Floating islands are a popular inspiration for many LEGO builders, and it is easy to see why. They are mysterious and fantastical, and they can provide a great challenge to build them in a way that both supports the model and hides that support to enhance the magical appearance of the finished scene. Nathan Hake does a masterful job of using falling water to provide the support for this microscale floating island with a temple nestled between the trees.
Floating rocks have become a staple of fantasy world-building, but this floating castle, designed in LEGO by Matthias Bartsch is a standout example. The castle itself, perched upon it’s levitating rock, is nicely detailed, and successfully pulls off the twin magic tricks of looking larger than it really is, and using grey, sand green, and dark tan parts without looking like a poor man’s Hogwarts. However, what really sets this LEGO creation above and apart from similar creations is the framing architecture to either side and the decision to include autumnal trees and scattered leaves. The resulting image goes beyond the typical fantasy model, conjuring up a feeling of windswept melancholy. The scene is a digital render, but Matthias says he’s only used bricks which are available in these colour combinations — great work.
Elves seem to have a knack of building their dwellings harmonious with nature in most fantasy stories. Whether it is an ethereal treetop palace or a hidden valley lodging (very specific, I know), elven architecture is one with its surroundings. Books and films such as The Lord of the Rings made this trope popular – which isn’t a bad thing. However, builder Daniel Cloward shows us that sometimes this is not the case.
An elven city sits on coastal cliffs, built from the same stones, as shown by light grey LEGO elements. However, it is abandoned and has been overgrown with trees, shrubs, and other vegetation depicted by various green pieces. Only the white tree with lavender foliage remains of the original elf-nature harmony, as it seems to be part of the original city. The bright colours of that tree stand out from the grey and greens of the rest of the build. This small diorama really shows off the story of nature vs man-made (or elf-made) structures falling to ruin.
Interested in more elves and their architecture? We have some more elven creations for you.
I have to say, as a writer for TBB, I’ve seen A LOT of custom builds. I spend far too much of my time scanning Flickr and Instagram for the next awesome piece of art to share with you all. Maybe it’s the fantasy nerd in me, but this… is exceptional. This dragon, built by talented LEGO designer, Wes Talbott, is all sorts of awesome. The ombre, rainbow-esque coloring is so perfectly executed! Making it for The LEGO House collection, he fittingly calls it, “Chromalagous” but the beauty goes beyond the color palette.
The placement of the scales is so organic and detailed, it truly looks like the skin of a giant reptile. It certainly doesn’t look like LEGO at first glance. And I don’t know about you, but I find myself with my mouth agape, muttering “how?” questions. Those horns?! I’d love to get a look at the internal structure, but this has to take a great deal of sculpting talent. What techniques does he use to make all those odd angles? Your guess is as good as mine.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am an absolute fan of LEGO minidoll related themes. And yes, sometimes the sets are a bit too brightly coloured to blend in with your LEGO City. And yes, having minidolls next to minifigures in one creation can look a little bit odd. But the minidoll themes come with such interesting parts and most of them are minifigure compatible. In Hannah’s latest creation she used a couple of minidoll hair and headpieces that work perfectly for fantasy-themed minifigures.
The build itself ain’t too shabby either, it looks massive. But that might just be thanks to a little bit of photoshopping. The best part about the build has to be the gold arched gate door. LEGO has released a prefab gate door but that one simply doesn’t compare next to this brick build design by Hannah.
When building LEGO models I’ve always struggled to effectively combine Bionicle and regular System bricks, so I’m in awe of those builders who regularly do so and make it appear effortless. I’m sure this brilliant model by Patrick Biggs was anything but — it bears the hallmarks of a painstaking attention to detail in the shaping and placing of every piece. The crab alone is a smart piece of building, but the addition of a fantastical castle as the hermit’s home is a well-built stroke of genius. The colour contrasts are excellent too, popping against that grey-blue backdrop. Lovely stuff.
As the black knight remorsefully crosses the river, the pale light of the Moon casts a shadow across his reflection. His horse, head bowed as in mutual loneliness, carries him onward as they both trudge towards whatever fate awaits them. Such are the emotions so vibrantly shown in the fantastic LEGO creation by builder Robert4168/Garmadon.
