Tips & Tricks
What is Stud.io?
Bricklink Stud.io (SIO) is a freeware computer program produced by BrickLink Limited; it is available for macOS and Windows (32-bit and 64-bit), and it allows users to build models and scenes using virtual Lego bricks, in a computer-aided design like manner.
What is an IO file?
A three-dimensional model or scene created by Bricklink Stud.io (SIO); it is saved in a password protected compressed .ZIP format and contains six files:
- THUMBNAIL.PNG - a .PNG design preview
- .INFO - contains the Stud.io version and a parts count
- errorPartList.err - a parts error list
- model.ldr - the LDraw file for the model
- model2.ldr - the LDraw file for the model with included part definitions
- modelv1.ldr - unknown
What is a scene?
One or more models can be put into a scene, with additional floor and background, one or more light sources and a camera that determines how is the scene is viewed. An .io file can contain a single model, but it can also contain many different models, for example a self-build LEGO city.
What is this Guide to Stud.io?
Rebrickable has about 8,500 MOCs (My Own Creation), new and unique LEGO models designed by fans, which you can build once you own one or more official LEGO sets. The building instructions for these MOCs can come in the form of an .io file, and if you have no idea what to do with such a file, this guide is your answer. It will show you how to download and install the Stud.io program, how to load the .io file, and how view or generate the building guide.
This guide also contains links to useful video tutorials, a tips & tricks section and chapters on how to get help and how to connect SIO to other available programs. The guide is one of a three part series (Guide to LDD, Guide to Stud.io and Guide to Rendering) with a seperate general introduction on Virtual Building.
The latest version of Bricklink Stud.io, 1.0.0_153, is available at Bricklink.com. The program comes in three versions, one for MAC OSx (OSX 10.8 or higher) and two for Microsoft Windows (32-bit and 64-bit). The 32-bit Windows version will run flawlessly on Linux under Wine. Click on the Download button for the Mac version or the alternate version links for Windows to download the desired version.
For Windows: save and run the installation program stud.io.exe (64-bit - 105.8 MB) or stud.io_32.exe (32-bit 112.6 - MB). The program will then unzip and start the installer. Make sure that the licence agreement is ticked and then click next. If needed, add a shortcut to the desktop. After clicking Install the software will be extracted. This might take quite a long time, as Stud.io contains the entire LDraw parts library and each part has to extracted. Then click Finish to end the installer. You should now have a Stud.io option in your main menu.
For Linux: open the installation program stud.io_32.exe with the Wine Windows Program Loader. Make sure Wine is fully initialized before starting the installation (run Configure Wine at least once). Then follow the procedure above.
For MAC: save and double-click the installation package stud.io.pkg (170.2 MB). Once the installer starts, follow the procedure above.
Each time the program is started, it connects to the Internet and checks for any updates. If a newer version is found, you have the option to install it immediately. Stud.io contains a special program (Patcher.exe) which can update both the main Stud.io program as well as the LDraw part libraries. The Menu > Help > About stud.io box shows the version number (1.0) and the current build (148).
The opening dialog (also available under Menu > Help > Welcome to Stud.io) shows four main start options:
- Start new build - Jump right in and start building from scratch
- Open file - Open an existing file from your computer
- Import LDD file (.lxf) - Continue your LEGO Digital Designer project
- Import LDraw file (.ldr/.mpd) - Continue your LDraw project
Below the start options the dialog shows the last four models, and on the right there is a series of links to help pages, the Bricklink Gallery and the Stud.io Forum. At the bottom there is a Start Tutorial button to learn about camera controls and basic features. The Tutorial is interactive and can be ended and restarted at any time.
SIO follows the common "left-click is select" convention, while right-click & drag is used to alter the angle of the 3D view. The mouse scroll-wheel is used to zoom in and out. Holding the space bar while lift- or right-dragging allow moving of the 3D work area horizontally or vertically. In Menu > Edit > Preferences > Input you can set keyboard shortcuts for camera control, zoming and more.
The bottom area of the screen contains the parts library. By pressing the tab-key this area is enlarged. The parts library can be organized into Bricklink Categories (about 70) or shapes, similar to LDD categories (about 35). Right-click to select and drag the part to its place. Parts will automatically snap to the grid and connect to other parts.
The menu bar contains common options such as File, Edit, View and Help, as well as a Model menu to add and remove steps; create, edit and release submodels; and to hide and show bricks. The toolset (only available as icons below the menu bar) consists of:
- Multiple Selection tool (V) - to select single bricks in the scene
- Clone tool (C) - to make duplicates of bricks in the scene
- Hide tool (L) - to hide bricks or models
- Collision toggle - to turn on/off collision detection
- Snap toggle - to turn on/off automatic part snapping
- Grid selector - fine, medium and coarse
- Snap to grid toggle - to turn on/off automatic grid snapping
- Render dialog - to render the current scene
The left panel contains a color selection box, a favorite colors box, a content color box and a Step list, an important part of documenting and being able to share the model. By assigning parts to steps, you can tell the story of how to build your creation.
For a more detailed description of camera control, the icon and menu bar, and building tools and palette, see Getting Help.
