Today I got quiet a surprise when I visited my local Toys “R” Us. There was a life size model of a Firefighter made out of LEGO bricks.
Being the picky Master Model Builder that I am, I couldn’t just look at and admire it, I had to study how it was built.
The first thing I noticed was that it was very round. Now as I know a little about LEGO building and how many of the models are done now I figured immediately that it was probably designed with Brickbuilder, the internal LEGO computer program that takes 3D computer images and turns them into LEGO models. There a subtle clues that the average non-Master Builder would never recognize.
Here’s a Model Building Tip for you. If you notice the gray stripe right under his belt in the front the way the brick layers curve tell me that this was originally designed by a computer. Why? Well if the model had been designed by hand the curve would have been smoother. A computer doesn’t have the “artist’s eye” so it doesn’t see the abrupt curves as a problem. When Brickbuilder was first used this problem showed up a lot. Over all the model looked impressive, but there were all these funky curves per layer that didn’t make any sense. My guess is that the model designer fixed most of the curves on this model but either didn’t notice the one I mentioned or didn’t see it as important enough to fix.
I encountered that problem myself when I was building my giant lady bug. Transferring the half-dome to make the shell only took a few minutes, but fixing all the funny curves took three days. I also added the black dots at the same time.
Erik Varszegi, Master Model Builder extraordinaire, truly is a master taking Brickbuilder to the next level. He uses it as it is meant to be used, as just one more tool in the Master Builder’s bag of tricks.
In fact there is a great article about designing with Brickbuilder that Erik wrote in Issue 9 of the BrickJournal Magazine
Just because many of the LEGO models start out with a computer designing them doesn’t mean that Master Model Builders will disappear. The Master Builders still have lots of steps to do before it can go from computer screen to actual 3D LEGO model.
So if you get a chance to see this at your local Toys “R” Us, take a moment to look and admire it.