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Virtual LEGO: Intro to Free 3D LEGO Modeling Software

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A high-level introduction to the community-developed LDraw system of 3D LEGO software, the de facto library and file format for LEGO hobbyists to document and share their models via the Internet and …

A high-level introduction to the community-developed LDraw system of 3D LEGO software, the de facto library and file format for LEGO hobbyists to document and share their models via the Internet and highly-polished imagery and custom building instructions.

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  • 1. Virtual LEGO: Intro to Free 3D LEGO Modeling Software By: Tim Courtney BrickFest™ PDX 2004 February 14, 10:00 AM Portland, Oregon
  • 2. Why Virtual LEGO?
    • Document custom designs
    • Create your own instructions
    • Create stunning images
    • Virtual bricks are free, and come in any color (including the old grays).
  • 3. LDraw: The library and format that makes it happen
    • Open-source project(s) born out of the early online LEGO community
    • Available now for download
    QUACK
  • 4. Brief History 1995 2000 2005 1996: James Jessiman creates original LDraw/LEdit package 1997: James Jessiman dies Community of users assume maintenance and development roles LDraw tools gain popularity among LEGO fans… 1999: LDraw.org Launched 2001: CAD Summit at LEGO Direct 2002-3: First books on LDraw tools written 2003: LDraw.org Standards Committee launched 2004: Organization Bylaws
  • 5. Current Happenings…
    • Stunning photo-realistic ray tracings using POV-Ray’s new radiosity settings
    • LDraw.org Standards Committee (LSC)
    • Bylaws Ratification vote – move towards a formal organization
    Super Car rendering by Jeroen de Haan POV-Ray 3.5 and Radiosity
  • 6. Introductions – who are you?
  • 7. What are the components of LDraw?
    • Parts Library
    • LDraw Description Language
    • Tools
      • Editors
      • Viewers
      • Converters
      • Renderers
      • Batch Automation
  • 8. The LDraw Parts Library
    • Fundamental to the LDraw modeling system
    • Over 2600 parts created to date
    • Parts are community created, maintained, and certified
    • Parts Tracker: Mechanism for certifying and releasing new parts to the library for public consumption
  • 9. The LDraw Description Language
    • Text-based
      • Files are light-weight and portable
      • The files are human readable!
    • Simple to parse
      • Hierarchy based on shapes & parts
      • Well defined line syntax
    • Common LDraw file format
      • Each level in the hierarchy identifiable by extension (.dat, .ldr, .mpd)
    • Polygon-based
      • Lacks support for cylinders and round objects
      • No mesh support
    • Historical consistency guarantees compatibility
    The system is strong because of its simplicity and straightforward nature.
  • 10. The System of Tools
  • 11. Tools - Editors
    • There are several programs to create your virtual LEGO models:
    • MLCAD (Lachmann) – Most popular current editor, for Windows
    • LEdit (Jessiman) – original DOS editor
    • LeoCAD (Zide) – Windows and Linux editor
    • BrickDraw3D (Olson) – New Mac software
    • Mac Brick CAD (???) – in development
  • 12. Tools - Viewers
    • Quickly view files
    • LDLite (Gyugyi)
    • LDGLite (Heyse) – OpenGL LDLite
    • LDView (Cobbs) – nice shading
    • L3Lab (Hassing) – diagnostic tools for parts authors
    • Interactivity with LUGNET’s DAT newsgroups
      • Windows file associations
  • 13. Tools - Converters
    • Convert LDraw models to other 3D file formats.
    • Convert to POV-Ray
      • L2P ↔ LGEO (solid-based POV-Ray lib)
      • L3P/L3PAO – No extra library needed, however optionally uses LGEO
    • Convert to other
      • 3DWin (shareware)
        • 3DS
        • Maya
        • AutoCAD
        • VRML
        • More!
  • 14. Tools - Renderers
    • Raytracers: The POV-Ray family
      • POV-Ray – the most widely used renderer. POV is strictly code-based, it is not a modeler.
      • MegaPOV – unofficial build
      • of POV-Ray that offers post
      • processing and other features
    • Others…
      • The sky’s the limit!
  • 15. Tools - Batch Automation
    • New area in the LDraw world – automatically create all images needed to create building instructions.