The Stud.io User Manual is included with the software and stored in Program Files (x86)/Stud.io/Stud.io/Manual/introduction.html. The manual is only available in English, and can be displayed by any browser.
A quick start guide of Stud.io is available at bricklink.com
Contrary to LDD, when you open a .io in Stud.io, the model is added to the current scene. This also applies to the Import functions. Stud.io can import files with the following extension:
- .io - Bricklink Stud.io model or scene
- .mo - unknow
- .ldr - LDraw model or scene
- .mpd - MPD files or "Multi-Part Documents" combine several LDraw files into a single source
- .lxf - LEGO Digitial Designer model or scene
- .lxfml - LEGO eXchange Format Markup Language file (text part of .lxf)
More importantly, and arguably one of the best features of Stud.io, is the ability to import official LEGO sets. Available under Icon Bar > Open > Import official LEGO set, you can enter the set-number of any LEGO set in the Bricklink set catalog, and then import all the parts within that set directly to the 3D work area. So instead of having to search and select each individual part in the part library, you have immediate access to all the parts. The contents of a set can also be stored as a pallette.
Stud.io has the following export options:
- Export as Mosaic - Mosaick is a Bricklink tool which enables users to turn any image into a digital LEGO mosaic
- Export as LDraw - you can use this export to create files that can be imported into LDD
- Export as POV-Ray - this converts an LDraw model into a POV-Ray source. See Guide to Rendering.
- Export as Collada - Collada is a COLLAborative Design Activity for establishing an open standard digital asset schema for interactive 3D applications
- Export to Sketchfab - upload your model to Scetchfab, the world's largest platform to publish, share, and discover 3D content
Using Menu > Model > Model Info you can access a complete part list of your model, which can also be upload to a Bricklink Wanted list.
Whereas LDD can only create screenshots of a model, the Stud.io software package includes a specially compiled version of POV-Ray 3.8, to create photo-realistic images of the model or scene. The Render Image dialog (only accessable through the Icon Bar) allows you to select the final render quality, light position and image size, and where to store the final image (by default in the same folder as the model). The image can be either in .png, .jpg or .bmp format, with a specified color or transparant background. More about rendering in the Guide to Rendering.
- Building with Stud.io - a really good introduction to Stud.io by Bricklset's Huw Millington from November 29, 2016.
As Stud.io is relatively new (and still in beta) there are very few video tutorial yet available. These are the most informative:
- STUDIO, LEGO DIGITAL DESIGNER REPLACEMENT, Published on Dec 18, 2016, by Snooperking.
- An Introduction to Bricklink Studio, Published on Jul 21, 2017, by Blockie Talkie, who uses stud.io to build a microscale version of a house, and show some of the cool features of the software.
- Anleitungen in Stud.io -- dem LDD von Bricklink, Published on Aug 17, 2017, by Olaf007 (in German). Hier erfahrst du, wie du das Stud.io von Bricklink verwenden kannst und per Hand geschickt wahnsinnig gut aussehende Bauanleitungen erstellen kannst.
Bricklink Stud.io is a good program, and it offers several functions that LDD lacked from the very start. Most importantly the Import official LEGO set and Render Image functionality. The Step system might be a good start for creating good looking instructions. However, the program is not yet completely stable, many parts are still undefined, and some of the very cool features of LDD, such as the Flex tool, are completely absent. The good thing is that Stud.io is completely dependant on LDraw, and it seems reasonable to presume that the LDraw OpenContent License (OPL) applies to the full package. The LDraw OPL states:
If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the OC, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the OC, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.
If so, the main Stud.io part database StudioPartDefinition2.txt is also OpenContent, and can be updated at will. (Be warned, the Stud.io Patcher will create a real mess if you update anything manually.) This will, at least, ensure the usability of the program even if or when Bricklink decides to abandon it.
- Eurobricks - New software by BrickLink - Stud.io
- Stud.io Beta Forum - Here the developers post their announcements, and bugs can be reported.
|Controlling the camera:||PC||MAC|
|Rotate camera||Right-click + Drag mouse||Right-click + Drag mouse|
|Pan camera||Scroll-wheel + Drag mouse
Space + Left-click + Drag mouse
|Scroll-wheel + Drag mous
Space + Left-click + Drag mouse
|Zoom in/out camera||Scroll wheel up/down||Scroll wheel up/down|
|Move part(s)||Left-click + Drag mouse|
|Rotate part(s) while selected||left/A up/W down/S right/D||left/A up/W down/S right/D|
|Cycle select options||shift-V||shift-V|
|Expand/Close Building Palette||tab||tab|
|Copy selection||ctrl + C||cmd + C|
|Paste selection||ctrl + V||cmd + V|
|Cut selection||ctrl + X||cmd + X|
|Undo action(s)||ctrl + Y||cmd + Z|
|Redo action(s)||ctrl + Y||shift + cmd + Z|
|Group into submodel||ctrl + G||cmd + G|
|Release submodel||ctrl + U||cmd + U|
|Select all part(s)||ctrl + A||cmd + A|
|Add step||ctrl + T||cmd + T|