Thursday, February 20, 2014

Axis 2

Look at my last post, axis 1, for background information for this post.

Anyways, here's axis number 2, standard and custom.

Standard building is what you will probably start out on if you're reading this volume in hopes of starting MOCing. Building standard is building using parts for what they are meant for. A piece mean to be an arm or head or torso is used accordingly, making a build that turns out to be a lot like what the Lego Corporation sells. This is the easiest way to build and contrary to what others say, it is possible to make a good model using only pieces for their intended purposes. The problem is that after so long it begins to seem like everything you build is the same, especially if you are using the Inika torso or Hero Factory frame. The standard build, using every piece in its intended way, eventually becomes limiting in terms of size and shape, which is where custom building becomes useful.

Custom building is just the opposite of standard, using pieces for their unintended uses. This would be almost impossible if you could only use pieces that were meant to be on a different part of the body, but luckily there are tons of pieces that aren't necessarily for one part of the body or the other, especially Technic pieces. If you want to build something custom but are short on pieces, I suggest getting at least one Technic set with the right color scheme. It's surprising how much even a small, ten dollar set can help with building custom.

Hardly anyone, even really experienced builders, only build entirely custom MOCs. Most use at least a foot or arm piece for its intended purpose. Plus, fully custom MOCs can look messy, with too many little parts distracting the eye. Unless you have a huge piece collection or are really ambitious, I suggest that you start out with only making one or two parts custom.

One of the hardest parts to make custom is the torso, but most people also start out with it because a custom torso can mean unique sizes and proportions for models. It's also easy to make a custom upper arm or leg, just use two old Bionicle hand pieces and connect them using technique pins and such. Lowers arms are harder because they usually require Glatorian necks and a lot of technique pieces. Personally I find custom lower legs the hardest because they usually contain a lot of pieces but also need to support some weight without breaking. Custom hands have almost become a cliche. Most builders use the tried-and-true technique of using an old Bionicle hand with exo-force arms and T-joints. Custom feet can be simple or hard, depending on what technique you use. Custom weapons can range in difficulty, depending on what kind of a weapon it is. Hammers and bows are almost exclusively standard, but swords are rarely standard, mostly since its hard to make something that looks sharp with pieces meant not to. However, some MOCers have found a way by using Ninjago dragon wing pieces. I won't even go into doing custom heads, partially because people usually forgive a standard one, partially because I haven't even tried to figure out how to do one yet?

Like last time, I saved the pictures for the end. This is an earlier, mostly standard MOC by Gringat:

It's called Briar. I think that this pretty well demonstrates that MOCs can be creative while still working inside the outlines of what an arm or leg should be as set by Lego. The reptilian leg design with three portions, as seen on this MOC, is a pretty popular way (Both with MOCs and official sets) to make a model look more original. Although this should have been mentioned last post, this is a good example of a mix of hero factory and bionicle parts (It's actually a combiner model with Toxic Repa, Rocka, and Matau Hordika). It isn't the best of examples of a standard model since it was made by a MOCer who mostly does custom stuff, but I couldn't get permission to use any of my other ideas for a standard MOC and I had waited for a response for around a month.

Here's a fully custom MOC by Toa Phosphorus named Megaliki Nuva.
 Megaliki Nuva: The Colossus
As you can see, the use of custom allows the builder to make much larger limbs, heads, and weapons than standard. Also, see how the model uses pieces meant to be placed elsewhere on the body, Visohrak heads on the thighs and shoulder armour on the ankles. The hand design, with a Toa Metru body used as a wrist and hand piece with Hordika inner-head pieces for fingers is a common hand design for custom titans since normal hands are often too small.

Now for a mix of custom and standard, Elisara, also by Gringat.

The use of a custom torso with standard limbs is a good technique sine it's harder to build limbs than a torso and there are a wider variety of limb pieces than torso ones. Also, see how even though the lower legs and lower arms are standard, they're adorned with little pieces of armour. These add color and variety to limbs that would other-wise be a pretty big stretch of monochrome. Armour is built up around the chest to give it more of a bulky feel while on the inside it's probably mostly Technic parts and other small things.

