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Virtual Beethoven

(November 2003 - February 2004)

(Pictures of my creations can also be found in my BrickShelf folder)

1. The idea

I've always wanted to build a sculpture - a large sculpture. Unfortunately I'm not a sculptor.
That's when I came up with the following idea:
If I have a three-dimensional scan of an object, it can easily be transformed into LEGO (height = 2/5 width when using plates, height = 6/5 width when only using bricks). But how can I make this three-dimensional scan? When graduating as an industrial engineer, I remember working with a three-dimensional measuring device during one of the lab-sessions. I just couldn't remember how data was stored, so I didn't start writing code to transform to LEGO immediately (I could use some help for this fase because I'm not really a programmer: I am very good with mathematical algorithms, but I can't really implement them into computer-language properly).
I finally came up with a nice solution:
I bought a 3D Sculpture Puzzle from Really Useful Games Company Limited. I scanned all layers one by one, and resized them to LEGO-scale. The most difficult part was to align consecutive layers; it was done with the naked eye (some layers were slightly rotated on my scanner, I had to bring them back in the right position).

I think that the computer-generated mathematical sculptures from Andrew Lipson were also a source of inspiration to build this model...
I hope Henry Lim will forgive me...

2. Start building

First I had to decide how big the statue would be. If I only use bricks, the statue would end up being more than 200 bricks high (there were approximately 200 layers in the original Sculpture Puzzle). I finally decided to use plates as well: when I use 1x2 jumper plates (lots of them), I can align consecutive layers in a half-stud fashion. This way, I can preserve more details from the original statue.
I made every layer two plates high, the finished model is 135 bricks high.

Just a few of the possibilities of how to align two layers half-stud in one or two directions:

3. Watch it grow

4. Other pictures

5. Bill of materials

To build this virtual model I used 63540 LEGO elements, mostly plates, tiles and jumper plates.
Here's a list of the most common elements. If I intended to build this model with real LEGO elements, just imagine how much it will cost to buy all the necessary parts through LEGO Shop at Home (#10115, #10064, #10060,...) or Bricklink (there are hardly enough jumper plates available!). It would probably cost me more than 5000 euro/dollar, merely to acquire all the pieces.
If somebody at the LEGO Company likes this statue, maybe they can provide me with the necessary pieces ;-).

3794Plate 1 x 2 with 1 Stud28374 x
3070BTile 1 x 1 with Groove5919 x
3710Plate 1 x 44027 x
3069BTile 1 x 2 with Groove3451 x
3666Plate 1 x 62969 x
3020Plate 2 x 42664 x
3623Plate 1 x 32621 x
3021Plate 2 x 31531 x
3460Plate 1 x 81497 x
3023Plate 1 x 21245 x
2420Plate 2 x 2 Corner1198 x
2431Tile 1 x 4972 x


6. Text

Did you notice the text on the pillar? I payed lots of attention to it. The letters are shifted backwards half-stud (again I used 1x2 jumper plates). For visibility reasons I made them dark grey instead of light grey.
Important remark: there is no glue required; every element is attached to another element with at least one stud.

The rendered images are created with MLCad, converted with L3P and rendered with POV-Ray.

The 3D Sculpture Puzzle is manufactured and sold under license from Really Useful Games.