Hehe, yea weight painting is a hassle. No fun at all, but for organic characters it’s quite unavoidable. In this case you there’s the possibility to bone parent at least. I’m doing two legged mechanical thing myself at the moment and there are parts of the rigging I’m at all not sure yet how to do in a good way. But it’s just breaking it down into smaller problems and then solving them one after the other.
Yes I understand what you mean, but all different ways of doing things always have there own set of problems to get past. I guess what one has to do is to find the solution with least amounts on speed bumps…
If you don’t have the drawings, try doing them yourself. Even if it takes time, it gives you time to think about how it’s constructed before you start modelling and that probably reduces the time it takes in the long run.
That’s a really sweet mech by the way. I would actually say that it’s good to start tackle large projects early on, at least as long as you can stay motivated. I think a good thing though, is to try to reduce it to sub problems. For example, first model the mech with just large blocks, no details and no joints, parent these to an armature and animate with this until you get hang of it. At the same time, when you don’t want to animate, but model instead, start on sub parts and model these after the concept. Then you will have a bit more knowledge how the model need to be built for the animation to work out.
Apart from that i don’t think I have any great suggestions except stay at it. If you want to do it and give it time and effort it will pay off.
And ask away at the forum!