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Learn to build?

Is it necessary to learn to build things? The way of doing so I presume would be to build sets according to instructions, and once you've accustomed yourself with a variety of techniques then move on to MOCs?

Or is it possible to create elaborate MOCs without first learning about the techniques?

Comments

  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936
    Whichever way works best for you, really. There's not set or official process to follow. Personally, I'd do a bit of both. For MOCing you might learn techniques from official sets, from others' MOCs (check out MOCpages or Lego-themed Flickr feeds - I don't know any off the top of my head I'm sure some fellow Bricksetters will point you in the right direction) or even just from experimenting with your own MOCs.

    The only thing is Lego doesn't often use terribly complicated techniques in their sets (unless it's an Ultimate Collectors Series (UCS), Modular or similar), so you might not learn too much from that.
    Also there are techniques that are known as 'illegal' (not because they are illegal, but because Lego never uses them in official sets). This includes not pushing bricks all the way together, using Technics pieces for SNOT (studs not on top) techniques and things like that.
    So depending where you're coming from, you might learn as much about MOCing techniques from looking at other people's MOCs than building sets.
    carlqmonkey
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,392
    A cheap way to learn to build the official way is to download the instructions for sets from lego.com. You can then "read" them and either build the models in your head, or just build parts of the model that look interesting to you if you want to learn a particular technique.

    I will nearly always have a look at the instructions of a £50+ set before buying, to see if I will enjoy the build or not.
    carlqpharmjod
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,086
    ^Interesting, what sort of things do you look at on the instructions as a marker that you will enjoy the build?

    I'm often surprised by which sets I enjoy building more than others - e.g. I picked up a #70003 : Eris' Eagle Interceptor in the Tesco clear out for £7.50 thinking that I wouldn't think much of it but found it a really fun build....still glad I held out for the 75% off but at 50% it still would have been good
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,392
    Normally I look for any snot building techniques, or fun use of parts, or just stuff that is not directly visible from the finished build.

    I have a good look at the pictures first to try to work out how something is built (not necessarily work out all the parts, just the techniques used, orientation of parts, etc I'm ot too bothered if a wall is 1x2 or 1x4 or 1x8 bricks) then have a look at the instructions.

    Sometimes I'll build a set using existing parts substituting colours if I don't have them and if I like it, I'll buy the real one. I don't buy many of the creator sets as I can normally have a go at all three builds without needing to buy the set.
  • monkeymonkey Member Posts: 234
    Cool I'm glad I don't have to build sets in order to learn! Even those that I love like council of elrond I'd like to elaborate upon, and mostly just want to build my own things.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    I started off seriously building by modifying bits I didnt like from official sets, or making them bigger etc.
    monkeyandhe
  • rancorbaitrancorbait Manitoba CanadaMember Posts: 1,850
    I think I learned the most my just building. I would often take a set apart soon after building it and just play around with the parts, with no particular goal in mind, which often lead to some interesting builds! You can discover new techniques yourself and also look at other's, either way you learn :o) I think, I also learned to maximize the use of my parts because I didn't have much, (not suggesting that those who have lots can't learn anything) so you've got to try things, look beyond what the part is 'supposed to be' and use it for something completely different!

    So I'd say that, like almost everything else, the best way to go about it is just give it a try, start building :o)
    monkey
  • cody6268cody6268 Member Posts: 246
    I normally set techniques, along with ones I've figured out myself, in addition to ones from MOC's I've seen on the internet.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,768
    Learning to build is a never-ending process. Obviously most people need to build at least one set in order to fully understand the fundamentals of the building system, but there is no specific number of sets you have to build in order to gain a solid repertoire of building techniques.

    Some people who are better visual-spatial learners than others might be able to figure out advanced building techniques just by seeing pictures of them. Others who are more tactile learners will have to build a model for themselves to understand all of the techniques it uses. Due to the nature of the product, most advanced LEGO builders are probably a combination of the two, so they learn new building techniques from both pictures and hands-on experience.

    If you really want to be walked through the fundamentals of LEGO design, the Master Builder Academy sets are a great tool. But a lot of LEGO builders will already have some understanding of the techniques taught by those sets — the Master Builder Academy manuals simply demonstrate a lot of examples of each building technique and put into words why techniques like sideways building, locking, etc. are so useful and important. Even the MBA sets will not teach you everything there is to know about LEGO building. Some sets like Technic sets or Hero Factory sets have their own building system with its own unique nuances, while others will use the same parts and building system as your average LEGO Creator set but will still demonstrate new ways of using and thinking about those parts.

