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.

Doc Brown’s Flying DeLorean

The move to 8-stud wide vehicles for LEGO’s Speed Champions line was a controversial move for some, although the space afforded allows for more detail and realism. Builder Jerry Builds Bricks chose an iconic design to reproduce that manages to pack in the details. A few clever techniques for the doors and wheels let Jerry build this sleek DeLorean from Back to the Future full of features.

BTTF DeLorean 8wide

Read on to check out more of this awesome model.

See you, Stratomaxx Cowboy

With the live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop just over the horizon, it’s nice to see builds inspired by the show. The unique ships of the Bebop universe are iconic and it’s easy to see echoes of the Swordfish in this design. Builder Nicolas van Grootveld used an aftermarket chromed windscreen to create this big-nosed fighter called the Stratomaxx Acer. Let’s take a look at the schematics.

Stratomaxx Acer

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Soaring over Arrakis with House Atreides: Dune’s Ornithopter in LEGO

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has quickly become a hit amongst fans and critics. The cinematography and soundtrack balance perfectly with the classic narrative to deliver a knock-out blockbuster that will last the ages. Much like Star Wars, Star Trek, and others, Dune features a plethora of cultures, planets, and religions. For me and other fans of LEGO, though, it’s the spacecraft and vehicles that really round it all out. The Ornithopters of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic have been a challenge for past projects but Denis Villeneuve’s design team produced a craft that will surely become iconic. When I saw this Ornithopter by TBB alumn Simon Liu, I had to know more. I talked with Simon about avoiding spoilers prior to opening night, his immediate need to build this beauty, and the challenges he faced with its final design.

The Ornithopter

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An adorably unconventional couple

The holidays are approaching and gifts are on everyone’s minds. Though this time of year always brings its challenges, any gift-giving occasion can be a builder’s excuse to create something personal with LEGO. For instance, figure builder Mike Nieves recently gifted his newlywed friends this elegant fox posing in the snow with a fluffy penguin. Presumably their favorite animals, I’m sure the couple was delighted to receive this gift. I do wonder if they used them as cake toppers though.

Taking a look at the models individually, we can see that the builder had a good idea of the necessary forms and connections. The penguin’s thick, grey body consists of two mirrored sections of stacked plates and slopes. Modified plates are used as happy little feet peeking out from under the body. The wings’ connections are hidden but hinged, allowing it to flap about adorably. The rotating head even has a tiny opening mouth, which is pretty cute.

The fox is rather impressive. The slender, brick-built face closely matches the natural angles of the animal and this trend continues down the body. Clever connection points allow Mike to build out from a central core to achieve the fox’s figure. The chest is fluffy and the paws really stand out but that tail is the true star. I mean, the way the color blocking takes advantage of the structure is just smart.

It’s worth taking a look at the back of the fox to get a better idea of how it’s put together. Plus, I just wanted to look at that tail again. Achieving curves like that with LEGO is difficult and Mike really did well with both of these. What a great wedding gift for LEGO fans.

A silent raven’s call

This brick-built model of the common raven is a bit deceptive. Builder Felix Jaensch has a portfolio of impressive animal-inspired models but this raven seems to break the mold. Cleverly concealed in the sloping bricks along its back is a hidden button that allows the raven’s head and jaw to move. Pressing it gives the impression the model is calling out, albeit without the gurgling croak this bird often makes. This silent figure can’t audibly torment you, but it’s still a perfectly creepy build for this season.

