Building realistic vegetation with LEGO is one of the hardest skills to master, as square plastic bricks and organic shapes found in nature are as far from each other as they can be. There are some ready-made LEGO flowers, leaves, and vines that can help decorate a landscape, but to realistically represent the beauty and variety found in the real word, LEGO fans continue to stretch their building skills to come up with innovative new techniques. We have featured a number of ways natural settings can be recreated with LEGO (see links at the end of this post), and today we will talk about two newly invented ways to build trees. 🙂
The beautiful landscape in the picture above was built by LEGO fan Full Plate, and is titled the “Avalonian Countryside”. There are a number of very interesting micro-building techniques that you can see here. Notice the tan LEGO Technic pins used as wheat, stacked flower stalks turned upside down to make a pine forest, and green minifigure heads to represent small bushes. What is most interesting however are the round brick-built trees that are featuring a brand new technique.
As so many people liked the trees and wanted to learn how to build them, Full Plate provided a tutorial. The trees are actually quite simple and only require common LEGO pieces. What is innovative is how those pieces fit together. As you can see on the pictures below, the tree trunks can be built in different ways, as long as the piece on the top has a hole. The core of the tree canopy is the new type of flower-stem with six spikes (you will attach this flower-stem to the hole on top of the tree-trunk). This flower-stem is what you will hang on the leaf-assemblies made of plates. The core of this technique is that the spikes of the flower-stem can fit inside the center hole at the bottom of the 1×2 plates – which is a brilliant discovery in itself (please note that not all 1×2 plates have this hole at the bottom, as some come with a solid peg instead). So you simply slide a 2×2 round plate with an axle-hole over the stem, then lock it in with a 1×2 plate that is attached to the tip of the stem via the bottom hole. All other plates are just attached randomly to shape the tree canopy. Give it a try!
The tree you see above is also by LEGO fan Full Plate. The canopy uses standard LEGO leaf elements, but what is really interesting is the tree-trunk made of axes and droid arms (thus the name “Axe Tree”). This technique is very complex and requires a lot of parts (the tree above uses 500 brown droid arms and 200 black axes!), but it gives you full flexibility for building beautiful and elaborate trees. If the tree you are building is going to be a focal point (like a LEGO bonsai), this technique can give you the most options. As the technique is quite involved I’m not going to try to explain it here, but direct you to Full Plate’s flickr album where he describes the whole process. You can also find the same tutorial at this link at Eurobricks.
Whether you want to build simple landscaping with just a few flowers and simple trees, or very complex designs for the most realistic and dramatic effect, there are plenty of LEGO building techniques to choose from. The two above are just some of the latest innovations, and of course you can also experiment with your own. And if you are short on pieces to build landscaping, you can always get them from BrickLink, or the Pick-A-Brick section of the Online LEGO Shop. (Please note that the Online LEGO Shop was recently updated, and the previously used Plants category was renamed Botanic category at the Pick-A-Brick section.)
So what do you think? How do you like these LEGO tree building techniques? Are you planning to try them? And are there any other techniques that you really like? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below. 😉
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