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Make your own LEGO Mosaic with BrickIt!

(Written by Shaun VanWeelden)

My name is Shaun VanWeelden, and I’m currently a student at Iowa State University studying software engineering. I’m also a LEGO fan and have had a long time interest in building LEGO mosaics. Over the past few years I have been working on developing a web app for creating LEGO mosaics, and I thought to share it with you today. 🙂

Since I have been a little kid I have always found LEGO fascinating. Almost all of my childhood through high-school was in some way very wrapped up with creating new things from those tiny bricks. As I got older, my creations and dreams got bigger and bolder. During my senior year of high-school I was making small furniture for my room from LEGO, robots that were actually useful, and towers taller than my two story house – just because I could. I also created my first couple of LEGO mosaics at this time, and this is when I realized the need for good software!

After seeing a few LEGO mosaics online, I knew I had to try and create one for myself. My first attempt was when I was 18. I have acquired quite a large collection of the little plastic bricks, and after seeing an abstract art piece featuring Obama I wanted to make it out of LEGO. I went online to see what tools currently existed to go from a picture to a gridded out LEGO-color image, and realized there were none that were free, easy-to-use, and with smart enough algorithm at the same time. So I set out to create one…

LEGO Mosaic Software BrickIt in the News

My senior year also saw my first major entrepreneurial endeavors. I had opened a store on BrickLink.com (the Unofficial LEGO Marketplace), buying and selling bulk 2×4 LEGO pieces – which went better than I could have dreamed, with over $30,000 in revenue during my senior year of high-school. I also started creating hand-made LEGO-based jewelry, and selling them online and at craft-shows all over the state of Iowa.

After creating a prototype of the LEGO mosaic app using the MATLAB software we had learned about in one of my engineering courses, I decided to pitch my business in Iowa State’s Business Pitch Competition. I received the “Best-Overall” and “Audience Choice” award, and from that point on I knew I had a good idea! My goal was to create a web app where you could upload a picture and get free building instructions to make a LEGO mosaic based on it. I would then sell the pieces you needed to make the mosaic. One issue: I had never done anything at all with websites!

LEGO Mosaic App BrickIt Creator Shaun

Fast-forward a year and a half, I had changed my major to Software Engineering and was eager to test out my new coding skills. I decided to pitch the idea for my website now named BrickIt.co at StartUp Weekend Des Moines Fall ’13. Within 48 hours the team I led went from no code at all to what still serves as a strong base for the website. We ended up tying for first place, so this was another major success.

LEGO Mosaic App BrickIt Details

Since then in my spare time I work on BrickIt quite a bit. We have added many editing features, the ability to share LEGO mosaics on the cloud and also on social media. I keep trying to come up with improvements to the overall user experience. Publicity has continued to steadily grow as well. The website currently has the following features: Completely web-based (and client side too) – no downloads, no app, just a simple website. Ability to “brickify” an existing image or create a new LEGO mosaic from scratch. Lots of editing features so you can touch up your mosaic exactly as you want it. Full building instructions are available instantly, including a detailed parts list. Ability to upload LEGO mosaics right to the cloud and share easily on social media. Up next I will be focusing on allowing users to create a profile to showcase their mosaics and a community gallery.

LEGO Mosaic App BrickIt

Also my goal is to eventually be able to provide you every piece you would need to build your BrickIt mosaic out of LEGO bricks. You can find the pieces required for your mosaic as well as an estimated cost by downloading the “Inventory List”. At this time, we are still in the process of sourcing our bricks and are unavailable to sell directly to you, but you should be able to find all the LEGO elements you need at BrickLink.com.

LEGO Mosaic by BrickIt LEGO Dummy

To demonstrate the software for you, I created a mosaic of theBrickBlogger’s mascot, the LEGO crash test dummy. After about 30 seconds of touching up, here is a preview image of the LEGO mosaic, and also the building instructions. And you can also print out the parts-list so you know exactly how many of each element you need.

LEGO Mosaic by BrickIt LEGO Dummy Instructions

I think a lot of LEGO fans would really enjoy using this software, and I strongly believe it is a game-changer for making LEGO mosaics, so if you like, please go ahead and try it out at BrickIt.co and let me know what you think. Also, if you have any questions or request for additional features, feel free to ask in the comment section below. I definitely plan on continuing to make improvements to the site and hope you like it! Thanks for reading! 😉

And you might also like to check out the LEGO mosaics section for more tips, tricks and useful resources or select from the following posts:

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Ike November 17, 2014, 11:32 AM

    Awesome! You’ve got my Business! It would be cool to make it an app where you could take pictures right there and make it into a mosaic. Good luck!

  • LegoUniverse Bob November 17, 2014, 11:39 AM

    I think this is the exact same app you’re talking about, but there’s this app on the App Store which does the exact same. But it only turns it into a picture that’s made of LEGO, you can’t print it out or get the bricks to make it. I think you made it, but it says LEGO published it.

