the paper roll, this process took a lot of attempts and code debugging.

Another issue we faced was that the base micro servos didn’t work well responding to the microphones at the same time that the arm servos, this meant that once both servos got the signal from the micros, both were moving at the same time. We tried to eliminate this behaviour from the code but the oscillations between the peek of the sounds we always had noise from the base servos. For this time we put them in mute mode while we figure out how to make them work fluidly with the rest of the drawing machine.

Overall our machine was working, the structure itself is very functional and having our electronic components exposed gave it an aesthetic that we appreciate and want to keep exploring. Other discoveries regarding the aesthetic of the drawing machine came from the drawings themselves. While prototyping a lot of repetitions happened (the rolling paper was held in place), noise from the motors (erratic traces), pauses while reloading the code (the ink kept flowing creating little bubbles of colour) and silences (straight traces) from the microphones created artefacts in the drawings.




Final drawing machine materials

 Two (2) 360° servo motors  –  Four (4) micro servos  –  Two (2) microphones amplifiers  –  One (1) button  –  Resistor 220 ohm  –  One (1) Paper roll 2 1/4″  –  Twelve (12) Stabilo point pens  –  One (1) Arduino UNO  –  One (1) breadboard  –  Jumpers  –  DC Power supply 12 v  –  M2 x 12mm Screws  –  M2 Nuts  –   Screws 1/4 in  –  Plywood board  12 in x 12 in x 3mm  –  Wood board 2 in. x 2 in  –  Acrylic sheet 12 in x 12 in x 3mm  –  Cardboard  –  Electric tape  – Double sided tape –  Magic tape – Wood glue






Unreal animation

The animation and the landscape were repeated from scratch because the footage and the project got lost despite repeatedly saving my project.  Between the program crashing and not saving it in the right place (understanding the different save modes within Unreal was a task of its own),  I ended losing most of my assets and work. 


Birds of New York




*Final project*

-This project has animations that were made using Jhon Audubon’s illustrations (public domain) and audios from Lang Elliot’s National Audubon Society – Bird Song Collection-


From the beginning, the idea was to be able to call birds, familiarize yourself and to learn about them. Where do they live? how do they look like? how do they sound like? These questions are the building blocks not only of ornithology but also of birding; a recreational activity that encourages people to go outside, listen to birds, observe and get involved with the wildlife around the cities. Because creating a conversation between the possibilities around p5js and scientific illustrations, I decided to go with one renown artist and in the United States.

Jhon Audubon is an icon, his work is not only beautiful but a wonderful exploration of wildlife and his legacy is present and very much alive especially here, in New York City. The National Audubon Society has one of the main offices in NYC; the New York Historical Society has a permanent exhibition of most of Audubon The Birds of America watercolors and the artist himself lived and died in Manhattan. This project is somehow a homage to Audubon and New York City, as an illustrator, a birdwatcher and  a new new yorker.



 I used an Electrect Microphone Amplifier, an Arduino UNO and a wooden Birdhouse. Because of the physical part of the birdhouse this project has serial communication between the Arduino and the p5js sketch. The codes are based on the PCOMP lab examples for serial communication and Adafruit’s microphone example.



On first code test I wanted to focus first on how the code should work rather than what it was showing, so most of the images, videos and sound because came from the marvelous internet. For this sketch, I used this videos: bird1, bird2, and bird3.





Birds of New York City

You could call the birds with mousePressed here



 New York graffiti subculture ft Audubon



Graphic and animation








The final code could be found here


Special thanks to Aarón Montoya, Alejandro Matamala y Daniel Castaño.


Final project proposal / Birding

*Create a proposal for your final project.*


I’ve been interested in ornithology since childhood. Most of my illustrations are scientific illustrations of birds. I’ve followed Audubon’s work; he was an explorer, a scientific and talented artist. I wanted to follow his steps until I understood that in order to illustrate his birds he had to collect the specimens. So, [insert over exaggerated childhood trauma here] the fantasy vanished almost immediately (It gives me a stomach ache to think about it, pretty much the same thing happens whenever I go to the American Museum of Natural History).

Here is were birding came to the rescue, I’m a total amateur and not a good birder at all, it gave me the opportunity of nourish this interest of mine. Unfortunately… I haven’t illustrated in months and all the birding I make these days is a random – magical – tiny -unexpected moment than anything else.



According to Wikipedia, birding is “a form of wildlife observation in which the observation of birds is a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, by listening for bird sounds, or by watching public webcams.” And the main idea behind this final project is to watch and listen to the birds, but also to interact with them. Birders say that the best way to detect a bird’s presence is by sound, through their songs and callings. Audubon has an extensive library of birdsong for learning purposes.

I want to create an installation where people would be able to call birds. The idea is that blowing (mimicking whistle gesture) makes a real birdsong to play, depending on how strong the person blows the song gets played and the bird that belongs to that song comes out and say “Hello” to you. It will be an ICM and PCOMP project.


There are some projects that were a great inspiration for this project:

Juan Fontanive creates moving images through physical machines, using natural history illustrations from the 18th and 19th century of birds.

And Céleste Boursier-Mougenot creates sound installation with living birds in controlled environments.