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Showing posts with label techniques. Show all posts
Showing posts with label techniques. Show all posts

LEGO Techniques - Window Inserts

TLG produces two main types of window inserts for their window frames.  The first obvious one is glass.  These are generally some transparent color, sometimes printed or stickered, and produced for every square window frame size.  They pop in and are almost always fixed.  The other type of insert could be called shutters.  While this generally includes most classic shutter types, it also includes a few other pieces.  These pieces mostly swivel about a pivot point, either horizontally or vertically.  One exception to this grouping is the slanted window and it's cousins.  They're having a bit of an identity crisis.  Are they a window piece or roof piece?  Why is their insert transparent AND moveable?  It's almost as if we've finally found a Darwinian transition species.

A bigger difference to be noted is thickness.  As minute as it is, there are two different thicknesses that can be found.  The window glass is generally 1.6mm thick.  This can be demonstrated by setting into a grill tile.  The 8mm width of the grill tile is broken into 5 equal parts, three grills and two voids.  8mm/5 = 1.6mm.  In thickness, two of these are the height of a plate.  If you were to create a one plate thick void with a tile directly underneath, you could insert two of these horizontally.

The shutters are a touch thicker.  Most are 2mm thick.  They don't fit into the grill tile but you can test their thickness another way.  If you stack 4 of them loose, they will fit right in between two bricks.  8mm/4 = 2mm.  These shutters will also fit within the groove of door rail plates.

In both cases, you should not expect that these pieces are perfect sizes of studs.  They are made to fit inside window frames which ARE perfect sizes.  A 1x4x3 window frame will have a piece of glass that is slightly smaller.  Generally there will be 1.6mm of wall and header, and 3.2mm of sill.  In millimeters, the window frame is 32mm wide and 28.8mm tall.  It can then be inferred that the interior would be 32mm - 1.6mm x 2 by 28.8mm - 3.2mm - 1.6mm, or, 28.8 x 24.  Perhaps I got lucky on this piece's measurement.  Turn it sideways and it'll fit into a 3x3 space.

Alright, how about 1x4x5?  This would be 32mm wide and 48mm tall.  We already know the 32mm will become 28.8mm.  The 48mm tall height now becomes 43.2mm.  This is 13.5 plates tall or 5.4 studs wide.  Not quite as beautiful.  A 2 stud wide window frame would hold a glass that is 16mm - 1.6mm x 2, or, 12.8mm.  Hmm, four plates tall.  How charming.

LEGO Techniques - Double Jointed

Last week I found a few Bionicle parts.  I'm not normally one to play around with constraction action.  But as I was looking at pieces, something got me curious.  The ball, when placed in a socket, looked like there was still a bit of spherical space left.  Granted, there's usually an axle type bit in the way but there's still some room.  Could it, would it, let it be?

Now, I'm not big in the Bionicle community and I don't know any of those types of techniques but I'd like to think that this is original.  After playing around a little more I made this sort of baby plant dragon.  There are three such connections in this little beastie (hips, back, jaw).

LEGO Techniques - How Purist Are You?

In my years of AFOLing I've seen all levels of purism.  It's not just a single level either.  There are several different aspects to purism.  How do you rate?

Poll not showing?  Try the direct link. *edit* A little update, as of 12/22/14, an overwhelming 71% of you surveyed tend towards Uber purism while another 22% don't mind modifications or off brands every once in a while.


Just recently found this infographic over at absolutelego

LEGO Techniques - Dag Bricks Update

I've been having a blast (as has my LUG) playing around with an ever growing assortment of 4x pieces.  But something has been missing, nagging at me to get done.  I finally started messing around a bit and built a nice solid foundation.

Then I had to build off of this.  My LUG was having a Halloween themed show and tell for our October meeting.  Prizes were to be given out!  Who was I to miss this?  First I had to select my model.  Then I put on my pants and coat and thought a bit about the upper extremities.  Both function and form were important.  Of course everything had to work within the system.  Not only that, but I wanted everything to follow the system.  I also wanted there to be diversity so I had to very carefully consider piece usage.  The end result is still a work in progress, but I'm very happy with it.

