Category Archives: Building Techniques

Not sure what SNOT is? Want to learn innovative new ways to create awesome LEGO models of your own? Peruse our posts about LEGO building techniques to pick up tricks & tips from the best.

How to construct the Avalonian Countryside trees

Sometimes it is easy to see how a builder created a particular LEGO build, while at other times a build requires a bit of breakdown and perhaps even a tutorial if there are ‘hidden’ techniques. Last week we blogged this fantastic microscale LEGO countryside diorama from Full Plate, with beautiful fall foliage and crops ready for harvest.

Avalonian Countryside (9 of 9)

The builder, Emil Lidé, has responded to questions about the creation of his trees with this fantastic tutorial to help you create your own. First, he starts with a layout of the parts required for the green trees.

Microscale Tree Mini-tutorial (1 of 5)

Next, Emil shows how the trunk is built using a six-pronged flower stem to ‘hang’ the main foliage. The foliage in this example uses a mix of 1×2 plates and 2×2 round plates.

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Ask for help from an adult if you need to use sharp cutting tools

Nobu_tary‘s photo stream is a bizarre repository, storing a steampunk gun, a chunky knight, (my personal favourite) a delicious yummy slice of pizza and many more brilliant extraordinary ideas — extraordinary to the point when you stop guessing a certain LEGO piece or the way it is attached to other pieces, but start admiring the way the builder sees the world around them.

These nippers are the cutting edge of LEGO building. Useless tail pieces from Ben 10 finally get a second chance as plier handles, completed with some smart use of a couple of Technic connectors and small claws. And I can’t wait what all those gray pieces will be once they are painted and glued together…

Diagonal Plastic Cutting Pliers

A tiny but amazing LEGO fortress — and how it’s built [Video]

Grant Davis has built this spectacular little microscale castle. Like most LEGO microscale creations, it’s awash in terrific creativity, with lots of unusual pieces used in new ways, and the finished product belies its complexity. Fortunately for all of us curious viewers, Grant made a short video that shows some of the techniques he employed as he walks us through the disassembly of the model.

Mycrow Cassul

A pretty place to park your wares

Gabe Umland brings us this nifty vibrant LEGO floating rock, topped with a warehouse for steampunkery. Never underestimate a mundane subject for your models — nearly anything can look magical when built with skill, even an industrial warehouse in the middle of the sky. Don’t miss Gabe’s great technique for paneled siding using stacked and twisted 1×1 bricks, and be sure to scrutinize the hodgepodge of goods for sale; scenes such as this are a way to find uses for that pile of unusual pieces you have.

Poertland Trading Post

Poertland Trading Post

Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair!

French builder Kloou. creates a detailed and technically advanced model of Rapunzel’s tower using tiles for the round tower. If you look closely, you can see Rapunzel’s hair is an actually braided piece of yarn. The builder certainly has not spared a strand of detail.

The Rapunzel Tower - La tour de Raiponce

Just as stunning is the textured roof made of flag clips to imitate the individual shingles.

The Rapunzel Tower - La tour de Raiponce

Babylon 5’s EAS Agamemnon in LEGO form

Babylon 5 fans will recognise Ryan Olsen’s latest build, the EAS Agamemnon. She was one of the first Omega class starships to be built by Earthforce following the Earth-Minbari War. Ryan’s LEGO version is beautiful with those dark red highlights and a central rotating portion that is full of fantastic repeating textures. At 116 studs long, this ship has plenty of details to enjoy!

EAS Agamemnon - Omega Class Destroyer

What EAS Agamemnon would be complete without a few Starfuries flying alongside in formation? This rear aspect also gives a great view of those engines and the detailed greebling. What great presentation of a fine build, this is definitely  a ship to admire.

EAS Agamemnon - Omega Class Destroyer

Microscale bridge is anything but the wurst

“All the specialized parts have taken the creativity out of LEGO building…” If you know someone who regularly trots out this sort of baloney then just show them this model. In one of the finest pieces of creative parts usage I’ve seen all year, this microscale Golden Gate Bridge by liqsr uses hot dog sausages as suspension cables. That’s right, hot dog sausages — possibly the single most “specialized” part LEGO has ever produced. I’m now trying to come up with more sausage-related puns, but none of them quite cut the mustard. Just look at the bridge and be amazed instead…

Micro Golden Gate Bridge

Echo Base, this is Rogue Two... I’ve found them!

