DONG – Building instructions

How is a building instruction made?

The process of creating a building instruction is done in several steps and contains some different challanges.

I often get a quick respond that that has to be easy for a software to make automaticly – but when you look at the details it is not that easy.

  • Not to many different bricks at the same time
  • Some steps are more critical than other, so not just the same amount of bricks per step. This can be noted in the offcial LEGO building instructions. It might look strange in some steps to only place one brick, but often there is a reason to prepare the builder in the coming steps, to speed up or down the builder.
  • To get the right brick in the right order, some step is not that critical as others.
  • Bricks can not be “built in the air”, so the building instruction steps need to prepare some building steps before putting them into the model, especially SNOT building technique.

Following are some examples of the steps to make an instruction.

STEP 1 – Making a Digital Model in Lego Digital Designer (LDD)

Using the LDD in expert mode makes it easy to locate most of the buidling bricks, but if the model is to be built in real life, the bricks must also be availabe in the color you need – that is not allways obvious.

LEGO DIGITAL DESIGNER – LDD
FINAL MODEL

STEP 2 – Breaking down the model into building steps

First screendump and last step of the front window instruction.
The bricks to the left of the model is the bricks needed for this step. piece by piece.
NOTE that the 1×1 stup on the side brick is not correct, that brick is not in LDD yet.

Some of the steps – screendumps from LDD that is later used in photoshop

The LDD screendump (transparent PNG) and manually (with some magic) fixed the “missing” bricks in photoshop
…the SNOTed panel…
…two bricks on the top…
…three bricks but only two types of bricks to be placed on the top…
…some windows…
…and so on…
last screendump and first step of building.

STEP 3 – Creating the pages

Using Adobe Photoshop Elements and working in layers, the pages are built up step by step and page by page.

STEP 4 – Merging pages into a final document

As pages are created in Photoshop the disc is filled with individual pages that need to be merged into a document. This is done using Adobe Acrobat.

BACKGROUND

The above work and blog article is made by me, Anders Horvath. A LEGO fan since birth and an active Swebrick AFOL since 2012. Back in 1987 after engineering collegue I started at a company working as a technical illustrator making spare parts lists/3D illustrations (in 1987 3D illustrations was made by hand, not computers).

Today I am a marketing communication manager for a big corporation so the LDD and 3D modelleling is a fun work on the side in combination with the LEGO building hobby, bringing some “good old days” back into my life.

TSP – The Spiral

A LEGO model of The Spiral will be build by Rocco Buttliere.

Every new piece starts with a sketch.  As a trained architect, plan and section drawings always help me better visualize the dimensions and massing of the overall building.  The next step is to start designing the model, which will likely be made up of numerous stacks of floor plates, each with different dimensions as the spiral pattern slowly diminishes the overall footprint.  Stay tuned!

In the description of the building, BIG states:

Located at the intersection of the High Line and the newly developed Hudson Boulevard Park on Manhattan’s new western frontier, THE SPIRAL extends the green space of the former train tracks in a spiraling motion towards the sky – from High Line to the skyline. The 1,005 ft high-rise is a unique hybrid that intertwines a continuous green pathway with workspaces on every level. The chain of amenity spaces and terraces originates at THE SPIRAL’s main entrance on 34th street and Hudson Boulevard. The spiral wraps around the tower, which becomes gradually slimmer towards the top. This creates unique floor configurations that will cater to a diverse community of tenants making the building a lively place for businesses of different scales – giving tenants a stake in the buildings iconic skyline presence.

Inside, every terrace becomes a double height atrium with impressive views over Manhattan, offering a more informal setting for meetings, events and recreational activities. These spaces connect multiple levels in the building, offering an alternative to elevators to encourage physical activity and interaction amongst colleagues. THE SPIRAL sets a new standard for the contemporary workplace, where nature becomes an integrated part of the work environment while spatial features are continuously adaptable to the changing needs of the tenants and their organizations.

The stepping form of THE SPIRAL echoes the architecture of New York City’s classic stepped setback skyscrapers and is the natural evolutionary step in the Tishman Speyer portfolio. The silhouette of THE SPIRAL resonates with the iconic architecture of Rockefeller Center while its modern materials and detailing place it at the forefront of contemporary high-rise design on a path to become a future classic on the Manhattan skyline.

MTN – Preparing to build Mount Everest

All the apartments are now completed except for props (tables, plants etc.) on the terraces which will be added at the end. So when you look at the model from a very specific angle (south-east corner), it looks finished.

But I have yet to build the back side of the building, the large image of Mount Everest wrapping around the parking lot under the apartments. From the images below it would appear that the image is painted on somewhat transparent panels.

However, when you come up close it turns out that all the panels are in fact the same grey/silver color and the image appears due to the raster effect of holes in various sizes!

The image below was kindly provided by the architect and is the original image of Mount Everest used to create the panels.

How do you recreate this in LEGO? I considered many different options, including using Technic bricks with holes to mimic the actual construction. But I settled for a classic, studs-up mosaic and used a LEGO mosaic maker tool to create the image below which will serve as the building instruction. The mosaic alone contains roughly 10.000 1×1 plates!

I have chosen the colors white, very light grey (from the LEGO Mosaic sets), light bluish grey and dark bluish grey as well as transparent and dark transparent which I hope will give a little of the see-through effect of the actual wall. The plates are ligned up below, color by color.

The model has been turned 180 degrees on my table. Now it is time to start building a giant mosaic!

XPO – EXPO 2010 Danish Pavilion

A LEGO model of The Danish Pavilion in Shanghai, China will be build by Helgi Toftegaard.

In the description of the building, BIG states:

The Danish Pavilion was designed to not only exhibit Danish virtues, but, through interaction, to give the visitor an experience of some of the best attractions in Copenhagen: the city bike, the harbor bath, the nature playground and an ecological picnic. The bike is a vernacular means of transportation and a national symbol common to Denmark and China. With the pavilion we relaunched the bike in Shanghai as a symbol of modern lifestyle and sustainable urban development. The pavilion’s 1500 city bikes were offered for general use to the visitors during EXPO 2010.

In the heart of the pavilion was a harbor bath, which is filled up with seawater from Copenhagen harbor. The visitors could swim in the bath and not only hear about the clean water, but actually feel and taste it. The Little Mermaid was transported to Shanghai to sit in the waterline of the pavilion’s harbor bath exactly as she is in Copenhagen harbor.

The first step for the model building was to build some tests:

How to build curved
Floor and roof
Facade surface
The bikes are essential in this LEGO model

… and then to the challenging part: getting the model to turn around itself

MAR – The Maritime Youth House

A LEGO model of The Maritime Youth House is built by Anne Mette Vestergård.

In the description of the building, BIG states:

The Maritime Youth House, located on the island of Amager, in Copenhagen, took as point of departure a technical problem related with the physical characteristics of the plot. A third of our budget was allocated to remove polluted topsoil. By covering the site with a wooden deck, we could leave the soil where it was and invest the money on the building, rather than the site’s polluted topsoil. The result is a public landscape of social functions surrounded by water on all sides, breathing new life into a former desolate harbor front.


Two very different users with conflicting requirements had to share the facilities: a sailing club and a youth center.

The youth center wanted outdoor space for the kids to play, while the sailing club required most of the site to moor their boats. The building is the result of these two contradictory demands. The deck is elevated high enough to allow for boat storage underneath while providing an undulating landscape for the kids to run and play above.