Sunday, November 30

Advanced LEGO Step-by-Step: Cloudless

Starfighter builder extraordinaire Nick Trotta is a man who needs no introduction. Just one look at some of his amazing work is enough to demonstrate his impressive skill with the brick.

The work that Nick is probably best known for is his "3V" series of Vic Vipers. Enter his latest installment in the series: the Cloudless 3V.

Almost as impressive as the model itself is the instruction video series that Nick has made which details the construction of this gorgeous model. It is separated into three parts, totalling just over an hour long. I can assure you that it is well worth the time, if you want to learn from one of the best space builders out there.

This isn't the first time that Nick has made a breakdown video (in fact he has a whole YouTube page full of them). I've watched most of them, and I know I learned several useful tricks and techniques each and every time. 10/10 would recommend.

Tuesday, November 25

Tutorial Tuesdays - Brickmath

Brickmath, unlike what a google search will tell you (addition with studs!), is knowing the dimensions of bricks and how they fit together. Once you have a decent understanding of this your understanding of the brick that we all love and adore becomes much more (I want to say mathematical, but need a word that isn't already in the name... technical?). Snot actually becomes really easy, at a basic level at least. Here is a diagram of a 1x1 brick and its approximate brickmath values, measured of course in half-plates* 

Friday, November 21

It's all About the BURPs.

We're all very familiar with those big, ugly, and fairly useless chunks of plastic that Lego was so fond of adding into sets as filler for a good portion of time back in the 90s.

You very rarely see them used in MOCs these days (or ever really), even though everybody has at least a couple floating around in their collection.

This build by konslon is an interesting case for the usage of BURPs.
Most builders who Do use BURPs tend to hide them away deep inside their MOC, purely as filler, or structural support. This MOC totally ignores the unspoken condition to never leave a BURP exposed, and I'd say it makes the build better for it.

While I'm not entirely sure what this is a MOC of (I'm hazarding a guess that it's some kind of castle), the gorgeously smooth top portion on the MOC is really set off by the simple, almost childlike usage of the BURPs, and basic brick stacking that's going on in the lower portion of the MOC.


I'm very much brought back to a time in the online community where builds were simpler, and there wasn't such a high standard for castle builds to be these ridiculously studless monstrosities. 

I absolutely love it.

Thursday, November 20

A Clever Little Technique

Flickr user Dubbadgrim, who has been putting out some excellent castle scenes recently, has decided share a nifty little technique. It's a variation of the classic cheese-slope stud-inversion technique, and it allows you to make the Slope 45 2 x 2 Double Convex act like its inverted cousin. Could be especially useful if you don't have an inverted slope available.
While the applications for rockwork and castle building are obvious, this humble technique could also be useful for other genres such as town or even space. Because remember kids, every part is a space part.

The Next Level

Genghis Don has built another stunning starfighter. But what I'm really impressed by is the presentation. The level of action and drama in this image is off the charts; the angled ship, the blur of speed and the brightness of the firing thrusters. It would make a great wallpaper. The forward prongs are awesome assemblies, it's difficult but rewarding to build in such a compact way.

Tuesday, November 18

Color Blocking; Tutorial Tuesday

Blocking defined; the grouping or treatment of things (e.g., items of data or shades of color) in blocks.
Color Blocking is grouping elements of the same color together. Essentially it's building in such a way that each color has its own silhouette. Color blocking is effective for much the same reason as strong silhouettes. The build is easier to process at first glance, it is clearer when viewed as a thumbnail or from a distance and is generally more iconic and memorable.

Cerberus Atlas

Corvin Stichert has constructed a really sweet new mech. What about it is remarkable? I'm not quite sure why I am drawn to it. I think that as a builder it's awesome, but maybe your average person on the street wouldn't be very interested in it. As builders, we see the effort behind the model and we look at builds differently from all other humans. We appreciate things like innovation, complexity and cleanliness. Corvin's mech scores well on all three of these. But people outside the Legosphere have different, more basic interests. I believe they appreciate things that are striking, consistent and have stories. Depending on the goal of your model you need to consider which of these aspects you want to emphasize.

