LEGO has now become that bit more nerdy with computer-aided design style construction software
Kids of all ages love to play with the popular plastic construction bricks known as LEGO. You can buy themed sets or just standard bricks and create anything you like, as long as you have the pieces.
Personally, I love the challenge of trying to build a certain creation (usually a request from my six-year-old son) knowing that I’m going to have to reconsider my build several times along the way. Whilst we do have a fair amount of LEGO, I expect to discover that I don’t have enough of a certain piece that I need, causing a review of my build.
But what if that limitation of pieces was removed?
The popular LEGO fan website, BrickLink has the answer with Studio 2.0.
BrickLink is a storefront for sellers from all over the world. You can buy complete sets, old or new, or just buy a single brick. The latest version of their software, Studio, which is still in Beta, has recently been upgraded to version 2.0 and is available for Windows (32 & 64-bit) and Macintosh.
As with any computer-aided design software, once the first screen appears, it can look rather daunting. However, a quick tutorial soon teaches you the basics and has you creating a small LEGO snail.
Studio’s main editing screen.
From here, you’re on your own. There are plenty of options to play with but I found the biggest hurdle was trying to find the bricks you need for your idea.
Every brick has a unique name and as a learner, I was trawling through the catalogue a lot looking for that exact piece I needed. You have to you use words like a slope or the brick size, such as, a “2×6”, to help narrow down your search results.
You build your model in white bricks and then you can colour them, or even make them transparent, afterwards.
To help you out, LEGO fans from around the world are uploading their creations to BrickLink every day and you’ll find digital recreations of real sets and original builds.
Once you have finished your design, you can pose the model and then render a 3D image. There are two options, POV-Ray Tracing (Ray-tracing is a rendering technique that calculates an image of a scene by simulating the way rays of light travel in the real world)or by using Studio’s own photorealistic rendering software.
Below is the same model rendered using both techniques. As you can see, whilst the Ray Tracing option is impressive, the photorealistic setting gives amazing results.
As Studio links back to BrickLink, you can even find out if the real bricks needed to bring your build to life are available to order.
Also, the internet connectivity means that several BrickLink members can cooperate and work together on the same project at the same time.
Finally, Studio remembers every step of your build and you can create a set of LEGO-style instructions so that others can try building your creation with real bricks.
This really is a fun piece of software to tinker with and is completely free as well!
Click here to download BrickLink Studio.
I dreamt of owning this set as a kid. Now I can own it..virtually at least!