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It can be a big challenge to create a design for a large object. Are there techniques or tools to simplify this, and to help estimate numbers of blocks required?

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You can convert your LEGO design to a virtual object! eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=56336 –  fredley Oct 25 '11 at 20:35
    
If you have a 3D model of the real world object, you could check out this question: bricks.stackexchange.com/questions/3074/… –  chilemagic Apr 7 at 18:37

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Lego Digital Designer (~140mb, Mac and PC) is quite useful for creating 3D designs. I haven't personally used it that much but it is quite a powerful tool. It will tell you the number of bricks used in a model as well.

At a pinch, MS Paint (pixel-based), Google Sketchup (find some templates for bricks) and Minecraft could even be used for planing builds.

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This doesn't seem to answer the question as asked. Or explain what advantage LDD has? –  Erik Olson Oct 26 '11 at 22:24

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