While I usually don’t blog LDraw part updates, I’m making an exception for the latest one since, as far as I can tell, it’s the biggest yet, with 601 new parts on offer. In addition to an increase in the number of new parts available, the library of 12V train system parts is almost complete. Many thanks must go out to all parts authors and reviewers, especially those who’ve recently started, and to Chris Dee (the Parts Library Administrator), Phillipe Hurbain and Steffen for the huge work they’ve put in to this latest release.
And to those who’ve never heard of LDraw, or are interested in checking it out, please visit the forums.
Ben Beneke is one of the greats of LEGO train building, with even his old steamers still standing out as some of the best. I’d been wondering what had happened to Ben recently (he usually posts at least one new train a year) but apparently he’s been spending time making excellent animations using LDraw and POVray. An animation like this is really hard to do in POVray. I know, I’ve tried.
While I certainly don’t consider this to be my most polished model (not even close) I did think it was worth sharing as some inspiration for the forthcoming Numereji 2421collaboration at BrickCon 2011. Since I won’t be attending I thought I’d post it early to give some idea of the fun you can have with this collaboration.
Settlers of Catan is, by all accounts, a rather fun German board game. LEGO is, by all accounts, a rather fun toy. So it makes sense to combine the two.
Except Michael (suparMacho) hasn’t actually built this. He’s use SR3D builder (an LDraw editor) and POVray to render it. Aside from those people lucky enough to use LEGO’s in-house rendering tools this is the most photo-realistic LEGO render I’ve seen.
Did you know you can make a 3D laser scanner out of LEGO bricks and a few custom parts? No? Nor did I until today. Did you know you can then use your LEGO model to scan LEGO parts and turn them into 3D CAD LDraw parts to make virtual LEGO models out of? Amazing hey?
Phillipe Hurbaine (philo) is well known for his clever software, hardware, LEGOware and general LEGO-mechanical skill but I have to say his latest work just takes the cake. And as if making a 3D scanner wasn’t enough he has actually used it to model some LDraw parts. I think this is probably the best working LEGO thing I have ever seen.
The ever helpful Willy Tschager has just released an excellent tutorial on getting started with MLCAD and LDraw. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to use virtual LEGO to create your own virtual masterpieces from nothing but your imagination and a computer this is an excellent way to cross the first hurdle.
Reviewing parts is a great way to get involved without having to get too technical. Niels Bugge has written a very handy tutorial explaining what is involved and how to get involved. If you feel you’d like to give something back to LDraw this is a great way to get started.
It is also a good start to making new parts if you wish to pursue that path. If you understand 3D software which can output 3DS format you can even get involved with LDraw part creation without leaving your known environment. Simply team up with someone who does understand the LDraw file format and make and convert a file from your preferred tool to LDraw format for tidying.
There are also other ways to get involved such as running for elected office (not for a year or so now) and helping out with the website. If you think you might be interested in these roles please contact me privately.
Remember that without volunteers the LDraw library would grind to a halt. Fresh faces are always welcome and necessary. If you like LDraw please consider helping it.
A recent discussion at LUGNET raised questions about the future of LDraw in the fan community. Oddly enough I feel I’ve seen a resurgence in LDraw work recently but of course like all of us I tend to see what I want to see so I figured I’d throw some questions out to a wider audience.
The first question is, obviously, have you ever heard of LDraw? And if you have do you know what it is? Have you ever considered using it but decided against it? If so why? Did you know the parts are all designed by volunteers?
To quickly give an overview it’s a CAD system and associated library designed to let you build LEGO models on your computer. It’s not the editors (those are things like MLCAD, LeoCAD and Bricksmith) or the renderers (like LDView) but the system all of these use and the parts library. Like LDD but more versatile. All the pictures in this article are recent creations designed in LDraw compatible software.
If you are a user I’d really like to know what you use LDraw for? Do you use it to document old models? To make instructions? To make nice pictures? To make things you don’t have the bricks for? To design models you later build in bricks? Other reasons?
Personally I feel that LDraw has enriched my LEGO hobby immeasurably and I am constantly thankful to all the volunteers who have dedicated their time to making it such a good system. I don’t ever want to see it die a slow death and I don’t think I will. I would, however, like to know what a newer and broader audience thinks.
So please, comment here, on LUGNET, or on flickr. But please do comment if you are remotely interested.
The BBC’s Teck Know section currently has an article on the LEGO hobby with a focus on LDraw and virtual building. It includes discussion with Chris Dee who is the man responsible for quality control and library management for LDraw (and who does an excellent job). It also highlights the excellent work of Warren Elsmore, creator of the featured bridge and LDraw-using designer.
One of Warren Elsmore’s work-in-progress St Pancras LDraw sketches as mentioned in the article.