Of course, what's the best way to stave off a zombie attack?  Dismemberment!  There are two different arm designs but I think the left one works better, or will as soon as I come up with a better hand design.  I was pretty thrilled with the hand design on the right (robot arms on a droid body) until I found it had been used back in 2009 on a Tom and Jerry MOC.  Oh well.  I'd still like to perfect it as it doesn't grip very well.  Some of you may feel that this has been done before.  The late and amazing Count Blockula had built a big fig before his passing.  But with all due respect, it's not exactly a perfectly scaled rendition.  It's stretched a touch here and there to look good.  I want both form AND function within the system.

Now to figure out head gear.

Oh yeah, and Cthulhu won.  He ALWAYS wins.

LEGO Techniques - All the Pretty Colors!

Ever been confused by TLG's color palette?  It's true, there are many colors that are similar.  Sometimes TLG updates a color and doesn't consider it new (as in blue) and sometimes they do (old light grey, new medium stone grey).  Sometimes colors are only used on specific items such as Momo from the Avatar sets; only known piece in light tan.  Or maybe you'd like an army green watch band piece?  Not dark green or olive green.

It's really a monumental task to understand all these colors, let alone organize them.  But AFOL eldeeem (Ryan) has gone through lengths to secure parts in EVERY color ever made and thoroughly catalog them.  The Resources page has been updated with links to a custom Flickr account and detailed spreadsheet.

LEGO Techniques - Magnet Racers!

For a while now, I've been trying to figure out how to incorporate the older minifig magnet stand into some kind of build.  Lo and behold, inspiration struck.  After I recovered from the blow, I jammed this little car together.

OK, that's kind of cool looking.  So what, you used a magnet.  Ah yes, my friend, not just one magnet, but two.  And not only that, check out what it can do!

LEGO Techniques - Shipping LEGO Set Boxes

I have a problem.  It's not really like hoarding.  Maybe it is.  It's hard for me to throw away anything with a LEGO logo on it.  I don't mean you could stamp it on a turd and I would cherish it.  This has to be real, official LEGO items.  The primary culprit is set boxes.  Argh, you want me to recycle these?  But it's got the logo!  It's got value!  So I pretend there's a market for them and I list empty boxes for sale.  Weird, huh?

Even weirder is that they sometimes sell!  Granted, the profit isn't huge but they sell.  Sometimes they lead to other sales as well.  Now that I've sold one, how do I ship it?  I've got to pretend that the postal service will find a way to mangle it.  I once sent a box that came folded in half.  So I sent another.  Whatever, I was only out like 12c for the double transaction.

Uh wait, you want 2 different sized boxes?  With a minifig and parts?  Oy...

There are two ways that I ship boxes, depending on size.  The first is to gently reassemble it (I store all the boxes flat) and tack some tape over the broken seals.  Then I'll either fill it with peanuts or use some strips of rigid foam to help the box keep it's shape in transit.  After that, I wrap it with thin padding (bubbles or foam) and then wrap a piece of butcher paper around it.  I'm lucky in that I have a bunch of sheets of 24x36" paper lying around due to my drafting business.  You might find it worthwhile to carefully unmake a paper grocery bag or two.

See, I keep EVERY LEGO branded box.  EVERY, I said.

The second way is to keep the box flat and wrap it in bubbles and paper.  The problem is that the flaps at the end are subject to floppiness, catching, and ruination.  In this case I might take a lightweight box and use it to strengthen the flap ends.  You could just use another flattened box to put your flattened boxes in.  But you've also got a weight (and shipping cost) issue against the value of the box.

Butcher paper from a recent Wally World order.

Most of the time when I receive an order for an original box, I will make sure the buyer knows that it is the BOX ONLY and give them a shipping estimate.  You'd be surprised at how many think they are getting the complete Uruk-Hai Army set for $1.  And that $1 box can cost $3-$4 to send domestically or $9-$12 to send overseas.  But some collectors are meticulous about having complete, complete sets.

