How to Start Building Amazing LEGO MOCs (Part 1)

A friend on Instagram recently asked some questions about how I go about building a LEGO MOC (that’s ‘My Own Creation’, by the way). Do I design it first and then buy the bricks? How do I and other builders create such detailed scenes? I thought the questions deserved a blog post.

First, a quick back story. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and had a boatload of LEGO as a kid – mostly Castle and Pirates sets. When I turned into a sullen teenager later, I decided I didn’t need toys anymore and sold them all at a yard sale. Heartbreaking, right? The things I could do with all those old bricks …. But that’s in the past.

Most recently I started building again about three years ago, when I came across the Series 14 Collectible Minifigs in my local drug store. I started an Instagram account called @Tiny_Suicide_Squad featuring my modest collection of minifigs, and that was all it took for the bug to bite me again. That account is gone now (though you can still see the pics here on my website), but I have a new account on Instagram to showcase my work – @LegoGuacamole.

Now let’s look at some of the basic questions and problems that confront someone just starting out as a builder of LEGO MOCs.

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The Red Elves

The Red Elves dwell in the darkest parts of the forest where venomous snakes and spiders abound. They fortify ancient ruins with their wooden palisades and distil wicked poisons from the local flora and fauna. They are more than happy to sell vials of spider venom and dried boughs from the scarlet fever trees they cultivate, but let the adventurer be warned! The Red Elves will not hesitate to murder and rob the unwary, and a Red Elf witch never goes far without her escort of goblin archers.

Meet the Rocket Family

The Dragon of Iletupa

Is it wrong to start designing the cover art before you write the book? I hope not. These are pen-and-ink studies for the cover art of The Dragon of Iletupa, the next novel I’m working on. The first one began as studies of dragon scales and then turned into an odd little street scene with characters taking their colorful balloons for a walk. This in turn inspired a limerick entitled ‘The Droll Encounter.’

The other two managed to come out looking like dragons. Progress!

While taking his balloons for a stroll / Professor Lanyard encountered a troll / A White-Crested Rail and a belligerent snail / Under circumstances unusually droll.

cover art study 2 cover art study 3

Lego Dungeons and Dragons: Spider Pit Trap

I’m home with a cold today, nothing better to do than play with Legos . . . jk, this is what I would be doing anyway. I had this idea when my sinuses woke me up at 4 am. I’ve been inspired to make interlocking Lego dungeon modules like Heroica or BrickQuest (check out @LegoGuacamole for my first example). This is a pit trap leading down to a chamber occupied by a giant spider and her babies. I had no plan whatsoever for how this might integrate into an actual Lego dungeon, so we’ll just call it a prototype. Maybe I’ll strip out the interior of my Death Star and convert it into a multi-level Lego dungeon . . .

Anyway, here’s the module:

Where the Sidewalk Ends

My first sideways Lego build! This was inspired by Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, one of my favorite books growing up. I had to prop it against my refrigerator and lay on the floor in an awesome yoga Sphinx pose to take the pictures. The gray sky plus gray buildings and sidewalk turn the whole thing into some kind of commentary about post-industrial society I guess, but that’s only because I don’t have enough blue plates to make a proper sky.

Also I wish the dog was brown.

Saudade: A Found Poetry Project, Part 5

A White Star was lit in Her eyes a metallic bird was singing on the lawn

A White Star was lit in Her eyes
a metallic bird was singing on the lawn

the last sunshine lingering regret a whispered interruption

the last sunshine
lingering regret
a whispered interruption

I had a picture of a girl with gray eyes. I've been trying all afternoon to remember the first word I said to her.

I had a picture of a girl with gray eyes.
I’ve been trying all afternoon to remember the first word I said to her.

crimson scorn yellow insincerity

crimson scorn
yellow insincerity