Who knows how long he has been planning it, but fuming in the back of Steve Talkowski's creatively-diabolical mind is an idea factory full of toy robots. As they are slowly being released into the public, it will just be matter time for Steve's toy army to grow to world-conquering proportions. Last Month for Steve was the most prolific, where he unleashed a new robot design on a daily a basis. The trigger to Steve's robot madness cannot be fully understood, but surely 3D printing has something to do with it.
Steve's first foray into 3D printing was in 2006 for the New York-based company known as Guava. Since he already had a deep background as an animation director and character animator on hundreds of national brands ranging from BMW, Pepsi, General Mills, Target, Reese's and M&M's, to a number of ground-breaking films that included Joe's Apartment, Ice Age, Alien Resurrection and the 1988 Academy Award winning short, Bunny, he was the perfect choice to be assigned the task of creating the company's mascot. It was his first experience with the 3D printing process and he learned the strengths and limitations of fused deposition modeling.
From that point on Steve was bitten by the 3D printing bug. Inspired by his work on the Guava character concept (which resembled a TV-headed android) Steve longed to create his own custom toys. In 2008 he started his own studio and Sketchbot was born.
The first all-digital version of Sketchbot was created in late 2008. Putting his Autodesk Maya skills to good use resulted in a digital model that was printed on an Objet Eden 360 at Crystalline, a local rapid-prototyping shop in Los Angeles. The final 3D print was used as a mold for six different colored versions (known as "colorways" in the custom toy design community) that would be manufactured in limited runs. The one-eyed robot was designed to grip a variety of artist tools (pencil, brush, Wacom stylus, marker, and ink pen) in its two-pronged hand; this served as an appropriate metaphor for Steve's own multi-talented focus on various artistic mediums.
The cyclopean toy robot would become the centerpiece of Steve's endeavor as independent artist and appropriately his studio was dubbed Sketchbot Studios.
Steve now sells the Sketchbot toy online and at custom toy shows through the country. The Sketchbot toy has a wide following and has been modded by other artists in the custom toy community.
Steve plans on incorporating more 3D printing techniques into his toy design workflow. His modeling tools of choice are ZBrush, Maya, and Modo and he uses Luxion's Keyshot for rendering. Most recently he appeared at the 2014 3D Printer World Expo in Burbank and gave a workshop on his toy design process in ZBrush. He also just finished designing a new line of virtual toy prototypes for the successfully funded March of the Robots campaign on Kickstarter.
Steve's next toy to be released will be the Tikibot, which consists of 12 separate parts that were setup with a connecting key system, hollowed out with ZBrush's Decimation Master and then exported using ZBrush's 3D Print Export plug-in. The Tikibot can be view in greater detail at https://www.behance.net/gallery/TikiBot/16146843. Steve hopes to release the Tikibot in the final quarter of 2014.