New feature: 3D views

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Mecabricks is a fantastic website that lets you design 3D LEGO models online using a technology called WebGL.

Nicolas, who runs the site, has created 3D models of a few hundred official models and has provided a viewer that enables them to be embedded in web pages. You can see where this is leading, I'm sure...

Fire up your Chrome or Firefox browser and head on over to the Council of Elrond page to see an example of it in action. If you click on the mecabricks.com logo in the corner you'll be taken to a page where you can open the model in the 3D workshop then virtually 'play' with it.

Currently the technology only works in these two browsers but it's very impressive nonetheless.

I hope you find that useful, and please let Nicolas know what you think of it in the comments.

43 comments on this article

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By in United States,

I tried it in both browsers with the same result: "Hmm. While your browser seems to support WebGL, it is disabled or unavailable. If possible, please ensure that you are running the latest drivers for your video card."

So it doesn't work for me. I have the latest versions of both browsers and my NVIDIA driver is up to date. I'm running Windows 8 Pro x64 with an NVIDIA GTS 250 card.

-Toa Of Justice

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By in United Kingdom,

This is really neat and a great way to explore models you don't actually own.

(P.S. Works fine for me on Windows 7 & Firefox 23.0.1 with Intel(R) HD Graphics 4000)

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By in France,

me gusta
more models will be available at BS?

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By in United States,

It worked great! Thanks Nicolas! That's a pretty neat feature. It's much better than LEGO's 360 view. My only suggestion would be to somehow add a "reset" button to put the model back to its original position.

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By in United Kingdom,

Pretty cool!

It works well for me with sets like Council of Elrond, but larger sets, like Taj Mahal or Town Hall, then I get a message in Firefox that the script isn't running, and no matter how many times I click "continue" it never brings the model up.

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By in United States,

It's awesome! It's very confusing though, I'm not good at this sort of this :P A lot more complicated than LDD

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By in Italy,

ubuntu precise pangolin with chromium and it works amazingly fast and well even with taj mahal.

Great addiction to the website.

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By in Puerto Rico,

This could be useful for Cuusoo.

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By in United States,

Awesome.

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By in United States,

I like it, but at the same time its hard to control how you look at it. It kept turning wildly and pitching in ways I didn't want. It seems over sensitive compared to LDraw which is much easier to use.

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By in Ireland,

Wow, that is phenomenal. This will be an incredible feature on Brickset. Is there any rough time-scale on when other sets will start becoming available?

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By in United States,

I can't quite tell from the picture, but does MecaBricks be converted into POV RAY as LDD can?

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm with Model Gal, it is great but turning models and keeping them level is pretty difficult. A feature that let you rotate it on a vertical or horizontal axis along with free rotate would be good, though I don't know how difficult that would be.
(I also noticed a 2x2 tan plate under the stairs on the council of Elrond that was out of line - aren't I a geek!)

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By in United Kingdom,

@genecyst: what graphics card do you have? Desktop or laptop? Cause I'm using Chrome on Ubuntu 13.04 and it's not working.

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By in United Kingdom,

Very nice! Is there a way to centre the view? With larger models you currently can't zoom right in to parts on the edge of the model.

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By in Italy,

@Plasmodium i've got a samsung laptop NP300E5X without additional graphic card. maybe it's because i'm using the repository version of chromium instead of the google chrome version. Google chrome is quite buggy on my system.

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By in United States,

I believe it's an LDRAW-based system under the hood.

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By in Italy,

@hjmediastudios
I already asked the question to the creator of Mecabricks, and the answer was no.
Mecabricks use its own geometries for the bricks.

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By in United Kingdom,

@genecyst: That might explain it. I have an Asus laptop with an nVidia Optimus-enabled card which has been nothing but trouble with Linux. I still have no idea whether it's using Intel or nVidia graphics now...:P

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By in United States,

Those textures, those definitely appear to have come from the official LEGO texture files. Did you take them from LDD or write to LEGo or did you somehow replicate them yourself?

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By in Canada,

This is absolutely amazing. Well done to Mecabricks.

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By in France,

Hello, I'm nicolas the author of mecabricks.
WebGL activation depends on the combination of the browser and the graphic card. Even if you have the latest version of chrome (or others) supporting webgl, if your graphic card is not supported/drivers not appropriate, it will be disabled. For Safari users, it has to be enabled first in the developper preferences.
Regarding the parts, they are not based on the ldraw format but modeled and exported from Blender. Textures are not from LDD, but re-drawn manually to fit the UV map of the parts - LDD textures are very small in comparison.
I keep reading all your comments and I take note of things to change/add :-)
cheers

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By in Germany,

Awesome! Keep it up, Nicolas!

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By in United Kingdom,

I went inside the bricks!

Hilarious. And probably quite useful! Thanks Nicolas and Huw

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By in United States,

Awesome, and the MecaBricks site is pretty neat too. Still learning the tools o the site to build my own virtual models, but the existence of actual LEGO sets on the site is great and allow us to explore these sets from all angles. Keep up the great work nicolas! Huw: Another amazing feature on Brickset that each day turns this site into the most valuable LEGO information source on the web! Keep going!

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By in United States,

Hmmm. I guess this is like the private library of Blender lego pieces I use.

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By in United States,

@Timoonn, BS? :-P

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By in Canada,

Agreed with others, what a way to explore sets you don't own or are deciding to buy; if someone has taken to share build it and share it.

Scrubs/Huw how do you embed existing on a webpage?

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By in United States,

This is definitely quite a nice tool although I can definitely imagine some neat features that you could add, though...
I know I would definitely like it if you had an option to have it so there is a little variation within the colors to mimic the variation within the colors of ABS LEGO uses. I also would really like some way to export the optimized models into other 3D formats or the parts list into XML files. As someone who has had a part in creating a digital building system (www.brickbuild.org) (albeit small, in the form of textures) I definitely admire how you put all the work and effort into creating this programs- now you should just boot it into an offline program. :)

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By in Indonesia,

Does anyone have a list of set entries here that already integrates this function?

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By in France,

@ProfessorBrickkeeper Yep it's really time consuming. I spent thousands of hours working on it in the last year on the side of my daily jobs but i'm still motivated ;-)

@shaase and @fikko3107 I sent you a private message via the Brickset website to answer your questions.

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By in France,

@leemcg Thank you for pointing at the issue. I actually found a bug in the code that was loading the lego parts. It's now fixed and even big models like the Taj Mahal or the Modular Buildings shall be easy to view.

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By in Belgium,

Doesn't work in Firefox on my mom's ancient WinXP notebook, but that's not really a surprise.

A nifty feature, well done.

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By in United States,

It worked for me in both browsers, but it took a bit of time to load...

That being said, at the current moment, it's very hard to move the model around without having it twist and turn at odd angles; although it's a great concept, it might need some work in that aspect.

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By in United Kingdom,

Loaded and worked fine in firefox.

Definately intriguing, feel it would make more sense for vehicles, or perhaps star wars ships where you'd want to look underneath etc.

As others have mentioned, for regular play sets, some sort of horizontal and vertical slider might be useful and a zoom?

Great work though.

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By in France,

@Andhe It is currently possible to zoom/rotate/pan the model with a mouse/touchscreen/multitouch trackpad. For the mouse use the wheel to zoom in and out, the right button to pan and the left to rotate.

Hope it helps.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks @scrubs, realised I hadn't tried the mouse wheel when zooming. I was able to rotate by dragging the mouse, but as others have mentioned, it can result in confusing angles. A horizontal/vertical slifing bar may help this if possible.

What you've done already is fantastic though.

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By in Ireland,

It works brilliantly in the latest IE11 preview for Windows 7 and so would assume it works on windows 8.1 as well. I know MS have made a lot of progress with support of technologies like WebGL in IE11 - it seems fairly stable except for a few sites that don't seem to be happy with it only because they're non-standard.

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By in France,

@Andhe I might have a look on how I could make then.
@beegeedee I heard that Microsoft finally decided to enable WebGL in IE11 but did not get the chance to try it. Thanks for the trial ;-)

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By in United States,

Cool! Just tries it on my Droid Bionic in Firefox for Android just to see how it would work. It took a while to load, naturally, but looked great once loaded. The only issue I had was how the browser reacted to touch - it tried "zooming" the entire page instead of just moving the model at first. This is obviously an edge-case usage of this feature, but it worked for the most part.

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By in United Kingdom,

Really cool creator, especially now Digital Designer has been discontinued. However, can you please add microfigures to the part list, or if it's already there, tell me where it is?

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By in United States,

^ LDD hasn't been discontinued. Only the "DesignByMe" service attached to it. LDD is still very much available and actively being developed/updated by TLG.

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By in France,

@indyracer999 You can find the microfigure part in the "Minifigures" section. It is the first part. However, I didn't do any decorations yet.

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