Let’s play a simple game: How fast can you count all LEGO sets that contain a model of a T-47 snowspeeder? Well the problem is that there are too many snowspeeders — not only in official sets, but also built by a huge number of talented fans. And each time I see a new iteration of this iconic spacecraft, I tell myself “It can’t get any better, this is perfect!”. But somehow Brickdoctor made his own snowspeeder too outstanding to be mistaken for any other build.

T-47 -- High Three Quarters View

It’s not the choice of pieces or the shape of the speeder, but its awesome wings that make it so cool. Bricks placed with their studs not on top (a technique commonly referred to as SNOT) doesn’t make the wings look heavy, but tiny gaps between the pieces create a stunning pattern as if the speeder is covered with reflective armour plates. If you’re interested in how this T-47 looks inside like, visit the builder’s Flickr stream.

T-47 -- LXF

Replying to “How did you build that?” at Brickfair Virginia

Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend Brickfair Virginia. As always, I had a great time talking to other builders and seeing their excellent models in real life. I also got to show off my own Tomcat model. I know that a fair few builders dread the public days on Saturday and Sunday, but despite having to answer the same questions over and over again, I love chatting to the public. One of the more commonly asked questions is: “How did you build that?”. I can’t give a satisfactory reply in a single sentence, but thanks to Brickfair, I now have two somewhat more complete replies to share with you.


Inspired by a great talk on building landscapes I saw at Brickfair last year, this year I gave my own talk on how to build military aircraft. Without me talking you through them, the slides don’t tell the whole story, of course, but I was also interviewed by the delightful Matthew Kay from Beyond the Brick. In the interview, I got to show off some of the Tomcat’s features and got to talk about the building process.

I hope you’ll agree that both of these are more satisfying than my default answer: “by sticking one part to another and repeating this until the model is finished.”

L’Oiseau de feu

Igor Stravinsky is easily my favorite Classical composer, and I grew up hopping around to The Rite of Spring pretending to be a ballerina, after seeing the Soviet-era Bolshoi troupe perform in 1979 when they toured Japan. Stravinsky’s earlier The Firebird is no less beautiful for being less wildly innovative. In Russian folklore, the Firebird (Жар-пти́ца) is a creature who can aid or doom those who encounter it. In this gorgeous LEGO version built by VSefrem for Russian LEGO forum Bricker.ru, pearl-gold and shades of transparent orange and red add to the underlying yellow for a stunning effect. Particularly noteworthy are the 1×1 round tiles layered on the bird’s neck with clips.

Firebird

While it’s easy to be distracted by the creature alighted on its branch, the tree uses some interesting techniques to create an aged, twisted look — a perfect contrast for the stunning Firebird.

Gateway to LEGO brick wall building

Tim Schwalfenberg’s latest build, Wizard’s Gate, is a masterclass in both rock work and brick wall building.  There are a lot of lovely techniques packed in to really make this model top class. In particular, the wall portion of the gate uses a technique that requires some off-setting techniques using the headlight brick and some patience with clips and tiles, but the finished look is really fantastic.

Wizard's Gate

Tim has provided a breakdown of the technique used to create the brick wall effect.  As Tim explains, “The wall is constructed using headlight bricks to achieve a half plate vertical offset and then alternating clips on 1×2 tiles to form the exterior wall It’s similar to many of legostrator’s awesome techniques.

Wall Tutorial

 

This roof is driving me bananas!

In yet another repudiation of the idea that LEGO pieces are only good for the purpose originally intended by their designers, alego alego has built a yellow thatched roof made entirely of LEGO bananas. And the cabin itself is built almost completely from brown Technic connectors. The base of this treehouse is also quite lovely, with a stone pathway, well, and lovely little bushes.

Maison d'Assurancetourix

My only critique is that a lovely LEGO creation like this feels a little underpopulated without some characters to enjoy the scenery.