    • LPub – create building instructions based on steps in an LDraw file, supports advanced MLCad extensions
  • 16. System of Tools: Usage Model Build Model in MLCad Saved LDraw Model Convert to 3D File Format Batch Process Building Instructions (LPub) Archive or Share Your Model Raw Building Instruction Images Building Instructions (laid-out pages) POV-Ray L3P 3DWin Rendered Image POV-Ray L3P Animation Image Maya, 3DS, AutoCAD, etc… Editor MLCad File Format Converter L3P 3DWin Viewer/Renderer LDView LDLite Output? Images or Animations Renderer POV-Ray/MegaPOV 3DStudio Batch Processor LPub Output Images or Animations
  • 17. LDraw Description Language: Anatomy of LDraw Files
    • 0 Three Brick Stack
    • 0 Name: 3 bricks.ldr
    • 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3001.dat
    • 1 1 40 0 40 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3001.dat
    • 1 14 20 -24 20 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3001.dat
  • 18. Hierarchy Illustrated 0 Three Brick Stack 0 Name: 3 bricks.ldr 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3001.dat 1 1 40 0 40 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3001.dat 1 14 20 -24 20 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3001.dat 0 Brick 2 x 4 0 Name: 3001.dat 0 BFC INVERTNEXT 1 16 0 24 0 36 0 0 0 -20 0 0 0 16 box5.dat 1 16 0 24 0 40 0 0 0 -24 0 0 0 20 box5.dat 0 STUDS 1 16 30 0 10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 stud.dat 1 16 10 0 10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 stud.dat 1 16 -10 0 10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 stud.dat 1 16 -30 0 10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 stud.dat 1 16 30 0 -10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 stud.dat 1 16 10 0 -10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 stud.dat 1 16 -10 0 -10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 stud.dat 1 16 -30 0 -10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 stud.dat 0 TUBES 1 16 20 4 0 1 0 0 0 -5 0 0 0 1 stud4.dat 1 16 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 -5 0 0 0 1 stud4.dat 1 16 -20 4 0 1 0 0 0 -5 0 0 0 1 stud4.dat 4 16 40 24 20 36 24 16 -36… 4 16 -40 24 20 -36 24… 4 16 -40 24 -20 -3 … 4 16 40 24 -20 … 0 Stud 0 Name: stud.dat 1 16 0 -4 0 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 4-4disc.dat 1 16 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 4-4edge.dat 1 16 0 -4 0 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 4-4edge.dat 1 16 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 -4 0 0 0 6 4-4cyli.dat 0 Disc 1.0 0 Name: 4-4disc.dat 3 16 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.9239 0 0.3827 3 16 0 0 0 0.9239 0 0.3827 0.7071 0 0.7071 3 16 0 0 0 0.7071 0 0.7071 0.3827 0 0.9239 3 16 0 0 0 0.3827 0 0.9239 0 0 1 3 16 0 0 0 0 0 1 -0.3827 0 0.9239 3 16 0 0 0 -0.3827 0 0.9239 -0.7071 0 0.7071 3 16 0 0 0 -0.7071 0 0.7071 -0.9239 0 0.3827 3 16 0 0 0 -0.9239 0 0.3827 -1 0 -0 3 16 0 0 0 -1 0 -0 -0.9239 0 -0.3827 3 16 0 0 0 -0.9239 0 -0.3827 -0.7071 0 -0.7071 3 16 0 0 0 -0.7071 0 -0.7071 -0.3827 0 -0.9239 3 16 0 0 0 -0.3827 0 -0.9239 0 0 -1 3 16 0 0 0 0 0 -1 0.3827 0 -0.9239 3 16 0 0 0 0.3827 0 -0.9239 0.7071 0 -0.7071 3 16 0 0 0 0.7071 0 -0.7071 0.9239 0 -0.3827 3 16 0 0 0 0.9239 0 -0.3827 1 0 0
  • 19. Conversion: Primitive Replacement
    • Other 3D software can
    • recognize rounded
    • objects where LDraw can’t
    • On conversion, polygonal LDraw primitives (a stud, for example) can be replaced with round objects for greater detail in 3D programs.
    • Example: POV-Ray – the L3P converter replaces studs with cylinders
  • 20. Grid System and Connection Database Concept
    • Remember, the LDraw system doesn’t have connection capabilities or collision detection
    • A grid system (based on the internal LDraw measurement system) exists to help you align parts
    • Some ideas have been passed around about a connection database, to be implemented in future versions of the LDraw language
  • 21. What Now?
    • Start creating!
    • POV-Ray Scenes
    • Create building instructions
    • Write parts for LDraw 
    • Export to another 3D format – the sky’s the limit!
  • 22. MegaPOV 1.0
  • 23. MegaPOV 1.0
  • 24. LPub (and Photoshop for the layouts)
  • 25.  
  • 26.  
  • 27. Resources
    • Download the LDraw tools from the web! www.LDraw.org
    • Online tutorials
    • Buy a book! Virtual LEGO on sale here at BrickFest PDX!
  • 28. Questions?