Designing Your LEGO City Layout | Lions Gate Models

Layout Design, Step by Step

In a former article, we covered invention tools for LEGO layouts. now we ’ ll walk through a bit-by-bit invention method that you can use to create a LEGO city that makes sense and is fun and challenging to build. here ’ s an overview of the steps in this article :

  1. Draw out the space available using your design tool of choice
  2. Decide on general areas: water vs dry land, use zoning, etc and sketch in on your plan
  3. Decide on roadway width and construction method, sketch in roads on your plan
  4. Decide on train track and monorail routes and train width standards, sketch in tracks
  5. Decide on road, track and water levels and mark bridges and slopes where necessary.
  6. Draw up an accurate plan and adjust roads and tracks to fit
  7. Decide on specific building locations and sizes and write in on your plan

here are more detailed notes on the steps :

Land Use

Towns frequently have waterways in or close to them, and they provide us with batch of setting for fun models and details. What kind of water or waters-edge features do you want to include in your town ?

  • Sea
  • River, stream or creek
  • Lake
  • swamp or marsh
  • waterfall or rapids
  • Canal
  • lock
  • Dock or quayside
  • Beach
  • Cliff
  • Pier, seawalk or promenade

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very towns have ways of arranging their respective parts so that they don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate interfere with each other, normally by some kind of partition. That way you don ’ thyroxine get the steelworks next to the daycare, and the nightlong disco next to the seniors ’ home plate !
We can arrange our Lego towns any direction we like, but it can add an concern extra dimension, specially for towns in a realistic style, to include some kind of zoning. We normally don ’ t have enough space to spread things out vitamin a much as the real thing, but we can group things in a way that makes sense .
What kinds of groupings could be included ?

  • Industrial – heavy and light
  • Commercial – high density (“downtown” style office blocks)
  • Commercial – low density (small offices, local shopping centres and malls)
  • Residential – high density (apartments, hi-rises, townhouses, row houses)
  • Residential – single family houses
  • Parks and open space
  • Transportation: roads, waterways and railroads and their infrastructure, along with airfields of various kinds.
  • Institutional buildings like schools and churches are often found in residential areas, and hospitals are often on the edges of commercial areas where they join residential areas.
  • Agricultural


LEGO standard roads have in the past been designed for vehicles which are 4 bricks wide. many builders like to make their larger vehicles like trucks, fire appliances and machinery, 6 bricks wide. More recent LEGO stage set vehicles are 6 studs and even 8 studs wide, and newer road plates have wider roads to accommodate them. Roadway width besides varies with the practice of the road : freeway/motorway lanes are wider than the lanes on a country road .
There are several methods of making roads .
Most people use the Lego road plates of diverse kinds, either with grey or green base tinge. Grey is better for downtown or industrial areas, green for suburb or countryside. Although older roadplates are no longer available new from LEGO, many people own them from previous years, or you can sometimes buy them used. Don ’ t forget that LEGO makes T and X junction road plates arsenic well as straight and curl ones. LEGO besides now sells a new design of fleeceable road plates which have wider lanes on the road and narrow-minded studded borders, desirable for 6-wide vehicles. There are other baseplates which were used to build sets on, which make good park lots, bus topology stops, etc. This kind of road plates gives you scope for including different types of roads in your town .
Road plates sour best when you don ’ t use them directly back to back, but insert one or two rows of plain plates ( with buildings on, normally ) between the roads. This gives you a lot more outer space for construction .
Road layout with space between
Road layout without space between
There are other ways of making roads that give you more tractability than the road plates. You can use black or grey bricks on their sides to make a road come on, using yellow or white plates built into the middle to make road markings. This allows you to have wider roads, even multiple lanes each way, to accommodate 6-wide vehicles, and to build parking lots and intersections wherever you need them. however, it ’ sulfur heavily to build curves, it does take a very large act of black or gray bricks, and you need to build up the sidewalks either slope to be above road level. now that TLC sells black 2×2 tiles in majority via Shop at Home, you can besides make road surfaces using these. Again you get more layout tractability, but your road markings ( yellow or ashen tiles ) will look quite broad and it takes a LOT of black tiles. Both of these road draw methods are peculiarly effective for surfacing roads on bridges. You can besides get elevated road plates from set 6600 Highway Construction which are bang-up for bridges or multi-lane highways .
Non-LEGO road making methods and materials are besides available, including cardboard or paper, or painting your tables grey and using the board surface itself .
Sketch a layout for your roads to give appropriate access to the kingdom and body of water use areas you sketched in earlier .

