How and Where I Find Inspiration
Inspiration for this particular piece came after binge-watching the first two seasons of Rick and Morty––a TV Show on Adult Swim created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon.
After watching the show, I searched the Internet for something that I had in mind for a mosaic and found this image that I really liked. I can’t draw to save my life, so I used what I found for inspiration. This image came from reddit user zoidburger69.
I used the completely free program called Photobricks to convert the image to a LEGO® mosaic. I decided to make this piece 3 x 4 (32 stud sized) baseplates or 30” by 40”. I used the smaller baseplates you can buy at any retail LEGO store or LEGO® shop online.
As you can see, Photobricks only converts the image (left image). But I wanted something more colorful and intricate, so I fine-tuned it by individually choosing each and every color, which took several weeks of tweaking and adjusting.
Start Building With What You Have On Hand
In the beginning of my LEGO art career, I didn’t have a large LEGO collection, so I started using what I had on hand, including plenty of baseplates. But before I started, I purchased ¾” plywood at the dimensions listed above and faux leather contact paper from Home Depot.
I sanded down the plywood’s rough edges, covered it all with the contact paper and screwed the baseplates onto the plywood. To keep the baseplates from sliding around and properly spaced, I connected them all together with 16x16 baseplates and 4x4 plates. You can see the green, lilac, gray, and tan pieces on the picture on the left.
I did this to stabilize the piece while I added the portal’s outline. At the time, the LEGO® retail store had the 1 x 4 curved slope on the wall of bricks, so I picked up a few large containers of them and placed them around the edges for a framed look. I also started filling in the Rick and Morty silhouette.
I played around with a few different styles. At first, I wanted them to look like they were going through it, so I thought 1 x 1 round plates over the green. But I eventually didn’t like that look. At this point, I also wasn’t sure how I was going to do the portal’s border. I tried a few variations, patterns and styles, but ultimately went with all black.
But I didn’t want the black background to blend into the frame, so I added white plates under the curved pieces and created a thin white line which separates the frame from the background. A simple, but distinctive detail.
After the majority of the frame was in place, I played with a few different ideas for the corners. In the final picture, I forgot to add in the final pieces. So I took them off to transport since they can easily fall off and not be as easy to replace.
Tweaking and Making Changes
In the image on the left, you can see how I started a pattern under Morty to see if the 1 x 1 round plate would make it look like they were going through the portal. But it didn’t really give me the effect I was looking for. Next, I also completed the border of the portal. On the image on the right, this where I started adding in the pieces to the portal.
Twitter and Instagram for more inspiration
I use Twitter for inspiration. I follow many AFOL (Adult Fans of LEGO) and KFOL (Kids Fans of LEGO) Twitter and Instagram accounts and love looking and sharing their MOCs (My Own Creations). At this point, I wasn’t very happy with the way the swirls of the portal were looking and then I saw this picture on the left. The pond was the inspiration for using translucent colors for the portal in the final version.
Experience has told me that when I use translucent colors, I need to use white for the colors to pop! So I took the whole piece apart and redid it in white. I filled in the background in black and replaced the Rick and Morty silhouette in black with black 1 x 1 round plates on top to add a 3 dimensional feel to it.
With the picture on the left, I was trying different colors combining solid colors and translucent colors. I also added cheese slopes to see if that would be an option, but as you can see from the final image on the right, I decided against the cheese slopes. Looking at more portals from the TV show, I noticed it had more white and yellow colors than my original design, so I replaced the colors for a lighter color palette.
Finally, with all the color choices and final design settled, I got to work ordering parts. When ordering specific parts, I use Bricklink. It is the e-Bay or marketplace for ordering specific LEGO elements and much, much more. Since my Photobricks design was different than my final version, I could not use the program to give me a parts list, so I guessed at how many parts I would need. I totally underestimated 3 times! Who would have thought that I would need more than 2 orders of 1,000 1 x 1 round green translucent plates?
I was on a roll building away and realized in the original artwork they had the “Big Head” from the “Get Schwifty” episode above and to the right of Rick’s head. I wanted to incorporate it and tried different ways, but it just didn’t look right so I removed it.
The final change I made was converting the background from having studs on top to tiles.
Every time I create a new piece, I always wonder how it will be received. I was thrilled and honored that I won Amazingly Awesome in the Pop Culture theme at 2017 Bricks By The Bay™ California Dreamin’ LEGO® fan convention.
To the right is a photo of the trophy I won at Bricks By The Bay™.
Creating a piece always comes with its unique challenges. There are always changes and tweaks all the way up to the end but only by working through each challenge one at a time does it finally come out great in the end.
Update: This piece was sold to an art collector in 2018.