These brilliant Lego posters show just what children's imaginations are capable of

Learn how Illusion created a CG rockstar, firefighter and astronaut print posters made out of Lego for this award-winning campaign.

The painstakingly detailed work behind three print posters for Lego’s campaign 'Build the future' sent Bangkok-based CG studio, Illusion, home with four awards from Cannes Lions this year. 

Illusion worked alongside agency Oglivy Group Thailand (as they’ve done so for 16 years) to win three silver awards in Print and one bronze in design for Outdoor for the stunning posters. In each poster, a child is seen inside a giant Lego suit representing the careers of a firefighter, rockstar and astronaut. Illusion created each poster to replicate a giant Lego structure. 

Some of you may remember Illusion’s Heaven and Hell project for Samsonite, along with advertising agency JWT Shanghai. 

In this feature, we speak to founder and managing director of Illusion, Mr Surachai Puthikulangkura, about working on the Lego campaign – the brief, creative process, getting the lighting effects just right and the creative freedom.

(Illusion say a big thanks to John Fox of Agent Bob in assisting with this feature.)

Miriam Harris: What was the concept brief you were given for the campaign?

Surachai Puthikulangkura: "The agency, Ogilvy, supplied drawings which described the concept (seen here), giving us a thorough understanding of their requirements without the need for an extensive brief. 

"It said everything it needed to say, giving us the chance to add our own creative input. The concept was highly creative and interesting in how it tells the story of kids playing with Lego bricks, constructing their dream professions as they "Build The Future".

"We really loved this idea since we first saw the sketches and were able to visualise how it would look like in the final visual. Prior to receipt of the brief, we studied how we could realise the brief. Once we received the brief, we learned that we needed to develop three visuals which were an astronaut, a fire fighter and a rockstar."

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MH: How much creative freedom were you given?

SP: "The creative team gave us a challenging concept and enough freedom by letting us approach the process in a way that we were comfortable with. We decided that we would create the Lego structures with CG (3D Illustration) and photograph the kids that were to be placed within them.

"We brainstormed multiple times so that our final visuals are aligned. We suggested that the addition of background colours would represent each kid’s imaginative world, rather than an ordinary white limbo, to give it a bit more atmosphere in each activity.

"We didn’t want to just show the kid’s imagining, but we wanted make it look like they were actually taking part in the activities of their dream professions, thus helping the realism of the overall campaign."

MH: Talk me through the process of creating the Lego statues?

SP: "We started by studying the size, colour and texture of the Lego bricks and the nature of them when they were connected to each other (as seen here)."

MH: Talk me through the process of creating the Lego statues?

SP: "Close observation enabled us to understand how we could provide a truly realistic interpretation in CGI

"We then began constructing each model in their different poses, whilst ensuring the kids proportions related perfectly to that of the adult-sized Lego statues."

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SP: "We produced a series of tests to discover the correct amount of folds in the clothing to find the correct balance. Too many would appear overly detailed and make the form difficult to read. Too little, made the form appear primitive, which lacked beauty."

SP:  "Once the three models were completed, we set out to find the ideal position for the kids to sit within them. We generated the models into the form of Lego bricks and from that we created an open space in the centre by removing individual pieces ensure the form mirrored in the original design."

SP: "We painstakingly positioned the bricks individually, offsetting them to give the impression of fractional chaos – as if the sculpture had been made by hand in a real life scenario. We did this by making micro changes in the placement of each brick.

"The programs we used were Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Zbrush, Vray and Photoshop. From start to finish, it took us circa six weeks to complete."

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MH: Did you have to create each individual Lego block?

SP: "We used software that automated some of the areas dynamically, but the majority of the bricks were positioned by eye. The hand positioning was an important factor for us and we knew the result would be truly photo-realistic."

MH: How did you create lighting effects that were realistic to each career?

SP: "The lighting was set up during the rendering stages using Vray. However, the real art is within the study and understanding of how real world lighting works. We referred to photographic references to achieve this."

MH: What other features did you have to consider when building the statues?

SP: "There were many important factors to consideration during the building of the statues. Their actions needed to clearly show tell the stories of the kids ideas.

"The professions they represented had to be instantly recognisable, despite in incomplete construction. Furthermore, we needed to retain the beauty and appeal of the overall image. Decisions such as placing the astronauts helmet under the arms would assist with this."

SP: "For the fire fighter, we made him carry a hose to make him appear to be extinguishing a flame outside the image frame. We placed to red lighting in the scene to represent the fire, which made the scene more exciting."

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SP: "As for the rock star, we designed the kid to be posed in a way to look like he is playing the guitar himself and designed the lighting to similarly resemble a live stage performance.

"The statue’s proportions needed to harmonise with the kids, so it would be possible for them to sit comfortably within them, while simultaneously keeping the poses strong and stable."

MH: What was the most challenging part of the process?

SP: "The realism of the overall image was the real challenge, making it look believable that the kids were actually building the sculptures around themselves."

SP: "Mixing CG and photography has to be planned with a lot of care and consideration from the outset.

"Oglivy Thailand are a mutual client of ours who we’ve worked with for 16 years. We are very familiar with each other, thus making everything run very smoothly, though this was the first time we worked with lego, which we are pleased to say was a highly professional and enjoyable experience."

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SP: "During the process of choosing the style and colour of clothing for the kids, we added something to give character, which helped link to each profession. For the girl in the astronaut suit, she wore a t-shirt with stars, moon and Saturn in space as a way to enforce her love for her prospective career.

"With the boy within the fire fighter, we asked him build the lego structure using two hands to give the impression that he was the one holding the re hose himself. We also had him wear a grey shirt to add to the believability. This was also a complimentary colour for the scene."

SP: "As for the rockstar boy, we selected a long sleeved shirt to tie in with his energetic personality. The blue on his sleeves was a fitting colour, not to distract, but marry well with the stage-line theme or that controlled the tone to make it not too distracting and fitted well with the stage-like theme."