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When we set out to create this ‘lego type’, we were excited to dig into the analog side of making a typeface. This project was as fun as it was tedious. The challenge wasn’t just building letters out of Legos, but constructing legible lettering with limited shapes and pieces our of Legos–while also keeping in mind type theory, type anatomy, baseline, and x-height. We use a handful of typefaces for reference and just got building. It’s important to keep in mind when choosing a reference font that Legos are very basic geometric pieces. We found Pixel but any 8-bit style typefaces were the best jumping-off point. A couple good free choices from www.fontsquirrel.com were uni 05_53 by Craig Kroeger and Silkscreen by Jason Kottke.
After finding a reference point, it’s time to start constructing the pieces into the lettering of your choice. Be sure your letters are consistent with one another and all close in size or you’ll have your hands full. Once your letters are built, you can arrange them all together and photograph them. We limited ourselves to specific Lego pieces to keep our lettering consistent so we built and photographed each letter individually. Almost any digital camera will do for the photograph, of course the better the camera the higher the quality the image will be.
Once your letters are photographed, upload them to your computer. The next step will be cutting out the background in Photoshop.
There are multiple approaches to doing this in Photoshop. Since we’re dealing with square and rectangular shapes, we used the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Select the shape as tight as you can and select Add vector mask in the lower menu bar of the layers panel which will automatically mask out the background.
Since the legs of the letter M extend beyond the Lego base we used the Polygon Lasso Tool to cut the background out of the bottom portion.
Once you’ve made the final selection, select the mask panel and type Shift + Delete. The layer fill menu will open. Select black for the Contents section with a 100% Opacity and hit OK. This will mask the remaining portion of the background.
From this point onward, we will work on final touches, altering colors, arranging, sizing, and leveling letters. We didn’t have exact colors that were envision for this project–so we used the Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer option to alter the colors.
Adjusting the Hue slider to the right or left will render your layer a different color.
You can continue to tweak your lettering with the other adjustment panel options until you find the right look for your Lego type treatment.
This project will likely involve a lot of trial and error before you find the color and style you’re looking for so keep trying if the first attempt doesn’t turn out as you were envisioning. Creating fonts by hand is a relatively simple and fun project that gives you full control over your own fonts. Happy crafting!