Like any other creative pursuit, building with LEGO® bricks is about being creative and tapping into your ingenuity. Nonetheless, there are strategies and processes that can make designing and building a LEGO® MOC (My own creation) easier. Everyone has their own building style, so the advice and tips here are designed to help you develop your own way to build. The key to LEGO® building is ingenuity, creativity and out of the box thinking – and most importantly the desire to have fun! If you think you’re build isn’t good enough, keep trying, and remember that you’re probably just being hard on yourself.
Above is a picture of my first ship. This was my first ship made LEGO® bricks, based on a sci-fi design. It’s so much simpler than what I would nbuild ow. That’s how I started out! The important thing is that I tried. I had to start somewhere. The first few models were still good but I kept building on them to make something better!
The photos below show the latest version of a Daedalus-class Battlecruiser (a newer version of my first creation). See the difference? There were a few different versions in between too. Click here to see more of this MOC. The point of this is to show you how much your creations can improve over a very short time – to prove to you what simply ‘having a go’ can lead to! You never what you can bring to life with LEGO® bricks until you try! If you can dream it, you can build it.
Let’s get started!
The first thing you need to do is find something to build! Its just like any creative project – it needs to be something you’re interested in. It’s much easier to bring something to life with LEGO® bricks if you’re passionate about the end result, so pick a design or an object you love! Whenever I have made something for practicality rather than passion, I have quickly lost interest and never completed it. So, build models you are passionate about! Anything can be made out of LEGO® bricks. If something seems impossible, prove that it isn’t!
It’s time for some research
Next you need to do a little research. If you’re planning to do an accurate replica, get some good pictures of the model – know all elements of it and what it looks like from every angle. Know whatever you are basing your lego creation on in detail. Its good to have a mental picture of what you are constructing (from all angles) – if its abstract this doesn’t matter so much, you can use your imagination.
I don’t like to spend too long on the preparation stages myself – I only make a basic plan in my head for any components which I think might be challenging. I always do this before I build because I like to have a starting point and then I wing it from there. But if you’re someone who likes a plan it can be really helpful to do a quick sketch or some detailed plans, or even a digital mock-up. There are lots of great tools available but a good starting point is the LEGO Digital Designer, BrickLink Studio or LDraw. They’re all great applications. BrickLink Studio is my favourite because it is easy to use and has the most functions, including generating instructions. LEGO Digital Designer is also great for beginners!
Sort your pieces first
Before building it can be really useful to have all of your pieces sorted. The way you sort is up to you and it takes a while to develop an efficient system. Go for whatever system is easiest for you to use! I have all of my colours separated, but only grey sorted into different types of elements. This is because I use grey pieces the most for my Starship MOCs. With the rest I have pulled out all of the unique elements and sorted them by piece. You can find out more about how I sort my pieces here.
Take it one step at a time
Back to the building process, we’re now up to actually putting the pieces together! The best way to do this is to go step by step. Break the model up into sections and work on each section as if it was an individual creation, that sometimes means breaking it down again. The building process is simply a lot of steps, just like an actual set. The best way to face a challenge or big project is to go one step at a time. This applies to anything you make, whether it is a spaceship, a diorama, a robot, etc. For example you would do each limb of a robot, its torso and its head separately or you would divide the USS Enterprise into the Saucer, Warp Nacelles and Stardrive. Start with whatever component seems most logical.
I find it is worth taking the time at each step to make sure I have put in as much detail as possible, and make sure I am really happy with it. But you might like to do a basic skeleton of the MOC first, which can also be a great strategy depending on what you’re building! It can be useful for more abstract and creative builds to do it this way if you haven’t fully designed it.
If you just can’t get it right, don’t be scared to leave it alone and come back to it later with a fresh mind – sometimes that can be hours, days or even weeks later! When I built the Battlestar Pegasus there were periods of up to a month when I didn’t work on it and that’s okay (I got a bit of “LEGO® Block”). I came back with a fresh mind and made it work. When you get inspiration make sure you remember it! If you think you might forget, write it down. Even better, when you get inspired, just build! (If you can).
Most importantly, keep an open mind for creative solutions! You’ll find that unlikely parts can be extremely useful. I never cease to be amazed by the unique uses builders find for bricks! There is always a new way to use a certain piece, or an unexpected element that will be just right. For example: I made the perfect minifigure-scale machine gun for my Stargate MOCs by simply clipping a black hand from a Clone-Trooper onto a Star wars gun. Another example is the 10143 Star Wars Death Star set. It is secured at the top and bottom with steering wheels from the old Pirates sets. Notice the unusual or ingenious ways other LEGO® builders and LEGO® sets have used individual pieces.
If you’re not completely happy with it at the end, keep on improving it over and over again. Don’t be afraid to say it isn’t finished, or to go back and make changes when you get a new idea. Strive for perfection, but know when to stop and come back to it later. Remember! NEVER GIVE UP! A creation can always be improved and it’s not a bad thing to start again. It can be daunting to redo the whole model, or even a large part of it, but if you feel you have to do it – just do it. Building is about having fun, so rebuilding is just part of the fun
As I said before, never give up!
Once you’re done, make a stand, display it somewhere, give it a name tag. Then, if you want, take some photos and post them on the net. I have a guide for taking photos here.
Remember, what I have said is a guide – it isn’t a set of rules. Develop your own building style and take from this page whatever you like. If you’ve got any questions or are having trouble, I’ll be happy to help. Just leave a comment or get in touch and I’ll answer as soon as possible. Comment your own tips and experience below!
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