Before I end with the challenges, I want to set a few things straight. First: Sorry for not posting in a month or so, but since I don't seem to have any followers yet (I have a grand total of 33 page views) I'm probably in the clear for long stretches of no posts for now.

Secondly, before anyone chimes in with this, yes, I have realized that my 9-part building axis does have a flaw. Since most Hero Factory parts are meant to be bones for arms and legs, it would be pretty much impossible to make a custom Hero Factory model without using a lot of inter-connecting armour or a torso or something for the limbs (Or I guess it could be a non-humanoid MOC, but that's beside the point). So, yes the system I created has a pretty big hole in it. Luckily, as I mentioned above, I don't have any fact-checkers yet so I can get away with factual inaccuracies all I want and no one can stop me!


Beginner: Build a basic standard model, then add on something (A tail, wings, a third arm, .etc) that's custom.

Intermediate: Make a custom weapon using only your own designs, not borrowing from anything else on the internet.

Experienced: Make a fully custom MOC (I know that this is something most builders who have been at it awhile can do, my definition of experienced is different from yours, probably).

Boss: Build a custom copy of a standard creation, using identical color scheme and similar limb proportions.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Axis 1

Please note that the idea of axes is something that I came up with on my own and is in no way sponsored by any other builder (Although another could have come up about it or something like it separately). If you see a flaw in my logic, please comment.

Anyone familiar with Dungeons and Dragons is probably well versed in the idea of axes (The plural of axis) that can say something about a character's personality. In version 3.5 (The only good version, in my humble opinion), one axis is lawful and chaotic and the other is good and evil. There is also a neutral option for each axis, creating a grand total of nine different positions on the axes. The same is true for MOCing styles. The two axes that I have observed are custom and standard as one and Hero Factory or Bionicle as the other.

Let's start with Hero Factory vs Bionicle, since that's probably what most people are most knowledgeable about. By Bionicle I mean building using pieces released in-between the Throwbots of 1999 and the first wave of Hero Factory in 2010. Bionicle style of building uses a lot of different ways to connect one piece the the other, such as axles, gears, studs, ball-and-socket and thin rods. It allows a lot of variability, but on the down-side it can be confusing with so many different connection methods all tangled up together.

Before the second wave of Hero Factory, all MOCs were Bionicle style, since the newly released Hero Factory sets were essentially Bionicles. The second wave changed all that, introducing a whole new set of pieces that worked very differently than old sets. Hero Factory style uses almost entirely ball-and-socket building, with a basic thin skeleton made up of ball-and-socket bones covered with socket armour. This is the only style of building available to you if you don't already have some bionicle pieces and don't want to buy Technic sets or older sets. The up side is that it is simple and clean, but it is also harder to do something out of the ordinary with Hero Factory pieces since there are only 3 years worth of pieces compared to the eleven years of Bionicle pieces.

That's a lot of writing, so here are some pictures. This is an example of a purely Bionicle MOC by Ben Cossy, entitled Makuta Septerra.
Makuta Septerra
The MOC is by Ben Cossy. Note how the pieces come from a variety of set-years (2003 or earlier to 2010) and the shape is non-humanoid. Non-humanoid shapes are also possible with Hero Factory, but it is arguably easier to do it with bionicle parts. Now here is a fully Hero Factory model called Jetbug Revamp also by Ben Cossy.

Okay, so a revamp probably wasn't the best example to illustrate my point, but it's hard to find purely Hero Factory MOCs since most builders go for mixed Hero Factory and bionicle. This isn't completely Hero Factory itself, as you can see from the 2003 translucent orange pieces. But it pretty well shows how most Hero Factory builds go. Notice that the armour on the arms, legs, torso, and jet boosters is mostly in bigger pieces and the build is as humanoid as a bug can get. Here is a look at a mix of Hero Factory and Bionicle pieces by Callan Lof. The model is called Obseshin.

