How to get blogged on The Brothers Brick, in 3 easy steps [Editorial]

The Brothers Brick vignetteOne of the most frequently asked questions we get here at The Brothers Brick is how to get your LEGO creation featured on the blog. We’ve answered this tangentially with Linus’s LEGO is communication series and Tim’s blogging standards, but I thought it was time we helped all of you out there understand a bit better what makes a LEGO creation “blogworthy” to us.

Now, in three easy steps, here’s how to get blogged on The Brothers Brick…

Step 1: Build something awesome

Arvo's LEGO ChestbursterAwesome is a fairly subjective word, but it’s a good word to encompass all the different types of cool LEGO creations we like to blog. Several factors can influence how awesome a LEGO creation is:

A few LEGO creations combine several of these factors to achieve a truly unique mashup, like these awesome examples:

Step 2: Take good pictures of your LEGO creation.

LEGO photography is hard. You can’t just use your mom’s low-resolution camera phone to take pictures of your MOC on your computer desk. Putting some effort into your LEGO photography will highlight your creations to their best advantage, and help get them noticed.

  • The right things in focus: If you’re taking a picture of a minifig, the minifig should be in focus. If you’re taking a picture of a diorama, the foreground (or whole scene) should be in focus. For close-up shots, make sure you turn on your camera’s macro setting.
  • Good lighting: A well-lit LEGO creation shows off all its great colors and intricate details.

    One Stormy Night in October by Alex Eylar on MOCPagesNatural daylight is perfect, though diffused daylight is even better. A full-spectrum fluorescent bulb can stand in for daylight, but they can be expensive and hard to find. If you’re like me and you live somewhere that gets 55 days of sunshine in a year, a combination of “warm” incandescent and “cool” fluorescent lighting can work.

    Very low or focused lighting can also complement a LEGO creation, giving it a cinematic feel, as Alex Eylar demonstrated in One stormy night.

  • Neutral or appropriate background: Take a look at the LEGO creations we blog. One thing you probably won’t notice is their background. Neutral backgrounds don’t distract from the LEGO creation. Many builders use a large piece of card stock paper, while others achieve some interesting effects with bedsheets or blankets.
  • Complementary or immersive camera angle: Take at least one vehicle photo from a three-quarters angle that showcases the top, front, and one side. For LEGO creations that depict a scene, like dioramas and vignettes, take photos from a “minifig’s-eye-view.” Bonus points for having minifigs looking into the camera.

If you don’t have a good camera or you live somewhere that doesn’t have good natural light, you can still make your LEGO photos presentable by post-processing the images through software like Adobe Photoshop, GIMP (free), and even the photo management suite that came with your computer. More specifically, you can improve the colors and exposure, enhance the contrast, and sharpen the focus a little bit.

Apocalypsis by Mark Kelso on MOCpagesOnce you’re familiar with these programs, you can even use them to combine elements from multiple photographs to create a single cohesive whole — a process called compositing. Mark Kelso used this technique for many of the images in his Apocalpysis: A Journey Inward (right).

There are a number of excellent resources in the LEGO fan community about improving your presentation skills:

Step 3: Help us find your LEGO creation.

If you want others to see your LEGO creations (and get them blogged here), there’s no point in hiding them away somewhere nobody will find them. Gone are the days of firing up a free Geocities home page, hand-coding a bunch of HTML pages, and waiting for people to find you when they search Alta Vista in their Netscape browsers. Seriously, personal websites are a thing of the past.

Instead, we recommend that you upload your LEGO creations to one of several specific photo-sharing sites active today:

  • Screen shot of MOCpages.comMOCpages: A dedicated (LEGO-only) photo sharing site maintained by LEGO Certified Professional Sean Kenney. Identify and befriend your favorite builders, get comments on your creations, and receive e-mail alerts when one of your favorite builders posts a new LEGO creation. The best LEGO photo sharing site on the Web today.
  • Flickr: A general (non-LEGO) photo-sharing community site owned and operated by Yahoo! With groups, tagging, contact management, and syndication (RSS and Atom feeds for just about everything), Flickr enables LEGO fans to stay connected and have a fairly LEGO-specific experience on an otherwise non-LEGO site. A free account is limited to 200 photos, while a Pro account costs 25 USD a year.
  • Brickshelf: The original LEGO image hosting site. The site lacks many features of the modern Web (such as feeds and support for apostrophes), and experienced a major outage in 2007 that caused a mass exodus to other image-hosting and photo-sharing sites. Lack of updates and intermittent minor outages since then make the future of this site unclear. Still, many builders choose to post their LEGO photos only on Brickshelf and many LEGO fans continue to check Brickshelf for new and updated creations.