For those buyers, I provide some service.  You?

LEGO Techniques - Commission #2

Soon on the heels of my first commission request, I received a second one as well.  I was hoping this would be the beginning of a long string of playing with LEGO on other peoples' money but I guess I'm lucky I got my 15 minutes of fame.  The owner of a downtown firm contacted me to create his world headquarters (here in Portland) out of LEGO brick.  I chuckled at "world" headquarters, sort of like the MLB has their "world" series by virtue of a couple of Canadian teams.  But sure enough, he's got offices in at least a dozen countries and three continents.  World seems legit.

We started at a particular scale.  The building has lettering at the top.  In Portland, marquees and other outdoor signage has stiff restrictions.  Getting the signage took some doing and he was rather proud of his accomplishment.  So he wanted it to look right on the model.  I can't argue with that.  I used the letter tiles form the business card set which were a perfect match, silver letters on black tiles.  Since nine letters fit over a single bank of windows, we'd go from there.

Except for a small problem.

The building, I thought, was square.  Turns out that it's 90' x 100', slightly off.  Also, the window banks are different on each face.  On the 100' side are 6 banks of 2 windows each.  On the 90' side are 4 banks of 3 windows plus a 5th bank of 2 windows.  All these windows are the same size.  So it's something like 12x = 90 while 14x = 100.  The problem is that TLG does not make windows that would fit so I started looking at a brick built solution.  Big price.

But I put the quote together anyway as well as the issues with the windows (no glass).  I also mocked up a digital model at about 80% the size.  This time, off the shelf windows worked well but the lettered marquee would be a little long.  Since 80%^3 = 51%, the volume and therefore price should be cut in half with this small reduction.  I offered both bids and the client took the slightly smaller one.

Then he contacted me a few days later and asked about a price for the two smaller neighboring buildings on the block face.  I gave a quote and he bit.  I'll talk about those shortly.

As far as building techniques go, there's not much that's unique on this one.  But it is the first project where I used HUNDREDS of a single piece.  Much like the previous commission, there was brickwork that I wanted to grab the essence of.  Thankfully 1x2 and 2x2 plates in white are easier to grab in mass quantity than dark red.  At least at the price point I was at on this project.  I also ended up with something like 6 PaB cups of white 2x4 brick for the back walls, 300 or so windows with glass and an insatiable amount of 1x1 light bley tile for the sidewalks.  I lost count at some point but there are well north of 6000 pieces in all three buildings.

A couple small orders

Also about 600 1x1 plates in trans-black.  The building has a somewhat marbled appearance on the ground floor.  I wasn't sure how to capture it but somebody suggested trans with something behind it.  I tried a few combos and decided that the trans black with most anything behind it worked fine.  I used reddish brown since I had some and just in case that color would help the black brown out a little.  It's not a perfect match but it's good.

At some point early on the client asked for floors.  I asked why (thinking structural concerns) but he was more interested in being able to build out desks and cubicles at some point in the future.  So I had to conjure up a way to floor out a 36x39 building with insets, AND make each floor removable.  Enter about 400 white 1x2 tile.  I kept the brickwork of 1x2 and 2x2 going but interrupted with the tiles at each floor.  This allowed me to build each floor separately and remove them.  The strength of the structure is compromised a little, but this isn't a child's toy either.  The walls are 2 studs thick which allowed me to create a recess for the floor above to nestle into.  Once a floor is locked into place, the walls below are much happier.

The client was also rather proud of the roof deck he had had installed.  I was strongly encouraged to visit it so that I could add it to the model.  It's always hard to resist a highrise rooftop visit, even if it's only a 6 story building.  At 100' in the air I was treated to a completely different Portland.  Most of the street noise was gone and it was a rather peaceful sunny setting.  I didn't really consider how I was going to build the deck until the very end.  I figured I'd slap a bunch of reddish brown plates together and use brackets on the roof deck.  That didn't pan out very well.  Instead, I used the pony ear technique with some 1x2 slide plates.  That gave me a perfect amount of rise off of the roof deck to match the stepped walkway.

