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.

When one world is not enough, you just need an escape route

Sometimes life can become routine and monotonous, giving no rest or calm. But Angelo_S. reminds us that when everything around is dull and cold and gray, there’s always an escape.

Rømningsvei

This work is a beautiful metaphor combining two opposed worlds in one shot. A skillfully executed microscale vignette seen through the gateway looks twice as alluring due to the forced perspective effect.

Get abs like bricks

Looks like someone is still trying to fulfil their new year’s resolution. Kosbrick has created a perfect brick-built gym scene for his current Iron Builder contest, and the use of the paint roller handle is genius.

Gym

On his blog, Kos explains the build was a reminder of official modular builds, and I’ve got to say it does. It also reminds me that I do have to hit the gym really soon!

Builder spotlight: Aaron Newman and his alternate LEGO Castle universe

Set 64044 Ardun Observatory is part of the new wave called Mythic Machines in the Dragon Lands theme, and features a semi-circle three-tiered castle with astronomical equipment in the tower. Arrayed around it are the forces of evil, orc-like creatures with a battering ram, small catapult, and a fearsome red dragon. Play features include hidden passageways, spring-loaded catapults, a working drawbridge and portcullis, and breakaway walls.

Not familiar with LEGO set 64044? That’s because you can’t buy this set from the LEGO company, or anywhere else — it comes from the mind of Aaron Newman.

64044 Ardun Observatory

64044 Ardun Observatory by Aaron Newman

Aaron Newman doesn’t simply look at his LEGO collection and wonder what he can create; instead he looks at his bricks and asks, “What if LEGO sold different sets?” A 21-year-old UCLA theater student, Aaron’s got a knack for designing LEGO creations to fill his own alternate universe where LEGO produces the sets he’d like to see. And he’s got a fantastic sense of style. Aaron’s models center around a castle theme called Dragon Lands, which is a hybrid of LEGO’s official Vikings and Fantasy-Era Castle lines. He creates sub-themes to mimic LEGO’s habit of releasing sets in waves, and includes a set designed for each price point. His latest sub-theme, titled Dragon Lands: Mythic Machines, features crude orc siege machinery pitted against dwarven and elven strongholds. And, of course, there are lots of dragons, because no Castle theme is complete without them.

I recently had the opportunity speak with Aaron about his unique style and learn a bit about how he designs fan creations that look like sets.

Click to read the full interview

Who says you can’t teach an old build new tricks

Notice anything familiar about Simon Schweyer‘s most recent build? You should because this lush landscape was featured on our blog last month. At that time, however, this two-toned rocky shoreline was home to a thriving Greek Polis. Simon ingeniously (and quite literally) razed his Greek city to the ground and started building anew on the existing bedrock. His resulting medieval scene is so different from the original build that I didn’t recognized the recycled landscape at first. Both builds are jaw dropping, but I prefer the Red Shield Inn. Simon truly hit his stride the second time around.

The Red Shield Inn

Apparently, experienced builders are known to repurpose parts of their builds from time to time. And why not? Recycling saves time and tests the limits of your creativity. It forces you to step back and really think about your build. Then transform it into something completely different. I’ve never recycled a build of my own, but I’m eager to give it a try now that I’ve seen Simon’s success with the technique. One note of caution for those of you who also plan to give this a try: Be cautious when repurposing an old build into an entry for a contest. Many LEGO competitions have rules specifically prohibiting this kind of thing. Be sure to check first.

I’m curious to know what other transformation have taken place. Have you repurposed part of a build before? And if so, were you able to recycle anything other than the landscape?

F-4 Phantoms and the fine art of building camouflage

For almost ten years I have had a model of an F-4 Phantom in my LEGO aircraft collection. I have kept making changes to it, as I learned new tricks and picked up new parts. However, certainly compared to newer and larger models by Carl Greatrix and James Cherry, my old US Marine Corps F-4N looked a bit dull. Mind you, I am not about to start building studless or creating more of the colour scheme with stickers any time soon, but I did feel like jazzing it up some. My choice: turn it into an Israeli F-4E Kurnass 2000.

F-4E Kurnass 2000

What makes this interesting in my book is the brick-built camouflage and most of the work in the rebuild was spent on this. The LEGO colours that best match the original colours weren’t particularly easy to work with: tan, dark tan and sand green, but the overall look was worth the trouble.

Fellow Phantom enthusiast Justin Davies (rx79gez8gundam) recently posted an update of his Phantom design, built in LDD.

Click through to read more about designing camouflage in LEGO

Amazing LEGO Arc de Triomphe in French tricolor

The famous monument Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile stands in Paris as an iconic memorial to French soldiers, and LEGO builder Brian Yu has recreated it splendidly in brick, awash in the French tricolor. Brian’s model makes great use of greebling and the undersides of basic plates to mimic the relief sculpting on the arch, and the result beautifully tricks the eye into seeing finely sculpted details.