Yes, we know that there are a whole bunch of other LEGO and non-LEGO photo sites on the Web. Given how much time we already spend finding the best LEGO creations to feature for our readers, we just don’t have the time to pay attention to sites like Photobucket, MOCshow, and YouBrick. If you run one of these sites, it’s truly nothing personal.

Once you’ve uploaded your photos, you can do a few more things to help us find them more easily:

  • Tag the photo “LEGO” (Flickr): Tagging your photo adds keywords that help us find it. The most important tag for a LEGO creation is, naturally, “LEGO”. You can also add other relevant keywords, including foitsop for your main “announcement” photo.
  • Add one or more Brothers Brick contributors as contacts (MOCpages & Flickr): Many of us rely on notifications and feeds from our contacts to know when they’ve uploaded something new. By adding us as a contact, we’ll take a look at your LEGO creations and might add you back.
  • Screen shot of LEGO group pool on FlickrAdd the photo to the LEGO pool (Flickr):
    The LEGO group pool on Flickr is one of the primary places where I personally look for new LEGO creations from previously undiscovered builders.
  • Use meaningful folder and file names (Brickshelf) or photo titles (Flickr): A series of DSC_0119.jpg photos in your Brickshelf folder or Flickr photostream doesn’t tell us anything about the creation, and it’s hard to tell which is your main “announcement” photo — the one we should blog.
  • When all else fails, send us a link: If you’ve built something that you really think is good enough to be highlighted on The Brothers Brick, you’ve done everything we’ve suggested here, and we still seem to have missed it, you just might be right. You can use the Contact Us page to send us a link to your LEGO creation. We get a lot of suggestions, so we can’t always reply individually, but we’ll try.

Conclusion

Okay, so not quite as easy as 1-2-3. ;-) Still:

  1. Build something cool.
  2. Take a few decent pictures.
  3. Put them somewhere we’ll find them.

…and you’ll be in pretty good shape to get yourself blogged on The Brothers Brick.

Questions? Ask away in the comments.

20 comments on “How to get blogged on The Brothers Brick, in 3 easy steps [Editorial]

  1. Perry326

    Nice summary for all those builders with far greater building skills then mine.
    As you are very outspoken where the quality of pictures is concerned, I’d like to point you to a very cheap way to make a home studio. A transparent crate and two construction lamps get you started. You can find an overview picture of that setup on this page, about halfway down the page. And lots of pcitures made with this ‘mini studio’ in the entire thread. It’s in Dutch, but the pictures need no comment…

    Hope this helps someone…

    http://forum.belgiumdigital.com/f20/goedkope-en-snelle-ministudio-153699-10.html

  2. fallentomato

    Interesting article. A lot of these tips/guidelines have been explained here before, but this is a nice succinct overview. The “foitsop” tag is news to me. I’ll have to put it to use (although I’m still working on improving steps 1 & 2).

  3. PurpleBrick

    While it is definitely not easy to meet the requirements, the fact that there are so many great lego builders out there makes it even more difficult.

    One suggestion though, there are players in some countries that has challenges in matching the high standard of the work usually demonstrated here, it would be good to find ways to encourage these people. One example, while Lego players in North America, Japan and Europe are generally mature and good in skills, players from some third world countries may lack access to information (information not available in their native language) as well as resources (cannot purchase bricks of choice either due to supply or difference in standard of living).

    Just my 2 cents

  4. dshaddix

    I always seem to either forget about or somehow really screw up steps one and two, whereas I have a firm grasp on step three. …I see where I am going wrong now.

    Thanks!