See how the arms and legs mostly use large pieces connected by ball-and-socket systems but the other parts, the weapon and torso especially, use other techniques to connect everything.

Since this post is long enough as it is, I'll talk about standard vs custom in another post. In the meantime, here's some building challenges.

Beginner: Build a model using Hero Factory while connecting the pieces, but try to use other connection systems at least as much as ball-and-socket.

Intermediate: Build a MOC using hero factory bones but Bionicle pieces for the skeleton.

Expert: Build a MOC out of Hero Factory pieces, then another out of Bionicle ones. Make the two models have the same color scheme, height, weapons, body type, everything except the type of build.

Boss challenge: Build something large and high-quality with only pieces available in models this year. Try to keep a consistent color scheme and make it at least two feet tall.

Color scheme (Extra)

In my previous status (Entitled color scheme) I forgot to put in a list of common color schemes and the elements/ideals that they usually represent. Some of these might come as common sense (i.e. red=fire) but others it might be new to you, so it's probably worth a look. Also, note that it's often a good idea to go contrary to the common color scheme for a certain element to give it a new feel. For example, Ben Cossy's self-MOC has a blue color scheme, but is given fire powers so as to go contrary to the commonly held perception that fire MOCs have to be red (Also since flames are sometimes blue, but you get the idea).

Monochrome colors:
Red: Fire, lava, anger, communism.
Orange: Also fire, some chemicals and acids, toxic waste
Green: Nature/plants/forest, air (For some reason that I've never fully understood), acid, mutation, greed, any animal or monstrous creature works well in green, camouflage.
Yellow: Yet more fire, the sun, some chemicals and acids, stone, happiness, lightning, construction machinery.
Blue: Water, magic, storms, lightning. Also, I've always associated industrialism with the color blue but that's just me.
Purple: Regality, power/electricity.
Black: Evil, darkness, underground, industrialism, coal, anarchy.
White: Also regality, light, the sun, good, law, ghosts.
Gold: Wealth mostly.
Grey: Clockwork, statues, stone.
Silver: Technology, weaponry, robotics.
Brown: Stone, wood, most animals.
Teal: Industrialization.
Tan: Desert, stone.

Double color combinations:
Red and yellow or red and orange: Fire.
Silver or grey with an translucent color: Technology.
Red and blue: Fire and water, temperatures, contrast.
Yellow, blue, or purple with black: Electricity.
Green and brown: Nature, trees.
Black and any other color: An evil version of what the color represents.
Red and black: Demons/devils.
Black and white: Darkness and light, contrast, Orzhov (That's an mtg reference).
Red and white: Medicine.
Green and blue: Seaweed, swamp.
Black and translucent orange: There was a fad a while back to make MOCs using only these two colors, called black fantasy. 
Light blue and white: Ice.

Three color combinations:
Silver, grey, and another color: Bytes, another building fad that could be brought back. Look it up.
Green, teal, and blue: Same as green and blue, but cooler with a rare color thrown in.
Red, green, and black: Savagery, good for a beast or monster MOC.
A light, medium, and dark shade of any color: Good for a MOC that you want to have a sort of camouflage feel or just to be a pseudo-monochrome MOC.
Red, white, and blue: America, England or France.
Red, white, and green: Mexico or Italy.

Please note that these aren't the only color combinations, nor is every element I matched with a certain color the only option for that element. For example, I said that blue is often associated with magic but really you could make a wizard character of any color.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Color Scheme

To see what the deal with this blog is check the description.

This post is mostly aimed towards beginning builders, since much of this is common sense to someone with a few MOCs under their belt. Read this if you are just starting out building or if you feel like you need to bone up on what color scheme is and how to use it properly. 

