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Building LEGO models – tips from the pros

(Written by Carlo Pandian)

How does a professional LEGO builder goes about designing and building LEGO models? This is the question I asked from LEGO designers, and I thought to share some of their responses with you. 🙂

As you know, LEGO comes in various kits and sets to create pre-designed structures, buildings, cars, airplanes, but you can also create your own! Whether it’s to encourage kids in some hands on creativity, or you’ve developed an interest in the idea of LEGO model-building yourself, some basic tips from professional LEGO builders should help you to design and build your first masterpiece. Below is a fun video of a LEGO Master Builder at work – first tip; don’t be this messy! 🙄

💡 Inspiration is essential. Deciding on what you want to build is the first step in the creative process. The Empire State Building may not be the easiest building to re-create in LEGO, but your own home may provide the perfect subject to get the imagination going. In fact, a lot of LEGO fans start out with free-building by recreating their own home from LEGO. Generally, buildings are easier to make as they have a relatively simple form (unless of course you live in a stately home or palace) and make a good starting point for first-time LEGO model builders.

💡 Drawing the building or object you’re planning to make out of LEGO can be very useful. You don’t need to be a Van Gogh, but a sketch of each side of the structure will help. If you are good at drawing-to-scale this can be a real benefit. If you are working with kids they should be involved in this process; giving you an opportunity to drop in a bit of sneaky education of math and angles!

💡 Self-building in LEGO will need a little research as to the types of LEGO elements available for your project – windows, doors, etc. if you are building a structure, or wheels, windshields, engine-elements if you are building a vehicle of some sort. In fact, you might find it useful to start from a window or door available to work out the scale of your LEGO model. You can check BrickLink for all LEGO elements ever made, organized by category for a convenient search. You can buy LEGO elements by the piece at BrickLink, at the Online LEGO Shop Pick-A-Brick section (only currently produced elements) or at your local LEGO store. Garage-sales and flea-markets can prove surprisingly good sources for basic buckets of LEGO bricks, which will be useful (and inexpensive) for bigger projects.

💡 A big part of the design-process is trial and error – even for professional builders. Even if you draw out the model you are planning to build, and get all the parts you think you will need, you may still run into design issues. Or you may decide to change your mind on a particular section. Things that can help is to try to build at least a section of the project from your current LEGO collection (even if the parts and colors are not ideal), and/or use LEGO Digital Designer (a free downloadable software from LEGO) before you commit to buy a whole bunch of new LEGO elements. You can also ask questions on LEGO forums and blogs to get some inspiration or to solve a particular design problem.

💡 When it comes to the final LEGO model, one aspect that it’s easy to overlook is space. Even before a LEGO model is fully constructed it will usually take up quite a bit of space – usually in the form of a clutter of LEGO bricks all over the place. Ideally you could dedicate a whole room to your LEGO project, but if that’s not possible you may have to clear out some space in another room or the garage. If you can dedicate at least a large table to your LEGO project with some plastic drawers or bins to keep the pieces in, you can keep the clutter to a minimum and also keep the project out of the reach of interfering little hands and paws.

💡 Be warned; LEGO model building is addictive and will certainly keep you occupied for some considerable time. You may also find that you’re more than hooked, and once completed you’ll be on the lookout for further inspiration. The next LEGO model you build could be on a grander scale, more detailed, and more complex. Whatever you choose, the first model will likely be joined by something bigger and better and may develop into a life-long passion of LEGO model building.

So what do you think? Have you tried LEGO free-building before? What was the first LEGO model that you designed and built on your own? What were your biggest challenges in the process? Share your thoughts and comments below! 😉

My name is Carlo, and this is my first post here at theBrickBlogger. I hope you found it helpful. I’m a freelance writer and I blog about LEGO, art and design covering everything from LEGOLAND Discovery Center activities in Manchester to cool gadgets found in Brooklyn second-hand shops. When I’m not online, I like building LEGO models and volunteering at my local community center. Your comments and feedback are appreciated! 😀

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{ 89 comments… add one }
  • LegoLotr August 31, 2012, 10:23 AM

    Great post!

