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.

Building Ninjago City: The Brothers Brick open collaboration [Feature]

Summer is here, and that means there are only about three months left until BrickCon 2018. As we announced in May, The Brothers Brick will be hosting a public collaborative display of Ninjago City open to any full convention attendees. Check out that announcement for detailed instructions on the guidelines and how to participate. In the meantime, we here at TBB have been busy little builders, and have over a dozen city blocks underway, not to mention a massive volcano lair for Garmadon. Today we want to share some tips and tricks to help get you started, as well as some of the building techniques that we have used so far in the construction of the lower levels of Ninjago City. Let us know in the comments below if you would be interested in more detailed guides or additional techniques shown in our city blocks.

Ninjago City is a layered city, with the oldest buildings on the bottom stories, rising to modern, nearly sci-fi architecture at the top. As such, we’re approaching the building of our modules from the bottom up, starting with the oldest, lowest level. Nearly all of the buildings shown here will have additional structures placed on top to complete the upper levels–in many cases several more stories. Look for additional articles as we continue building the upper levels. Each of these modules conforms to our standard to ensure the whole layout will fit together well (except in the few special modules we’ve noted).

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The A-3B Skywarrior is a whale of a plane

In the last year or so, I have been steadily building a collection of classic US Navy aircraft. The latest addition is the A-3B Skywarrior, a twin-engined carrier-based jet bomber.

A-3B Skywarrior of VAH-6 Fleurs

Back in the late forties nuclear weapons were large and heavy. According to the US Navy, a jet built to deliver one over a meaningful distance would have to weigh about 45 tons and be the size of a small airliner. Given that they wanted to operate their nuclear bombers from aircraft carriers, where space is at a premium, this posed an obvious problem. To add insult to injury, the first of a new generation of super-large aircraft carriers intended to operate these bombers was cancelled within a week after its keel had been laid. So, when the brilliant designer Ed Heinemann, also known for the A-1 Skyraider, proposed that Douglas Aviation build a bomber of about 30 tons that could fly from existing aircraft carriers, he definitely caught the Navy’s interest.

A-3B Skywarrior of VAH-6 Fleurs

The resulting aircraft entered service in the mid fifties as the A-3 Skywarrior. It was still a big beast. It was the heaviest aircraft to routinely fly from aircraft carriers, which earned it the nickname “Whale”. The LEGO model is a pretty big beast too. At my usual scale of 1/36, it is about 78 studs long.

Read more about Ralph’s latest airplane, including the design process

Get on your bikes and ride

Here’s a fun vignette from Elspeth De Montes of a Technic figure bike mechanic working on his bicycles. Open drawers and containers full of tools and parts make the scene lively, but the bicycle model is the highlight here, showing off the excellent use of various bars, clips, and even a ray gun for the frame.

LEGO bike mechanic's workshop

Perhaps the most notable parts usage on Elspeth’s bicycle is the clear pulleys as wheels, which she says was inspired by a fellow builder. Elspeth’s bicycle model is fantastic, and you can build your own with this step-by-step breakdown.

LEGO bicycle breakdown

Build your own microscale LEGO Star Wars Republic Gunship, complete with decals [Instructions]

I was never satisfied with LEGO’s attempt at a microscale Republic Gunship (also known as an LAAT) from the 2013 advent calendar, as it lacked the signature long engines, unless that’s what the binocular piece is supposed to represent. So a few days ago, since I’m working on a larger Star Wars microscale build, I thought I would try my hand at a micro LAAT, then a day later, I ended up with these two. Although I wasn’t worried about part count, these use only 19 pieces each, just five more than LEGO’s version.

Micro Republic Gunship (Video instructions on Youtube)

Check out the video instructions below — there are picture versions, and a video that goes a bit more in depth on how to build this cute little model. I have also included a link to download the decal sheet I made, so you can print it out yourself as well.

Click here to see the instructions!

Behind the Scenes – Getting into the mind of builder Eli Wilsea [Video]

This scene was built by Eli Willsea (also known as ForlornEmpire) for a recent brick challenge. Brick competitions usually consist of using a seed piece of which various builders have to find clever ways to use it in their creations. The seed piece for this build is the Silver Goblet. See if you can spot how they were used in the theme.

Advanced Simulation

What’s great about this build is not only the level of detail it took to pull off this futuristic lab scene, but Eli took the time to share with The Brothers Brick an exclusive in-depth behind the scenes video on how it was built. He shares the thought process and analysis you won’t be able to grasp by just looking at a static photo. If you have aspirations towards doing a scene like this or even just want to enjoy hearing what goes on in a builders brainwave when constructing a complex scene, this is for you.

Did you enjoy the video? Would you like to share your creative build process with the world? We are always looking for interesting builds and videos to feature and discuss. Feel free let us know, and you could be the star of the next video!

Build your own cute doggie desk buddy [Video Instructions]

If you’re looking for a cute LEGO desk buddy to keep you smiling during your work day, look no further, because we’ve made a step-by-step video tutorial on how to build this adorable LEGO dog designed by CK HO.

We featured picture instructions for this build back in January, but we loved this guy so much we wanted to give it a full walkthrough. I’ve built mine in gray, but if you have the parts it can be built in many different colors, such as tan, brown, or black.

