I’m doing the last details on this batch of LEGO kits, the bulk of which is the design & assembly of the instruction pamphlets. Here’s what my process looks like:

  1. I build and rebuild the final design a few times with my hands, and I puzzle out the best way for the kit to come together. This is surprisingly hard as the right order for the pieces to come together isn’t necessarily suggested by the design itself. It needs to be a construction that is easy to visualize, and you don’t want to change the “camera” angle too much (since cubes don’t exactly imply their own orientation), which prevents a lot of what might feel natural in your hands. I then take photos of each step.
  2. I come back to the LEGO software I use, Bricksmith, and recreate the photos in the application, snapping screenshots as I go. I then print these out.
  3. Based on the printed diagrams, I draw the instructions. I base them on these diagrams instead of the physical LEGOs to ensure that I maintain a consistent scale and perspective. I don’t trace, so that the drawings still have that crummy look which I kinda enjoy.
  4. I then scan the drawings and bring them into Photoshop where I can clean up mistakes and rearrange the pieces so that it looks correct. You can see that two drawings became one here, as I messed up a chunk but didn’t want to redraw the whole thing from the start. I also fade out the pieces that have already been built to help focus attention on what’s new.

Then it’s just a matter of laying these out on the page, printing, slicing, folding, and stapling. That’s also a ton of work, but not particularly interesting.