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ExcelsiorUK

Starting from the ground up

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So my son is busily building a fleet of planes / spaceships, and suggested I try and build a spaceship that I've always liked.  Except when I was little, I've never tried to build anything substantial from scratch but I'm actually pleasantly surprised by how it's going, to the extent that I've gone to BrickOwl to try and gather parts that my son won't let me borrow!

So, as I wait for them to arrive, I'm pondering whether I could put this potential set on Lego Ideas just by taking photographs of it.  I would also like to put it up here in due course, so if I read the requirements correctly, I'd need to figure out the parts I've used (!) and create a part list to tie in with actual build instructions either "in real life" or as something more equivalent to printed Lego instructions?

I've read a little around LDraw and Lego Digital Designer but my spare time is quite limited.  The model is using hinged elements at 45 degree angles and such like, so I'm not sure what the best tool to use is?  It's not technic, I just need the angles to display right for the sake of the instructions.  The alternative would be to take a photo of the finished model, make instructions for the components, then just advise on how to put it all together, but I just wondered if any of the digital tools could handle it if I could get my head round them?

I'm quite excited about this as a concept, but I'd like to try and get it right if at all possible...  Also, do people generally try things on Lego Ideas and then post the MOCs more widely if they don't get taken up as sets? Many thanks.

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You can make 'professional'/LEGO-like instructions using an LDraw editor in combination with LPub3D. As for the LDraw editor, I would personally recommend LDCad (although make sure to turn part-snapping on, it's off by default). LDCad does have a steeper learning curve than LDD, it also has a lot more features and a lot more freedom (and is not that difficult really when you get the hang of it).

But, keep in mind that making instructions like that is a lot of (manual) work. Especially if you do it for the first time, there's a lot of things you need to know and lots of stuff to do. It's not like in LDD where you press the button and instructions roll out. There's no algorithm, you have to define your own steps and your own rotations and your own submodels. I've made instructions for models like this or this (the latter is newer and has a much higher instructions-quality) and I did not record my time spent on it, but I'm pretty sure it has to be over a hundred hours. Although, on the other hand, Technic models are way more difficult to create building instructions for a 'normal' bricks&plates model is quite a lot easier (from experience).

I personally enjoy creating these instructions, it's kind of a hobby in the hobby. But I can also very well imagine that other people would rather spend their 100 hours on something else ;)

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I had a little play with LDD last night and I think it'll be fine for what I have in mind because it seems to deal with hinges pretty well.  I'm primarily trying to make the model in real life first, but as you say having it in LDD would make the MOC instructions requirement far more straightforward.  Whether it will go entirely as planned remains to be seen of course!

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