    ~dave

  5. Thanel

    As a purely consumer AFOL who will never even touch Step 1, this was a quite good explanation. Though it went beyond simply 3 things, all the sub-catagories were helpful, not just preachification, which will hopefully inspire and bring more good builders to the fore. I think I could have written something better though :P

  6. Kevoh

    Other tips!

    Be conformist! Spaceships that look like cliche spaceships, yes! Creations that neatly fit into a preexisting theme, of course! Bonus points if it fits into an official LEGO theme! The more you are like everyone else, the quicker everyone will like you!

    Reference pop culture, blatantly, repeatedly, and without any additional commentary or critique!

    Use the color brown! That automatically makes it either Steampunk or Post-Apoc!!!

    Be named Nnenn, Legohaulic, Sir Nadroj, or Jehkay!!!

    Star Wars! Brickforge! Hipster ironic nostalgia!

  7. Dali Zheng

    VOAT! IATTAR! Neo-classic space! Using lime green and orange automatically makes it Power Miners! Parody bandwagon themes!

    … but seriously some of the above is true lol. I’d like to be blogged here but I don’t have the uber-creativity or photographic skills…

  8. Andrew Post author

    @Kevoh: Aside from the perennial Nnenn/Legohaulic point (which a perusal of our actual posts will reveal not to be true), those are all absolutely fair criticisms, to a greater or lesser degree.

    This is why the post is called “How to get blogged on TBB,” and not “What LEGO creations are good.”

    Diversity of coverage comes from having multiple bloggers, as we do, and reading multiple LEGO blogs. I don’t want to sound like I’m turning readers away, but we blog what we like, and if you don’t like it, there are plenty of other fantastic LEGO blogs you could be reading. ;-)

  9. Dan

    Kevoh, at least there are different bloggers here, with different taste. I hope that you’ve noticed that I tend to blog different types of things than the other guys here, and they do from eachother.

    I also try hard not to blog about a builder that I have recently blogged.

    There are a lot of pop-culture referencing creations that I find off-putting, actually. I can admit to being swayed by a few, though. I absolutely loved the Thundercats when I was growing up, and that pod-racer was a great stand-alone creation.

  10. dshaddix

    In all reality, you guys seem to find most of your stuff from Flickr. I think that MOCpages should see a little more action than it does right now, though you have been blogging a little more out of it since its redesign. I do understand that MOCpages also sees more than its fair share of, less than blogworthy, creations due to the demographic that frequents the site. I’d still like to see more (if possible).

    TBB is a site that I read on a daily basis, yet seldom comment on, and plan to continue reading in the future. I do see the same patterns of popular builds and themes, as Kevoh mentioned, but they are getting blogged because of that very reason.

    As someone who thinks he should have been blogged once or twice more than he has (though I have never self-promoted …blatantly), I have to wonder what this bitterness is about. I mean, it’s just a blog. Are we here to build or get blogged on TBB?

  11. Dan

    I actually find many creations on the forums on Classic-space.com. However, most of the photos there are actually hosted on flickr, and I therefore link straight to the photos on flickr. I must admit that I haven’t used MOCpages in years. The annoying kid ratio on the site became too much for me.

  12. dshaddix

    Dan, I know what you mean about MOCpages. I think that the redesign really addressed some issues nicely though. There are some good builders that post their stuff over there, but yeah, with few exceptions they post on flickr as well.

    I guess I have a soft spot for MOCpages (it helped bring me from my dark age) and I would like to see more happen with it. I’d like to see it become a bigger, better community. …in spite of the ‘annoying kid ratio’.

    There are shades of valdity to Kevoh’s statement however fractured and fragmented they may be. To this I would simply remark, if you don’t like listening to popular music, don’t tune into the top 40 station.

    …and yeah Dan. THUNDERCATS, HO!

  13. Will Thomas

    Andrew: I don’t think asking for floods of requests saying “Andrew, I posted two days ago a creation that I think is really awesome. Could you please blog it?” Unless it’s someone who is consistently blogged, you’re asking for not only floods of mail, but also builders who’ll despise you if you don’t blog their creation(s). Not that that’s your problem, though.

