Landscaping Standard

For club builds we have decided to use the MILS (Modular Integrated Landscaping System). The standard is described at the following website:

as well as articles in the HispaBrick Magazine (Edition 13-16).

These are instructions for a good looking, relatively easy to build, tree.

This standard allows a large number of people to participate in our group builds and allows for a lot of flexibility in how we layout our landscaping scenes. Here is an useful source that offers various tips and tricks for successful landscaping. At first, we are concentrating on basic level ground modules with pathways and rivers but as we build up more available pieces, I’m sure we’ll have more of the mountains and/or coastal areas.

Here are a couple pictures of several sections club members have already built.

MILS landscape examples by Corey
MILS landscape examples by Corey

This shows how 2 modules built by different people can be combined and still look like they belong together even though the detail styles are a bit different.

MILS standard working (contributions from 2 different club members)
MILS standard working (contributions from 2 different club members)

Our first major goal for MILS is for a castle-theme battle scene with a large number of landscape pieces in front of the castle’s curtain wall. We also will most likely have a CCC standard that is combined with MILS, similar to the following picture:

MILS and CCC standard by Nate
MILS and CCC standard by Nate

Instructions for basic modules

For the basic green module, the standard MILS is just a 32×32 baseplate with a layer of bricks plus a layer of plates. Here’s a series of pictures to show one of the simplier ways of building these modules.

The first layer of brick needs the technic, brick 1 x 4’s on the corners (2 studs off of the edge). I’ve added additional technic bricks at the center locations as well which is not required:

MILS standard - green flat step 1
MILS standard – green flat step 1

The 2×2 in the corners is the country code for the builder. This should be unique within our group so we can identify who owns each piece. (a label on the bottom of the baseplate works just as well). Notice that I’ve used random colored 2×2 bricks in a pattern in the center. For this module, I’m going to use Green plate 6x8s because I have some (You can use whatever plates you have which will change how the supporting bricks are placed). To support the plate on top, you should have a brick under it on all four corners. In this case, I’ve added another brick to help support the middle of the plate since without it, the plate bends a little more than I like. I used Dark Bluish Gray for the sides but there is no real reason to do so. If the module is going to be on the overall edge of our display, it must have the top color (in this case, green) on the sides. For quick display, we don’t always have that and I’ve noticed Dark Bluish Gray blends in fairly well and is not that noticable.

In the next step, I started placing the 6×8 plates. I had to add 2 rows of 1x8s on two of the edges to make everything add up to 32 studs.

MILS standard - green flat step 2
MILS standard – green flat step 2

Once the layer of green plates are placed, you have the following:

MILS standard - green flat step 3
MILS standard – green flat step 3

This is not quite ready for a display (although we have used this in the past), we generally want some randomness on the piece. The simpliest is to add some plates across the piece like this:

MILS standard - green flat step 4
MILS standard – green flat step 4

This looks a bit plain (and it is) but remember that we generally will add trees, people, carts, horses, etc on top of this. For more fancy pieces, adding rocks or mud or a hill would add a lot to the piece but remember that the edges must be able to look normal when placed against another green MILS piece so you don’t want your custom feature to require something on the piece next to it.

For the basic straight river module, the river is below the “surface” of the standard MILS module. The surface of the river is a Trans-Dark Blue tile on a blue plate which is directly on the baseplate. That means, it’s 2 plates lower than the rest of the module. This forces the supports to be removed where the river is. Here’s a series of pictures to show a farely simple straight river:

MILS River - Step 1
MILS River – Step 1

The first step in a river module is to determine where the river is. Place blue plates throughout the river with 1 row of white plate on the edges. The white plate can be missing at some locations, but it should look “normal” if the module adjacent does have the white plate. For the sections that are away from the river, place the supporting 2×2 bricks. For the bricks close to the river, use green brick because some of those may be visible depending on how quick the slope rises from the river.

MILS River - Step 2
MILS River – Step 2

For the second step, place plates around the white plates. These can be filler color since none of these will be visible.

MILS River - Step 3
MILS River – Step 3

For the third step, start placing the “slope” along the edges of the river. Notice, I cover some of the white plate and some I leave around. For this step, it would probably be a good idea to add rocks or random bits around the river (white water rapids or mud or whatever you like near a river).

MILS River - Step 4
MILS River – Step 4

For the forth step, continue to add to the slope of the river. This raises the top level up to the same level as a brick.

MILS River - Step 5
MILS River – Step 5

For the fifth step, place the top level “grass” around the non-river sections. Also, at this time, you’ll want to add any features you want to the grass.

June 21st, 2014 Meeting

We had 23 people attend our June 21st, 2014 meeting. Here’s some pictures of the meeting:

CactusBrick Minifig Scale City Road Standard

CactusBrick has a standard minifig scale city road module. This allows for multiple club members to add to our city/train layout. The standard is built onto of a 32×32 baseplate. The road section itself is 32 studs wide laying on the side between sidewalks on each edge. Here’s a picture of a basic road section:

City Road Module
City Road Module

The road section itself going from bottom to top is a full white plate layer, 5 black bricks, a striped white/black plate layer (2 studs white, 4 studs black, repeat), 5 black bricks, a yellow plate, a black plate, another yellow plate, 5 black bricks, a striped white/black plate layer (same pattern as previous striped layer), 5 black bricks and a layer of white tile for the top.

The sidewalk is 2 studs wide on one side and 3 studs wide on the other. The sidewalk is build with layer of brick on top of the baseplate with a layer of tile on top of the brick. The outer edge of the sidewalk has the standard Technic Brick with Hole at the 10th and 11th stud location from both edges.

City Road Module Edge
City Road Module Edge

The edge of the sidewalk (next to the road) is Light Bluish Gray tile for both sides of the road with Dark Bluish Gray tile for the remaining sidewalk. Depending on what’s next to the road, green bricks/plates are allowed for the sidewalk as well as the entire sidewalk being Light Bluish Gray if the building next to it has Light Bluish Gray sidewalks. Optional features of the road include the studs on the side in the 3 stud wide sidewalk section to hold the road and a technic brick on the side of the road to line up with other roads. Also, there are 3-way and 4-way intersections as well as curves. The most basic additional feature is a crosswalk for some of the roads.

CactusBrick Microcity Standard

We have a micro city standard based on the TWINLUG Micropolis Standard. This standard is described here:

The 16×16 module (or quarter block) is the smallest module but we have 32×32 modules (a full block) and even a multi block module that we have shown at events. The key is for the sidewalks and roads to line up with it’s neighbors. We use the standard White Tile 1 x 2 for sidewalk.

Here is our microcity display shown at Phx Comicon 2014:

Micro City by Corey, Stephanie, Josh, Steve N and Clark.
Micro City by Corey, Stephanie, Josh, Steve N and Clark.

We also have edging so the sides of the modules are not seen (most of the siding is using filler brick so it generally doesn’t look very good):

Micro City edging
Micro City edging

One club member has built a freeway for the micro city:

Micro City Freeway
Micro City Freeway

Other ideas for similar features are rivers or canals, expanded/wider roads, light rail or train, and elevated trains. The only catch is it needs to be integrated with the rest of the micro city. So, in general, these non standard width elements must go from one edge of the layout to the other edge. For example, the freeway goes completely through the layout with special pieces to form up to the edging for both sides.

Phoenix Comicon 2014

We were at Phoenix Comicon 2014 this year in the exhibitor hall (next to the Star Wars guys). This was our largest display ever.