    The biggest thing to bear in mind is that LEGO is a toy, and as such the goal should be having fun. You'll know, to an extent, how ready you are to construct your own creations by how fun it is to build things by trial and error rather than using an instruction booklet. If you are still more comfortable building with instructions than from your own imagination, there's nothing wrong with that — just have fun, keep an open mind and always be on the lookout for ways you can improve your own building.
    monkeycarlqgivmellispharmjod
  • CapnRex101CapnRex101 United KingdomAdministrator Posts: 2,261
    I often build models which are based in reality or on something from a film, so tend to have an aim in mind which I try to build towards, using whatever techniques necessary to get as close to the original source material as possible.

    Everybody is different however, so you just have to find your own way to get the best results.

    "I know it sounds like a cat poster, but it's true..."
  • monkeymonkey Member Posts: 234
    edited June 2014
    Thanks Aanchir, this makes so much sense!
    Aanchir said:

    The biggest thing to bear in mind is that LEGO is a toy, and as such the goal should be having fun. You'll know, to an extent, how ready you are to construct your own creations by how fun it is to build things by trial and error rather than using an instruction booklet. If you are still more comfortable building with instructions than from your own imagination, there's nothing wrong with that — just have fun, keep an open mind and always be on the lookout for ways you can improve your own building.


    @CapnRex101, this is exactly what I'm itching to do, this house for example is among the top on my list but having never built a house before I was worried finding right colour for the walls will be the least of my worries!


  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 462
    That house definitely looks like a fun thing to build with Lego!
    I bought the Fire Brigade #10197 partially because I wanted it, but also because I knew there would be techniques in there that I'd learn from to apply to my own buildings in the future... was a fun build as well!
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936
    @monkey‌ For that one, I would recommend looking at the modular series and the Monster Fighters' Haunted House (if not the sets themselves then at least the instructions).
    monkey
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,392
    Looks like a good use for the white palisade part.
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 444
    Not sure if lego is a toy anymore. I have built many sets and a lot of them children cant really play with. And it is difficult to modify a set as it does not "fit". I buy and sell lego and othen buy lego that has hardly been played with.

    I grew up with lego being a toy with few bricks and colours to choose from. A fire engine was whatever you decided it was. And i built things all the time.

    The creator houses contain good technics which were not around when i was young.

  • KirstyL21KirstyL21 South AfricaMember Posts: 27
    Most of my sets are Creator buildings/houses and I must admit to gathering pictures and even building plans as an inspiration to build other houses but have never completed anything to my satisfaction. This has left me feeling uninspired with my level of creativity and so led to me sticking to building to the instructions with a few mods here and there. Then I discovered Mixels and they have been a huge catalyst for me to think out side the "instructions" and make up my own creations, as small and daft as they may be. I want to say that they did more to teach me about different building techniques than some of the houses, which I found rather straight forward. But the most recent Creator house models have had more technical aspects in their builds so that may be an unfair assessment on my part. I have ventured on to create a few landscapes and trees and so now I just need to push myself and give one of those houses a go .... Looking at MOC's and following some designers has been a huge impetus to getting me building on my own and has added to my arsenal of techniques and future building methods. There are a very inspirational bunch of builders out there and I have spent may hours admiring their builds and learning, learning, learning.
    monkey
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,392
    Norlego said:

    Not sure if lego is a toy anymore. I have built many sets and a lot of them children cant really play with. And it is difficult to modify a set as it does not "fit". I buy and sell lego and othen buy lego that has hardly been played with.

    I grew up with lego being a toy with few bricks and colours to choose from. A fire engine was whatever you decided it was. And i built things all the time.

    The creator houses contain good technics which were not around when i was young.

    I think that is quite true. With more and more specialized parts, creativity drops. Things look more realistic now, but there is a cost for that.

    I guess also people are richer now and tend to have many sets rather than just a bucket full that is used for everything.

    One of my kids is quite keen on sets being sets and have to be built like the instructions say. The other is more like me.
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 444
    I had a lot of lego when growing up, but would only get one set for christmas rather than 10 which is common today....
    Also in the 70 and 80s lego published simple idea books. I learnt a lot from them. The build books of today are useless full of unique parts in odd colours.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,936
    I think it is easiest to address this question by thinking of Lego as an art form like drawing.

    There are some that draw/paint that have natural ability. There are some that have ability, but when they learn some unfamiliar techniques they can go further with their painting. Sometimes it is less about technique, but studying genre and painters of interest. There are some people that simply paint for fun, and do not expect to be experts, and others that strive for expertise.

    Building with Lego is no different, in this mode, since it is an art form. It really is about where your talents are, and what you want to achieve.

    For me, I only do small display MOCS for my holiday scenes. I do not need any specialized techniques for what I do, and I am happy with what I have done.
    carlqaimlesspursuits
  • monkeymonkey Member Posts: 234
    edited June 2014
    Just found someone already built that house :)

    http://www.mocpages.com/moc.php/390188
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,768
    CCC said:

    Norlego said:

    Not sure if lego is a toy anymore. I have built many sets and a lot of them children cant really play with. And it is difficult to modify a set as it does not "fit". I buy and sell lego and othen buy lego that has hardly been played with.