If you build this cute doggie yourself, be sure to add us on social media and post it with the hashtag #CKHOdogbuild.

A brilliant Claas Xerion is here just in time for the start of the new growing season [Instructions]

Cole Blaq hasn’t treated us with his new wonderful designs since the middle of the last year. Finally, he is back starting the new building season with an awesome Town-themed model of Claas Xerion. The tractor has a lot in common with the new LEGO City 60181 Forest Tractor set, but unlike the official model it has a rotating cabin. Make sure to check out the instructions for this cool creation; it won’t take you many pieces to build one for your own LEGO farm!

Claas Xerion

Click here to have a look at the building guide…

How I built a 20,000-piece LEGO rice plantation inspired by The LEGO Ninjago Movie [Guest Feature]

Today we’re pleased to welcome Anu Pehrson as a guest contributor to give a special introduction to her latest creation. We spoke with Anu last year about her amazing models, which range from a monastery in Bhutan to the Iron Islands from A Game of Thrones. Her newest model, Master Wu’s Rice Plantation, is just as amazing. She worked on the 20,000-piece model over 3 months, and she’s documented for us the process of how a creation like this goes from idea to completion.

The diorama is enormous, at nearly four feet on each side, and includes multiple buildings, a river, beautiful trees, and lots of incredible landscaping up the staggered terraces of rice paddies.

The Building of Master Wu’s Rice Plantation

By Anu Pehrson

I wanted to build something in the Japanese architectural style, perhaps some smaller cottages where I could try different building techniques for the windows, wall patterns, roofs, and porch railings. I thought a village-like setting for these cottages would be the ideal layout. The second thing I was interested in trying was terraced agricultural fields, and rounded terraces that are used for rice farming in East Asia seemed like an interesting challenge. So bringing these two ideas together formed the basis of this MOC (My Own Creation). I also wanted to build a working gondola from a lower level to a higher level (but that hasn’t happened yet).

The LEGO Ninjago Movie was just being released as I was building this MOC, therefore, it seemed like perfect timing for to create a place for Master Wu to teach and practice with his disciples.

The starting point was a body of water. For any MOC with landscaping, I think a water body adds color and texture. The important part is to make the water interesting. There are a great many methods of doing this, but I began with using blue in the center and different shades of blue on the edges. At this point, I didn’t know how I was going to add to it, but I later added transparent 1×1 plates in a few shades over top of the blue plates.

The next step was to build stone curved walls for the terraced rice fields. However, it turned out that curved walls were very difficult to build upon as terraces.
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Build your very own Donald Trump BrickHead [Instructions]

When we set out to plan our April First content, a lot of great ideas were suggested. But when the idea to build BrickHeadz of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin was suggested, we knew we had a winner. I was thrilled to build them, having already designed and built custom BrickHeadz of Santa, and recently, a Leprechaun.

My first idea was to really make it a solid caricature, with comb-over blowing in the wind, and a shirtless Putin. But the trick to any good April Fools joke is to have enough realism to make it plausible, to really make people think, the same way that the best lies have a kernel of truth. So we decided that they should have that certain official “LEGO BrickHeadz style.” Luckily for me, the recent release of the LEGO Go Brick Me set that we have recently reviewed included just the parts we needed to give our custom BrickHeadz that kernel of truth.

The article was very successful and even led to some folks contacting LEGO about how they could get a copy of the set (for reals, please don’t do that). Sadly, this set will never be available to purchase (LEGO Education has much more important work to do like helping teach creativity to kids than making satirical products). But we are proud to share the instructions here, and while we don’t have a parts list, most of the parts used are readily available along with the Go Brick Me set, available now in stores.

See full instructions after the jump

The notoriously overpowered Halo magnum replicated in LEGO [Video]

I grew up playing lots of first-person shooter games. Even with great shooters in recent memory like Titanfall, Rainbow Six: Siege, and Overwatch, my favorite remains the Halo series. There’s nothing too complex about classic Halo multiplayer, which I have always appreciated. To show my fandom of one of my favorite games, I present a LEGO replica of the M6D Magnum from the original Halo: Combat Evolved from 2001.

M6D Magnum - Halo: Combat Evolved

Click to see a video of the Magnum

Build your very own BrickHeadz Leprechaun [Intructions]

Looking for a bit of Irish luck? Now you can build your very own BrickHeadz Leprechaun this St. Patrick’s Day. Sorry, no wishes granted by this LEGO fellow, but maybe a little luck will rub off on you.

Instructions to build your own BrickHeadz Leprechaun after the jump

Cross the bridge and find yourself

Many people use LEGO building as a form of meditation, but not quite as many use LEGO to literally build meditation. Andreas Lenander definitely uses it at least for the latter — that we can be sure of. The build is very atmospheric, but secretly, it is also quite technical in its construction.

The journey...

The Journey represents an old traveler crossing a bridge amongst blooming trees. The surrounding landscape is not bad, but the bridge is really the impressive part. The railing uses Elves fence pieces with a well-known curve technique. The bridge itself is just stacked plates carefully curved to follow the railing’s curvature – a construction that seems very unstable, but Andreas says that it actually holds together quite well. The trees should be noted too, densely packed with flowers, nicely designed trunks, and lanterns hanging off the branches.