    • Shaun VanWeelden November 18, 2014, 10:51 PM

      This is actually my first mosaic generator tool I have developed, I have no apps or anything like that. There was at one point an app developed by LEGO for the iPhone which got admittedly terrible reviews in general for the lack of functionality described. While I would love to work with LEGO, this is definitely not affiliated with them in any way.

  • Eric at A Lego a Day November 17, 2014, 11:44 AM

    I’ll have to give this a try. I must say, he’s developed a beautiful website. If his app is half as good, it will be an outstanding app!

  • Strider November 17, 2014, 11:47 AM

    Woah, you’re rolling dude! So, was it easy to get started buying and selling on Bricklink, or did it take a while to get started? I’ve been thinking about getting into buying Lego sets and saving them till they’re worth a lot more, but if Bricklink might be better if it worked out for you that well.

    • Shaun VanWeelden November 18, 2014, 10:55 PM

      Both approaches worked well. Over the last couple years (I have not done it for 3 years now) I have heard rumors that they have raised the prices on bulk boxes of bricks from $70 to $100 and more importantly, rumors that they did not want to sell to people with the intent to resell which is exactly what I was doing. Long story short, it may not work out as well anymore as it had, but definitely worth investigating!

      • Strider November 19, 2014, 1:36 PM

        Ok, thanks!

  • ninja of stealth November 17, 2014, 1:02 PM

    I rather have it then have it on an app. Plus how he showed up in a newspaper is AWESOME! GO LEGO FANS! 😀

  • BLProductions November 17, 2014, 2:33 PM

    Wow. Great job on making an app for mosaics! 🙂 I myself am terrible at mosaics, so I should try your app out. My problem, though, is lack of parts, and then lack of money to get the parts. 😕 Also, a lack of ability to get apps. 🙁 That test-dummy mosaic is awesome, too. But why are the bricks arranged so oddly? Does the app lay out the bricks in a manner that makes the mosaic use the least number of pieces possible?
    Also, more Detective pics: http://brickset.com/article/13057/10246-detective-s-office-back-of-box Sherlock must be flustered with this new rival. 😉

    • admin November 17, 2014, 3:12 PM

      We will talk about the Detective’s Office tomorrow. So hold your thoughts. 😉

    • Kim November 17, 2014, 3:18 PM

      Oooo a new rival!!!!!! XD I’m excited!!!!

    • Strider November 17, 2014, 8:35 PM

      No, Sherlock saw it coming months before there was even rumors 🙂

      • Shaun VanWeelden November 18, 2014, 11:15 PM

        The bricks are arranged in the most efficient manner possible which to us may seem a little weird at first, but when it comes to being efficient with your pieces, this website really shines!

        • BLProductions November 19, 2014, 1:11 PM

          Cool! I like that, given my overall lack of useful bricks. 😐

  • Kim November 17, 2014, 5:08 PM

    Can the newer trains still work on the 9V train tracks?

    • admin November 17, 2014, 6:08 PM

      Yes, they can! A lot of train fans do this, because in many ways the 9V system is far superior.

      • Kim November 17, 2014, 6:54 PM

        Good. I was worried I’d have to ditch my 9V passenger train in case i couldn’t afford to get a cargo train that was compatible, though, the one that I want was discontinued and replaced with a new one. But I still want to look at the older 9v cargo trains to see if like any of them better.

        • admin November 17, 2014, 7:14 PM

          You have a 9V passenger train???!!! What else you have that you haven’t told us about???!!! Seriously, those things are worth their weight in gold! 😛

  • Kim November 17, 2014, 8:58 PM

    I have no idea what I have that is highly sought after, I just seem to casually mention things and people get excited. But here is the train. http://brickset.com/sets/4561-1/Railway-Express. You can also look up my brickset ID if you want to truly see my whole collection. the username is suikoden3. Then you can let me know what I have that you’re jealous of LOL

    • admin November 18, 2014, 10:00 AM

      Kim, you have a really nice collection there. Especially City sets. That particular train is not the most saught after, however it does give you a very nice full track that a lot of people would envy you for. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      • Kim November 18, 2014, 12:51 PM

        Yeah. I looked up pricing on it on ebay and I see it’s around the same priced used as it was when it was new. But I really like it. Since the metroliner was out of the question when I was a kid, this is the one I secured as an adult later on because I liked it second best. =D

  • Ben T February 17, 2016, 4:22 AM

    This is an awesome bit of coding and the results are great. I would love to see the bricks required come up as an XML list so you could load into Bricklink to buy parts rather than just a straight formated HTML list if at all possible. Besides that this really rocks!

  • admin May 4, 2018, 1:14 PM

    UPDATE: Looks like this software is no longer available, so I removed the direct links, but kept the text intact. Wishing Shaun the best with his future endeavors.

  • uyoytiu June 3, 2020, 3:42 PM

    Where can I download this?

    • Thita (admin) June 4, 2020, 12:45 AM

      As I mentioned in the comment above yours, this software is no longer available. 🙁

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