ArtBots are a fun and easy project for makers of all ages and skill levels to enjoy. Using an inexpensive electric toothbrush, a few common craft materials, and your imagination you can make a fun vibrating robot that makes unique art!


art bot supplies on table: cup markers scissors electric toothbrush tape pipe cleaners pool noodle rubber bands googley eyes

Supplies Needed

  • Electric toothbrush
  • Paper cup or Pool noodle
  • Masking tape or Rubber bands
  • Markers
  • Decorative items such as googly eyes and pipe cleaners

How to Make an ArtBot

Step 1: Add Battery to Toothbrush

Open the battery compartment at the bottom of the electric toothbrush. Insert the AA Battery into the compartment — make sure to check that you’ve inserted the negative terminal first. After doing this, turn on the toothbrush and make sure it works.

Step 2: Prepare your vessel

If using a cup, cut a hole in the bottom of the cup that is large enough for the body of the toothbrush. The hole should at least be large enough for the toothbrush to fit through. However, the actual size can be determined based on your design intention.

Alternatively, if you are using a pool noodle, cut a section that is approximately 4-5″ long to contain your toothbrush through the hole in the center.

This is one area where you’re able to customize and make adjustments based on performance and need. If you are using a different item for your vessel, construct it any way you like!

Step 3: Insert the Toothbrush

Insert the toothbrush through the hole in the cup or pool noodle. You may find that you want/need to tweak where and how the toothbrush fits into the vessel. The vibration of the toothbrush provides the core of the ArtBot’s movement, so this is a good step to refine based on performance and intention.

Step 4: Attach and Align the Markers

Once the toothbrush is added, the next step is to add the markers. Using rubber bands or masking tape (or some other item) attach 3 or 4 markers to the outside of your vessel. If you have constructed a vessel using different materials, be creative in the way you attach your markers.

Test fit all of your markers and ArtBot components to make sure that your markers are the only thing touching the surface and that it moves smoothly. You do not want any of the parts to drag along with the markers, unless that is part of your intended design.

hand holding finished artbot with pipecleaner antennas and googley eye

Step 5: Add Embellishments

Using wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, or other materials give your ArtBot some character! Each ArtBot is unique, so give your ArtBot the personality it deserves in this final step!

Be sure to keep testing as you go to make sure your ArtBot still functions as desired when you add to it.

artbot drawing with markers on lined paper

Step 6: Make Art

Lay down a large piece of paper, turn on the motor, and watch it go! Your ArtBot will take off in ways you may not have expected, so watch in amazement and be prepared to catch it if it runs away!

artbots drawing together on white sheet of paper

Step 7: Host an ArtBot Rally (Optional, but encouraged)

If you are making your ArtBots in a group, bring all the ArtBots together on a very large piece of paper on the floor to make an ArtBot Rally!

This is our favorite part of making ArtBots because it is so fun to see everyone’s bots interact with each other and see the different type of art they make!