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  • Writer's pictureTRICIA FUGLESTAD

Retro Futuristic Robot Classroom

Now that I have a good idea of what the robots in my PETER o'Meter story might look like, I thought I would dive into environments as I wait for my editor to look over the manuscript. (which means lots of these ideas are still in a draft mode). I knew that there would be scenes in the story inside a classroom. So, I began sketching.

I found that my ideas were very uninspiring. I was drawing the space as cramped and familiar. I put the drawing away and felt very discouraged. I was asking myself about furniture, devices, and placement, but I wasn't asking myself big questions like...Where are they? What year is it?

Then it struck me...

Retro Futurism

I drew all my robots in a color pallet and style based on images I've consumed from an artistic style called retro futurism. Think Star Trek, The Jetsons, Lost in Space, and all those strange B-movies during the 50's.

I joined that movement unconsciously, so now, I can look at the art from this era to get inspired for my backgrounds. It's not something I've ever intentionally done before, but it really excites me now.

I stretched my mind. My first sketches of the school/classroom looked like what I was familiar with; a brick one-story elementary school in a residential suburban location. After soaking my ideas in retro futurism, I eventually landed on a very different setting. We are up high (like really high) in a space with HUGE windows, tall ceilings, with interesting architectural elements. (nothing like the cinderblock rectangle I have been teaching in for decades). I played with texture too as I layered on a vintage design to the walls. I know I've seen this wallpaper somewhere in an old fancy hotel or supper club overlooking a pretty view.

I wanted to sprinkle ideas from the 50's into my artwork to make it feel like it is in the past and the future at the same time. The elevator that opens to the classroom (most of the robots do not climb stairs) is based on the design of a jukebox. The tile floor is from a 50's burger joint which I see recreated in portillo's.

Teaching in this space

How a teacher moves around and uses a space is always on my mind as an educator. I am thinking about where to place the tables, the projector, the smartboard, the bulletin board, and even the electrical plugs to avoid trip hazards. When Dave (my husband) asked, "is that a built in hoverboard on Teacher Anita Tune Up?" I realized that Anita HOVERs over her students as she teaches. That totally makes sense. Here is a mock up of what that might look like. The projector is also a camera that can stream her face to the smartboard from any angle in the room, of course.

Bulletin Board

I know the bulletin board is a small detail, but something I wanted to include to add more personality to the classroom. Each of the characters was redrawn in a flat 2-d style to represent yearbook type photos. Can you name them all?

top left: Annie Log, Reggie-lator, Mac-rowave, .Leightronic, Bottom left: Argh-u-lot bot, PETER o'Meter, Iggy Gauge, Ian-ization

Watch this video time lapse created from within the PROCREATE app as I made the illustration. You can see the decisions and process as I work.

Oh, by the way. Thanks for reading this whole thing. If you follow my journey, you would know that I said I was going to work on the robot parents next. Well, I didn't. I worked on this because it was troubling me too much and I needed to start feeling good about the environments . So, now that I started down this road, I might continue some more. Basically, I'm saying, I don't know what I'm working on next yet.

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