    Dave: I agree, but I don’t believe MOCpages is going to improve any time soon. Also, if you want more members for it, then you’re getting a large percentage of “eltie clone comandurz”.

  14. TooMuchCaffeine

    These comments feature criticism (again) of TBB for only featuring certain established creators. In my experience this is just plain wrong.

    Not only has TBB been kind enough to feature some of my stuff (even if it is all brown steampunk!) but it’s a daily source of inspiration to me in terms of exposure to new builders and techniques.

    If TBB only featured the work of the “usual suspects” then there’d be no need for it to exist – those guys are probably all on our Flickr contacts lists anyway.

  15. Will Thomas

    ^Agreed on all counts. The diversity of the posts is what draws the crowds in my opinion. Kudoos to Andrew for inviting builders such as Dan, Nannan, Tim, and Nathan to join the staff. All have their own style and preferences, and their contributions are greatly appreciated by many.

  16. Thanel

    Snark blah, blah, snark, blah, snark. Um, snark. There is constructive criticism and there is snark. Glad to see MOST of what is above is either constructive or positive, not snark.

    It seems fairly reasonable to expect bloggers to feature what they’re into. It is a matter of taste after all. The cool thing about all that “meta” stuff is that it helps a blog keep itself honest by quantifying its own proclivities.

  17. PonchoPenguin

    Step 1, uh, check?
    Step 2, check!
    Step 3, *applies foitsop tags and puts in various pools*, check!

    Oh, and about all the bandwagon and other popular things getting blogged here: I think we can all agree that they may come in various degrees of awesome, but that all of them are blogworthy, right?

  18. ColourSchemer

    I would like to add an unofficial addendum entitled: “How not to get blogged on TBB”

    1. Get married, have children, go to college, or travel for work. Basically any significant expenditure of time that becomes a higher priority than LEGO. If one of these options doesn’t work for you, do like I did and add several of them together. I’m currently averaging 8 pieces added per day on my Post-Apoc Diorama.

    (Do not mistake step 1 for not building. Not building is called a Dark Age, Grey Age or possibly Bley Age)

    2. Stop taking photographs of your MOCs. Your reasons may be the above time crunch, poor lighting because you live in foggy Pacific NorthWest, camera technology issues like Flickr doesn’t accept 35mm film or a moral objection to using environmentally-unfriendly batteries. I chose the lack of a decent white sheet, and an embarrassing MOC posting involving a dirty grey towel.

    3. Voraciously seek out and view the widest variety of other people’s MOCs as possible. In this way, you will see creations similar to your own and the public reaction to them. You may need to imagine melding two postings together to better understand how the community would respond if you had actually posted your own MOC. This gives you all the constructive criticism you need to improve as a builder, without the heartache and internet drama of having not been blogged, or harassed with comments about studs showing, rainbow warriorism, and passe building techniques.

    Hopefully, these steps will help the shy, unskilled, or rebellious LEGO builders out there to avoid accidentally being blogged. If all else fails, and your creation ends up on TBB despite your best efforts- you can always resort to making wild accusations about copyright law and privacy invasion. It won’t help, but it will sure be fun.

  19. Firas Abu-Jaber

    I don’t really understand why people are very disturbed from MOCpages!? For me, and I’m talking as an AFOL; it’s the best place to share your LEGO creations, specially (and thanks for Kenney) after the new MOCpages 2009… I mean, it’s pure LEGO website, with a great features and it’s moderated. I know that there’s something called “block” in Flickr, but you’re forced sometimes to see some rude acts on your pages before you block the person. Besides, if you’re so annoyed from the kids, put in your mind that LEGO in first place created for KIDS, as a kid toy till now… In the other hand (thanks for Sean again) you don’t have even to visit the main page of MOCpages everyday, all you have to do is to add your favorite builders to your fav. list and you’ll receive an e-mail whenever they posted a new creation, then you don’t have to see anything that you don’t like as the “clon comanduerz”!

    Any way this is just me and my opinion, may be I like MOCpages more than others because it took me out from my dark ages as well.

    I know that this is off topic a little bit, but I just liked to share my opinion here, and thanks for this great topic and thanks a lot for blogging my stuff from time to time, TBB.

    Peace,
    Firas

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