    I grew up with lego being a toy with few bricks and colours to choose from. A fire engine was whatever you decided it was. And i built things all the time.

    The creator houses contain good technics which were not around when i was young.

    I think that is quite true. With more and more specialized parts, creativity drops. Things look more realistic now, but there is a cost for that.

    I guess also people are richer now and tend to have many sets rather than just a bucket full that is used for everything.

    One of my kids is quite keen on sets being sets and have to be built like the instructions say. The other is more like me.
    I don't know about that. Finding new uses for specialized parts is fun, and a lot of sets demonstrate how even a part thought of as specialized can be reused in new and creative ways. I was absolutely perplexed with how often the charge of "too many specialized pieces/not enough creativity" was railed against the LEGO Movie sets, when many of those were perfect proof of parts being useful outside their usual/intended uses — parts that would normally be used to build castles, trucks, or windmills would be used to build flying machines, while parts that would normally be used to build pirate ships, construction equipment, and fire engines were used to build mecha.

    Sometimes all it takes to make a seemingly specialized piece perform an entirely different function is to flip it sideways.

    Also, there are plenty of sets today that demonstrate a great deal of creativity using fairly basic parts. The Mixels are a great example, using mostly basic slopes, curved slopes, plates, and hinges to create all sorts of wacky creatures, and encouraging kids to combine multiple sets in creative and hilarious ways. LEGO Creator also brilliantly demonstrates the versatility of basic parts.

    I'm probably a bit biased since some of my favorite themes are ones like LEGO Ninjago that use quite a number of specialized parts. But when you get right down to it, even many of these sets are not uncharacteristically specialized. Look at #70002 from the Legends of Chima theme, for instance. The most specialized pieces it uses, other than minifigure parts and accessories, are the wheels, hoses, flexible suspension beams, and rubber spike pieces used for the claws and mane. But the vast majority of its parts are fairly basic System and Technic parts. Its most distinctive feature, the lion face on its front, is entirely brick-built. Even the launcher uses fairly basic parts.
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    Aanchir said:

    I'm probably a bit biased since some of my favorite themes are ones like LEGO Ninjago that use quite a number of specialized parts. But when you get right down to it, even many of these sets are not uncharacteristically specialized. Look at #70002 from the Legends of Chima theme, for instance. The most specialized pieces it uses, other than minifigure parts and accessories, are the wheels, hoses, flexible suspension beams, and rubber spike pieces used for the claws and mane. But the vast majority of its parts are fairly basic System and Technic parts.

    I think whether or not pieces are specialized depends on your frame of reference. To me, someone whose ideas about "what LEGO is" were formed in the early to mid 80s, the vast majority of the parts in that set are what I consider specialized. To someone younger, who has seen angled brackets and cheese slopes in every set they've ever built, "specialized" likely means something more akin to what you're suggesting.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,392
    ^^ I should have said prints rather than parts. Prints to add realistic details that do not transfer too well.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,768
    binaryeye said:

    Aanchir said:

    I'm probably a bit biased since some of my favorite themes are ones like LEGO Ninjago that use quite a number of specialized parts. But when you get right down to it, even many of these sets are not uncharacteristically specialized. Look at #70002 from the Legends of Chima theme, for instance. The most specialized pieces it uses, other than minifigure parts and accessories, are the wheels, hoses, flexible suspension beams, and rubber spike pieces used for the claws and mane. But the vast majority of its parts are fairly basic System and Technic parts.

    I think whether or not pieces are specialized depends on your frame of reference. To me, someone whose ideas about "what LEGO is" were formed in the early to mid 80s, the vast majority of the parts in that set are what I consider specialized. To someone younger, who has seen angled brackets and cheese slopes in every set they've ever built, "specialized" likely means something more akin to what you're suggesting.
    Well, even if you grew up before cheese slopes I can't understand thinking of them as specialized. While their uses are more limited than a regular slope brick simply on account to having fewer connection points, I'd argue that they're [i]extremely[/i] basic.