  • gid617 August 31, 2012, 12:43 PM

    I love that lazt picture! I agree, building is addictive! (And a lot of fun!) I don’t draw my models first, but it’s probably a good idea. The only probem with that would be if you didn’t have a piece (or not as many) as you had orriginally thought. Especially if (like me) you haven’t sorted them (yet. . . ) 😀

  • Shade Snake August 31, 2012, 12:44 PM

    Great post. I just don’t have the money.

  • legostuff71 August 31, 2012, 1:21 PM

    When I build LEGO sets of my own, I just use what spare pieces I have. Sometimes, I go to pick a brick and get some pieces that I need on there. But, pick a brick doesn’t always have what I need. I rarely take apart other LEGO sets. I keep things as they are.

    • NRG PYTHOR August 31, 2012, 1:46 PM

      me too!

  • J.C. August 31, 2012, 2:35 PM

    This post wasn’t really about tips like the title implies.

  • yodaman5556 August 31, 2012, 4:25 PM

    Awesome post!
    I am the admin for BrickExtra -that LEGO news site that you [Carlo] wanted to be a guest blogger for. At the moment, BrickExtra isn’t looking for guest bloggers, so I am very sorry, but your proposal was turned down.

    • yodaman5556 September 4, 2012, 4:25 PM

      Admin, could you please pass that comment (above) on to Carlo. 🙂

      • yodaman5556 September 26, 2012, 4:33 PM


        • admin September 26, 2012, 7:04 PM

          Yes? I haven’t heard from Carlo for a while, but if you still want me to give him the message let me know. 😉

          • yodaman5556 September 26, 2012, 8:24 PM

            Do you have Carlo’s email address? Because I think it would be better if I could email him the full message… 🙂


    im using lego digital designer right now making a baloon pop carnival game and a drop ride

  • studless September 1, 2012, 3:01 AM

    I hardly ever not free build, the times that I don’t are when I am following instructions or looking at a picture and trying to figure out the inner workings. And I am the least organized lego person you might ever meet.

    • gid617 September 1, 2012, 2:15 PM

      My brother is pretty un-organized. Yeah, he divides his LEGOs into several different buckets (and a pile on the floor), but the division isn’t particularly thorough. 😉

  • studless September 1, 2012, 3:05 AM

    And I use LDD A lot. (LDD=Lego Digital Designer) There are a couple problems with LDD, the most common one is that you can’t use non-official part usage. :$

  • bejeken September 1, 2012, 1:02 PM

    That was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WhenI grow up im going to be a lego designer.

  • Strider December 14, 2012, 9:28 AM

    Great post. I was feeling extremely enviius of whoever owns that wonderful Lego room in the picture 🙂

    • admin December 14, 2012, 12:09 PM

      Yeah, a real LEGO room is my dream also! Right now I just have LEGO corners. 🙄

  • Fingolfin August 19, 2013, 3:39 AM

    Ive been freebuilding since i was seven.. i like it MUCH better than following instructions.

  • Darthmogul September 6, 2013, 10:34 AM

    My first self-designed model was a small hovercraft made from the extra pieces of the 2013 Republic attack gunship and the pieces of the clone troopers vs droidekas set

  • Stella Donoghue October 26, 2013, 2:54 PM

    My young son is looking for ideas to build a Lego ships from the spare bricks he has at home.

  • pooop January 20, 2016, 8:50 PM

    bruh how many legos does that guy have

  • (mc)$kater November 8, 2016, 4:59 PM

    can anyone help me or give me tips on how to make a buidings out of legos

    • admin November 8, 2016, 8:31 PM

      Well, what kind of building are you trying to make?

      • (mc)$kater November 10, 2016, 5:05 PM

        ADMIN im trying to make a building that can be 2 or 3 feet tall and can stand after i shake the shake table
        i just got the bottem of it

        • admin November 10, 2016, 5:16 PM

          If you want a very secure building that can handle shaking, you will need to use Technic beams to keep the building together. 🙂

          • (mc)$kater November 14, 2016, 5:13 PM

            ok i will try that and see if that works
            thx admin

          • skater November 14, 2016, 7:51 PM

            how long have u played with legos and became a pro?

