Firefox is made of Lego

I don’t remember exactly how it began.

Six months ago, something got me thinking about making a Lego mosaic. Maybe it was an example of one on Reddit, or just inspiration from popular 8-bit “pixel art”. But the end result was an itch that I knew I’d have to scratch eventually. I figured the Firefox logo would be a good thing to start with — it’s colorful, has been optimized for low resolutions, and all around seemed like a fun piece of art to do. (I also considered the Mozilla dinohead, but it’s not as colorful and didn’t seem to scale down as nice.)

Here’s the finished result:

I discovered a few surprising parallels to Firefox (the project) in the course of building this. Most importantly, the Lego community was absolutely essential. The Lego company has a neat “Pick-A-Brick” service, which lets you order a custom assortment of parts, but the selection is limited to what they currently manufacture. So I turned to the Lego community’s BrickLink site — essentially an EBay for Lego. A huge variety of parts are available, including older shapes and colors which are no longer made. By the time I completed the mosaic, I bought over 700 pieces through Bricklink, from sellers in the US, Europe, and the Far East. These comprise a large portion of the finished work.

[At this point I should also apologize to the Lego community. I bought out the world’s supply of 1×2 Light Orange plates, which were already rare and expensive at $1.00 a piece. But fear not, I ended up not using them all and will place the extras back into the marketplace! :-)]

A bit of background on how I went about building this…

First thing I did was to create a color palette. I wanted to see how the limited variety of colors worked together, so I ordered (via Pick-A-Brick and BrickLink) a few of every color available in 1×1 or 1×2 plates.

I was happy with the colors, so ordered my first batch from Pick-a-Brick ($50 of little Lego pieces in one pile!):

First assembly pass…

More assembly. The black plates are used to give a subtle 3D effect to the fox. (The scattered pieces were just to give me an idea of how things would look.)

Mostly complete… I thought. Turns out the hardest part to get looking good was the tail, and there was a lot more fiddling to be done!

Yes, like any fine Thanksgiving meal, there were leftovers. Mostly because I didn’t want to pay shipping for additional tiny orders, but also because it was hard to preplan the exact design and I knew I would be adjusting it.

The actual design / layout of the mosaic was the most time-consuming work. I started off by using PicToBrick, a free-software program (again, Lego community!) that converts photos to quantized Lego layouts and makes part lists. Here’s the layout it generated:

This was a useful guide, but also flawed. Some of the colors it chose might make sense mathematically, but wouldn’t look good in reality (eg, the lime green squares in the Firefox tail). Also, some of those colors it used were never made (or are unavailable anywhere) in 1×1 or 1×2 plates. So I used it as a basic map, but most of the detail work was done by zooming in on a official 48×48 Firefox logo, and selecting placement and color by eye.

I’m quite pleased with the final result; I just hope the Firefox logo doesn’t change again or I’ll have to build another!