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OK everyone, I have a request for you. I know my mecha designs are pretty old-school, but what does the modern cutting edge mecha design look like? I'm getting OLD and it is difficult for me to keep up with what is and isn't fresh. What is modern and what do people like? Please help a guy out and post some links. Thanks!!!!

**UPDATE**

Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far! I would like to reiterate that I am looking for "cutting edge" stuff. I like some of the old designs that have a futuristic feel, such as Landmates from Appleseed, and all the Macross stuff, but I just can't consider a 20+ year old design to be cutting edge. Gundam definitely doesn't qualify.

Keep the links and suggestions coming! Here are some of the suggestions that I find intriguing...

* Linebarrels of Iron. I watched this series and the mechs are very cool. The designs have a freshness to them and the shapes are very interesting.
* The newer Front Mission and Armored Core games. These series always try to add something new with each iteration.
* M3CH, Steel Battalion, and Metal gear. Functional but interesting
* Zone of Enders. This stuff is getting pretty old but it still feels cutting edge to me!
* and the works of :iconnidaram: and :iconvulnepro: have a good fresh vibe too!
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:iconvulnepro:
VulnePro Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Just found this (It's been a hella crazy couple of weeks).

Wow, again I can't help be express a humble thanks and honor to be noted as such in this thread and journal posting. I'll send a heads up to :iconnidaram: and :icongenocidalpenguin: (thanks to :iconrob-cavanna:) as well, I'm sure they'd feel the same.

It's funny, I'm getting up there in age myself and really consider myself pretty old school so I never thought what I have been doing was cutting edge. Guess I never really thought too hard on it at all really. I suppose in that sense letting the designs find themselves is leading to places that are true to my intent in the narrative they exist in. Being the narrative is pretty out there I guess cutting edge might follow but I'm not conscientiously shooting for that.

Organic, elegant, ornate, wed with aggressiveness was the mantra and the designs moved, more and more, in that direction. I tend to favor visually appealing form and some playfulness in design. Though I like detail I also like visually uncluttered designs so, again, form tends to rule the day with me. I really need to post something on our site discussing my views in this in greater detail. As with you Dave, I've been fascinated by the notion of mecha since I was a wee lad.

Some "cutting edge" stuff I've dug by other designers? A lot of it has been noted here but I'll add:

Kenji TERAOKA's work on IGPX (the designs in Guilty Crown are in the same vein as well. Different design team though). Whatever one thinks of the shows (kinda up in the air on Guilty Crown) the designs are pretty trippy and distinctly modern in feel.

Takayuki YANASE [link] Though his work on Gundam 00, frankly didn't break any ground in terms of setting Gundam's design cues on fire in wild new directions I do believe his rendering style has a decidedly modern feel to it.

Of course I concur ZOE and Linebarrles of Iron (which in many ways is a ZOE-a-like. Can't say I liked the show one bit though but the designs are pretty cool) are aesthetically adventurous.

I would also agree with Dave that Shirow's work is STILL relevent and still rather cutting edge. The man knew what he was doing, plain and simple.

Also thought some of the designs for Rahxephon by Michiaki SATO & Yoshinori SAYAMA (save the Rahxephon design itself. I also assume Yutaka IZUBUCHI had a hand in some of it seeing as it was his show) were pretty trippy and modernistic in feel.

I know I could add plenty more but these are off the top of my head right now.

Thanks again Dave and

best!
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:iconsilverlion:
Silverlion Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011
I still don't get the lack of feet thing.
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:iconemersontung:
emersontung Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Keith Thompson is a good one. He definitely takes steampunk to a new level with his mechs and vehicles. --> [link]

:iconukitakumuki: one of my favourite artist on dA. His mechs are very influenced by gritty militaristic realism.
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2011  Professional General Artist
that guys stuff is way incredible
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:iconemersontung:
emersontung Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
glad you like'em :D
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:iconrekkou:
Rekkou Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I'm really looking forward to see your new edge cutter.
Reply
:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
I have some ideas... but not enough time:(
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:icontheshepster:
TheShepster Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I really think that the question is WHAT you define as cutting edge... I personally think that the Marduk Gilgamesh II Officer Destroid ([link] and [link]) as well as the VF-2SS SAP Valkyrie ([link]) from Macross II still are really cuttig edge in design and functionality... Besides of those, I of course also dig the valkyries from Macross Frontier. But I imagine you already knew, knowing that I'm a huge fan of the franchise... ^^

As to what makes a design cutting edge, I think that the form of the mech should totally follow its function. If you need a humanoid steered tank, you will of course design a tank and not some strange kind of beast...
Reply
:iconmechacharibdys:
mechacharibdys Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
There's definitely been a push to reinvent Gundam lately with a lot of sleeker, pared-down designs (I'm looking at AGE and 00 here), although imho they've also been pretty damn ugly.
Reply
:iconaerzaal:
Aerzaal Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Vheck out this guys gallery.