Triumphal Arch in Paris

Triumphal Arch in Paris

Triumphal Arch in ParisTriumphal Arch in Paris

Awesome diorama of The Elder Scrolls Online’s city of Orsinium

The great Orc stronghold of Orsinium is a key location in the sprawling world of The Elder Scrolls Online, and there are few to do it more justice as a model than Thorsten Bonsch. Thorsten has previously brought us into Tamriel through his stunning depictions of a Dolmen and Stonefalls (and he’s also shown his diorama-building mastery by creating possibly the coolest Tardis model we’ve seen).

The Elder Scrolls Online – Orsinium

The technique Thorsten employs for cobblestone here — accomplished by using white tiles turned on edge, then filling all the gaps with grey tiles and slopes — has been around for awhile. But rarely is it so expertly done, with minimal gaps and perfect integration into the landscape. Be sure to take a close look at the stonework on the structures, too; it’s a great example of skillfully combining flat planes with textured details.

The Elder Scrolls Online – Orsinium (Details)

Scramble the Rebel fighters from LEGO Echo Base

Markus19840420 continues to impress with his LEGO Star Wars dioramas. Following up his Sullust scene, he presents a slice of Echo Base from The Empire Strikes Back, impressive in both size and detail. The carved snow cave look, hanging lights, maintenance bridges, and runway lights make the whole scene feel authentic. I won’t overlook Mike Psiaki’s X-wing and Larry Lars’s Snowspeeder, both great models recreated by Markus from their respective building guides, with some modifications.

EpisodeV - Echo Base

EpisodeV - Echo Base

See more photos of Hoth Echo Base on the builder’s Flickr.

To be highly organized is, I should fancy, the object of man’s existence: 5 tips for keeping your LEGO collection sorted [Essay]

The quote above is from The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde and it’s the epigraph for The Ideal Order, a recently published novel written by Christoph Bartneck. (You can find my review of this book on Goodreads.) The story is centered around the life of a troubled AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) named Rob, who, like all builders before him, eventually realizes that his LEGO collection is virtually useless when stored in one big cardboard box and thus sets out on a quest to find (you guessed it) “the ideal order” for sorting his LEGO collection. (Spoiler alert! No such order truly exists.) I sympathize with Rob’s predicament, because I’ve been there. There’s nothing worse than trying to build an old set by fishing pieces out of the rainbow-colored abyss of plastic that is an unsorted box of LEGO. So we sort.

Sorting MOC
The possibilities are endless when deciding how to sort a LEGO collection and what’s right for one person is not going to be right for another. However, there are certainly some agreed upon standards that most builders share when sorting. For example, sorting by color alone just doesn’t cut it. On the other hand, it’s nearly impossible to have a separate space for each unique piece. So what is the best method?

Thumbs up to this updated LEGO BB-8!

To avoid duplication and showcase a broader variety of LEGO creations, we don’t often feature updated versions of LEGO models we’ve already highlighted, even if they’re significantly improved. But Will Galbraith and his friend Takamichi Irie decided to collaborate on an improved, more functional version of Taka’s BB-8, and the result gets a huge thumbs up from me!

BB-8 (Ver. 2) says "Good Job!"

The main challenge was that Taka was off in the UK studying, with Will back in Japan. The pair collaborated remotely to research BB-8’s various compartments, disassemble Taka’s original model, add the compartments to the sphere, and update the design of the head. Will documented the whole process on Twitter, so be sure to check that out — along with Will’s write-up on Flickr.

Conveyer belt sushi restaurant built with LEGO Power Functions [Video]

One of our traditions for TBB contributors attending BrickCon every year is to enjoy inexpensive sushi at one of the two nearby revolving sushi (回転寿司) joints. If you’ve never been to a revolving sushi restaurant, you grab small plates of sushi from a conveyer built that moves around a counter that surrounds the prep area. It’s fun and delicious! Japanese builder Dr.Peisan has used LEGO Power Functions to motorize a revolving sushi restaurant.

Lego sushi train

Built on four 32×32 baseplates, the restaurant is full of funny scenes and interesting characters. There’s a group of aliens (the ultimate gaijin) tasting earth food, a reporter using a fake mic, Emmet from The LEGO Movie, and even BB-8. I expect the sumo wrestler to give the lucha libre guy a run for his money… I’m personally most impressed by the wide range of different nigiri, rolls, and desserts that roll by.

You can see lots more pictures on Flickr and the builder’s blog (in Japanese). You’ll also be able to see this in person in Kobe at Japan Brickfest 2016 in June.

How to get blogged on The Brothers Brick, 2016 edition [Editorial]

Lemur with Jacket and PipeBack in 2009, I wrote a lengthy post titled How to get blogged on The Brothers Brick, in 3 easy steps. A lot has changed in 7 years, for both TBB itself and on the web more generally, and it’s time we shared how we go about finding and selecting what to blog here on The Brothers Brick in 2016.

The “three easy steps” I outlined back then are still 100% true:

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

But it’s worth revisiting what we expect in terms of presentation and “findability.” I’ll also cover what we consider newsworthy, in case you have an event you’d like us to feature or a hot tip you’d like to share.

Click through to learn how to get your MOC, event, or new item blogged!