In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Hello! My name is Ushio Tokura, and I am an artist currently based in Seattle, Washington, utilizing Minecraft as a creative tool. I am a college student pursuing an engineering path, with a loose art background in Waldorf Education. I’ve been playing Minecraft for quite awhile now, first being introduced to it in high school, but only started using it as an art platform in the past few years. It has been a truly unique journey to see a video game become known for it’s beautiful creations and intricate worlds, and I am glad I can be part of it!
I will be talking about my project called Flower;Corpse, a piece that incorporates conflicting tones and large scale sculptures. When designing such creations in Minecraft, there are some specific technical limitations present within the game. Fluidity and perfect curves are very hard to articulate within a game based on cubes, and so to compensate for that fact I build on a larger-than-life scale so I can fit in more detail. There is also a height limit of how many blocks can be placed atop one another, so measuring before starting is crucial.
A question I get asked very often is, “Why don’t you use actual 3D design software”, or “What are the benefits of using Minecraft as a medium?”. I am very fortunate to be part of the ‘building community’ in Minecraft, and I feel that there is something special about using Minecraft as an expression of art. Very few people approach 3D design in this way, and it brings out a distinct look that very few platforms can manage. The ability to manipulate voxels in a first person view is not special and far from superior to other programs, however I feel art comes from all places and that is certainly true for Minecraft. To me, the satisfaction of completing a project in Minecraft is on par to no other.
For my process, creating an inspiration board is very important as it outlines and sets goals for what you are envisioning. In my case I mainly referenced Kris Kuksi, an artist whose work reflects rococo and baroque tastes. His use of intricate shapes and ominous skeletal structures was the key tone I was after.
Constructing Flower;Corpse was divided into a 3 stage process. First, various parts needed to be created that would then be assembled together in the completed product. Second would be putting together those parts as a rough outline for the final. Lastly, refining and adding on final details.
Bear in mind that 100% of making the model is in-game within Minecraft. I use various tools like Worldedit and Voxel Sniper to speed up the process, enabling me to focus more of my time to the creative process and execution rather than repetitive block placement. The majority of the skeletal structures are made with a line brush from Voxel Sniper, while all the smaller bits and pieces are hand placed.
The very first segment consists of a skeletal structure, limbless for now as the surroundings will dictate where the placement and angle of the limbs are placed.
Here I use a blue colored block as a filler color for the skeleton. This enables me to come back later to paint it to my desired color. When building in Minecraft this is very important, as copying, cutting and pasting large regions can get quite messy. Along with the main skeleton body, I complete the construction of a backboard, wings (again using a filler block), and various domed structures.
Put it together and you get something like this:A saying many artists have is – don’t copy just one artist, but take many different ideas from many different sources to create something unique. For Flower;Corpse, I wanted to veer away from Kuksi’s vision of a post-industrial surrealism construction, and instead give it more color and life. I did this in my final step, by adding flowers, hanging ropes, and colorful trinkets. The addition of the colors helped contrast the overall greyness and bring life to the project while the ropes added round shaping which contrasted the firmness of the skeletal structure.
The model is now ready for presentation, which is imported through Mineways and then uploaded onto Sketchfab. Sketchfab and Minecraft work great together, as it combines both the first person feel to viewing the model, as well as the various aesthetic options for the presentation.This is especially helpful when someone wants to interact with a previous project I have made, as I can show them the model in real time. I hope this inspires more people to use games as a digital art platform, it is a truly amazing experience!
Thank you for reading, and I appreciate the opportunity I have had on Sketchfab to share my work!