June 23

What is greebling?



The LEGO universe is filled with countless weird (and wonderful) terms: you can be an AFOL, join a LUG, build with SNOT or make something swooshable. But one of the most useful skills a LEGO builder must know is the art of greebling. Confused? Let us explain.

If you’ve seen a LEGO Star Wars ship with incredible detail or a landscape that looks totally realistic, you have already come across greebling.
But what does ‘greeble’ actually mean? In short, it can be defined as: 

  1. Greeble (Noun): A small piece of detailing added to break up the surface of an object and add visual interest.
  2. Greebling (Verb): The act of adding small parts, especially LEGO parts, to a surface to create visual interest.

Essentially, greebling is a process that many LEGO builders undertake to add detail to their builds. It is typically done by adding small elements (think studs, mechanical parts, cylinders, you name it!) to the surface of a build in a random – or seemingly random – fashion.

Most commonly seen on LEGO mechs or spaceships, greebling has long been associated with Star Wars and other space-themed builds. Greebling doesn’t just apply to LEGO building, though; in fact, one of the earliest applications of greebling was on the spaceships in the 1968 film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ – though these textural elements were originally called ‘wiggets’. Another (admittedly pretty gross) term for this design method was ‘guts on the outside’.

In LEGO builds, greebling may look like clusters of mechanical-looking elements on the side of a ship, textured foliage on the floor of a landscape build or the many controls in the cockpit of a plane. Essentially, its purpose is to add interest to otherwise boring areas – but it’s not as straightforward as you might think.

How do you master greebling?

First, it’s important to think about what your build would look like if it existed in real life. Would the bottom of your spaceship have smooth plates, or feature protruding mechanics that can be accessed by ground crew? Would a rocky landscape look perfectly symmetrical, or organic? Use your imagination and, when it doubt, Google!

Of course, some greebling should look more considered than others. The mechanics of the aforementioned spaceship, for example, shouldn’t look random – the rocky landscape should.

Ask yourself how dense and symmetrical the greebling should be, and consider whether you will need only small parts, or a few larger ones (like tubes or rocks) to break everything up. Should your greebling be flush with the surface of your build, or stick out? It will depend on your build, and your desired outcome.

You will typically want to keep your colour choices limited to the same shade – using a wide range of different colours can look overwhelming. Also, ensure the shades you choose make sense for your build. Would a grey spaceship have an engine made up of pink parts? Probably not.

Amassing a good collection of greebling elements takes time and patience. Aim for a variety of shapes and sizes, be they round, dynamic or oversized. Look anywhere and everywhere – that minifigure accessory you never reach for just might make the perfect greebling element!

Ready to start greebling? Greeble with us!

From June 26 until completed, we invite our LEGO community to help us greeble our BrickResales logo! Pay a visit to our showroom to hunt for all the red and white LEGO pieces and greeble one of the 16×16 plates (or part thereof) yourself.

Our special Greebling rules…

  • Each LEGO piece no bigger than 1×2 or 2×2 studs and no higher than 1 brick high
  • Red on red only for the background
  • White bricks only for the white
  • White tiles on top of the white bricks

The result? Our completed greebled BrickResales LEGO logo will be mounted on the wall behind the counter as you walk in!

You can greeble at our showroom from 8am to 3pm, starting on Saturday June 26 and running until all 72 plates are complete. All children must be accompanied by an adult at all times

A special thanks to Brent Waller for helping us get our graphics right.


Build ideas

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