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LEGO building technique: LEGO water

by admin on November 1, 2011

in Building Techniques

The Last Drop by The Legohaulic

(Written by Quad)

Let’s face it, making realistic looking LEGO water is tough.  And a blue baseplate just doesn’t look as good as you might want. So what do you do? Well hopefully this post will help you next time you want your minifig to go for a swim. ;)

Let’s look at some LEGO water techniques and how we can make realistic looking LEGO water. (Click on any of the pictures to take you to the creator’s gallery.)

:arrow:  LEGO Water Technique #1: STUDS-NOT-ON-TOP

This is one of the simpler LEGO water techniques, all you have to do is turn the LEGO bricks… sideways. Two great examples of SNOT water are Fort McHenry by Blake Baer, and Omaha Beach D-Day by Milan CMadge:

Fort McHenry by Blake Blaer

Omaha Beach D-Day by Milan CMadge

The trick in both of these MOCs  is making the colors of the LEGO bricks lighter, the closer to shore you get; signifying the ground underneath the water getting higher.

:arrow: LEGO Water Technique #2: 1×1 STUDS

If you have enough, you can use translucent 1×1 studs to give your LEGO water a sense of movement, like a mild river or something. Examples are Afghanistan River Fording by Chandler Parker, and Oasis by Nannan Zhang and The Legohaulic. (If you haven’t seen Oasis yet you should definitely check it out.):

Afghanistan River Fording by Chandler Parker

Oasis by Nannan Zhang and The Legohaulic

:arrow: LEGO Water Technique #3: BLUE TRANSLUCENT TILES

If you have enough translucent blue tiles you can make fairly believable LEGO water. This looks MUCH better than just a plain blue baseplate, and many people use this technique. For example, it is used in Pirates’ Remorse by Thoy Bradley; notice how he put darker LEGO pieces underneath the translucent tiles to make the water look deeper in some areas, and used 1×1 translucent studs for bubbles:

Pirates’ Remorse by Thoy Bradley

This technique is also in Raid of Scone by Blake Baer; he used the same method but put some of the pieces in only halfway, giving it a bit of a wavy look. And check out MicroScale Island by Eggy Pop; his MOC show again that when building LEGO water the closer to shore you get, the lighter color the pieces need to be:

Raid of Scone by Blake Baer

MicroScale Island by Eggy Pop

But don’t think that this LEGO water technique is only for flat oceans or quiet rivers. The Surfer by tiberium_blue shows just how far this technique can go.

The Surfer by tiberium_blue

:arrow: LEGO Water Technique #4: CHEESE-SLOPES

By using blue (or white) translucent cheese-slopes you can give the tiles – you learned to use in the last technique – a nice current. A great example of this technique is Loggerhead Turtles on Studdington Beach by Jason Railton.

Loggerhead Turtles on Studdington Beach by Jason Railton

Another rule of thumb for making LEGO water is when water isn’t in a collected mass – like when building waterfalls or tips of waves – to have clear (or white) pieces instead of blue translucent pieces, making the water look frothy. Here is another example of the cheese-slope technique; Waterfall Landscape by Thoy Bradley:

Waterfall Landscape by Thoy Bradley

:arrow: LEGO Water Technique #5: TRANSLUCENT WHITE ON BLUE

The final LEGO water technique is my favorite and (in my opinion) the most realistic; put a layer of translucent clear plates on top of a layer of blue bricks – just that easy! Here are some examples: Amon Hen by Blake Baer and Jake Bittner, and Hurricane Irene also by Blake Baer:

Amon Hen by Blake Baer and Jake Bittner

Hurricane Irene by Blake Baer

Now the way to get the best results with all of these LEGO water techniques is finding the balance of mixing them together; for example by mixing translucent blue tiles with translucent cheese-slopes like in Swans Landing by Jason Railton. Notice how he added a few studded pieces to give the water a bit of a ripple behind the swan:

Swans Landing by Jason Railton

Or perhaps the mixing of the SNOT technique and translucent plates technique like in UAP Outpost 3 by Grant W.:

UAP Outpost 3 by Grant W.

