During the summer of 2017, I worked with Rick Lazzarini, Chief Creative Director of The Character Shop and Chief Instructor of the Animatronic Institute. The project I chose to work on was to create an animatronic eye inspired by the dragon Smaug in the movie adaptation of The Hobbit. This was achieved by creating a servo-controlled eye, eyelids, and a false skin made of silicon rubber. The first step involved designing and fabricating the eye out of delrin and acrylic.
After completing the mechanical components of the eye, the next steps are to create the aesthetics of the animatronic. The first step is to create a sculpture of the eye around the plastic eyelids with wax-based clay. This sculpture is made to mimic the on-screen look of Smaug in the movie. The sculpture is made right on top of the mechanical components to ensure the fit is correct. The sculpture focused on creating a replication of the movie's look as well as maximizing the ease of modeling the large surface area of the eye.
A plaster mold is applied to the outside of the clay sculpture to create a negative for the outer skin. The skin is then filled with silicon rubber to create a life-like texture and elasticity. After curing, the skin is then ready to be mounted to the animatronic to