Elevation Changes and Bridges

It makes a big dispute to the look of your town if you can include different levels ( of road, rail and water ). Of class this involves slopes and bridges. Slopes are relatively easy to construct in train cut by raising each department a small higher using plates and bricks underneath the track. LEGO train motors can normally handle 2 plates of acme addition per track section, depending on how many cars your gearing engine is pulling. Try not to have slope changes and direction changes ( curves ) starting in the lapp invest, to reduce the probability of derailments. Sloping roadways are a short unvoiced : using even road plates you can end up with your buildings standing at a funny lean ! Brick-built roads or elevated road plates are easier to make slopes with.

Some possibilities for bridge building:

  • Elevated road plates as in 6600 Highway Construction
  • Stone arched viaduct/bridge using lots of grey bricks and arches (can also be built in red to represent a red brick viaduct)
  • Girder bridge using Technic beams (can be a lift or swing bridge)
  • “Wooden” covered bridge as used in Eastern N America
  • Footbridges
  • Concrete bridges
  • Suspension or other large bridges

One thing to watch out for with bridges is alignment at the two ends, specially with gearing bridges. If you ’ re building a bridge which will be permanently in place you can get this right once and forget it, but with a removable or movable bridge this is a critical design point : you need a method of accurately locating the bridge ends in the same place every time .


Towns are frequently built around or on a train layout. What is the prupose of the train tracks in your township ? Is there a passenger or freight terminal ? A container yard ? dockside tracks ? If the educate goes round and round on a little township layout, can you hide part of the chase to disguise its circular nature ? How do roads cross the cut ? Grade crossings work much better on heterosexual track where you can use tiles and/or sloped panels to bring the road across the chase. Will there be crossing gates and lights ?
More issues with trains are :

  • Clearance around the tracks, especially on curves. The wider and longer your train cars are, the more clearance you need.
  • Space taken up by the curves
  • Awkward-shaped areas left over around curves and switches

clearance is critical : test with the longest and widest caravan cars you ’ ll be using, on multiple track shapes ( specially S-curves ) to see precisely how a lot space you need to leave on either side, then leave a sting more ! If you ’ ll be using 8-wide trains alternatively of the LEGO-standard 6-wide, your clearances will need to be greater .
Trains take up a LOT more distance than you ’ vitamin d think ! A single track can turn through 180 degrees in 30″ width ( three baseplates ), but if you have more than one track running aboard each other, curves will take up a lot more outer space. Use Track Designer to lay out your tracks : it ’ s unusually accurate and will give you a very good reality check on how much you can fit into a distance .
Filling in the awkward shaped areas around curved and angled track can be done in several ways :

  • buildings with curved sides
  • groups of small buildings
  • parks
  • farm fields
  • a building which completely covers the tracks
  • mountains

You can make fencing which follows the racetrack curves using flex tubing mounted on posts made from 1×1 bricks and 1×1 plates with clips. If you plan to automate your switches using motors or pneumatics, design little buildings to go over the mechanism – but watch out for clearance !
Train-related buildings like passenger stations, freight houses and engine serve facilities need to be integrated into the lead and road layouts so they end up in positions that make smell. You may want to design the track layout first and then arrange your roads and “ zones ” around the discipline build up positions. In real life, this happened when a township grew up around a dragoon, but dragoon buildings introduced into existing towns sometimes ended up in inconvenient places !
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Make certain you can reach all your tracks from somewhere, whether that ’ s the boundary of the layout or a popup hole in the middle. Derailments will always happen in the one unapproachable blot ! This goes double for switches. Think excessively about where you want your tracks in relation back to the buildings and scenery. Along the front of the layout is dependable for viewing rolling broth, but it can look better ( and the aim travel look retentive ) if some of the track disappears behind things and pops out again somewhere else .


LEGO produced a serial of monorail sets in the 1990 ’ mho, for Town and Space themes, and they make a great accession to your city if you can find them secondhand. Monorail can be easier to integrate than prepare tracks because you can run it above ground horizontal surface so it can go above or through buildings alternatively of around them. What is your monorail intended to do ? Connect downtown with the suburb ? Train station with the airport ?
Design issues for monorails include upright headroom where the monorail passes over prepare tracks or roads, and support positions : watch for supports landing in the middle of roads or train tracks. You may have to build small support bridges for certain positions in ordain to clear items below the monorail track. Make certain the direction controls at stations or ends of track are approachable : you can extend them upwards using a technic axle if you need to pop them out through a ceiling.

Draw up an accurate plan

At this point you have a lot of items sketched in, but it ’ second identical hard from a cartoon to tell if things will fit, particularly if your township involves trains. You truly need to do an accurate drawing using your method acting of choice .


not every part of your layout needs to be buildings or transport systems ! Don ’ thyroxine forget to include fields and forests, mountains and rivers, seas and beaches .

Building locations

immediately you can identify locations and sizes for particular buildings and write them on your plan .

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Category : How To

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