$160 pledged of $1,200 goal
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By Raven Jiang
$160 pledged of $1,200 goal
backers

About this project

Introduction

Many of us grew up playing with LEGO bricks, but eventually we are forced to leave behind our childhood and set off in search of meaning, success, wealth, love. But the journey of adulthood is often difficult and harsh, and sometimes you really just want to play with some LEGO bricks.

Inspired by Legoizer after I saw it on Reddit, I set out to create my own LEGO mosaic generator with more customizable options (e.g. dimension, color, brick types) in order to recreate one of my all time favorite paintings, The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏), in LEGO bricks.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa
The Great Wave off Kanagawa

What I did

After a combined total of few days of intermittent hacking during which I incidentally received my college degree, I built Image to Brick, a functional JavaScript tool that produced the build instructions more organized and configurable than the ones produced by Legoizer.

There were a few reasons why I felt necessary to build my own tool instead of using Legoizer. If you are curious, I talk about them in greater details in this blog post: http://soraven.com/2015/07/20/why-i-made-image-to-brick/

Build instructions generated by Image to Brick
Build instructions generated by Image to Brick

Having completed Image to Brick, I have taken the first concrete step I needed to realize my life-long (2-month-old really) dream of being an adult practitioner of the LEGO arts. Huzzah. But the hard part is yet to come.

What I need

At this point in this story, I came to the realization that LEGO bricks are hella expensive -- I would need around 9,000 bricks just to build a 5′ 3″ x 3′ 3″ (160cm x 100cm) sized mosaic and I was hoping for something a little bigger than that. At $0.10 to $0.40 a brick depending on type and color plus shipping, this can add up fast. I will probably also need to build/purchase a flat supporting surface for the base plates.

I realized that I don't quite have the disposable income to do this, but by this point I am already in too deep. Having done the research and spent countless hours on this endeavor, the vision of a LEGO Great Wave was rapidly becoming an obsession. I want to see this thing in the real world. I want to touch it. And possibly lick it.

Help me achieve it!

I need money to make my vision a reality. I asked myself, "Where can I find people with excess liquid assets who would give it to complete strangers on the Internet to do silly things like making potato salad?" And here we are.

Help me recreate this awesome painting in LEGO! The base goal will allow me to build a mosaic at least 3 feet high. I plan to adjust the build size upwards if the raised amount exceeds the goal or if more detailed cost calculations allow for it. These are the rough estimates:

  • $1,200 translates to 128 bricks in height, ~9,000 bricks in total and dimensions 5′ 3″ x 3′ 3″ (160cm x 100cm)
  • $1,700 translates to 160 bricks in height, ~13,000 bricks in total and dimensions 6′ 7″ x 4′ 1″ (200cm x 125cm)
  • $2,400 translates to 192 bricks in height, ~18,000 bricks in total and dimensions 7′ 10″ x 4′ 11″ (240cm x 150cm)
  • $1,000,000 translates to ??? bricks in height, probably the size of the skyscraper
Estimate counts for 160-brick height
Estimate counts for 160-brick height

I plan to adjust the height of the mosaic in increments of 16 bricks because I will use 16x16 and 32x32 base plates to construct the canvas.

Size illustrated with 32x32 base plates
Size illustrated with 32x32 base plates

I will be using a mixture of 1x16, 1x12, 1x10, 1x6, 1x4, 1x3, 1x2 and 1x1 plate pieces placed in horizontal rows on the base plate canvas to construct the image itself. I prefer this method over stacking LEGO bricks because each unit of LEGO is square and not rectangular and the result has a more interesting texture because of the exposed studs.

Stretch Goal

If it proves feasible given the funding level achieved, I would like to explore the possibilities of building the mosaic in different layers. This would require more bricks and cost more, but the result might look more interesting.

An example of how the layers might be divided
An example of how the layers might be divided

The tool I created does not directly support layering in generating the build instructions, so some manual tweaking and image editing will be needed to figure out how to produce the brick counts I need to create the effect. In the above example, I would probably use regular bricks for the blue layer, double plates for the purple layer and single plate for the red layer.

Deliverable

The final deliverables for this project are:

  • An awesome LEGO mosaic of the Great Wave at least 3 feet tall, hopefully standing in a location where people can come see it
  • A time-lapse video of the whole build process posted on YouTube
  • Thank you notes for everyone who chose Reward #3.

I hope to complete the entire project by December with most of the building work being done over weekends.

Help me live the dream!

Risks and challenges

The greatest challenge is acquiring all the bricks of different sizes and colors that I need to build the mosaic. I plan to use Brick Owl (http://www.brickowl.com/) which seems to have a fairly good selection of resellers and stock. Once the bricks are acquired, the remaining task is strictly menial labor that any mindless robot can perform given sufficient motor control and image processing capability. I am fairly confident that I am sufficiently qualified for the job.

The greatest risk in terms of achieving a satisfactory outcome is that the color selection made by the tool is not necessarily optimal because colors on LEGO bricks are perceived differently by the eyes than colors on a computer monitor. The result will still resemble the painting, but there is a slight probability that it will not look as awesome as its digital form. I am not anticipating any dangerous explosions or human casualty.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    I will shake your right hand and thank you profusely if you come to the San Francisco Bay Area. Your name will also be on a list of donors that will be displayed on the eventual project page.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    I will shake your other hand. Also includes Reward #1.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Drop by and help me build the mosaic for a couple of hours! You must be in the San Francisco Bay Area. Also includes Reward #1 and #2.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    A handwritten thank you note on the back of a 5x7 photo print of the completed LEGO mosaic of the Great Wave. Also includes Reward #1 and #2.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    You get to choose a new default image to include on tobrick.com. Conditions apply to the choice of image. Also includes Reward #1 and #2.

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Funding period

- (30 days)