[link]
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:iconaerzaal:
Aerzaal Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, also check out Heavy Gear, but that' pretty much the same style as classic Armored Core or Front Mission.
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:iconallard-liao:
Allard-Liao Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012
I actually own the demo version of Heavy Gear II, so I know what you're talking about.
Reply
:iconimperiumstar:
ImperiumStar Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011
What about some kind of Bio/Mech. It runs a weird gambit of cyborg/cyber enhancements, but they can be cool...
Reply
:iconjepray:
Jepray Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
The latest Macross designs are a step beyond the original F14 clones and the new super veritech add-on packs are more streamlined and just cool. they are slim, streamlined better, and run several variants [link] [link] [link]
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:iconjepray:
Jepray Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I would have to say Full metal Panic! [link] minus the weird mind shield system thing. The units used by the police and military forces look about right. and Patlabor. [link] those are what mecha can be. not smooth streamlined, but also not chunky like some Wanzers end up looking...
the transformers as far as the movie versions, look cool but make no sense... the spinny motion blur looks cool but the parts never seem to add up... the original cartoon you can see whats what. so as a toy they made sense... cool looks but not realistic... better luck with a Veritech fighter, those make sense... as far as giant flying mechs go...
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:iconlordcrazymike:
LordCrazyMike Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
Dream Pod Nine stuff. a massive amount of their Jovian Chronicles stuff is Ultra Modern
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
links???
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:iconrobotechchaos:
RobotechChaos Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
I've got a bunch of Armored Core designs in my gallery. Those 'might' do...

I'll leave that to you.
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:iconprotozerg:
Protozerg Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
The most commonly used mechs would be from things like gundam and such. Ones with more humanoid looks.

Here's an idea.
[link]
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
I like the landmate, but I don't see how something that's 20 years old could be considered modern or cutting-edge. Same goes for Gundam. I LOVE a lot of the Gundam designs but they definitely aren't fresh.
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:iconprotozerg:
Protozerg Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
:P i guess i'm a little old school myself then. :D sorry.
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
oh no, your help is greatly appreciated!
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Professional General Artist
Thanks for all the input and links so far... can't believe no one has mentioned the transformers movies yet!

keep 'em coming :D
Reply
:iconrob-cavanna:
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
All Michael Bay related mecha should be stricken from the record. Sorry, I forgot to mention.

Technically not even mecha. I think they fall under the "swirling tornadoes of junk" category. ;P
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
I totally hear you, but would you feel differently if they didn't transform?
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:iconrob-cavanna:
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011
Nah, IMO they're an exercise in bad design. Lots of flash and detail, but all extremely incoherent.

I had a chance to see some pre-film release Optimus artwork for an old job... after the initial amazement, it dawned on me and my boss that actually -it wasn't very well done. Believability, preservation of mass, conscientious aesthetic -all out the window. On top of all that, they look completely fragile. More like bad modern art than combat ready mecha. Star scream wasn't so terrible. But overall very disappointing. I could write an essay about how bad they were. The most annoying thing is that it was so obvious buckets of money had been poured into them, but with a total lack of incisive art direction. An insult to creativity.

A great mech design is like an immediate mechanical nirvana. You feel a pop in the brain, and think; "YES, that's it! Good one!"
You should not feel yourself thinking; "WHAA?!" I squint my eyes and wrinkle my face when I see Bay mecha. That shouldn't happen.

If the film designs were closer to the attitude of your transforming Osprey or Batmobile, I'd be content. Bay has apparently never seen decent mecha before. Was probably doing coke while cutting mech 101 class. Yeah... total lack of class.
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:iconrob-cavanna:
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
This is a great question, Dave. One I ask myself very often. As suggested above, mechanical engineer Junji Okubo is a great one. His stuff has a highly functional look to it.

Upcoming Armored Core V seems to be taking a new approach in terms of mech proportions: [link]

Big ups to all things Wanzer: [link]
[link]

some random stuff:

[link]

[link]

[link]

[link]

could come up w/ more juicy links if prodded...
tough to pin down what exactly is the cutting edge in mech design, but it sure looks pretty when the vibe is in the air.
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:iconsagethe13th:
SageThe13th Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
Check out the work of Junji Okubo. He did the mecha designs for Steel battalion. All his stuff looks great. Here's an article on him [link] You should also check out the latest Macross designs from Zero [link] and Frontier [link]

Looking at some the current robotics technology might be good.
Reply
:iconthedeadwarrior:
thedeadwarrior Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
the modern mecha usually pack lots of heat. Also, it has more of a human form. Some of them are way are smaller then what you do. People can just jump into them.
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:iconthatmysteriousguy-xd:
Thatmysteriousguy-XD Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
[link]
this is from an MMORPG i used to play, and i think the design of it is amazing. Some of your art i would call modern, but the old school stuff is still really cool. :D
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:iconshinsengumi77:
shinsengumi77 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Armored core (any) or Front Mission are IMHO a decent balance of realism and fantasy, which should help bridge the gap between old-style and "cutting edge." I won't give a link for AC (AC: V specifically) since a good one was already provided by :iconcross-kaiser:

Here's a link from Front mission 4: [link]
Reply
:iconcrashlegacy:
CrashLegacy Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
I total forgot about the front mission's Wanzers. those things are a great example, especially given that they are designed to fit in a 20 minutes into the future world.
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:iconshinsengumi77:
shinsengumi77 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, sadly they don't get nearly the attention of some of the other mecha titles out there :(
Reply
:iconkr0zbone:
Kr0zBoNE Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
Hmm...I watch quite a bit of mecha anime, so I've noticed that newer mecha designs are gradually getting more:

1) Sleeker, thinner (majority of them anyway)
2) Angular/Spikey

But old school designs are more boxy and stuff. So I think you can say they got more shape now.
And also I've noticed that newer mecha are sort-of, in my opinion, overpowered in their weaponry....lol.

