Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's all in the details!

2, originally uploaded by Nebraska's MOC.

Take a look at this complete diorama, with lighting by Lifelites (Rob Hendrix). Beautiful use of lighting and building technique. The rest of this gallery shows off more of the model!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Building Thoughts: Bricks of Character

One of the things that I get to do as a sorta-journalist is watch and find out about building trends in the community. While there are constant themes, trains and space come to mind right off the bat, there are those builders that don't fit the general themes. This is a good thing overall, as no builder should be pigeonholed in a theme, unless they want to be. I started as a space builder, then wandered to micro scale, then to MINDSTORMS, and now just a LEGO builder.

Anyways, a relatively new trend is Bricks of Character. started by Iain Heath and Tommy Williamson, this is a theme that is not based on a genre or theme, like Space or Train, but based on building characters. It's a little tough to explain in words, so here are some pics:

Jack Sparrow, built by Erik Varszegi, LEGO Master Builder.

Ponyo, built by Iain Heath

Marvel CubeDudes(tm), built by Angus MacLane

Jack Sparrow and Barbossa, built by Tommy Williamson

Each one of these are wildly different building styles, from realistic life size to almost miniland scale to caricatured scale, but each has a common thread - they are all character builds.

The first display of Bricks of Character was at BrickCon 2009, and in a couple of years has grown to a major display at the event. Part of the reason behind this is that the theme allows a wide assortment of models. The models above could show up at the display, but so could miniland models of TV characters and cartoon icons. Video game figures have also appeared.

The other factor behind the popularity of the theme is that a model often doesn't have to be that big to display, making it a perfect thing to take to a convention. A miniland model can easily fit in a bag and be assembled on site in a short time.

So how do you build something like this?

Tinkerbell, by Janey Cook

Well, here are some general steps, which may be helpful.

1. Determine your scale and color. This is the most important part of the building, because it's REALLY annoying when the part you need is not in the right color at all. Scale is good to figure out the resulting size.

2. Sketch what you want to build first on blank paper, then on graph paper. The best models are not simple standing poses, except for CubeDudes. A character is partially defined by the pose, as shown in Jack and Ponyo and Tink and the pirates above.

Using graph paper is good to transfer and start figuring out building techniques. LEGO-scaled graph paper can be found here.

Things to think about while sketching: the pose of the figure and how curvy you will need to build. Curves will define much of your building challenges, so decide beforehand how will work with or without curves.

3. Build and explore. The larger the scale, the more likely the building solution will be easy to find. However, that will mean more parts will be needed. The smaller scale will also make you think of different building techniques - it's a good way to learn Studs Not on Top building.

Because this is usually exploring, the expectation of building it right on the first try should be low. One technique may have to make way for another, and colors may have to be changed for parts availability. Patience is a nice thing to have:-).

I built Black Canary over the span of a couple of nights - I had to learn how to build a stable pose for her. Once I figured out her legs, it wasn't any easier figuring her hair, which could stand another revision.

A note here: if your want to really make it complicated, incorporate curves! Put another way, the female form is probably the hardest to build in LEGO elements. Be extra patient.

If you want to look at some galleries with Bricks of Character, you can look at:

Tommy Williamson's Flickr gallery
Iain Heath's gallery
My galleries: look in BrickCon 2009 and 2008
Angus MacLane's gallery

Take a look at their work, and see what you can do. I look forward to seeing your work online or at an event!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad