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How we made The Beatles out of LEGO® bricks | Official LEGO Shop

How we made The Beatles out of LEGO® bricks

What’s needed to design the LEGO® Art The Beatles wall art?

All You Need Is Love.

Well… that and two of our finest designers – Kitt Kossmann and Christopher Stamp. We chatted with them as part of our Brick Expander series to learn more about the development process of this model (and to sneak some excruciating Beatles puns into our questions – how many can you spot?).

Hello! Hello, hello. This was Something a bit more than just a new product, wasn’t it?

Kitt: It was a completely new franchise – LEGO Art. It was the first time we’d used round tiles and not bricks to make a pixelated image, so there was no formula for how to develop it.

Chris: I’ve worked on new play themes before, but there’s always that same formula. However, the final execution piece here was so different. We were officially designing a product to be a display piece. Previous display pieces we’ve designed have been a hybrid that you can play with.

Quite the Revolution! What were the challenges of creating a new franchise?

Kitt: We realized we couldn’t develop it physically, so we had to use a graphic approach, meaning we had to learn some different tools. I’ve mainly used physical models before, so this was a steep learning curve.

Chris: With a standard LEGO design process, we always use the bricks physically. We started out trying it… but it was so time-intensive. You’d realize there’s something wrong with the cheekbone, but by the time you rebuilt it, you’ve lost two days. But digitally, every time you move one pixel you know immediately if it’s right.

Were you surprised by how hard it was? Or did you always think: “We Can Work It Out”?

Chris: I think there was a bit of naivety on our side. A sense of “oh, it can’t be that hard. Just run the photos through a computer program!” To be honest, I thought the same at the start. It shocked me just how intense and challenging it was.

Kitt: It was especially intense because we did it in such a short time – around 3 months.

I wanted to ask if you had A Little Help From Your Friends on the other simultaneous LEGO Art projects… but that was you!

Chris: Yeah, our design team was literally just me and Kitt!

Kitt: And the fun thing was, because they are so different, we couldn’t reuse our approaches. Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe was graphic, The Beatles was much more artistic, with Iron Man we worked with surfaces to make realistic armor, and with Darth Vader™ we worked with light to make the figure stand out. Usually, artists have a certain style they replicate, but here we had to make 4 unique products. I’m glad I paint in my spare time, because I wouldn’t have known where to start if I didn’t have that artistic experience from my hobby!

Although it’s a new theme, did you Get Back to any old design techniques?

Chris: We remembered the basic LEGO principles we’ve been trained in. Yes, the final display piece is very important. But so is the build experience. And we knew, compared to a LEGO Technic model, the build experience might be more repetitive. So we really tried to make it challenging and interesting, rather than getting people to lay 50 black pieces in a row. We focused on things like the background, the light in the hair, on capturing all of the silhouettes.

Of all the Beatles photos from Across the Universe, why this one from the White Album?

Chris: We started by looking at the album cover art and all the photos from over the years. We thought about what the average person pictures when they imagine The Beatles, given that they drastically changed their look so often. But then we had to throw those dialogues out the window. Because the question became: “what is the best images that we can replicate, but that are also identifiable?”

Kitt: At their start, The Beatles were deliberately quite manufactured. Same clothing, same hair. But with the White Album photos, their personalities really shine through. You can see they’re adults now. Four individuals. They’re really good, honest portraits.

Chris: But with that honesty and nuance, if you misplaced one pixel then suddenly, he’d have sad eyes, or a wrong chin, and it wouldn’t look like him. And that’s messed up when you think about the amount of time you spend moving one dot left or right…

Kitt: …or staring at John’s glasses…

Chris: … I’ve never stared at another man’s face so much!

A big part of the LEGO philosophy is this concept of ‘fail to learn’. Did you Come Together to learn from any mistakes?

Chris: Mainly with the color. We didn’t want to do it black and white, because that’s been done. We wanted to add our own twist with a color filter. We were trying with greens and yellows, but we got feedback from The Beatles’ company [Apple Corps] at one point, saying they looked like they were underwater!

Kitt: I remember big sheets of paper where we tried all kinds of color combinations, purple, pink, everything. But I think with them being orange on one side and blue on the other, it warms their faces and provides a lot of depth. In John’s original image, he’s actually in shadow on one side. So, we had to ‘invent’ that side of his face to get the same formula.

And in The End… Who’s your favorite Beatle?

Kitt: Ah, there’s something about Paul, isn’t there? If I had been young back then and standing at a concert, I’d probably be staring at Paul!

Want to listen to our Soundtrack for building The Beatles LEGO Wall Art? Download for free here...

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