Behind the Brick

Posted by Jacob Wignall on December 20, 2019

I’m a Designer with the Design Team at BRICKLIVE. When people ask what I do, my answer is often ‘all the computer wizardry stuff that’s behind the amazing builds we produce at BRICKLIVE’, as that's the simplest way to put it!

There are many different processes that go into every model we produce and often many months of design work before the first bricks are glued. I was the lead designer for the Formula E (FE) Venturi car model. Venturi very kindly supplied a very detailed 3D digital model of the car which provided an excellent starting point to import into our own in-house brick software. 

A 3D model of the Venturi Formula E car
A 3d model/mesh of the car

With this software, I converted the 3D model into 1x1 bricks to determine whether the size of the model was appropriate or needed to be adjusted. In this case, the size of the model was dictated by the size of the real thing! Venturi suppled the authentic Formula E tyres, a wheel and a seat, all of which had to be measured and also modelled digitally to ensure is was compatible and could fit seamlessly with the car itself.

Steelwork for the Formula E model
The steel design ready for the manufacturer

When the shape of the model was finalised (and each brick was in the right place), the design of the steel structure could begin, which included ensuring the weight of the bricks were supported by the frame and that the cockpit could accommodate the weight of a person. Following a rigorous, detailed design and engineering process, the model was tested using our various in-house software programs.

Triangle modelling on the Formula E model
You can see how much work goes into placing each brick

Back in our own bespoke in-house brick software, the program initially generates the model in only one colour. Therefore a key part of my role was to go through every brick digitally to ensure the brick colours, branding and all other design elements were represented accurately. I spent many hours pouring over every single brick, rendering and re-rendering the FE Venturi car until it was correct. This is one of my favourite parts of the design process as it requires incredible attention to detail! 

Logos on the BRICKLIVE Venturi Formula E model
Despite all our high-tech design kit, free building skills are still essential

However, even at life size scale, some of the details such as the brand logos and text were very specific and too small to create digitally with normal bricks. For these the builders utilise a “free-build” methodology, a technique where builders utilise their own ingenuity, creativity and any bricks at their disposal to create a specific detail. It’s totally down to the skill of the individual builder to ensure this is correct and the results never cease to amaze me.

After weeks of hard work and following various review and approval processes, the 3D model is provided to another member of the design team to create the building guide for the builders (a step by step guide of the build sequence).

Once production starts, my job isn’t over, as all detailed design questions during the build process revert to me!

The build team around the Venturi Formula E car
The finished car with our design and build team

I am immensely proud of this project and what the Team collectively created – the FIRST life size FE Venturi car. The result reflects the hard work and dedication that I and the entire Team involved in the project. Every model we build is not the result of one or a few individuals, but the collective efforts of the entire Team. 

The Formula E Car is currently in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco until early January, after which the next opportunity to see it will be at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show in March 2020.

I’m currently working on some very exciting designs for new tours, which will be revealed in the coming months!

Have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Profile Jacob Wignall

Jacob Wignall

Design Team, BRICKLIVE

I’m a designer at Bright Bricks, who has always been brick obsessed! I love to push the boundaries of the brick medium, and am always excited to create things never before seen in brick form.

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