10K Club Interview: Gusteau's is ready to serve Thomas Carlier, of Ratatouille: Open The Doors!
Thomas Carlier (aka Brick Project) has wowed the critics with his Ratatouille: Open The Doors! project here on LEGO Ideas, reaching 10K positive reviews! Learn more about him and his project based on the Ratatouille film below:
- What is your name?
Hi my name is Thomas Carlier.
- Where are you from?
I’m both French and Swiss and grew up in Paris.
- How old are you?
I’m 21 years old.
- What do you do for a living?
I’m a third-year medical student.
- What hobbies do you have?
I’m passionate about digital designing and drawing, and I like doing sport, especially cycling and swimming.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
You can find my work on Twitter: it’s the only social media platform I’m really active on. I also have https://www.brickproject.fr where I regularly upload free PDF instructions of my LEGO builds.
- Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud it and do you have a photo of it?
The creation I’m the most proud of is undoubtedly The Wardrobe from the Narnia movie. I’ve made over three different versions of it (which you can find on my Ideas Profile Page) but the third one is the most complete and detailed version.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
Since as long as I can remember. Exo Force 7701 was my first LEGO set (at around 10). I’ve started creating builds of my own with LEGO Ideas.
- What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games.. or 'just' watch the cartoons.
LEGO is more than just a toy. Like art, it is a beautiful way to display and improve your creativity and imagination. Building mostly digitally, I really appreciate the mutual kindness of the LEGO online community, it encourages us to build even better!
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
Indiana Jones is one of my favorite LEGO themes, I do like the overall colors of the builds and environment that create some awesome atmosphere! Please bring back some sets for Indiana Jones 5! I did enjoy playing the video game too: so many memories every time I play it again!
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?`
Every set created by Justin Ramsden, especially the Hogwarts Castle. The scale of the castle and the building techniques are so perfect that I always mistake it for the real one! Also, being a huge fan of Disney, I can’t forget the Disney castle!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Niffler (38117pb01) is the cutest LEGO piece I’ve ever seen! I could buy thousands of it.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I love the work of Nicola Stocchi, he’s really talented and I am always blown away by his new creations! You can check his work here. By the way, I wish him good luck for his Planet Delivery project!
But Senteosan is the fan-designer who pushed me to always seek higher. His technique and presentation skills are just so perfect that it’s impossible not to be inspired by him. He’s for me the most talented designer of the Ideas platform.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
There are tons of LEGO websites but here, I would like to feature some French LEGO bloggers like BrickInvest, Geekme3 and Hoth Bricks who create awesome content and show their love and passion for bricks.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
As a huge animation fan, I have always wanted to re-build something from a movie with LEGO bricks. Thus I made a lot of Disney & Pixar projects (as you can see on my Ideas profile page). Being French and particularly in love with Paris, I really wanted to create a project based on my favorite Pixar movie “Ratatouille”. Since most of the scenes take place in the kitchen, it was clear to me that this was what I was going to build.
- How long was the process of making the project did, and what did you have to research as well. What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
It took me approximately a week of work to complete the building process. Since I wanted to build a faithful copy of the kitchen, I re-watched the movie and went through all the minor details. I first sketched the kitchen on a big white sheet, with all the main parts I wanted to include in my build. I then rearranged the map to decrease the build size and keep the most important rooms. Unfortunately I had to remove the cold room and Skinners Office to avoid overshooting the 3,000 bricks limit.
I started building the back entry of the restaurant, which was undoubtedly my favorite part of the build: I loved adding the dirty pipes to create a nice Parisian atmosphere! The kitchen in itself however took much more time than expected. Loving graphic design, I decided to create myself a dozen of custom tiles and torsos, using Adobe Illustrator. I’m pretty proud of these decorations, I think they gives something more aesthetic to the project.
In the end, the project contains exactly 2,853 bricks, including Rémy and 4 minifigs: Linguini, Colette, Skinner, and Ego.
I shared my creation process live on my Twitter feed (check the thread here: https://twitter.com/project_brick/status/1160149340586938369) and then summarized it in a digital book, which you can download here: https://www.brickproject.fr/Booklet/The_Art_of_LEGO_Ratatouille.pdf.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
The most challenging part of the process was undoubtedly the floor tile pattern. Because these tiles are not fully fixed to the floor, I had to create an inner structure (not visible on the pictures) to connect them with the rest of the build. This is the first time I’ve used this technique, and in my opinion it gives a somehow more realistic look to the kitchen: I always love when a LEGO creation doesn’t look like a LEGO build at first sight!
- If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him/her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Be careful with the max. 3,000 pieces rule! To be honest, due to the size and complexity of my build, I actually expected this to be a challenging part of my project.
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters?
I was able to submit the whole project after a single week. I’m pretty fast when it comes to building the overall structure, but it took a little longer to revise the creation and add small details to the build.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Well, when I first created my Lego Ideas account, 6 years ago, my only dream was to hit this 10k milestone. From that day, I constantly upgraded my building techniques and presentation skills: I tried over and over again… In every new creation, I added something new and challenging. I don’t think that you become a LEGO designer overnight, you evolve and grow up to finally get a chance. I now understand that the real purpose of Ideas is to become part of a community of LEGO fans.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
That’s the tricky question! I used 2,800+ bricks to reach this level of detail, definitely my largest creation to this day!
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
My usual building process starts with LEGO Digitial Designer to create the main structure. I then switch to Mecabricks where I spend most of my time completing all the details: it has become very popular by now, but for those who don’t know it yet, it’s an online LEGO building software. I can highly suggest you to give it a try!
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
Drawing custom LEGO decorations has always been my favorite part in the building process: custom elements are not necessarily needed but I think that they add a nice creative touch to the build! I use Adobe Illustrator to design the stickers.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Don’t create for the sole purpose of creating, like I used to do in my early LEGO Ideas years. Build what you’re passionate about, even if doesn’t seem so “popular”! The love and passion you bring to your creation is stronger than any “trending” theme.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
Well, there isn’t any 100% successful method, but try to share the project to people who might be interested in your idea. Find some fan-made blogs, social media accounts who might share your creation. I personally had the chance to be retweeted by Ratatouille’s film director Brad Bird and Remy’s voice Patton Oswalt.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
To be honest, there are thousands of products ideas that I would love to see as a real LEGO set! I’m a huge fan of Ben Alder’s creation “Winnie the Pooh”, I really feel the passion he put on this project and I admire it!
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
LEGO Ideas is one of the reasons why I’m still playing with LEGO bricks to date. I honestly think that I’d have stopped playing with LEGO bricks during my dark age if there wasn’t an online contest that pushes creators to increase their LEGO and presentation skills: and I would like to thank the entire LEGO Ideas team for that!
To new users, don’t be afraid of publishing your first project even if it’s not perfect, because I can assure you that you’ll be even more motivated to submit a second one!
- Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
Oh yes I do have tons of ideas! I only need time to complete them! I can already tell that a fourth version of the Wardrobe from the Chronicles of Narnia is planned for 2021!
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