LEGO Dinosaurs: Savage Lands: The Art of the Vignette

While the LEGO Group may never stray to far from the Jurassic World franchise with the dinosaur pieces, Jme Wheeler embarks on a build project that shows just how inspiring the creatures can be. Here, he shares his top tips for building the best possible LEGO vignettes

Animals are always a popular element among LEGO fans. For me, dinosaurs are a particular favorite. It may have taken the LEGO Group a while to land on a successful series of designs for dinosaurs, but the design team seems to have finally hit their stride with the last several iterations. So while the look of LEGO dinosaurs may have hit a peak, their implementation within their themes seems a bit stagnant. LEGO dinosaurs have existed since before the Jurassic World licence – but to be fair – even then themes such as Dino were really just Jurassic Park without the license. There are so many more opportunities for fun – and more varied fictional settings. Personally, I would love to see something like NEXO KNIGHTS, but trade the tech for tyrannosaurs. Or how about a sub-theme of NINJAGO with raptors?

Over the next several weeks, Brick Fanatics with be taking a look at a series of dinosaur themed vignettes I’ve created. They take place in various parts of the world, in a variety of time periods, all centered around relationships between dinosaurs and their human companions. While I have a reputation as someone who builds lots of different types of things, my absolute favourite thing to build are vignettes. It is a form of visual storytelling – something like a three dimensional analog for illustration. What follows are some tips to help you create more effective vignettes, regardless of subject matter.

“Does subject matter?”

This doesn’t just mean whether or not your build involves dinosaurs, or outer space, or auto racing. Decide whether the subject of your build is the people or other characters within the environment, or instead the environment itself. Both are important, but it’s up to you which one you want viewers to focus on.

AELitC (Rex)

“One ‘D’ too many”

While it’s true you are building a 3D object, choosing a single angle from which to view the finished build – such as in a 2D image – can help you make compositional decisions as you go.  How large should objects be in relation to each other? What colours will work best? How detailed should various objects within the build be? All of these are questions that can be more easily answered by choosing a single intended angle from which the build should be viewed. Those who are two dimensionally inclined my find it helpful to sketch out a concept for your final build ahead of time.

“What’s my motivation?”

In the interest of good storytelling, characters within your build should have some kind of  motivation, rather than simply being plopped into the middle of the environment. What are they doing? Where are going? Why are they doing either of the first two things? These are important questions to ask yourself, as they will help inform your decisions on what to build around the characters and where to place them in the scene.

“The build doesn’t work for you. You work for the build”

Once you have chosen a subject and decided what information you want to convey about it, make sure the rest of your choices support this narrative. It can be easy to get hung up on an idea for some element of the build that may look really cool, but doesn’t help tell your story. In those cases, it’s necessary to be objective with yourself and realise that maybe you need to come up with something new that works better for the build as a whole.

Important note though – don’t scrap that other idea! Just because it does not work for the current build, that does not mean it can’t be a part of something else later. If you can, hold on to what you’ve worked on so far, or if not at least get some photos so you can recreate it later.

The Doctor (Front)

“Size doesn’t matter, except when it does”

A vignette does not have to be large in order to have a lot to say. Even an 8×8 build can tell a story. One thing to note however is the smaller the build, the more important each individual detail becomes.  Having an idea for a narrative ahead of time can help you determine the appropriate size for your vignette. The more you have to say, the bigger it will likely need to be.

These are but a few examples of things that will help you create a robust and detailed vignette. I’ll cover more specialised tips in the articles accompanying each build in this series.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the LEGO hobby is taking things with an established context and placing them in a new one. In my case it was mythological dinosaurs. Maybe for someone else it might be space farming, or undersea racing. The possibilities really are limitless. With that, I say go forth and create!

You can find more of Jme’s LEGO builds on Flickr, under the handle klikstyle.

Jurassic World is in cinemas now.The LEGO sets based on the film are available now from shop.LEGO.com.

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