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Making Photo-Realistic Lego Bricks in Blender


(submitted by Jordan Harris) Knowing a lot about a piece of software is one thing, but being able to explain it clearly and concisely through a tutorial is another.

William Chamberlin has recently released a fabulous tutorial on creating a realistic render of LDraw bricks. (LDraw is a virtual  library of 3D LEGO parts) It's well-written and easy to follow, so check it out.

William writes:

What follows is a simple tutorial on how to achieve a near-photo-realistic render of basic Lego bricks using Blender. In order to use this tutorial, you will need version 2.46 of Blender (the most recent as of this writing). This tutorial is meant to demonstrate how high-quality renders can be produced using simple techniques, without getting into complicated processes like modelling custom Lego bricks. For this tutorial, Iʼm assuming that you know the basics of the Blender software.


About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-)


  1. :D and now, let's add some Photo-Realistic Lego person looking like the BBB staff and make a "Lego Siggraph, Blender madness" mini game.

  2. I took a look at the pdf but I have to say the lego bricks looks far from photo realistic.....they look as they were rendered in the 80's.

  3. Yeah, I agree, the lighting is too flat and the texturing does nothing for me.

    And no offense to this guy, who is contributing something to the blender world, but is there anything easier to render than plastic?

  4. Great job William on a nice, short, tutorial that effectively touches on several of Blender's cool features in a fun way. I love Lego stuff, I never had it as a kid but my kids do :)

    @Matt's post - LOL!

  5. Hello!

    I've just tried this tutorial. Thanks for posting it! However, I had some issues when following it (please bear in mind that I been using Blender for 2 weeks, only):

    - The distance of the lamp to the bricks is not described, so I just set it close to them, as I have done in previous scenes and seen in other tutorials.

    - At first, I used a Mesh-Cube. As a result, I obtained an overexposed scene that the gamma node only made worse.

    - Seeing this, I decided to append the white brick from Jordan's .blend file to my scene. The brick looked no so overexposed, but computer-made once rendered. Worse still, I could see that the sides appeared bent, as they do when seen through the 3D view.

    - I opened the original .blend file, and included some meshes and appended objects of mine, and everything looked fine.

    - I went over all the settings in the original file to make sure that I had them replicated in my own file. At last I noticed that I had not set the Radiosity rendering button on. This solved the bent sides, and everything looked great.

    However, I still have some pressing questions, and I woud greately appreciate if someone could be so kind as to help me out with them:

    1) I thought that the Radiosity rendering button was only needed if the object has been previously prepared for it. I suppose this is incorrect, isn't it?

    2) Why is 5000 the distance set for the lamp? In other tutorials it is only 40 or 100.

    3) Why is the lamp's position located that far away from the actual objects in the 3D view (x=50+, y=50+, z=90+, if I remember correctly)?

    4) Why is 7 the energy of the lamp? In other tutorials it is only 1 or 2; 8 or 10 when using Yafray.

    5) Relating to 2-3: Can't we have similar results with lower lamp distance, position and energy?

    Sorry for all these questions, but sometimes I despair when confronted to so many different ways for setting up scenes (and when I get results not as good).


  6. That was a lame excuse for a tutorial. The fact that it only mentions LeoCAD is limiting all by itself.
    Here's my version of the same tutorial...

    Hey look, you can model Legos in 3D! Dur!

    Hey, you can import them in to Blender - no surprise since it imports practically everything!
    Then you can press render with the renderer of your choice. No duh.

  7. @Matt: hahhaha I agree. Didn't catch that the first time. XD All my legos have little dings in them too from the sharp corners of other legos in the giant bin i keep them in.

    This article also reminds me of this image I stumbled upon in the modo site's menu
    but I can't seem to find a full-size image. A photo-real mini lego pod race would be really cool if you ask me :P

  8. I must say that seeing my tutorial on this site came as a total surprise (albeit a pleasant one). Let me endeavor to answer a few questions.


    • I'm not an expert here, so I won't be too specific - but yes, radiosity does have more effects than you originally thought.

    • There are many different ways to set up the lighting for a scene like this. I used an inverse square spotlamp (and I believe the reason it was so far away was to give a perfect evenly-lit look for that shot), but this can be confusing. For most scenes, a sun lamp would probably work just as well (or better), in which case an energy of only about 2 is needed, and the distance and position of the lamp doesn't really matter.

    I see there have been some complaints about the tutorial. Bmud: remember that what seems simple to you might not seem so to others. I know that when I was first learning all this, I would have really benefited from a tutorial like this one. I'm not a Blender expert yet, but I'm happy to share what I do know!

  9. I'm disappointed in some of you, especially Bmud. Instead of bashing the tutorial, how about you suggest improvements. Mocking is not going to get you anywhere.

    Thanks, WC, for taking the time to write this. I personally found it helpful. It's not perfect, but for a beginner it's pretty helpful.

  10. As I've recently learned (despite being a lifelong fan of Lego), the top studs are not simple chamfers. They have a distinctly rounded profile (my own cg Lego currently does not). It also pays to pay attention to the underlying geometry to minimize smoothing errors. Ideally, the material for solid Lego is a semi-glossy mat with low hardness and and raymirror enabled (though I usually disable it for time concerns). Transparent parts will also need an appropriate IoR for Polycarbonate (1.585).

    Here's some of my own results using an independently developed process, perhaps they will help.


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