As for the other two buildings, they are in the funkier part of the block.  Downtown Portland's grid runs at about a 20° angle from true north.  When you get near Burnside St, everything straightens back out.  In LEGO bricks this translates to not pretty.  I resigned myself to trimming a 48x48 baseplate to capture this angle correctly.  I also used hinge bricks to get the building angle right.  The entire wall on the 20° angled side is built straight and then attached to the baseplate at a few points where the studs line up with anti-studs.  It's only a few.  But with some other tie-ins, the wall is pretty sturdy.  Again, it's not a toy, it's a display.

I tried to capture a bunch of the sidewalk decor but there wasn't much and I wasn't willing to add a doped out transient (captured in one of my photos).  I did put in a few planters, a fire hydrant, and some street lights.  I'm pretty thrilled with the streetlights at this scale.  I also built a little car and model of my client so he could work off of those to create other figs at the right scale.

Oh yeah, scale.  11.25" = 90' works out to about 1:96.  This was very helpful in that each 1x1 plate was 2.5' x 2.5' x 1' tall.  I could easily work in this scale again given how rounded out the 1x1 plate dimensions end up.  Even though it's like ten times larger than my downtown Portland.

LEGO Techniques - Garage Doors

I made a discovery a little while ago.  That is, most plates and tiles can slide in the straight grooves of what are known as garage door bricks.  These are mostly 1x2x1, 1x2x5, 1x4x1, 2x2x1, and a long 1x14x1 with curves to go from vertical to horizontal.  Well if plates and tiles can slide through, they must be about 3.2mm.  Which means that the little guide pegs on the side of the garage door panels must be 3.2mm.  And if they're 3.2mm, they're essentially a bar..  Awesome, next question, how far apart are those bars?  The obvious choices would be 3 plates, as in stacking headlight bricks, or 2.5 plates as in a brick width.  Oh, and how long are these things?

Turns out that my second try with some headlight bricks was right on.  I tried stacking them but it was clear that these weren't at 3 plate offsets.  I then set the headlight bricks side by side and everything worked perfectly, even the length.  This means that 1x1 bricks with a side stud are not going to work.  You'll end up being a plate longer than 10 studs.

Now I want like 1000 garage door panels.

LEGO Techniques - Building to Scale

After working in Micropolis scale and completing a couple of commissions, I realize some of the difficulties in working to certain scales.  Sometimes you just have to let the parts tell you what scale a creation will be.  Other times you choose your finish dimensions and make the scale work within there.  Since I mostly work in replicating existing architecture, the scale can be pretty easy to figure out.  This guide is intended to give the dimensions of a 1x1 plate in several different scales and in relation to other scales.  Intend to build to a certain scale?  Use this handy chart to get an idea of the real life size of your elements.  In this case x is the dimension across the face of the plate and y is the vertical dimension not including the stud itself.

You can also visit the dynamic Google document.  What other scales would you like to see?

LEGO Techniques - Watch This!

For a long time I struggled with trying to find a valid use for watch parts.  Then we had some friends over for a barbecue.  (That's quite a disjointed lead-in).  They have a boy of 6 who was excited to show me his LEGO watch.  Well hot dog, I ran inside to get mine!  He had an Anakin and I had an Obi-Wan.  So we had a watch-saber duel.

I had also grabbed my extra watch band parts, my studded bezel, and a 4x4 round Atlantis rock to attach to the bezel.  I showed him how my bezel worked (his was not the studded variety).  Then I circled my other watch band parts and dropped them over the ridge of the Atlantis rock.  Wait a minute, how many of those would it take to wrap around that thing?  A little experimentation and, voila!
Steampunk Jeweler's glass?

It takes 9 to wrap a 2x2 round

Okay, how about something a bit larger?

And 13 wrap a 3x3 round.
Oh this could be good.

