Strange Behavior (Animation) Entry: Claire O'Brien


My entry to the Strange Behaviour challenge will depict Professor Branestawm’s invention for peeling potatoes and is based on the stories by Norman Hunter and the illustrations by the fabulous W. Heath Robinson.

The Professor is as nutty as they come and exhibits the strange behaviour of constructing ingenious contraptions made out of household junk to do the most mundane jobs.

As well as showing the Professor’s strange behaviour I intend to show the strange nature of the machine itself in the animation. I aim to show details of the machine in close up and build suspense to what it actually does then show the (anti-)climax of the peeling of the potato.

This is a work in progess that I started back in 2005 from when I first started doing 3D. I never felt I did full justice to it by not completing it so I see this challenge as the perfect opportunity to finish it and get some feedback anlong the way.

Hope to see you all at the end!



i really like your concept and idea. very cool sketch and potentially could be a great idea…

doesnt look to easy to animate mind you but good luck anyway



fantastic concept… sheesh that’d take even longer than your old knife and 2 hands LOL:thumbsup: looking forward to more! :bounce:


a fresh concept! I like it! looking to see more!
Goodluck btw!
mim, :thumbsup:


Thanks guys, here was me thinking it would be looked down upon to use an existing piece of work as inspiration for the challenge.

Yes it will be difficult to animate, I will do the wheels turning with expressions, but the main animation will be in the form of animating the shots to create suspense about what the machine actually is. At least, that is what I’m aiming for :slight_smile:

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll post my modelling progress soon.


Here are the elements of the Potato Peeler isolated for modelling.


Here are my orthographic drawings of Professor Branestawm based on W. Heath Robinson’s three-quarter drawing on the right. Storyboard to follow.


This is a schematic of how the Potato Peeler works as an aid for animating it.


As I say above, my last post is a schematic of how the Potato Peeler works as an aid for animating it.

It is not an automated machine, it is operated by the Professor and his Housekeeper, Mrs Flittersnoop. It is controlled by a single pedal that rotates clockwise turning a series of ropes and ‘cogs’. Attached to the last cog is a fork where you attach the potatoes. This places and rotates the potato in the knife’s range to be peeled. The knife (presumably very sharp) has to be manipulated by someone to peel the potato. When the potato is peeled the bell is rung to stop and load the next potato.
Don’t know if I’ll have time to include Mrs Flittersnoop, we’ll see.


Here are my orthos for Mrs Flittersnoop beside W. Heath Robinson’s drawing on the right. Hope I have time to model her.


Excellent concept and your drawing skills are really good! would love to see those
drawings in polygons and shaders!
Good luck!


Thanks for the compliments Varma. The modelling of the potato peeler and the set is coming along nicely (I think :)) and I should be posting a render soon. Then I can begin modelling the professor.


Excellent concept drawings, Claire! I like the “turn of the century” engraving style, it would really make sense if you could imbue the final renders with some sort of retro atmosphere.
Great idea, too!


Here is a render of the potato peeler model and set.


I’m hoping I have time to finish my entry. The modelling took longer than expected even though I had already done a lot of it for my MA. I had to tidy up a lot of the meshes as I made them when I first started learning 3D with heavy use of booleans. Another time-eater has been that I also UV mapped as I went along. But thank goodness for Roadkill it made the job a bit easier! I don’t know if I’ll get round to modelling the Professor and Mrs Flittersnoop, we’ll see.

Crits welcome, thanks.


Nothing to crit, this looks really magnificant… hope you will have time to finish it? I mean till the contest ends… i mean you have two characters to create and so on…

Good luck! :thumbsup:


I know , I know, I’m running out of time but I never expected to be a contentder and even with this coming week off from my day job I still don’t expect to be. I’m in it for the experience and feedback so here’s my work in progress base mesh for the Professor.

Thanks for the kind comments, I welcome critique.


I didn’t want my last submission to be my last entry in the competition so here is the potato peeler shaded (but without textures) and gloomily lit. It gives an indidcation of the colour palette and is a step towards my lighting.

As awlays crits and comments are welcome.


I like the development of your project. Good luck!


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