            • admin November 14, 2016, 9:14 PM

              If I remember correctly I got my first LEGO set when I was around seven, so yeah, been building for a while. 🙂

              • (MC)$kater November 15, 2016, 5:09 PM

                well how old are u right now im 14

                the reson i dont answer that fast is because i read this site at school and yesterday i just happen to remember this site


                • admin November 15, 2016, 8:28 PM

                  LOL! Aren’t you suppose to be doing schoolwork at school? Just kiddin’. 🙄

                  • (MM)$kater November 15, 2016, 9:24 PM

                    yes but my first 4 classes are my real classes that count 5th is gym and my last per is a helping class so my teacher says to your classwork or homework so i go and look at this website or i work on the lego building
                    IT IS 3 FEET TALL NOW

                    THX FOR THE HELP
                    I WILL STILL TALK TO U OK

                  • (MM)$kater November 15, 2016, 9:25 PM

                    yes but my first 4 classes are my real classes that count 5th is gym and my last per is a helping class so my teacher says to your classwork or homework so i go and look at this website or i work on the lego building

                    • (MM)$kater November 15, 2016, 9:28 PM

                      wow my computer was lagging so it copyed it to times


                    • admin November 15, 2016, 9:35 PM

                      No problem, sometimes that can happen. Have fun building your tower! 🙂

                    • (mc)$kater November 16, 2016, 4:57 PM

                      i am having fun but i got all these curve legos that i cant use im just going to use them for later

                      wow all around this message is blue its cool

                    • (mc)$kater November 16, 2016, 4:57 PM

                      i mean yours

                    • admin November 16, 2016, 5:17 PM

                      Curved pieces are always harder to use. They require some planning. Do you use LDD for your builds? That might be helpful.

                    • (MM)$kater November 16, 2016, 7:42 PM

                      i do not know what is LDD means

                    • admin November 16, 2016, 8:01 PM

                      LDD = LEGO Digital Designer 🙂

                    • (MM)$kater November 16, 2016, 8:35 PM

                      all i did was put what ever comes to my mine i do it and guess what i use all of them now the tower is 5 feet tall

                    • (MC)$kater November 16, 2016, 8:38 PM

                      wow my name was MM skater it was M.C.skater
                      M.C. means my name matthew c

                    • admin November 16, 2016, 8:45 PM

                      Your computer should remember your name next time you use it, so you don’t have to type it in again, but maybe yours clears the history after every session.

                    • (MM)$kateV November 16, 2016, 9:08 PM

                      ok how u know all of this

                    • (MM)$kater November 16, 2016, 9:12 PM

                      i have alot of them i got over 3,00o legos i think i take this to serous

                    • (MM)$kater November 16, 2016, 9:15 PM

                      see u tomorrow when im in school

                    • (MM)$kater November 16, 2016, 9:17 PM

                      opps i mean talk to u in this website tomorrow

                    • (mc)$kater November 17, 2016, 4:55 PM

                      u get loney sometimes here huh

                    • admin November 17, 2016, 5:26 PM

                      You are commenting on an old article from 2012, so there are less people around here. Why don’t you go to the LATEST NEWS section for more recent discussions. 🙂

                    • (mc)$kater November 17, 2016, 6:49 PM

                      do u go to any other websites because all of the other sites i looked at they did not help me or give information that u gave me so thats why i like comeing here to get more info from u

                    • (MC)$kater November 18, 2016, 5:20 PM

                      what WEBSITE U GO TO

                    • admin November 18, 2016, 5:23 PM

                      I’m not sure what you mean by that.

                    • (MC)$kater November 18, 2016, 5:36 PM

                      oh u sayed that there are more sites with more ppl at

                    • (MC)$kater November 18, 2016, 5:38 PM

                      or latest disscusions

                    • admin November 18, 2016, 5:49 PM

                      I wasn’t talking about a different website. I was talking about this same website, but just the latest discussions. You can find them under the LATEST NEWS tab on top of the page.

