Introduction: How to Make a Dancing Groot.

This instructable was created in fulfillment of the project requirement of the Makecourse-Art at the University of South Florida (

For this instructable we will be showing you how to create a Dancing Groot to be 3D printed. For this project, you will need the AutoDesk software Maya and Mudbox, an Arduino Uno, a servo motor, a motion sensor, and access to a 3D printer.

Step 1: Begin With Autodesk Maya.

For the modeling portion of this project, start by designing the figure in Autodesk Maya. The figure will consist of 7 separate parts in total. The parts are the flower pot/base, the lid/lower body, the upper body (in halves), the arms, and the head.

Step 2: Design the Flower Pot.

I started the design process by creating the base, which is the flower pot that Groot is planted in. For this I started with a hollowed out cylinder, and expanded the top perimeter to be slightly wider than the bottom perimeter. Then you will need to create a small lip about a quarter inch below the inside of the top edge for the lid to sit on. Then about half way down the inside of the pot you will need to create a cross bar, which you will mount the servo motor to later. Leave plenty of room underneath for the Arduino and cable to fit comfortably. And finally you will need to create an opening in the rear for the power cable to fit through. This piece will not need to be sculpted later, so it is finished at this stage.

Step 3: Design the Lid/Lower Body

The next part you'll need to create is the lid to the flower pot, which also functions as the bottom half of Groot's body. Start by creating a cylinder with the same width as the inner edge of the flower pot and just tall enough to sit flush with the top of the flower pot. Then you'll need to create a simple hollowed out rectangular cube to serve as the bottom half of Groot's body. Then center the cube to the cylinder and attach the two pieces together so they become one piece with a hole in the middle. Lastly, you'll need to extrude a lip around the inner edge of the top of the body. This will keep the top half of Groot's body from fall off.

Step 4: Design the Two Halves of the Upper Body.

For the top half of the body, you'll need to create two pieces that can be assembled and disassembled so that the arms can be inserted later. Since the two halves will be identical opposites of each other, it is easiest to design them as one piece and split them in half later. Start by creating a hollow cube the same size as the bottom half of the body you already created. About one fourth of the way down from the top, use the insert edge loop tool to create an edge, and then use the tool again about half way between that edge and the top to create another edge. Select the new edge and scale it in to create a neck that the head will rest on. Now, about two thirds from the bottom, create two small holes on either side of the body that the arms will fit through later. Finally, cut the the piece in two so that you have a front and a back piece.

Step 5: Design the Arms.

For the arms, we'll design one piece that will be duplicated and mirrored to create one left and one right arm. Start with a long, thin rectangular polygon. Then we'll use the insert edge loop tool to create the different section of the arm. One one end, create a large cube connected to a rectangle about half the size of the rectangle you started with. The small piece will sit inside the holes that were created in the Upper body, and the large end pieces will lock the arms inside the body so they can't fall out. Use the edge loop tool in the middle of the arm to create an edge that we can bend into the elbow. At the opposite end of the arm, use the insert edge loop tool about one third of the way between the elbow and the end of the arm. Select that edge and scale it up slightly larger than the rest of the arm to create the basis of what will become the hand.

Step 6: Design the Head.

To create the head, start with a hollow rectangle that is just a little bit taller than it is wide. The first thing you'll need to do is close up the top of the head so that only the bottom has an opening. Then, use the insert edge loop tool once about one third from the bottom, and once again about one third from the top. These will be the locations for the mouth and the eyes on the head. Taper the bottom edge in to about half the size of the head to create the curve from the jaw to the neck. Then select the edge around the top one third of the head and scale it in just a little bit smaller than the rest of the head. Lastly, create another edge loop a little bit below the top edge of the head, then select the edge around the top of the head and scale it in to create the rough shape of Groot's hair.

Step 7: Begin Sculpting in Autodesk Mudbox.

Now, begin sculpting the pieces by opening them in Autodesk Mudbox. Most of the features that make Groot recognizable will come from sculpting in Mudbox. For this portion, you can experiment and have fun creating the body. Since Groot has an intricate tree-like body, it doesn't need to perfectly match the film version in order to look like Groot.

Step 8: Sculpt the Bottom Half.

