I have been making automata for several years selling to collectors around the world.
To ensure repeatability of designs I have previously used paper templates designed in Illustrator for 2D parts and a home made copy carver for 3D parts.
I have now started digitalising my work. The photos show one of my most complicated pieces with a 50 turn cycle. 2D parts I have designed in VCarve Pro. 3D parts present more of a challenge. I photograph the profile of the originals to use as a guide in Blender to produce stl files that I import into Cut 3D for sizing, producing CAM files. I then import the Cut 3D files into VCarve Pro for indexing and to design the interior cavities on the reverse sides. Most 3D shapes are made in 2 halves and glued together. This makes cutting easier, allows interior chambers to be cut by flipping the work and increases strength. I have VCP8 but I prefer to use Cut 3D and import into VCP as this gives more flexibility.
The 3 pieces in the photograph are entirely CNC cut with hand finishing. Woods used are birch ply for gears, beech for cams and lime wood for the carvings. All 3 found their way into collections within a month of completion. The brass axle bushings are also CNC cut on the lathe but are hand g-coded.
A video can be viewed at http://www.lowbot.co.uk