In September 2013, I got a letter from Finnish government saying that I had paid too much tax. I had no clue what to do with that money. I thought of many things, a new TV, mortgage-loan amortization, put on savings account, long taxi trip... And then I remembered that Lego has an online-shop. There in their Pick A Brick shop you can buy individual bricks. Lots of bricks, blue, red, black, white, orange and purple bricks. 16 colors to be exact.
Then I also remembered that in 2004 I had made a PHP-script that transformed a jpg-image to 1x1 HTML-table. I could do the similar matching with the Lego colors. So first I got the Lego-colors and made the script. I gave it a try with my Twitter account picture. The picture was almost the same.
Next I expanded it to a 200 x 200 pixels image, also with 1 by 1 Lego pieces. 200 times 200 is 40 000 and the price of 1x1 is 0.08 euros which made the image price to be 3600 euros. Pretty pricey for a picture to be made. Then I considered the prices of different brick sizes. If I optimize the script to use as much bigger brick pieces as possible, like 2x6 pieces, I could reduce the price significantly. If all the pieces would be 2x6, then the price for a 200x200 image would drop down to 768 euros, which is much more reasonable, I suppose.
|Cost of one piece
|Cost of 1x1
|Updated December 31st, 2014
At work, I began talking to our Creative Director about this idea of mine. He is crazy about Legos and got really excited about it. And he threw me a bunch of questions to think about: "Could you make that as an app?", "Can you integrate that to Lego-shop?", "You should contact Lego.", "Put it on Kickstarter", "How much is it going to weigh?".
I got the domain in a minute. 50 euros for three years, Amazon EC2 micro instance was cheap and the software should be easy enough.
While building the software, I noticed that Lego shop doesn't have all the bricks in every size and/or color, so I needed to customize the script to handle only the pieces that Lego sells. After some searching around I got that list of brick/size/color. I also found out that actually they produce 1x1 bricks only in 16 colors. 16 colors was little less than 35, but I used the 16 colors to test out on some images and they still look reasonable. So, the project went on. The next thing I did was to take an image of each kind of brick. I bought one piece of each kind. I built a small lightroom to take the images. After 20 hours of work, there are now 120 images to be used in Legolize.me.
Next I was selecting testing pictures to legofy. Lego colors and my color mapping have a funny way of turning transitions from white to any color to pink, so that left out kind of white backgrounds away. Also the blue selection in Legos is kind of bad, so no sky pictures.
After a long search looking for planets which were kind of suitable, I found picture called Animal Planet which had a nice looking raccoon. I tried it, and it worked out nicely. Of course the picture was copyrighted, so I had to go on looking for some creative common raccoons. And then I found it. With some cropping I got the perfect candidate for my project.So here is Raclego!
The size of Lego would be 8729 pieces, 1.6 meters wide and 1.6 meters tall and it's going to cost me 1927.48 euros (~2680 USD), plus shipping. Weight unknown.
And here is an example of what does Legolize.me produce.
(update on December 31st 2014) I have completed dithering of images and so the picture will most likely to change. Currently I'm making a trial of legolized image, so I know what will it look like. The financing of my project is complete, so the next step will be testing the idea and then just do it.