Marvellous Monastery

A tour of SaphireStudios' mountain-top temple!

Perched high up in the snowy mountains, where only the bravest explorers/lost tourists dare to go, SaphireStudios’ Sumadha Monastery is quite a sight.

Created for Planet Minecraft’s Monumental Temple contest, the build is inspired by many real life locations. “We have a style that performs well with the idea of creating a realistic scene within Minecraft, so with this contest we saw our opportunity and snatched it,” SaphireStudios’ founder Denny tells me on behalf of the team. “I believe we did just that, creating a realistic world that even the oldest of adults could mistake for a picture, and that can attract children’s wildest imaginations.

“The colours and locations many monasteries have were very interesting for us. We had never seen it done before in Minecraft and really enjoyed the idea of presenting new cultures from around the world.”

The team ended up coming in second place, out of 87 entries. But it wasn’t easy. “Believe it or not, we were very late entering the contest – very stressful we must say! We had only a week to complete the build and we almost didn’t finish.”

Luckily, their hard work and coordination enabled them to pull it off. “We started with the terrain,” Denny explains. “Then we began creating small assets as well as the basic layout of the temple. As it progressed we pieced the town together and finished off by detailing the temple with its signature pieces that can be observed on various other monasteries from real world locations.”

As he notes, not only did they manage to put the monastery together in a week, they also created a village further down the mountain, complete with homes, a gas station, a motel, and more. “We decided we wanted to make the build feel more modern as opposed to something from the past or in a different world,” Denny explains, “so we added features that everyday people can relate to. This balanced the style as well as giving the temple more meaning – the village houses the monks that visit every day, completing the realistic feeling of the map.”

The village also has my favourite detail: a little shelter for local animals, complete with stacks of hay. Very considerate of the team to think about the wildlife on these snowy mountains!

SaphireStudios is very enthusiastic about the opportunities that Minecraft offers to artists, and they encourage getting in touch with them via their Twitter.

“We love our community and would love to see new people emerging with their work,” Denny says. “Our advice for young artists is to practice! Even though you hear this a lot, it’s the most fundamental step in becoming great at what you do.”

But the team has other suggestions as well. “Learn from others; analyse their use of shape, colour and design. Art fundamentals play a large role in any creation. You can also exercise your skills in other art mediums, giving you new processes for creating work. And don’t be afraid to step back, get outside, watch some TV, anything! Periodically taking breaks lets your mind refresh itself with new ideas.”

"Practice! It’s the most fundamental step in becoming great at what you do."

And most importantly? “Love what you do! Enjoy your time creating. It’s a process; you’ll almost never see success right away. Enjoying what you do allows you to have free range in the way your produce work as you gain skill.”

Just the sort of sage advice you’d expect from a team that’s so good at building mountain-top monasteries!

Renders by Quinz, Rebelite, Kryiin, antrelial, Timothy C and Splekh

Written By
Jay Castello