(Written by ChocoBricks)
I have wanted to do something like this for awhile; a guide to LEGO customizing. I have been making LEGO customs for nearly 5 years, and after being in the online LEGO community for nearly 9 years, I wanted to share some of my insight – hoping that someone will benefit from my acquired knowledge.
Years ago, LEGO customizing was something that wasn’t seen very often. LEGO fans just haven’t thought about customizing their LEGO elements or minifigures. And when people did come across a LEGO customizer (making custom LEGO weapons, custom LEGO minifigs, etc.) they were truly in awe. It was something surprising, novel, unexpected…
Nowadays there is nothing new or special about LEGO customizing. Anyone can call themselves a LEGO customizer, even when all they do is put a few things together. Just do an online search on LEGO customs and you will see what I mean. This guide however will allow you to turn that “nothing new or special” to something new and very special, so at the end you will be able to call yourself a true custom LEGO artist/artisan.
I have broken down The Essential Guide to LEGO Customizing to seven lessons. You will find the first two lessons here. The rest will be published in the upcoming days.
CUSTOMIZATION LESSON #1 – STARTING OUT
This is you. You are the new guy. You saw some neat LEGO customs online or at a LEGO convention and it made you think. You said to yourself, “I want to do that!” Before you start anything, ask yourself;
What do you know already? Have you been with LEGO all your life, or are you just getting back/starting up with the hobby? Have you built MOCs (My-Own-Creations) beforehand? What other skills do you have? Can you paint? Can you draw? Can you cut things?
What is it you want to do? There are a lot of LEGO customizers who can do a myriad of things. I personally make custom LEGO video-game minifigs. I know people who make comic-book minifigs and some who make custom LEGO movie minifigs. Do you want to expand the LEGO Star Wars universe? Or tap into a theme LEGO has yet to touch?
What do you expect to get out of LEGO customizing? Are you in it for profit or just for the fun of it? There are those who just mash LEGO figs together just to make a quick buck – to me that is not a true LEGO customizer. You got to have some heart. There is no problem selling your work, but just remember why you made them in the first place.
Who inspires you? Do you want to make custom LEGO accessories like Will Chapman (BrickArms) or Armothe (BrickForge)? Do you want to design decals like Kaminoan (Fine Clonier), Roaglaan or Shmails? Do you want to paint like Jasbrick, PEDRO, or Pecovam? Do you want to cut custom cloth like MMCB? (UPDATE: MMCBcapes.com is no longer in service.) Or maybe you want to be a Brasso artist like myself? Look at these custom LEGO artists and ask yourself, “Can I do what they do?” Well, of course you can! Never tell yourself that you can’t do it, because you will never know until you try. When I first started out, I looked up to the big guys: Armothe, Will, and Kaminoan. Who are your heroes?
CUSTOMIZATION LESSON #2 – CREATING YOUR IDENTITY
Now that we established what you know and want in regards to LEGO customizing, let’s apply it and actually get something out of it. Creating your identity is basically like becoming a superhero. What are your superpowers and what do you call yourself?
Your LEGO customs, your LEGO theme, even the name you use – all define who you are and what you are a fan of. I’m going to use myself as an example here (as well as a few others) to give you an idea.
ChocoBricks is a portmanteau of Chocobo and Bricks. Chocobos come from Final Fantasy – a video game series that I am a huge fan of. In fact, my very first LEGO custom was from Final Fantasy. I’m a fan of other things as well – which is quite obvious with my creations – but Final Fantasy is my staple when it comes to LEGO customs.
What are my talents? Well I been told I have a unique way of using pieces (I like to improvise), and I am exceptional with Brasso (metal-polish that is used to remove print from LEGO elements). I’m decent with glue, and paint to an extent. I am crap when it comes to decals, but hey, I am still trying. My niche in customizing is basically making great use of what is available to me.
Here are some other examples of LEGO customizer identities: Kaminoan takes his name from a humanoid race from Star Wars. They were known for creating the clones during the Clone Wars. Kaminoan (the LEGO customizer) makes a ton of decals and is known for casting his own LEGO elements. And while his overall theme is Star Wars, he is known for comic-book creations as well. He even wrote a book! (Check out Minifigure Customization: Populate Your World – a fantastic book!)
JasBrick is a portmanteau; Jason (his name) and Brick. Simple enough. JasBrick is a jack of all trades. He cuts, he paints, he designs. I don’t know if he can cast anything, but he probably could if he wanted.
Pecovam comes from… I have no idea what the name means, but it is his name. I always assumed Peco came from his last name, but who knows. Aside from having a good eye when it comes to painting, I hear he is starting to cast things with another LEGO customizer. He also likes Gears of War and military themed minifigures.
All three of these guys make custom LEGO minifigs. Damn good ones. But they aren’t the only ones. I just wanted to show you 3 examples of names. When creating your online name, be creative. I personally advise not use the term “LEGO” in your name. Portmanteau words are always clever. So are you a Kaminoan? Are you a Pecovam? Or maybe you could be ____________ . (Insert your own very special LEGO customizer superhero name here.)
Let me know what you think. Do you customize your own minifigs? Feel free to share in the comment section below!