So let's get started. What is the first thing you should do when you start on a MOC? If you read the title, you probably already know the answer (It's color scheme) I can't stress how important it is. Often I have people who have seen my own models and want to start building themselves come out with a model that would be great if it had a unified color scheme.

A color scheme is the set of colors that you have in your MOC. There are some builders out there who attempt to make "Clowns" or models using completely random colors to give them a rainbow aesthetic. Building in whatever color you have on hand when you want to experiment with different building techniques, but I advise you never to make a finished MOC with more than 5 colors.

The image above is Stromius by Callan Lof. He's one of my favorite models* for reasons I'll get to in later posts, but one of the prime ones is the fact that there is a clear, consistent color scheme of translucent blue, white, and black throughout the entire model. It's a good color scheme in and of itself, but the best thing about it is that it doesn't deviate from it.

But wait! There is a translucent yellow light on the flash light and a grey pin in the waist. That's because it was essential for the flash light and no one is really going to notice for the grey pin. You see, just because you use a piece of one color it doesn't make it part of the color scheme. It would have been a problem if there were grey pins sticking out all over the model or if the trans yellow was used more than once. But if you use a piece once or twice, especially if its a necessity like a red axle or a blue axle-pin hybrid most people will forgive you.

Of course, not every color scheme works. I don't think it takes an experienced MOCer to know that a yellow, purple, and green figure just doesn't look good. It just takes someone that isn't color blind. However, sometimes people try to cram too many colors into a single MOC. Red, orange, grey, silver and black might sound good if you are choosing the color pallet for a two-hour movie, but it's probably too much to cram into a lego creation less than a foot tall.

Of course, piece shortage can be a problem when trying to build something with a consistent color scheme. The trick is to see what pieces you have the most of before actually building anything. Black and white are both awesome as colors for color schemes because they both are in plentiful supply and they both go well with most any other color. Black is especially good if you're just beginning to build because it is included in pretty much every Hero Factory set to date.

If you are serious about MOCing, you might want to strategically buy sets that have similar color schemes. Again, Hero Factory is particularly helpful in this regard because each 2013 set has a counter part with an identical color scheme. If you want to make a model with a yellow, blue, and black color scheme you would buy Evo, Aquagon, Surge and Bolt Dragon.

What about weapons? Should they follow the color scheme or go counter to it? Well, it depends. If you got into Bioncle from 2004 to 2008, then most of your weapons are probably silver, so using them on a non-silver MOC would be okay. On the other hand, its always nice to have a weapon that matches the rest of the body, especially if its something that is supposed to be organic like a claw or pincers. Take a look at these two uses of color-schemed weapons in creations by Toa Phosphorus:

Toa Phosphorus V8

Note that on the orange one (Entitled Toa Phosphorus) the weapons perfectly match the color scheme while on the black one (Kulstof) the gun is colored silver, a color not found anywhere else on the model. The thing is, either of these work, having a weapon that follows the color scheme and having one that doesn't. The important thing is that even if it doesn't follow the color scheme, it is still in a neutral color. If Kulstof had a blue gun, then it would have been a different story. Also, see how even though most of the gun doesn't correspond with the color scheme, there is still a trans-red piece on the top, hinting at the accent color visible elsewhere in the model.

Build ideas!
Beginner: Make a MOC with only one or two colors, then when you have it the way you have it add another. See if its better before or after the addition of the new color.

Intermediate: Make a MOC using a rare color as an accent. Rare colors include teal, purple, dull gold and most translucent colors. Make sure to use colors in the right proportions.

Experienced: Make a team comprised of models with the same color scheme. Use weapons, size, proportion, and greeble use to make the models distinguishable from one another.

Boss challenge: Make a regular-sized MOC with only a single visible color.

Send in what you make!

*Everyone who I use a MOC as an example gave me their permission. If you have a MOC you want me to use, I'd be happy to use it as long as I can find a concept that it highlights. Also, I won't ever use someone else's MOC as a bad example of something. If I need to demonstrate how not to do something then I'll make something myself.