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I'd like to know how I can create computer imagery of my own models or existing models. How can we do photographic quality or cartoon like images?

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Both Lego digital designer and Ldraw allow for the creation of CGI LEGO models. Additional software may be required for photo-real rendering – Zhaph - Ben Duguid Oct 28 '11 at 18:13
Zhaph, digital imagery isn`t covered with plan making. – jfyelle Oct 28 '11 at 19:06

In addition to the other answers, the oldschool way using POV (in use before there even WAS a LEGO Digital Designer) still works.

  1. Model your creation in a LDraw compatible modelling tool of your choice (such as MLCad) but there are other choices
  2. Use one of several export programs (such as L3P) to create a POVRay compatible file
  3. Add a few commands to move the camera to taste and run a render in POVRay.

All of the renders on my site,, such as this one:

MTW-5001-yg render

Taken from the MTW-5001-yg listing, were done this way.

You can read more about all the tools mentioned at the LDraw website.

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You need:

Digital Designer (Or anything that can produce Ldraw files, there are some listed in this question)

Blender (Or another renderer that supports Ldraw)

Blender Script (This is necessary for Blender to read you Ldraw models)

  1. Recreate your creation in Lego Digital Designer.
  2. Export as Ldraw format
  3. Import in Blender
  4. Create & render Blender scene

(I haven't tried but it should work)

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I'd tend to replace the first requirement by "a LDraw file, created either with your favorite LDraw editor, or exported straight from LDD". Pov-Ray works too. – Joubarc Oct 28 '11 at 19:47
I am surprised by the recommendation of LDD. LDD has a very limited part library, which shifts every few months. Surely LeoCAD, MLCad or the other myriad of real LDraw tools should be the starting point. – Danny Staple Oct 29 '11 at 7:10
@dannystaple LDD has an extended mode that you can turn on using a config setting to access a much wider range of elements: – Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 13 '12 at 8:01
While the blender script sometimes works, the technique of importing an LDraw file into LeoCAD, then exporting it as either an obj or 3ds file and importing it into Blender has been MUCH more reliable from my experience. In the python script, bricks often get left behind, lack all of their verticies, or simply don't get imported. A massive contrast from the LEOCAD technique provided by PeterDC. – HaydenStudios Jan 13 '12 at 15:17
Since the "Design by me" product is to be removed by Lego, it makes a lot of sense to switch the config as the upload/pricing will be of little/no use again. – Danny Staple Jan 14 '12 at 13:26

Here's a method you'll be able to use with the latest stable version of Blender, without any extra plugins or addons.

  1. Build your model in LEGO Digital Designer and export as an LDraw file.

  2. Import into LeoCAD, then export as a .obj file.

  3. Import into Blender with the built-in .obj importer. You can then setup the scene how you want.

Also, if you're just starting out with Blender, you may want to try an under-development, photorealistic renderer called Cycles, as you'll be able to get nice-looking images much more quickly than if you were to use Blender's default internal renderer. From 2.61 onward, Cycles is now another render engine option in all official Blender builds.

You may want to check out this superb introduction to Cycles.

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Also, some beginner tutorials: – Peter Cassetta Oct 29 '11 at 6:56

Let me suggest Autodesk 3ds Max software or Autodesk Maya software for achieving this. You can find free bricks and models meshes right here. Additional information on lego visualization can be found on Okino's website.

Here is the example of a rendered still. Doing a manual simply involve making parts of the model visible/invisible and positioning the camera appropriately.

enter image description here This model was rendered by flickr user bloggerknight using 3ds Max and the VRay renderer

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While I like the render, there's only a limited set of parts compared to LDraw lists, and things like MLCad/LeoCad etc. really help with lining up the parts properly, but I've yet to find a decent workflow that results in sensibly sized models in 3DS Max - the imports from LPub for example were always rather tiny :( – Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 13 '12 at 10:53
you're supposed to model the missing parts yourself :) That make it a workflow that isn`t meant for all. – jfyelle Jan 13 '12 at 14:41
heh. True, but I'd rather spend the time working on my shaders and getting it to sit right on a photo background if I know others have produced a full set of models in something else ;) – Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 13 '12 at 15:02
with the peeron measured colors and the "Arch and design" materials, you can get photorealistic plastics that are perfectly matching reality. with a calibrated background, you could get a an image that no one could tell it`s 3D. (I am assuming you have all the lego parts properly modeled, with the studs and lego embossing) – jfyelle Jan 13 '12 at 19:15
Yep, I was using the Arch and Design materials, and the rest, but had had some difficulty getting the model to a decent scale if I recall correctly. – Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 14 '12 at 7:49

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