• Sam Hardy

How Building LEGO Digitally Could Help You MOC

Just over a year and a bit ago I was looking to pass the time between work shifts. Filed away in the back of my mind was the fact that Lego had official digital building software. With a bit of googling and finessing to get it installed, soon I was putting together old sets from my past, revisiting the King’s Mountain Fortress of 1990.

For many AFOLs this what they describe as “coming out of the dark ages”.The last time I’d really built anything would have been somewhere around the mid-90s. My own personal collection of bricks is tucked up interstate.

The ability to digitally rebuild these old sets lead me to start designing my own MOCs and within a few weeks, I had re-entered the AFOL world designing conceptual art pieces.

This article takes a look at the state of play in the digital world of Lego building.

A quick history

However, the story of digital Lego building is quite a fascinating one and it goes back much further than people think. It starts back way in 1995 when a programmer, James Jessiman, decided to develop a file format for generating bricks and a program which could allow basic assembly. LDraw and LEdit were the results.

Where it all began.

A community formed around this idea of a flexible system that would allow the creation of virtually any LEGO bricks through a simple vertex array. The advantage being this was lightweight to process (especially for early systems) as opposed to creating individual polygons. Still maintained and updated to this day, the LDraw community strives on creating accurate as possible digital pieces with very strict quality control.

Soon early programs such as LeoCAD began the start of digital Lego design but back then the ability to do photorealistic rendering was limited to only the very top end machines and the end results didn’t look fantastic. However, as a design tool, LeoCad was invaluable and is still used.

Another early boost to the rising digital community was the development of BrickBay in 2000, (later renamed BrickLink.) Programmed by Daniel Jezek It was the eBay for bricks allowing for a global market to form.

BrickLink back in the day.