Lego bricks have been in production since 1949, with a series of official diversions into digital media keeping the flame alive. We wonder what the Danish company thinks of Bricksmith and the project that enables it to exist, LDraw.
LDraw is an open-source Lego parts library and file format. Bricksmith is a tool that enables you to build Lego models using these virtual parts. Together, they’re a complete, expandable, and virtually infinite, box of building bricks for your Mac.
The interface, as it should be, is child’s play. There’s a parts library pane that provides access to thousands of Lego blocks – from standard bricks to more complex components. You just drag them into the main 3D window where you can create anything a standard Lego set might allow you to create – with one exception; you’ll never run out of green baseboards or single red bricks or any other item, however many you use. It’s like having access to a bottomless Lego bucket.
With side and plan views included in the 3D window, and brick rotation controlled by simple keyboard shortcuts, you can build just about anything. You can even populate your creations with Lego mini-figures, as there’s a dedicated set of dialogs for creating Lego people too. There are standard figures ready to place into scenes but everyone can be customised with clothes, colours and expressions.
We would love Bricksmith even more if you could output models to bitmap formats or change the render settings. However, the format can be imported into open-source 3D tool POV-Ray to turn your simple creations into something stunning. Bricksmith is superb fun, a splendid educational tool, and free.