Friday, November 14

Conveying Scale

Zizy has built a lot of mechs in the last few years and they're looking pretty awesome. I like that he used almost exclusively small parts, it gives a higher level a detail and a stronger texture. Similar to using a larger brush size in photoshop, larger and smaller parts give different senses of scale.

Tuesday, November 11

Tutorial Tuesdays; Learn From the Masters

 In celebration of Nnovvember and for my continued building education I browsed through Nnenn's stream again. I was specifically looking to figure out what principles made Nnenn such a great builder, and I think I learned a lot.

Monday, November 10

Ma.K Like a Boss Contest Winners!

First place goes to Caleb L! It took me a second to see what it was, and then I realized it was awesome. The batman SAFS really completes it.

Second place goes to Angus MacLane! This MOC is really a great idea. It is well built and very nicely presented. Also, I love it.

Third place goes to Kosmas Santosa! With accompanying video!

I ended up judging primarily on the theme and secondarily on concept and execution. Ma.K is something of a difficult style to define and I only made things more complicated with an odd theme. I'd like to mention Dicky Laban's amazing rolling track, Dead Frog Inc's snazzy Sniper Turret and Andy Baumgart's sweet Painkiller.

Caleb and Angus will be getting Jacob's Ma.K Racer and my Zugzwang, that we built three weeks ago on the livestream, along with some printed bricks and stuff like that.

I'm really happy with the entries and I consider our first contest a success! It will not be our last. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Innards and Lighting.

This build by Jeremy Williams is one of many awesome Neo-classic space builds that can be found on his photostream.

The fun part about building interior scenes is the lighting, and the ability to get really dramatic shadows and reflections going.
With this build, Jeremy's utilized what appear to be 1x10 arches to simulate a tunnel setting, with fantastic results.

Throw in some ominous red lights coming from some nearby emergency and you've got a recipe for success.

Alpha Zero Niner

As I mentioned above, reflections are a fun part of interior scenes, and this one's got boat studs galore to create those awesome light spots that, in my opinion, bring an interior scene together.

Plus, green spaceman, amirite?

If you're interested in this sort of thing, don't forget to check out his Shuttle Hangar build, which is quite possibly one of my favorite interiors ever.

Saturday, November 8

Beautiful Decay.

It takes a certain level of skill to build a MOC that truly portrays the ramshackle atmosphere that small backwood towns seem to have in this day and age.

Built by LegoJalex for the Swebricks Lego Competition, Ragge Runarson's Business is the epitome of excellent decayed building.
As a MOCcer of Apocalego, and run down buildings myself, I can really appreciate the level of detail that the builder has put into this build.
Ragge Runarson's business

My favorite touches have to be the wackily bent antenna on the roof of the cottage, as well as the chipped and weatherworn sidewalk that runs through the whole MOC.
Ragge Runarson's business
Don't forget to check out larger pictures on his photostream for even more awesome little details!

NPU at Its Best

It took me a full five seconds of staring at this model before I realized what those two large pieces are that make up the front prongs and part of the body: they're boat hulls. Now that is what I call NPU.

Add a healthy dose of signature F@bz style and a sweet chrome gold canopy, and you got yourself one very awesome Vic Viper.


Tommy Williamson (of Bricknerd fame) was invited to build for the Comic Bricks art show at Designer Con 2014. It's a pretty cool challenge to adapt a two dimensional image into a three dimensional medium, and I think Tommy did a really good job. I'm particularly impressed by the lettering in the title.

Paul Lee is an experienced comic artist and used his skills to come up with two adaptations of the cover from Batman's debut appearance. He created these to celebrate Batman's 75th Anniversary. True to his background, Paul focused on the story content rather than punctilious accuracy and I think it really paid off. If you compare the two versions, there are a lot of differences, but the Lego one always leans towards simplification and clarity.

Thursday, November 6

It's all in the Details.