Just looking at the model, it’s almost impossible to tell that it can move. The whole thing is a sturdy, brick-built structure that renders the bird in the traditional LEGO cuboid, pixelated form. Compare the below image with the above and you’ll only see tiny bits of movement in the neck. A change in angle of the structure holding the beak as the head moves down makes the smallest movements have big effects. Continue reading

This LEGO Star Wars mosaic is far from child’s play

LEGO’s foray into the art world, with its various mosaic sets, has inspired fans to create their own fantastic art. There’s even a Mosaic Maker which allows you to upload your own image and create a custom set. I’ve had friends order a few and they always turn out great. But I think builder Brent Waller invested a lot more thought into this textured mosaic of the Child from the Mandalorian. This absolute work of art was created as a gift for his son’s birthday and I have to say that this guy definitely deserves a Great Dad award. Measuring 1 meter wide by 60 centimeters high, this massive mosaic features tons of different pieces and colors masterfully placed and blended to render a close-up image of Grogu in his floating bassinet. But this portrait also has a secret: the Child and the Mandalorian are hidden within all that greebly goodness. Can you spot them? I’m not giving any hints so good luck!

The Child Mosaic

The mosaics in the LEGO Art sets make use of a pixel approach to create images of Darth Vader, the Hogwarts crest, or even Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe. While this technique is quite effective at rendering plenty of different images, the grid pattern is difficult to break and some sharp diagonal lines aren’t captured well. That’s my opinion as an artist, at least. But Brent Waller’s use of a plethora of pieces allowed him to create sharper lines and textured surfaces. These draw the eye in new ways, almost tricking it into seeing aspects of the cloth, or the shadows in the bassinet, that aren’t really there. A vast array of pieces and colors on such a large canvas also allowed for better resolution in the image. From a distance, this barely even looks like a LEGO creation.

The Child Mosaic

I’m sure Waller, Jr. was excited to see this once it was complete. It would be an amazing addition to any room but if I were him, I would put it right above my desk. I can’t imagine this will end up in the scrap pile any time soon though. This is nerd-family heirloom material so it will surely make its rounds in their home for years to come.

Good castle builders always come in pairs

Do you know what’s better than a picture of one amazing LEGO creation? A picture of two amazing LEGO creations. This creation consists of a city built by Daniel Barwegen and a backdrop created by Bousker. I love the way a shared hobby like building with LEGO bricks can bring people together.

The city itself contains some smart part usage. We can spot a Mjolnir wall and round wheel cover windows. My favorite part, the ingot bar is used to depict decaying bricks. Between the buildings we can spot the blue roofed castle in the backdrop. The microbuild is used to create a forced perspective, and really deserves a quick zoom in. There are a lot of cool details hidden in the build, from the ripplig tiled waves to the flower stem pine trees . Even the puffy clouds are made of bricks.

PoweredUp record player with brick-built melodies

If there’s one thing people in my life know about me, it’s my love of LEGO. I’ve probably bored enough of them out of their mind at this point to recognize when their eyes begin to glaze over as they start thinking of their groceries. So when something like this comes along and even non-LEGO fanatics are fascinated by it, I relish the moment. This model surely deserves attention, but it’s one you have to hear to appreciate. A stroke of ingenuity led builder Peter Zieske to create this adorable, azure record player that actually works.

Build-A-Melody working record player

The music notes adorning the sides are clever decorations made possible by the Trolls line. A brick-built speaker and knob on the front complete the pleasing clamshell design which opens up to reveal the needle and the turntable.

Build-A-Melody working record player

Let’s take a peek under the record and see how the magic is made. Thanks to a Boost Color sensor and an app, Peter was able to elevate this from imitation to working model. The sensor reads the different colored circular tiles under the brick-built record and communicates with the app to play different tones. I imagine Peter was pretty excited to get this working so the Ode to Joy is quite an appropriate first song.

Packed away inside the beautiful body of this model, in addition to the color sensor, is a motor for the turntable and a Powered UP hub to control it all. The technology fits nicely inside the frame, especially when you consider that this isn’t a full-sized record player.

Build-A-Melody working record player

This is an impressive build that suggests the possibilities that LEGO provides us. I can’t help but imagine how many songs could be made with this or what a few more color sensors and a bigger turntable could do. Models like this can go beyond the lines of diehard LEGO fans to music fans and record collectors. Builder Peter Zieske should put on his favorite record, sit back, and savor this accomplishment.