Or if you don’t like any of those techniques… use real water like George G. did in his Sacred Waters of Athena:

Anyways, try a few of these techniques out and see what you’re most comfortable with. Also check out these other techniques for ideas (click on any of the  pictures to take you to the creator’s own gallery):

Riverside Stroll by Philip Stark

Swimming Cube by HKLUG

Poseidon Float by Legohaulic

Skier by JETfri

I hope you learned a little bit about making LEGO water and that you might try out some of these techniques. Oh, and if you have any other good LEGO water techniques make sure you put a link in your comment. Thanks. ;)

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

admin November 1, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Please welcome Quad’s first post at theBrickBlogger! Quad is a TFOL (Teen-Fan-of-LEGO) from over at MOCpages. You can visit him by clicking on his name at the top of his post. Thank you, Quad, for the excellent article! :)

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Quad November 1, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Well thanks for letting me do it, Admin. :)

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brickhead November 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM

You are a TFOL and you wrote this? Wow! Excellent post! Wonderful research! I’m impressed! I especially like the graduating water in Microscale island. It is very realistic. Also, some of the waterfall thechniques are great!

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Quad November 1, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Thanks. :)

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MorningCoffee November 1, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Nicely done! Great list of techniques! BTW, did you guys notice the turtle in Raid of Scone, and the mineral veins of the rock wall in Amon Hen?!

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Quad November 1, 2011 at 2:05 PM

I know, Amon Hen is AMAZING!

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waverider November 1, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Oh yeah! Thats me riding the waves there! :D
I love the wave thecniques the most! There are some other Lego waves I have seen but I would have to find them. I will link them here if i do!

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Quad November 1, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Okay, cool.
Yeah I liked the waves too. :)

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George G. November 1, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Wow! Great article buddy! There are some particuarly good techniques here, but I’d have to say that the last one is my personal favourite ;)

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Quad November 1, 2011 at 5:36 PM

lol. Though it’s not purist. :)

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Akiva J. November 2, 2011 at 10:38 PM

What about it isn’t purist?
It’s all lego.

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Quad November 2, 2011 at 10:50 PM

George G.’s creation is not purist because the water isn’t Lego. :)

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Blake November 1, 2011 at 7:07 PM

Wow, excellent article Quad. Thanks for letting me know!

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Quad November 1, 2011 at 9:22 PM

No problem. :)

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LoBo November 1, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Wooow, Great job Quad! Amazing post.
I’d have to say my fav. would have to be “The Surfer” by tiberium_blue.
Anyway, great job ^_^ *thumbs up*

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Quad November 1, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Now what’s a girl like you doin’ in a place like this? lol. Thanks Lobo. :)

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The Brick Life November 1, 2011 at 8:59 PM

Beautiful post and amazing creations.
Thanks for sharing :-)

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blog4block November 2, 2011 at 12:36 AM

Thanks for posting this. “Hurricane Irene by Blake Baer” is great.
Your blog is so much useful. ;-)

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Maxx November 2, 2011 at 3:19 AM

Great fun to see all techniques in one place.

I like them all, but being an OFOL (older fan of(c:), I must say I love the Riverside stroll technique.

Great post Quad, and welcome to blogging here(c:

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Quad November 2, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Thanks Maxx! I saw that technique and just knew it was too interesting not to post. :)

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Logostech November 2, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Great job little buddy.
The maturity level of your writing and research makes it hard to believe that you are actually a teen.

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Quad November 2, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Thanx! y0R’e awsom 2! lOl ;)

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LoBo November 2, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Haha, Quad… I was given the link… That’s how I came to a “Place like this”. Of course I couldn’t leave without commenting on your amazing writing skills and research knowledge and knowledge altogether. ^_^
So… Kudos to the Lego master! Woot!

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BigShawn November 2, 2011 at 11:11 AM

I’m a TFOL too! can you please do more tutorials? Making trees and rocks and stuff. Also Mecha techniqes! If you know how to do that or have pictures or videos!

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Quad November 2, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Maybe… ;)

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Tydroid February 13, 2012 at 6:24 PM

I liked Athena’s sacred waters because of how the water came out of the chutes like a fountain! :D

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admin February 13, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Tydroid, yes, I like that one too. I also like the music. It goes well with it! :)

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Dave e April 10, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Yes great quality on The Sacred Waters of Athena :D .Hard to belive You did this! :roll: Well nice job Quad :lol:

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Dave e April 10, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Wow 20 out of 29 now 30 Comments have smilys :) :) :) :)

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cage July 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM

this is great i just wish i had that many legos

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cage July 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM

*sigh* ‘ ‘ · ¬

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fernozzle August 18, 2012 at 4:22 PM

lol, snot water

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rahul October 4, 2012 at 7:18 PM

I wish to have that Athena minifig!

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