The Alphabet Project

L is for LEGO


I love love LOVE Lego! So much so, my wedding cake topper was two Lego figures and I have Lego baubles that I hang on my Christmas tree each year.

My wedding cake topper was a Lego groom (complete with glasses and beard) and a Lego bride with a big white dress, glasses and an up-do.

Just after I’d published my K viz last week, Ken Flerlage shared a blog to demonstrate his Lego-ising technique with the world and it seemed like fate!

Just in time for my “L is for” viz planning, Ken Flerlage shared his technique to turn images into Lego blocks!

At first, I planned to immortalise the terror-dactyls (Henry and Barney – our two labradors) in a Lego image, but it turns out they’re not great at posing for pictures and block colours didn’t work very well.

So instead, I started doing some reading around The Lego Group and found out that they make 1,140 pieces every second! To within 0.0004mm precision! And if that’s not astonishing enough, around the world, they sell 7 sets every second!

The Viz

Well I just had to didn’t I?

First up, I Lego-ised Lego. I won’t lie, in the end, I didn’t use Ken’s technique…my husband is an engineer and we have squared paper all over the house! So one evening, I got out some coloured pens and doodled the logo. I then transferred it to excel, plotting x and y coordinates for each square and the colour.

Adam recently pointed me to a blog by Luke Stanke that explains how to deselect pieces to stop all other marks being greyed out when a user clicks on one. It’s such a simple and neat tip!

I then plotted the revenue from the last 20 years as a bar chart, but wanted to make it look a little more like Lego blocks. So I scaffolded the data so there was one row per DKK 1 billion. Now, I will admit, this does mean that the chart isn’t as precise as it could be…I didn’t want to use partial blocks, so I rounded it down to the closest billion. Once the data was scaffolded, I could plot the blocks to make it look like Lego pieces.

“But wait, where is the revenue chart??” I hear you ask…hover around and see if you can find it!

Next up, I wanted to show the number of pieces made and the sets sold building up (get it?!) over time, so I created a dataset that lasted for 10 minutes (trust me, it’s 10 mins…I don’t advise watching to the end!) and added up the number of pieces and sets. By placing [Seconds] onto pages, the user can click play and watch those numbers go up.

I thought it would add a bit more context if there was also a clock “ticking” along, so I followed Gwilym Lockwood’s blog to build up a clock with a second hand. Again, placing [Seconds] onto pages allows the user to click play and watch the animation. Thank goodness for pages on server!

Finally, I hid some facts about The Lego Group in the viz. I hope you enjoy them when you find them!

What’s next?

It’s over to Adam for the next choice! I can’t wait to see what he’s got in store, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled on his Tableau Public profile and his blog to see what he creates.


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