The process of creating U2-CB was long and labor-intensive. The author devoted more than two years to creating the book’s content, texts and photographic material. Under normal circumstances it shouldn’t have taken so long, but the location of the sets (over 600 km away from the author’s home) prevented him from doing it any faster. On the other hand, this enabled him to make decisions with a perspective gained over time, as the content evolved.
Once the UCS categorization rules had been determined (adding categories like LUCS for “Looks like UCS” as new sets appeared during the creation of the book), the two tasks that took up the most time and effort were, on one hand, the logistics of transporting the assembled sets to the studio, and on the other, taking pictures of the sets and minifigures.
From a technical point of view, photographing such varied pieces (in color, shape, size and texture) was a challenge.
Other tasks, such as meticulously reviewing older sets that had been assembled for a longer time, required painstaking work.
Deciding on and acquiring, when necessary, the technical elements to be used to create the content, such as chroma key backgrounds or a scale, also took a good amount of work.
Due to transportation difficulties, especially with the larger sets, and in order to reduce the number of times the pieces were moved to the studio, the intention was to finish all of the photos of each set and its minifigures prior to continuing with the next. During the layout design phase, however, we realized that several images had to be reshot. Over 10,000 photos were taken in total, of which about one-tenth were ultimately used.
For the silhouettes, the initial plan was to use photos of the sets. However, this would have required an enormous image processing effort and we finally decided to use a green screen background to reduce some of the workload. Other problems arose, like the green screen reflecting greenish tones on the pieces. This had to be corrected (along with the camera’s optical distortion) during software generation of the silhouettes.
Once all the sets had been photographed (except the recently-released ones that were added as the book was nearing completion), the texts were created. The images to illustrate them were created and documented in parallel. References are provided to enable readers to broaden and verify the information and stories recounted through online searches as well as by consulting other publications.
Lastly, the layout phase was divided into two parts that were carried out simultaneously: first, the technical specifications, and second, the book’s texts. This phase required more work than was initially foreseen, but we believe that the end result makes it worthwhile.
In spring 2020, at the height of the pandemic, we received two samples from the bookbinder. These were to be evaluated so that we could give the go-ahead to bind the roughly 8 tons of printed paper that was waiting in their warehouse. Each copy was sent to a different member of the team: one to Rafa, the author, and the other to José, the photographer, who left it out overnight on the porch next to his small garden. To his surprise, the next morning he saw that some of the pages along the bottom edge of the book had been “bitten”. Amazed, and after puzzling out the origin of these strange “abrasions”, he concluded that a beautiful snail that was wandering around the garden was most likely the guilty party. The colorful traces of slime left by the snail confirmed his hypothesis.
When he shared the anecdote with the rest of the team, Rafa decided that the memorable story deserved to be immortalised, so he made some stickers showing a miniature version of the book’s front cover to produce a reproduction of the bitten book with a black 8×16 UCS plate that he divided into three with the help of a “Dremel”. After adding the pieces needed to build the snail from the instructions for Set No. 11011, the kit was complete! He gave one kit to José and another to Rosa (the layout editor), and asked them to follow the instructions, replacing the green “leaves” with the reproduction of the book. They each sent Rafa a photo of their builts, which had turned out differently. Rosa brought some creativity to the table, placing the leftover green leaf on the snail as a sort of comb. José inadvertently put the head on backwards, which led Rosa to christen that version of the snail “Ducksnail”.