Greeble. Greebles. Greebly.

Those are all terms you're bound to have heard a lot of being in the AFOL community.
You may ask though, what is a greeble?
According to our good friend Mr. Wikipedia, the definition of a greeble is this.

greeble is fine detailing added to the surface of a larger object that makes it appear more complex, and therefore more visually interesting.

So when should
you use a greeble rather than a smooth surface?
It's all personal choice of course, but I find that greebles are excellent when simulating parts on a MOC that are supposed to be mechanical by design.
For me, building a MOC that's covered entirely in greebles, while looking extremely cool, is somewhat unbelievable for MOCs that are supposed to be something from the near/distant future.

An example of excellent (but overdone and unbelievable) mechanical greebling is the aptly named Greebleship by Brickbuilder.

In this application, it works very well, as this ship is obviously totally sci-fi, with no basis in fact or reality.

Moving onto our next example, which is on the entire other end of the spectrum.

This ship by Marshal Banana is sleek, shiny, and hardly has any greebles.

Cowboy Bebop Swordfish II

That being said, it does have SOME greebs, which accentuate the sleek curves and angles of the ship perfectly.
The greebs aren't overdone, but they create a unified MOC that's extremely plausible to be seen coming out of say, Boeing's test runways in the near future.

So what your stance on greeblies?
The more the better? Or are they something that's better in small quantities at the right time?

Wednesday, November 5

Terrors of the seas!

Avast ye bots big and small!
We be the jigbot pirates, proud and tall.
Our heads be flappy and our pay is crappy.
But the job is fun! with lots of Rum!
So we be pillaging yee all.
So two nights ago Evan, Simon and I took some time out of our silly lives and decided to have a bit of a flash mob, a bit of a race where we all unify and build something of the same genre, in this case we built our own takes on Brickthings 'Pirate Jigbot'(s). All of them feature some great character and NPU. Here's the result:

From left to right:
Brickthings' original Boris the pirate Jigbot
Lego Junkies' Momo the pirate jigbot (winning at >2 hours!)
Legonardos' Admiral Horrace snob-bot (the slowcoach of the group clocking in 5 hours)
Si-Mocs' Arnold the pirate jigbot (an impressive 2 hours)

Who's your favorite Jigbot? comment below!

Tuesday, November 4

Tutorial Tuesdays: Stickering Tutorial Part 3

Having looked at tools and materials in Part 1, and application techniques in Part 2, this week we are going to look at some advanced techniques. Simon's GARC Zero will continue to serve as our demonstration model.
Let's get started!

Monday, November 3

Multi-themed Pop-up Awesomeness.

At first glance, this looks like a very basic, nothing too out of the ordinary desert-castle scene, which is what I would have mistook it for, had it not had Grant Davis name above it on my flickr feed. Grant has recently become one of my favorite builders, busting out incredible mocs at a rapid pace, and this one is no exception. while it may look basic, ths moc works as a functioning pop-up book, and can even be reworked into other themes! theres just enough detail that it doesn't look rushed or unfinished, and he's used some clever techniques to achieve the function, even down to using basketball spring pants for the minifig!
Functionality video can be found here.
If you havn't already, check out Grants' photostream here!

Saturday, November 1

The art of Vignetting.

Vignettes are very under-done in the community these days, and I get very excited to see one that's done well.

This small offering from Pif500, is simple in theory, but it really flows together effortlessly.
None of the techniques used are particularly revolutionary (except for the tree/net thing, which is flawless), but that hardly matters when the end result is as nice as this.

Execution is key!

You see vignettes that are fall into the "Ehh, it's okay." category, and then you have the ones that fall into the "That's amazing!" category.
Many people when building vignettes tend to overcrowd things, and try to cram as many details in as possible. When really, it would have a better final product if it didn't look like your grandma's attic, stuffed to the brim with things that don't really have much of a function.

The Age of Men

Pif's vignette is simple, but everything in it has a purpose and a function to the final product.

It has details, but not so many that it's an eyesore.

Take notes peeps!