A Handful Of Bricks


My son Jay created a Lego challenge where we each pick up a handful of bricks from the Lego box and see what we can make with it. Recently I created this little airplane and decided it would be a good Cinema 4D modelling challenge for me.


All of the blocks were hard surfaced modelled then subdivided. I started with a single block then used a series of Symmetry and conversions to create other sizes, including this 16 piece.


Symmetry saves a lot of time, especially when adding extra details that would otherwise have to be modelled individually.

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For many of the shapes I could save time by using starting with existing geometry and reworking it.


These triangle pieces were the easiest…

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…and these three pieces, the wing in particular, were the most time consuming. For the wing I ended up having to start from scratch to ensure I had enough geometry to create the loops that were needed for this difficult shape. I’ve been learning a tonne about how to approach this kind of model while editing the upcoming Making It Look Great 11 training series.


I sampled the colours from a photograph of the original lego model and used Greyscale Gorilla’s handy TopCoat plug-in to zero in on the Reflectance settings. One of the things I love about TopCoat is the Copy/Paste function, which allowed me to copy and past multiple reflectance layers between materials – something Cinema 4D currently lacks.

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For lighting and reflections I used a combination of Greyscale Gorilla’s HDRI Studio Pack and MovieType 2 3 Point Lighting.


And to animate the Lego into place I used Greyscale Gorilla’s Transform plug-in. I could have created this look using MoGraph with falloff but the presets in Transform and the ease with which one can make changes is a great time saver. The above is an experiment using the Transform preset, which is fun but I wanted a more simple bottom-to-top build for this.


These are the final Transform settings, including adding a Delay Effector with Spring for a subtle bounce as the pieces land.


To have the plane fly away I used the Align to Spline tag and in a separate scene used Dynamics to create the plane crash. The Dynamics was tricky to get right because I’d modelled the plane in millimetres, making all of the settings very sensitive. Adjusting the settings under the Dynamics tab in Project Settings (Command/Control + D) did the trick and I’d like to thank those who offered help with getting this right.

I learned a lot from this personal project and can’t stress enough the importance of trying things that push you beyond your comfort zone. When I first decided to recreate this plane in 3D I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but got there in the end and learned a tonne along the way. Could I have used some kind of Lego brick generator plug-in? Sure but that would have defeated the purpose, which is to master modelling.

What about you? Is there something you think might be a good personal challenge? If so, then go ahead and pick up your own “handful of bricks”, you’ll be glad you did.

  1. Jonathan Ingham

    Fabulous, i will try this, i loved those lego tv ads as a kid, lots of them on you tube.

  2. Bogdan

    Amazing work and breakdown, really great informations!

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