                    • (mc)$kater November 24, 2016, 6:37 PM

                      happy thanksgiving admin

                    • admin November 24, 2016, 6:54 PM

                      Happy Thanksgiving to you too! 😀

                    • (mc)$kater November 25, 2016, 9:26 PM

                      wow me and my family went to black friday there was alot of ppl we went to stonewood mall do u now that place

                    • admin November 26, 2016, 9:07 AM

                      Hm… no. I live in Florida. 😉

                    • (MC)$kater November 28, 2016, 5:22 PM

                      i live in L.A.

                    • (mc)$kater November 28, 2016, 5:45 PM

                      never mine I looked on to other comments and went on that website and change it 80

                    • (mc)$kater November 28, 2016, 5:46 PM

                      wow the face did not work 🙁

                    • ?(mc)$kater November 28, 2016, 5:46 PM


                    • (mc)$kater November 28, 2016, 8:21 PM

                      ok let me see

                    • (mc)$kater November 28, 2016, 8:23 PM

                      lol im playing with the emojes
                      8-0 😎

                    • admin November 28, 2016, 8:23 PM

                      Are you having fun with smileys? 🙄

                    • [mc]skater February 23, 2017, 5:16 PM


                    • (mc)$kater November 28, 2016, 8:26 PM

                      now that face worked wow
                      😀 😡 😎 😉

                    • ?(mc)$kater November 29, 2016, 3:46 PM

                      yay I got the picture to change 🙂 🙁 😡 😎

                    • (MC)$kater November 30, 2016, 5:12 PM


                    • (MC)$kater December 1, 2016, 5:03 PM

                      ok now i havr build the building but it did not stand i think it was because it was nerrow:-(

                    • [mc]skater February 23, 2017, 5:17 PM

                      long time no hear

                    • [mc]skater February 23, 2017, 5:20 PM

                      i past my project last year thx again for the help 🙂

                    • admin February 23, 2017, 7:59 PM

                      OMG! Skater?! I haven’t seen you around for like forever! Nice to have you over! 😀

                    • (mc)$kater May 10, 2017, 6:33 PM

                      so guess what the same class that i have to build a lego building now i have to build a bridge out of popsicles 🙁

                    • (mc)$kater May 10, 2017, 6:42 PM

                      lets see i think im going to build abeam they look easy and it can hold up to 5 pounds thats what i need to do to pass…………………..on the other hand how are u doing

                    • admin May 10, 2017, 6:57 PM

                      Sounds like a fun project! Nice to hear from ya! All is good here. 🙂

                    • (mc)$kater May 22, 2017, 5:28 PM

                      im almost done with it sorry for not replying to u that much i been busy

                    • admin May 22, 2017, 9:41 PM

                      It’s all right. I have been super busy too. Glad to hear that your project is progressing! 🙂

                    • (mc)$kater May 25, 2017, 4:54 PM


                    • admin November 16, 2016, 8:44 PM

                      LOL! You must have tons of LEGO to build a 5 foot tower! 😀

      • (mc)$kater November 10, 2016, 5:07 PM

        sorry it took so long to reply im so worked up by this project with the legos

    • skater November 14, 2016, 7:54 PM

      im MC skater just for some reson it change my sign o-_-0

    • skater November 14, 2016, 7:56 PM


  • (mc)$kater November 8, 2016, 5:00 PM

    P.S nebuous gamer play it its fun

  • (MM)$kater November 16, 2016, 9:07 PM

    oh ok i just put all of the cruve ones together and my tower is 5 feet tall thx for all your help

  • (MM)$kater November 16, 2016, 9:11 PM

    yes i got over 3,000 legos i think i take this project to serious -_-

  • (MC)$kater November 28, 2016, 5:27 PM


    how do i change my pink picture to something else

  • ?(mc)$kater November 29, 2016, 3:45 PM

    yay I got the picture to change 🙂

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