LEGO Digital Designer is the official program for creating virtual LEGO® models through computer-aided design. With a user-friendly interface and an innumerable variety of parts, it makes designing with all kinds of Lego accessible to those without the real thing.
The interface consists primarily of a 3D display of the scene under construction, a sidebar with collapsible visual categories of objects, and a rather straightforward toolbar on top. Objects are added into the scene by clicking them in the sidebar and clicking again to place them in the scene, and can be colored, cloned, hidden, rotated on a hinge, or bent using the tools corresponding to large icons in the toolbar. One can even adjust the hinge alignment between objects if applicable. Rotation independent of a hinge is achieved through use of the keyboard's arrow keys, and objects cannot be stacked if their connective elements do not tessellate.
Creating objects that make use of these features is not really an easy feat, however. The sheer multitude of objects available and their smallish, not-to-scale icons makes it somewhat difficult to find exactly what one is looking for, and no clue is given about which objects connect to which other objects. Still, while it's not as fun as being able to handle and produce physical models, using this app does provide the Lego aficionado with a comprehensive design tool which can be used to plan construction with the real thing.
Sam's Protip: Every inter-piece connection qualifies as a hinge, but some are more flexible than others. Unfortunately, there's not much to evidence a particular item's freedom-of-movement - even grabbing it and trying to drag it around in the scene isn't a surefire indicator.
- Probably includes every LEGO piece ever created - huge variety
- Flexible viewing controls
- Can generate instructions to build the object with real blocks
- Not easy to figure out which pieces go together
- Very limited number of built-in exemplar models