'How do you begin to draw robots?''What advice can you give'
I've tried my best in the past to explain my mecha design process but what it ultimately comes down to is: study, study, study.
For those of you that don't know this, I have a background in Industrial design. I've spent over ten years now studying the process of how things are manufactured. Cars, soap, charcoal, you name it chances are I watched a show or read about it being made. (Just ask Kristina. I'm sure she would love to have the Science channel permanently banned in our house...) It might seem tedious but I think this is the single reason why I feel so comfortable drawing mechanical objects. When designing, I always find myself thinking 'does this make sense? Can be made?' I've found by using this approach it gives the design some authenticity and makes it more believable to the viewer.
So what now? Where should you begin? Well one of the easiest things to do is take reference photography. Even though I've been able to build up a mental visual library of mechanics over the years, I still need a visual reference from time to time. This is why I keep a comprehensive reference photography folder handy on my computer. Best part is I take all the photos myself and then have the flexibility to manipulate them as needed. They can be used as a color palette, an underpainting for digital illustrations, etc. Because you own the photos, you can do whatever you want with them!
So grab a camera and go for a walk! Take a ton of photos that interest you. You never know when you might need them and you'll become a more experienced photographer.
Here's an example of reference photography and sketch demo. Below are a few photos I recently took. I used these to design a worker mech taking key details found in the photos:
This drawing is now available on the site for those of you interested!
I hope this helps and inspires you to go out, take some photos and study up!