    I guess I can see where you're coming from though regarding things like brackets and curved slopes. I was just 10 or 11 when the first curved slopes began to appear in sets. And having grown up in the 90s, I was used to parts that were even [i]more[/i] specialized like the parts endemic to themes like Castle, Space, and Aquazone. A curved slope, hinge, or SNOT bracket is extremely basic compared to even "classic" parts like 4229, 4596, 4598, 2336, or 4746. Let alone the horrendously specialized parts that characterized late 90s themes like UFO, Stingrays, or Fright Knights!
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,392
    When I think back to what I had in the 1970s ... if it isn't a 2x2 or 2x4 brick in red, yellow, white, blue or black, then it is specialised.
  • BrikingBriking Dorset, UKMember Posts: 745
    ^ This!
  • dannyrwwdannyrww WisconsinMember Posts: 1,312
    I love building the kits today (LOTR,Superheroes, etc;) and I have found that building with those have helped me see unique ways to connect bricks (sideways building and such) and helps me a great deal when I free build so I do think there is something to be said about learning to build. I think that is the intent of the master builder academy sets anyways.
  • TechnicNickTechnicNick Berkshire, UKMember Posts: 277
    Growing up in the '70s, I'd agree with @CCC about what's specialized... the modern range of pieces may be more difficult to integrate but once you get the knack the results are well worth the extra effort. It makes you try harder, but overall I'd say Lego is better now than it was then.
    vitreolum
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,392
    ^ yes, much much better.
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 444
    I grew up with yellow castle 375 and you had to build horses. These days horses are an unique brick. That is the problem with modern bricks. Of course some modern bricks are useful but a lot are not.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,392
    edited June 2014
    What would you rather display next to a detailed castle though. A brick built horse or a one piece horse?

    What would a kid prefer to play with. A brick built horse with no articulation that falls apart or a one piece horse with a little articulation that doesn't fall apart?

    Now they could make those horses three parts, a head, a front half of body and a back half of body, but those parts would be equally specialised. It might be good if you could remove the head and make a centaur (similar to the brickforge centaurs), but otherwise there is little advantage.

    Back in the day when there were just plain bricks, I mixed and matched with other toys. So I had non-lego farm or zoo animals, or dinosaurs, or Kenner SW figures, etc. Most of those were more detailed than the lego equivalents of today. I think lego have realised (probably long ago too) that kids use other brands of toys to bring some realism to their play, and they have slowly been filling the gap. Having horses that minifigs can ride is (for me) better than having a generic molded horse standing in a field and that gap has been filled. Last week my kids built a zoo, and it was populated by mainly molded animals from ELC along with the odd brick build elephant and croc. It would be great to have an official zoo, so the whole thing could be lego made, but they played just as well using non-lego animals. If lego do a zoo, I'd expect them to be molded animals for realism on the scale of minifigs.
    Aanchir
  • NorlegoNorlego ScotlandMember Posts: 444
    I dont think you had the 375.... I and my friends would modify the horses so they were bigger... So if i made the horse taller they would make there horse taller. This is how the boys get involved in the arms race....

    At least i didnt have to play with mega bloks like kids today.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,768
    I personally really like the idea of specialized LEGO animals, because I feel like they go better with minifigures than blocky, brick-built ones. Minifigures may not be perfectly lifelike, but like the classic LEGO horse, they have a blend of curved and geometric surfaces, with printed faces and clearly-defined body parts.

    With that said, once you get into larger animals you can have the best of both worlds. The Legend Beasts from LEGO Legends of Chima are a good example: they have printed faces to provide that lifelike quality that minifigures and minifigure animals tend to share, and they have a few specialty parts like claws to add additional realism, but the majority of their designs are brick-built (albeit with more complex brick designs and building techniques than the horses from the Yellow Castle used).
  • SanddoodleSanddoodle Member Posts: 13
    monkey said:

    Is it necessary to learn to build things? ....
    Or is it possible to create elaborate MOCs without first learning about the techniques?

    1. It seems obvious to everyone here that yes, you have to "learn" it before you do it. Your question seems to be more about HOW to learn it. And even WHAT to learn.

    If you want to do architecture and houses, then learning spacecraft and road racers won't be much help. I recommend getting a book like the "Unofficial Lego Builders Guide," shown at the bottom of this page (about our own MOC experiments). elderplay.weebly.com/moc.html
    There is a live link there that takes you to Amazon. As beginners we found the book very helpful, especially its Brickopedia section.

    2. You have suggested that you want to build a very complicated house, like that by BoiseBro who is an expert at Victorian mansions -- very complex! I know because I'm working on this same house myself. It's the most complicated thing I've ever tried. You need to start with something WAY simpler and improve your skills first.

    3. I would highly recommend -- following your own expectation -- that you buy an inexpensive Three-in-One set, like Seaside house or the Bike Shop/Café set. Tear it apart and rebuild it all the different ways, so you can see how the different elements are used by the Lego set designers.

    These are the same people who used the "chocolate frog" from Harry Potter to make furniture legs/feet in the Jousting set. So I would vote Yes, get some inexpensive Lego sets and learn from them, at the same time experimenting with the pieces you have on hand, to see what can be created with them.

    My two cents, from a recent Beginner who also wondered where to start.
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