We present a computational design tool for creating physical characters using tensegrities — networks of rigid and elastic elements that are in static equilibrium. Whereas the task of designing general tensegrities is very difficult to automate, we show that a modular design paradigm allows users of our system to intuitively build intricate structures that approximate the shape of complex characters. The underlying concept exploited by our method is that simple tensegrities can be used as building blocks to create increasingly complex figures. To this end, we propose a dedicated optimization scheme in order to compute the lengths of elastic cables such that, when fabricated, the structure assumes the desired shape under gravity while remaining compliant and responsive to user interaction. We demonstrate the flexibility of our system by designing several types of tensegrity characters, one of which we also fabricate.
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