LEGO Techniques - Mudguard Stuck

Being up to the wheel wells in mud is one thing.  Being up to the wheel wells in LEGO bricks is quite another.  While the former sounds fun, the latter would be more fun to get out of.  Being up to my waist in mud, attaching a chain is a bit too much.  The dangly loose ends of the LEGO mudguards have caught my attention for quite a while.  Finally I gave it a go and started trying to get them to stick in all sorts of places.  In what could be called a variant of cheese slope wedging, give this a go:

Karf Oohlu, where are you?

I have to give Bricklink all the thanks for this one.  Their monified seed part challenge was to build something for their MOC shop using 4 of these in dark azure.  That's a nice number to build a... car.  But I wanted to build anything else.  How many car entries would there end up being?

LEGO Techniques - Gripping the Handle

The Repair Lift review from last week had some other surprises as well.  And not just the Man Car.  I've wondered for a while how big the stops on the 1x2 plates with handle are.  I surmised that they were 4.8mm (since TLG uses a grid of 1.6mm for designing their standard pieces).  But given the architecture around them, there's really no way to get an anti-stud around them.  So then the question becomes, what is the same size as an anti-stud but partially open?

A wrench, naturally.

 I see some potential here for a creepy five fingered hand.

LEGO Techniques - The Man Car

I suppose this technique has more to with a particular part than the whole thing.  But I generally post about parts without much in the way of examples.  Here's an actual example.

In building the Repair Lift, we began to have a little fun with Bill.  I was showing the girls how the wrench would fit on the head stud (ow...).  Then I put the pick-axe handle into the hollow stud on top of the head (double ow...).  Then I got the bright idea to but the wheel holder (with hollow tube) down over the neck and place the head back on top (super ow...).  Poor Bill.

I then left him at that and went on to dink around with something else.  Less than a minute later one of my daughters had taken the other wheels and placed them on Bill's feet.  He was now four wheels waiting to happen.  Place has little wowzamajiger in his hand and this guy was ready to roll.

Creepy?  Maybe...

LEGO Techniques - PaB Wall Pick a Brick Cup

I seem to be having more PaB wall lately.  That means I'm going to the LEGO Store more often than before.  At least my wallet is lighter.  I mean, shoot, that thing was so heavy...

A commission that I've been working on required a bunch of dark bley 2x4 filler and a bunch of dark red 1x2 bricks (among other parts).  Both of these were amazingly in the PaB wall.  Armed with a large cup and the knowledge that I could snap the bricks together (since they weren't for resale) I tested some 2x4 packing.

First layer was the 1x2 in the bottom rim of the cup.  Next I built a big block of 2x4 and test fit it.  There was enough room in much of it to add more 1x2 to the outer edges.  Some tan 2x8 plates made for good edge filler.  I then put a second larger block on top.  Finally, I had enough room to add one more 2x layer.  I figured some of the 2x2 bley bricks would be helpful and built a block with a few them and a bunch more 1x2.  With each layer I dumped in, shook, and used a 1x8 tile to shove down as many 1x1 trans clear plates as possible.

In the lid I was able to get a few extra pieces to friction fit.

Total count:

108 dark bley 2x4
14 dark bley 2x2
93 dark red 1x2
8 tan 2x8 plate
2 red 2x4 brick
2 white 2x2x2 65° slope
2 light bley 2x2 tile
2 light bley 1x2 tile with handle
302 trans clear 1x1 plate

Total street value of about $41.  I've had better but that's not terrible for a $16 cup.  Off to build!

LEGO Techniques - Cones Askew

Cones don't seem like they have the broadest of outside the box uses.  Perhaps this is true.  Maybe I've tapped the full potential of them.  But in another stroke of genius from the (neighbor) kids, this little technique gave me fodder for another blog post.

Due to their conical (not to be confused with comical) shape, the cones aren't limited to rigid vertical uses in an otherwise rigid vertical assembly.  If the stud has a little wiggle room then the cone can be cockeyed a bit to have the appearance of pointing out.  I have feeling that the 4x4 round plate contributes something to this little trick as well.

