My oldest son, Gavin, loves science and technology. His love is not just at a "video games are cool" or "I want an iPod because everyone else has one" level. It's much deeper, almost like just needing to know how the world works — by what rules does the Universe play, and how can we use our creativity to bend them? While his overactive imagination can sometimes be a source of conflict in the home (or in the restaurant, or church, or public restroom, or …), his mother and I do recognize the beauty of it.
Gavin turns eight years old in … well, in about two hours from now, technically. I was trying to think of something special I could do for him, when it occurred to me to use one of his favorite toys/tools — Lego® blocks — to create a portrait of him. At a design level, this isn't really so challenging. I mean, it only took moments to load up a recent photo of him into the GIMP, shrink it, posterize it, replace its palette with one based around primary colors, etc.
The result was a blocky image with Lego-ish colors whose aspect ratio had been adjusted to account for the fact that a 1x1 Lego block isn't square, but instead roughly 3:4:
No, the difficult part was in actually building the thing! Okay, not difficult so much as tedious. And of course, I failed to inventory my available blocks before starting, so it was on a wing and a prayer that the hours-long activity began. But in the end, every piece planned was in place (minus some black shadow blocks on the bottom I decided to omit), and the work was complete. I had a roughly 14" x 18" image of my son, made out of plastic, to present to him tomorrow as a surprise.