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.

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.

These flowers smell of metal and machine oil

Johnnie Brick Xavier shares with us an unusual ritual of petal harvesting as it seen on some faraway planet inhabited with robots. We don’t know why they need these petals, or what they call these weird looking flowers, but at least we can be sure that the harvest will be rich this season.

Mech flower

Technically speaking, using of a specific part in high quantities doesn’t always result into something this beautiful. Johnnie made a great choice of pieces for this vignette and managed to recognize an unusual shape of quite an ordinary plate 1 x 2 with towball on side.

Incredibly accurate minifig-scale LEGO Star Wars X-Wing even lights up

The ever-popular LEGO Star Wars line continues to pump out models of everyone’s favorite Star Wars spaceships, and after 17 years most ships have seen multiple iterations. The iconic X-Wing has seen over a half-dozen iterations, including the two versions from Episode VII. And fans have always sought to one-up the official models — sometimes to spectacular success, such as Mike Psiaki’s beautiful version in 2011. However, there’s always room for new builders to try their hand at this venerable starfighter. Enter Maciej Szymański with this stunningly accurate model that even includes working lights. I think my favorite details on this model are the hockey masks used as a the flashback suppressors on the wing-mounted lasers, and the carefully curled hose for the pilot’s life support.

X-wing - Yavin by night

Click to see more of Maciej’s X-Wing

The Foxbat Fighter rebuilt for combat

As new pieces and building techniques emerge and as builders improve their style, it’s interesting to see a builder revisit a previously built design. Benjamin Cheh Ming Hann shows a side-by-side comparison of his custom fighter design, the FB12 Foxbat, with his original 2013 build on the left and 2014 rebuild on the right. Improved color blocking, an overall smoother shape, and added rear fins and air intakes show Benjamin’s efforts to rework an already great compact fighter design.

FB12 FOXBAT FIGHTER Mark I & Mark II Special

See more views of Benjamin’s FB12 Foxbat on his Flickr, with an album each for Mark I and Mark II.

The lazy days of summer

Often it’s the small things in life that are the sweetest. Sometimes that means the mundane activities of a peaceful life, and sometimes it means the small but brilliant work of a creative mind. Or best yet, combine them both, as in this lovely vignette by Grantmasters entitled “Weekend Chores.” The lawnmower made of rebreathers, a 1×1 round plate, and a twisted rubber band is ingenious, but my favorite detail is the tire swing made of a simple minifig wrench.

Weekend Chores

The unholy craft from beyond

When Cthulhu and his legions come, will they be piloting spacecraft from another dimension? If so, perhaps they’ll look a bit like this tentacled ship by BobDeQuatre. The organic shape is perfectly attuned to warp your mind to insanity until you cry “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!” And once you’re fully assimilated, perhaps you’ll want to create your own using the LEGO Digital Designer file Bob freely provides on his website.

Devourer

A true puppet monarchy — King Gustav LEGO marionette

Although an imaginative builder has surely created one, I don’t recall having seen a well-built LEGO marionette before. This puppet of King Gustav I by Nicolas Picot is brilliant, with great articulation and a solid reproduction of the king’s dapper uniform, in particular the upside-down curve-topped fences which serve excellent duty as epaulet embroidery. The king’s steely gaze is also particularly well done, and the mustache seems surprisingly accurate for made of only two pieces.

Gustav 1er 01

Gustav 1er 02

Barreling along

Graham Gidman reconstructs the barrel escape scene from The Hobbit with stunning landscaping techniques. The use of the SNOT techniques to sculpt the rock formations creates an organic look to the landscape. The flow of the water blends seamlessly with the rocks to the point that it looks like actual water from afar. Take a closer look and you’ll appreciate the fine craftsmanship of this build.

Barrels Out of Bond