【Komi-Journal #05】Modeling as a Hobby – Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest

【Komi-Journal #05】Modeling as a Hobby – Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest

Modeling as a Hobby — Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest

Theo Jansen is an artist from the Netherlands who has a very unique series of works called “Strandbeest” (Strand Beast) that are built to mimic biological mechanisms. Many people might be familiar with him as he is heavily featured online and on tv shows around the world, and has also done a TED talk.

This video of Strandbeest running on the beach seems reminiscent of creatures from the Cambrian period that have evolved and survived to the present time.

There are fans of Strandbeest in the SketchUp community, and some have even uploaded their models to 3D Warehouse.

The model above is famous for its detail. There are also many models made with physics simulation plugins such as SketchyPhysics.

SketchyPhysics, the development of which ended when SketchUp began to support 62bit, is the predecessor of MSPhysics. After the development of SketchyPhysics ended it was reborn as MSPhysics under a different developer, though there is no relation between them.

Since both models made with SketchyPhysics and MSPhysics plugins are not compatible, Strandbeest models downloaded from 3DWarehouse can not be run on MSPhysics. For that reason, I decided to create a Strandbeest model with MSPhysics.

To create a working Strandbeest, we have to build a working mechanism of eleven frames that change the rotation of a crank into unique movement. Theo Jansen provides drawings of the working mechanisms on his website, which we will use as our reference.

First of all, I will create a simple model of a working mechanism based on the drawings of Theo Jansen.

After creating a simple shape I can copy it and join them together to make legs.

Create a test model with 4 legs. It has a very unique movement lol.

The following is a more elaborated model.

Though we’ll need to adjust the friction, the weight, the number of revolutions of the motor, etc, it seems we’ll be able to make a Strandbeest with MSPhysics after all.

Let’s try to create a genuine Strandbeest.

Creating a Strandbeest using the holy number.

There is a holy number which is the frame rate for the working mechanism of a Strandbeest.

Based on this rate, we can create a more creature-like model.

The picture below is the holy number which is open to the public online.


First, we need to use a trigonometric ratio for the working mechanism.


A leg built using the holy number.

Now I can copy this working mechanism and join them together.

This time I’ll double the number of hinges. This is necessary to avoid gaps between the joints when it moves around.

We have a working test of a model with six legs. We can move it around with the up/down keys.

This is a six-legged model that’s a little more elaborate.

It looks nice!

I’ll upload this model to 3D Warehouse at the following3DWarehouse account

Each frame of Strandbeest _default_model_1 is modular to allow users to create different forms. Give it a try, and create your own Strandbeest.

Because we’re using MSPhysics, the filesize of the model is a bit heavy. If your computer struggles to run it try Strandbeest _default_model_2, which is adjusted to get rid of ground plane crunch-numbers.

DVERSE Inc.でSketchUpの技術的サポートをしています。

ブログでは余り馴染みのないSketchUpの使い方や、 建築建設イベントのレポートなどを載せる予定です。お楽しみに。

I’m providing technical support on SketchUp for DVERSE Inc. and going to update various information such as un-familiar SketchUp usage, event reports on architecture/construction, etc. We hope you’ll be looking forward to it.