Friday, 3 February 2017

What to light?

The first thing you obviously need is a Lego model to light!

There are lots of Lego models at all price points that you can build and light. My personal preference is the Modular buildings and the Lego Architecture sets, and also the 3 in 1 housing sets such as the Apple Tree House and others. You can easily modify them for lighting, and I’ll show various techniques for doing it.
But equally you can just grab some bricks and make a building yourself, one thing I did was build a model of my house. The Internet contains much inspiration, and if you don’t have clear or window bricks they are easily found on auction sites 
I often just randomly search Google Images, as you can quickly scan for ideas quickly and then visit the web site for more detail. Searches for “architectural lighting” are as useful as “Lego lighting” so don’t be too narrow in your searches.
Lego have a set that contains nothing but windows and doors, or if you live near a Lego shop they have the Pick-a-Brick walls where you can find all sorts of translucent bricks and regular building materials. There is also eBay and other auction web sites where you can find your individual needs.

Small Pieces


[Fire place under construction]


You can have lots of fun lighting mini-figures. 
Hiding lights in front of figures is the best way of highlighting them in a scene. Bury them in walls or use hinge pieces to angle the lights up towards them. For a quick laugh I put a red light behind a girl in a window to simulate some of the sights in Amsterdam.
You can do copies of famous scenes such as the Simpsons episode "Lady Bouvier’s Lover" where Abe Simpson, Homers dad, did a parody of a Jimmy Darente sketch where he walks under a sequence of street light "cones," which work with a touch of photoshop in order to create the picture.
"Goodnight, Mrs. Bouvier, wherever you are."
[Pictures of Simpsons and Jimmy]
The up lighting technique for making scary looking Halloween style faces works well, as does placing bright lights behind one and simulating lightening to cast silhouettes. 
You can drastically change the appearance of figures using different coloured lights. The White skeletons can become zombies using green lights, the yellow figures are not too far behind.
Red lights change figures to look like demons.
You can even light them up from inside. Like the miracle of a 5mm LED fitting into many Lego holes, they also fit inside a mini-figures head. 
For one of my modular buildings, I created a disco. I put lights behind a transparent disco ball, as well as lights below the DJ stand. With a little more code and a sound sensor you could get them blinking in time with any music playing in the room around the models. Sensors are available for such things, and the code for them freely online.
There are some Lego figures that have built in lights, wiring and batteries - mostly in the Star Wars themed range. I have the Darth Vader and Obi-Wan figures, and their light sabres come to life when you push down on their heads.
Some unofficial Lego figures can be bought that are translucent. I've seen many, and have bought a selection which I have lit from behind and underneath. As you can see, this includes various super heroes, Star Wars and figures from the game Minecraft.

Coloured Pieces

Over the years Lego have many different coloured translucent bricks, from white to smoky to a whole gourmet of colours.
[Pic of what I have]
Depending on what you use and what colour LED you put behind them you can make a wide range of colours.
By framing the bricks with black pieces, you can also make a stained glass effect.
This can be used for churches, or as a fancy door on a house. You could also build shop signs with it.

Smoke pieces

A good way of toning down the brightness of the clear LEDs is to use the smoky bricks, which are easily found. Used in conjunction with the normal clear bricks you can conjure up all sorts of effects.
[Row of the diffect types picture]

Lining up Objects

To light up objects within a model, it’s a good idea to

Keeping the Windows Clean

I noticed pretty quickly that lighting up the inside of a building will show all manor of smudges, prints and dust on the windows of your model you create as you build.
Now, as I build the models, I wipe clean the prints I have made during pressing the glass into the window or door frames before installation for example. It then becomes a matter of window cleaning of dust using a paint brush, cloth or a can of compressed air.
[Figure of Window Cleaner cleaning windows]

[picture of dirty glass and clean glass]

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