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Brick by brick, turning Westword's logo into LEGOs

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The idea was so delightful we had to give it a shot: For this week's cover story, which details how local video game developer NetDevil is creating a LEGO version of World of Warcraft with the game LEGO Universe, why not transform Westword's signature cover logo into a giant LEGO creation?

Thankfully, Duane Hess, NetDevil's digital model model designer -- aka LEGO builder extraordinaire -- was happy to oblige. Hess worked with Westword art director Jay Vollmar to create a four-foot-long, bright-red LEGO-ized logo, which graces our cover this week and now decorates the office window of Westword editor Patty Calhoun, much to the amazement of passersby. See below for a Q&A with Hess describing how he built our office's pride and joy.

Westword (Joel Warner): Can you describe the process of turning Westword's logo into LEGOs? Did you just start building, or did you have to plan it out first?

Duane Hess: I used a computer program to pixelate an image file of the logo into LEGO dimensions. This gave me a pretty close approximation of what the end result would look like. Experience has taught me that there's some interpretation that needs to happen to make everything work out, so I used it only as a guideline. Once I knew what it would look like, I chose the most common LEGO elements that would result in a structurally sound model. Since the logo was intended to be freestanding, structural stability was a huge factor in the construction. The W's were a bit of a problem because some of the sections were very thin. I had to employ some advanced building techniques on the interior to make sure that they would be able to stand under their own weight.

WW: Approximately how many bricks did you use?

DH: Lots! Unfortunately, I didn't keep track.

WW: How long did it take you to build?

DH: I built the logo in approximately six hours, including design and planning.

WW: What are the differences between recreating a 2-D object like a logo and building a 3-D model of something like a house?

DH: In a lot of ways, the logo is easier to build than the house. A logo is generally simplistic in design for recognizability and ease of reproduction and this translates through to reproducing it with LEGO elements. I was able to use about ten unique types of elements in the Westword logo, even with it using hundreds of pieces. A house usually has lots of detail, especially if you want to decorate the interior. Even a simple design can have fifty or sixty unique LEGO elements.

WW: How long would it take you to take apart and put away in your library all of the LEGO bricks used in the logo?

DH: Disassembling and sorting the parts used in the logo would probably take a little over an hour given that the variety of elements used is so low. The fun part is the breaking it down.

WW: Finally, do you have any idea how happy you've made the entire Westword staff with your creation?

DH: I'm in the fortunate minority of people who have been able to turn something that they love into a career. Part of my motivation even as a fan builder was to make people smile. If I can do that as part of my job as well, then it's just an added bonus.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

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