For the bottom half of the body, start by sculpting the branches that form the body. Use the foamy tool to bulge out the figure and begin shaping the branches. Start where the body meets the lid and create the roots that extend out into the dirt. Once branches foreign the body are finished, use the foamy tool again to create the rough dirt texture on top of the lid to give the look that Groot is planted inside the flower pot.

Step 9: Sculpt the Top Half.

For the top two halves, use the same process to sculpt the branches that form Groot's body. This will give the figure a seamless look and will minimize the visibility of the point where the top and the bottom half meet. Be sure to leave the holes where the arms will fit through intact so that they will still fit through when printed.

Step 10: Sculpt the Arms.

For the arms, instead of sculpting outwards you'll want to use the foamy tool and sculpt inwards. Once you've created the branches on the arms, use the foamy tool to sculpt the fingers of the hand. Once you've finished sculpting the arm, duplicate it and mirror it to create the opposite arm.

Step 11: Sculpt the Head.

To begin with the head, use the bulge tool to pop out two eyes on either side of the head. Then, use the bulge tool to push out the cheeks where the ends of Groot's smile will be. Then use the foamy tool again to cut in the smile between the two cheeks. Use the foamy tool to accentuate the outline of the eyes as well so they are more defined. Then, use the foamy tool to sculpt the branches that make up roots hair. Use a combination of sculpting in and pulling out the branches to make them stand out on the top of his head. Finally, once you're happy with the amount of "hairs" you've made, use the flatten tool to flatten out the tops of the "hairs".

Step 12: Print Your Files and Paint the Parts.

Once you have finished the sculpting process, you'll need to have all of the pieces printed. Once that is finished, use brown and black paint to give Groot his color. Start by covering the whole figure with a dark brown, and then once it dries, paint in the deep crevices with black to make them look deeper. For the flower pot, the easiest way to create the opening for the motion sensor was to use a drill and make two 3/4" holes in the front of the pot.

Step 13: Wiring the Electronic System.

Here, I've shown a simple representation of the wiring system for Groot. We only used one servo, a HC-SR04 ultrasonic ranging module, wires, the breadboard, and the Arduino board.

Using the image above as a visual guide, wire up the circuit as listed below:

- HC-SR04 VCC Pin to Breadboard VCC Rail 1

- HC-SR04 GND Pin to Breadboard GND Rail 1

- HC-SR04 Trigger Pin to Arduino Digital Pin 6

- HC-SR04 Echo Pin to Arduino Digital Pin 5

- Servo Data In Pin to Arduino Digital Pin 9

- Servo 5V Pin to Breadboard VCC Rail 1

- Servo GND Pin to Breadboard GND Rail 1

-Arduino VCC Pin to Breadboard VCC Rail 1

-Arduino GND Pin to Breadboard GND Rail 1

Step 14: The Code

Here is the code used to program the Arduino. The code is well commented, but here are some things to keep in mind:

- You can change the number of inches in the if statement to any distance you would like to use.

- Remember to use the right pin numbers if you didn't connect the wires exactly like the diagram in the previous step.

Here is a very good example of the setup and code that is similar to the one we used. It has excellent comments and simple explanations for every step of the code:

Step 15: Assembling the Final Product.

Once you have the wiring complete and the coding finished, gently place the arduino and the breadboard inside of the flower pot. Insert the motion sensor into the holes made in the front of the flower pot. Next, super glue a popsicle stick to the arm of the servo motor to serve as the mechanism to move the upper body. Once that is finished, glue the servo motor to the crossbar inside of the flower pot so that it stays stable while operating. Then place the lid on top of the flower pot and guide the popsicle stick inside the hollow center. To keep the two halves of the upper body connected, super glue two magnets to inside of each half of the body so that will stay clipped together when combining them. Place the arms inside of the arm sockets. To mount the head, super glue a spring, such as a spring from a bobble head figurine, to the inside of the head so that it can move freely on top of the body. Then clip set the spring inside of the opening of the neck at the top of the upper body. Clip the two piece of the upper body together so that the arms and the head are securely held together. Place Groot's top half on top of the bottom half, plug the USB cable into the arduino and a power source, and watch him dance!