No one knows who the lone knight is or why his countenance is so down-spirited. Yet it’s clear that this LEGO build is meant to show everything about who the knight is feeling. His emotions are not just manifest in the minifigure itself, but also in the night sky, the bright moon, and the fact that there’s almost nothing else that draws your eyes away from the knight’s walk across the water. Emotions can be difficult to pull off in a LEGO creation, so seeing it managed so well in this build is a testament to Garmadon’s skill.
A few other mentions: the waterfall is spot on. The way the pieces change color and transparency to give off the appearance of cascading water is very advanced. I also like that the Moon is a full sphere and not just a flat brick circle. Finally, the variations of green in the plant life were a nice touch. It’s clear that nothing was done by shortcut when building this.
Brothers and LEGO Masters contestants Mark and Steven Erickson are continuing their big building skills with this beautiful leviathan. The scale here is deceptive, as the stand spans several feet, made of transparent bricks with lights embedded. Look closely right in the middle and you’ll spot a tiny Thor battling the mighty Jörmungandr. The sea serpent also has lights in its eyes, as well as a fog machine for real smoke, and the result is astounding.
Here at TBB, we feature all sorts of incredible LEGO builds from all sorts of incredible builders. We’ve seen equally awesome techniques on tiny creations as we have on giant ones. We’ve also seen hundreds of superb towers, pillars, and columns, and in fact, several of them are from this same builder, Ralf Langer. But I particularly appreciate these pillars, at this scale, because Ralf uses simple techniques to produce something awesome. Twisting the internal structure to alternate those pentagonal tiles is truly eye-catching. And the rest just sets it off perfectly.
There are several cool techniques here, but I’m sure plenty of us are making a mental note right now about those columns. I see you over there, trying to consider the reverse engineering so you can borrow it later! Just make sure to give him credit, and while you’re at it, take a moment to appreciate some of Ralf’s other builds.
After a long day walking through the woods, a place of rest is the one thing you’ll need. Perhaps “The Peaceful Shrub” Inn would suit you well, created by LEGO builder Jesse van den Oetelaar. Meanwhile, I’m resting my eyes on one of the most lovely little cottage inns I have ever seen. I admire Jesse’s use of color in the plants, the path leading to the inn, and the inn itself. I can spot four different uses of green, all of which work perfectly in this build. The bricking that makes up the inn is especially detailed, with dark tan and sand tan colors referencing the patchwork style of many fantasy world buildings.
I also like the barrels of ale next to the feasting minifigures. I hope the chickens walking about don’t mind that chicken is also what’s on the table!
The back of the inn is stuffed with plant life. The pine tree and the large leafy tree are some of the best examples of greenery that you can find. The way these tree trunks are designed helps show the unevenness of the bark while pulling your eyes upwards towards the foliage. The mix of flowers and shrubbery is likely what gives “The Peaceful Shrub” Inn its name.
Though I’ve never dabbled in the Warhammer universe, I’ve appreciated the art, figurines, and inspiration that it’s provided to its fanbase. This render of a Gyrobomber built by Dwalin Forkbeard was inspired by the Dwarven flying machines in Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Piloted by only one dwarf, the dual-rotor machine features plenty of artillery to lay waste to the battlefield. The curves of the cockpit are wonderfully modeled with brick-built sections and angled plates. Golden and brass details embellish the body and contrast the light and dark bluish-grey pieces of the mechanical sections. The different-sized doors used for rotor blades are an inventive element of the model, as well as the golden crown used as an exhaust port.
The view of the tail reveals the main engine behind the cockpit. I appreciate the variety of pieces that Dwalin used to model this steam-powered design. The attention to detail is fantastic and the form of the model is alluring. The information he provides really shows you how formidable this bomber could be with just one brave pilot.
When this image of a forgotten temple came to my attention, I knew I wanted to feature it here. Nathan Hake has created an immersive scene that ticks a lot of my favorite boxes. There’s lovely organic building in the trees and vines. There’s interesting part usage in the idol made primarily of golden weapons. And I’ve just got a thing for ruined architecture. Add a dollop of the depth of field from the minifigure in the foreground, and you have something pretty special. But when I visited Nathan’s photostream to learn more, I found that this is only a detail shot of a much larger build. Keep reading to find out just how much bigger!