Talking about color scheme, newer mecha has lesser secondary/tertiary colors here and there.
I guess, their theme might be more streamlined. Also, they kinda look less of machines but more humanoid, if you get what I mean.

Mmmm...I don't know, what do you think? :)
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:iconcodyfurlong:
CodyFurlong Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
Might want to check some of these galleries out.
[link]
Reply
:iconmann-of-lamancha:
Mann-of-LaMancha Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't have any links and I'd older than you, but I was going to suggest the same what crashlegacy just said.
I think the trend is to merge humanoid (if not human) and mecha together. I've seen a lot of airplane wings on "people" but told they are "robots".
I'd post links to the "many" that I've seen, but that forum closed down about a year ago.

In short, unless there is a sudden revival, the days of "machine mecha" are drawing to a close. The only people showing interest are the one who grew up with it.
Everyone that responded so far are in their mid to late twenties at best, with exception of Rekkou who is 22.

Maybe what you should do is post a poll asking your watchers what age group they fall in so you know who would have the best "feel" for what hyper modern expectations are?

Not mecha, but maybe this will give you some fresh inspirations of what futuristic machines that are wowing the next generation? [link] (or more simply, just watch what new games role out that kids love). :shrug:
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:iconcrashlegacy:
CrashLegacy Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
your style seems like it would mesh well with injections of of the Armored Core or even some of the Gundam design styles.

I think there's two major deisgn elments that you'd need to focus on to bring your designs into "modern." The first would be a lighter and more humanoid body then your average work. completely enclosed cockpits would be more or less a requirement, leaving a largely visible canopy tends to harken back to older designs based on WW2 aircraft.

if you want to hit "ultra-modern" looking designs the the chief thing is to incorporate smooth, curved shapes into the design. Think of sports cars and such for inspiration there.
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:iconrekkou:
Rekkou Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
You mean modern mechs as in trends of mech these days? Well in my opinion, modern mechs these days is what you might found in Orbital frame in ZOE, Machinas in Linebarrels and E.S in Xenosaga, just like :iconnidaram: and :iconvulnepro: work. I consider them as the cutting edge design of modern mechs.

From what i've learned, their signature is:
-Their design choose shape over function.
-Instead of being a solid machine their design are more organic instead.
-Disregard ideal human basic proportion to achieve exaggerated yet unique form.
-Rule of cool is priority than rule of physics

Some examples:
[link]
[link]

Hope this'll help
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:iconvulnepro:
VulnePro Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2011  Professional Filmographer
My thanks for the kind words Rekkou. It's cool to know folks think what we've been doing is riding the cutting edge. It's just not something, I personally have been thinking about, but it's great the work is connecting in that way. I've been under the radar more than i wanted to this year but things should pick up more as we move into the new year.

Again humble thanks for the kind words here. As I've said before I love you work as well :)
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:iconrekkou:
Rekkou Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
my pleasure
Reply
:iconrob-cavanna:
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
Agree! Also :icongenocidalpenguin:
Reply
:iconcross-kaiser:
Cross-Kaiser Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Modern mech designs I'd say would be the Armored Core 5 style thing. Like shown in the trailer below.
[link]

Oh yeah, I've also noticed the new trend in some mechs (and medieval armor in games) which is having pointy ends everywhere... sort of like [link] shown in the blog ~WhiteKnight83 posted.
(It reminds me to Dragon Age 2 armor that Hawke wears lol)

They look badass, realistic, and modern.

Knowing your skills, you could make an awesome mech out of those ideas. :)
Reply
:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Professional General Artist
Did you intentionally post a mech that I designed and drew? I did that Black Knight ;)
Reply
:iconcross-kaiser:
Cross-Kaiser Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
LOL is just too awesome you know. But hey, it does show the new trend of triangle shapes in the designs :D
Reply
:iconcross-kaiser:
Cross-Kaiser Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh yeah the Tank mech shown on the trailer also have the pointy triangle shapes making it look mean and badass... just like I mentioned, which is the new trend now it seems.

So... yeah... triangle shapes everywhere lol.
Reply
:iconkeydan:
Keydan Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
IMHO old is better. Old as in late 90s early 00s, 80s were sometimes just silly.
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:iconafroblade:
AfroBlade Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
Armored Core V's mech designs look pretty good.
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:iconafroblade:
AfroBlade Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011
Reply
:iconwhiteknight83:
WhiteKnight83 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
[link] Here is a good blog for modern mech design. It is a fan site for Battlettech and is working on publishing a TRO for their home brew designs. It will hopefujlly be available later next year.
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