Never make light of a Lizard’s bloodline

Though the Bionicle and Hero Factory lines died a while ago, plenty of fans still covet and horde the pieces that LEGO provided us during those golden ages. Nonetheless, builders hold onto the parts to provide some unique and specific detail to their character models. I had a chat with Alex_mocs about their build process for this model, Dawnpike Azaria, inspired by the Lizards in the game, Divinity: Original Sin. Alex challenged himself to sculpt a more feminine reptilian character saying that he hadn’t seen “many feminine coded dragon characters built from LEGO.” Thus, he had fun sculpting a lizard-like head with that energy in mind. He certainly did well, utilizing dragon wings, vines, and various other decorative elements to capture the frills and horns common to this character’s people. Though the color palette limited his piece choices, Alex made great use of them throughout Azaria’s figure. Her armor and jeweled necklace are wonderful details that work well to fill in the gaps that some pieces leave. Alex also found that gold hoops fit snugly around some rubber tires which made it possible for them to be stacked and hold their position. He used this technique in the neck, tail, and ankles. Meanwhile, Alex admitted to using a paperclip in the gold hose around her waist to help her chainmail skirt hold its shape.

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My Little Game Boy

There are a lot of reasons to get the LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System. From hidden easter eggs in the build to fantastic play features, the set is hands down one of the best sets the LEGO Group has ever released. It’s hard to imagine getting this set and ever wanting to break it down. Then again, some builders just can’t help themselves. Mech Master Moko harvested some printed tiles from the remains of this amazing set to bring us another piece of nostalgia, with a twist. This ingenious model transforms from a classic handheld gaming system into GAMEBOY-ROBO.

GAMEBOY-ROBO

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Research station amid a vibrant reef

Working with a new part can be a challenge. Finding how they fit into the system can lead to surprises and disappointments. Ultimately, dedicated builders like Tom Loftus find a way. Armed with tons of teal from the Ninjago Jungle Dragon and challenged to examine the functionality of the transparent VIDIYO Canopy (as he calls it), Tom found himself under the sea at this Reef Station. He gave me some insight into some of the extra pieces he worked into the model, including finally making use of the drone elements introduced last year.

Reef Station

Read on to see more of the details in this colorful underwater scene

Relax. On this slime pool, everybody’s an outlaw.

The wealth of characters from the Star Wars universe is almost never-ending and fans of the animated series are sure to recognize this infamous villain. An icon of the Clone Wars series, Cad Bane proved a formidable foe to Obi-wan and Anakin on a multitude of occasions. Respected by fellow bounty hunters and often employed by the Sith, this rough and tough fighter knew his way through the galaxy from the swamps of Nal Hutta to the underbelly of Coruscant. Immortalized here in brick form by Magnus W, this digital build uses some clever parts usage to achieve an uncanny likeness of Bane. Stand-out pieces are the pirate hats on either side of his chest as well as the Minifigure hoods used as his shoulders. Hinged bricks, angled slope tiles, and modified plates make up most of his jacket. The blue Magnus used in Bane’s face perfectly contrasts with the bright red eyes peeking out from the shadow of his iconic broad-rimmed hat. The satisfying color blocking does well mimicking the character’s design.

Cad Bane Bust

The rear of the bust holds a few extra details and reveals how the head was modeled. A mix of modified bars, hinges, and inverted plates allowed Magnus to attach Bane’s eyes and hat to the inverted pieces in his neck, jaw, and nose. The hose attached to the angled bars with studs not only works perfectly as his breathing apparatus but also forms the core of the connection between the top and bottom of his head. The bricks laid on their sides for the base are also a satisfying way to mount this fantastic bust.

Cad Bane Bust (Back)

Though much smaller than the helmet busts the LEGO Group released in the last year or so this model would still make a great addition to any LEGO Star Wars collection.