MAKING LEGO® BUILDING INSTRUCTIONS with LDD & BluePrint
Step 1. Build your model
You have chosen to build your model in Lego Digital Designer (LDD) – https://www.lego.com/en-us/ldd/download.
Step 2. Divide your lego model in to logical groups in LDD
While building it digital, try to have in mind that you want to make instructions of it. So you have to divide your model in to logical groups that become building steps in your instructions. I always try to include every brick in to a group. What influence on Blueprint do you have in LDD?
Example with no groups at all
Bricks that are not part of a group in LDD will be arranged by Blueprint into steps.
Example with two groups
If you make a group of each row in LDD, Blueprint creates a submodel for each group.
Example with a group with subgroups
If you make subgroups in LDD, Blueprint will create a step with submodels and sub-submodels.
Step 3. Import your LDD model in Blueprint and save it as a design
You can find this freeware program here (version 26). Install it, run it and import you lxf-file. That can take a while with larger models! First save your model as a design.
If your model is too big, BluePrint can crash… there’s a solution: cut up your model. Take a look at all the steps (i.e. groups) you made in LDD. If for example you “cut” your model in three parts, you save your model-file to three separate files (save as part 1, 2 and 3). Then decide how you divide all groups in three parts.
- Model part 1 – delete all bricks and groups from parts two and three
- Model part 2 – combine all bricks and groups from part 1 into group number 1 and delete all bricks and groups from part three
- Model part 3 – combine all bricks and groups from part 1 and 2 into group number 1
Step 4. Change the order of the steps to a logical one
All the groups, and subgroups, you made in LDD will now be visible in Blueprint as separate steps. Change the order of the steps to get a logical building plan. You can add steps, add submodels, click and drag bricks to other steps, rotate the model per step, etc. The more time you put into this, the better your building plan will be. Every builder using your blueprint has to understand which brick to add in what place.
Step 5. Check the step-order and setup models als callout
Re-check the order of the steps. While doing that, set smaller (sub)models to callout (right-click). This way a smaller sub-model won’t take up a whole page in the building instructions, but the model-steps can be seen in a small box next to the main step.
Step 6. Check if your steps are logical in the Page Layout
Go to the Page Layout-tab. First click “Page Setup”. I always setup my page as landscape (1024 x 768).
Click OK and then click “(Re)Generate from steps”. That can take a while depending on the size of your model. Be patient.
Check on every page if the building steps can be executed with real bricks. Sometimes you see a substep that can be treated as a callout. Go to the step design and change it. Then go back to the Page Layout, but don’t click on Regenerate from steps. Just “Save Design” once in a while!! When you reach the last page, save(!) and then click “(Re)Generate from steps”. I always check all pages once more!
Advice: Don’t change the page layout until you are shure that all steps are correct! Once you change a step, you have to regenerate all pages from the steps. All layout-changes you made will be lost. So spare yourself some time and save the layout-changes untill later.
Step 7. Change the page-layout to your liking
You can click and drag ALL items on the page. If you select multiple items, you have an align option after a right-click of your mouse. If it doesn’t fit on a page, right click again to insert a page. Change pages forward and backward to find your empty new page. After that right-click the step you want to move and choose “Move step to nex/prev page”.
If you don’t want a certain item to show up in the building instructions, click-and-drag it to the upper-left corner untill it is no longer visible. And again: don’t forget to save!
Step 8. Exporting the building instructions from BluePrint
Once you are done with the page layout it’s time to export the building instructions. In Blueprint you have multiple export options. It’s my opinion that the PDF-export option generates ugly pixelated images. So I don’t use it. Instead I export every page to a PNG file. Choose your path for exporting the images and click OK. I will take a while to render every page. Patience!
If you’ve cut up your model in parts, you have to renumber the steps to make shure that every step-number is correct.
Step 9. Converting all images to pdf
Since I want to have ONE pdf-file with my building instructions in it, I convert all PNG-page files to PDF with the Free PNG to PDF converter.
Step 10. Combining all PDF's to one file
The last step is combining all page files to one PDF file. I use PDF-Merge. You can add a cover-page (I add a picture of my model and maybe some more pictures at the back). DONE! Share your MOC at Rebrickable so more people can build your model!