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.

Continue reading “How to Start Building Amazing LEGO MOCs (Part 1)”

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

Saudade: A Found Poetry Project, Part 4


Saudade: A Found Poetry Project, Part 3 & 1/2

I felt guilty for getting so little done on this project last week, so I did a few more tonight. Charles Scribner III I am not.

And now that I’ve read the first page of the actual book, I suddenly doubt my ability to ‘find’ poetry in Gatsby. It is possible there was already some poetry in there.

Color by Number #3: Wizard

This is the latest in my series of Excel color-by-number worksheets. This one is aimed at introducing students to some of the ‘magical’ properties of multiplication. Multiplication by 1, 10, 11, 9, and squares are all touched on here. For those who aren’t rabid fans of 80’s Nintendo video games, the character is the Black Mage from the game Final Fantasy, unleashing a QUAKE spell.

Because math is earth-shaking.

My next challenge is to figure out how to let the player choose which spell the Black Mage casts. I sense some heavy IF/THEN in my future . . .

Perilous Jack and the Frost Potion

The Perilous Adventures of Jack the Dragonslayer is a series of Choose Your Own Adventure™-style sprite comics hosted on and featuring sprites ripped from the Final Fantasy™ and Super Mario Brothers™ video games. The stories, characters, settings, and illustrations are mine, but the sprites used to create the illustrations are the work of the talented designers at Square Enix® and Nintendo®.

Perilous Jack and the Frost Potion is Volume One of a five-part series called The Abduction of Princess Vasilisa. In this volume, Perilous Jack returns home from an adventure to discover that Princess Vasilisa has been abducted by a Cloud Giant!

Giant (Fire)

But before he can face the giant, Perilous Jack must fight his way past the guardian of the giant’s castle – a Pyrohydra.

Hydra (Pyro)

But as everyone knows, when you cut off a Hydra’s head, two more grow in its place. Hercules used a torch to seal off the cut necks of the Lernaean Hydra, but that trick won’t work on a creature of flame . . .

Only a Frost Potion can help Jack past the guardian of the castle. And the only Frost Potion for miles is in a monster haunted labyrinth, under the guardianship of the terrible Bull God. A most perilous adventure!

You can read the sprite comic here. When you’re finished, check out the flowchart below (Spoiler Alert!)

Frost Potion Flowchart (Detail)

Flowcharts are practically required if you’re doing a Choose Your Own Adventure™ – style story. There’s no better way to avoid dead ends and illogical loops, plus they look nifty. I did this in Visio.

The full-size flowchart for Perilous Jack and the Frost Potion is here.