It's not the strongest connection, but it sure does look good.  The main use I can see is for control jets on a landing space craft.

LEGO Techniques - Commission #1

As a result of a bunch of media exposure that was the result of a lone Reddit post from a lone imgur picture, I received a request for TWO commissions.  I had displayed my 1:1000 scale Portland at Bricks Cascade 2014.  Someone took a picture and posted it and it went somewhat viral.  I had three media outlets contact me.  The staff at Gerding Theater in Portland saw the news article on OPB and asked me to model their building out of LEGO.  In fact, they had just been talking the week before wondering if there was a local LEGO artist.  I don't know that I'd call myself an artist but I'll take it anyway.

Since the buzz was all about 1:1000 scale, I started by showing them some examples that would have equated to a 4x8 plate.  Certainly not big enough.  I went to the 8x16; nope.  16x32?  Keep going.  When I presented the 32x32 baseplate, I was asked if I could do the model on two of them.  Absolutely, I can do darn near anything you want.

The Gerding Theater sits on a half block which equates to 100x200'.  There is some street slope on the 200' side but the topography on the other sides is level.  Since I wanted to take the sidewalks into account, I had to really get about 112x224' onto two baseplates.

The building was built as an armory in 1892.  All dark red brick with some dark grey and dark tan stone work.  I started with the windows as there were numerous ones.  Once I figured out a solution I went to see how big the building would be.  I ended up at 28x54 studs.  It's not exactly 1:2 but it's close enough that no one will notice.  This left enough room for sidewalks all around though I did cantilever by one stud on the sloped side.  Final scale ends up right around 1:140.

Dark red is not an easy color to work with.  It's pretty and all that but part selection is limited.  The main entrance has a huge half circle arch.  A 1x8x2 would have been perfect but I had to settle for a 1x6x1 with some inverted slopes below it.  There is a small turret on one corner and the 2x2 facet bricks would have been perfect but they aren't made in dark red.  So I took to doing some SNOT with inverted 45° slopes.  Not ideal but it passes.  Also hard to find were the 2x2 round bricks in dark red.  I needed 12.  Only three sellers in the world had enough.  I ordered 15 from Germany but ended up using 10.

On the plus side was the ground floor stone.  This was easily replicated with dark bley 1x2 brick bricks (embossed bricks).  I ordered more than I thought I would need and ended up using every last one.  As a purist I really wanted to do something to replicate the carved stone shield on the back side.  I was browsing through dark red parts and came across a stickered 2x2 tile that had some fine detail work on it.  That was very cool.

Since I was doing the sidewalks, I had to capture the lovely streetscaping against the building's north (long) face.  Much of it was trees but I also worked in the benches, rain swale, bike rack, and a sign post advertising what's currently playing on the main stage.

The silver on black letter tiles from the business card set came in very handy.  At the front entrance is a black mat with grey letters that says Portland Center Stage.  I only had 6x2 studs of area to work with.  I ended up settling for CENTER STAGE in 2 lines.  Under the sidewalk in front of that (on the high street side) I added GERDING THEATER and my website.

View Larger Map

All in all this was a lovely challenge.  The staff at the Theater were great to work with and were very open about letting me make it work on my terms.  Being a purist with an engineer's mind, I did very little in the way of artistic liberties and stayed as true as possible to the aesthetic of the building.  While the little keyhole windows would have been very cool to replicate, 1x2 technic bricks with pin hole in dark red are near impossible to get in any decent quantity without spending a fortune.

If you will be near Powell's Books downtown, walk the block or two up to the Gerding Theater at 11th and Davis.  This model will be on display inside the foyer for a while.  Feel free to stop in and drop a few pennies in the display case for their fund raising campaign.

If you are interested in having your building done out of LEGO, contact me for details.  This is a great way to add a lighthearted yet accurate vision to your school, church, hospital, bridge, or megalopolis tower.  Afterwards, raffle off the model for even more fund-raising stratagem!