Punky the Steampunk Dragon

A sneak peek at Khalester’s serpentine builds!

Here be dragons; it’s a phrase that almost has a universal truth to it. No matter where you look, from ancient myths and medieval maps to tabletop games and modern hit series, dragons pop up all over the world, all throughout history. They’re a collective, timeless obsession, and it’s no surprise that dragons be in Minecraft, too.

Punky the Steampunk Dragon by Khalester isn’t your average flying lizard, though. It’s a fearsome, rust-coloured mechanical creature with fiery chimneys and cruel teeth, but there’s also a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about it.

It’s probably the monocle.

“My friends really wanted me to build goggles on Punky, but goggles didn't really fit,” Khalester explains. “Punky's face seemed empty. Looking around some steampunk dragons, I saw some goggles which weren't really goggles but looked more like a monocle. And that's where the idea came from. I put the monocle on Punky and it looked really cool with that. I decided to leave it there because it gives Punky a touch of class.”

Punky’s classy fashion statement isn’t the only eye-catcher. Just look at the intricate details on display here: the liquid-filled tanks, the pistons and tubes, the countless gears both big and small... Yet despite the complexity, Punky was largely improvised.

“I've built Punky without having a real project in mind. I just looked at the plain shape of it and thought about how a steampunk dragon would work. The biggest challenges were the arms and legs, since those are my weaknesses when it comes to building an organic. The parts that took the most time were the neck and the body since they are the most detailed parts. In the end, it took me almost four weeks to complete it.”

Punky isn’t the first dragon Khalester built. There’s also Mors, the skeletal dragon, fleshy remains stretched out between the bones of its wings, and the peacefully slumbering and poetically named Autumn. In fact, Khalester harbours a particular passion for the scaly creatures.

“I was not drawn by the challenge of building an organic, instead I just wanted to try a different kind of building. I kept building structures. But then dragons happened, and it turned out I enjoy it so much.”

As a dragon connoisseur, Khalester is familiar with all shapes and sizes: “All kinds of dragons have inspired me, from Warhammer 40K,” - Mors is modelled after the ‘Zombie dragon’ - “to random steampunk dragons taken from various images. Sometimes I also draw random dragon heads. I'd say those really helped me out.”

But how did these reptiles capture Khalester’s imagination in the first place? “I started playing Minecraft in 2011. I only played in survival, even after creative had come out. During that period, I only built castles. I got hired as a builder in many small servers, but I always built structures, especially medieval buildings.”

It was last summer that I got inspired by some of my friends. One in particular was trying to build a dragon head. That's where it all began. Since I was already familiar with drawing dragons, I decided to give it a try.”

For those of you mesmerised by Punky’s monocle-framed gaze and eager to hatch your very own blocky dragon, Khalester has some step-by-step wisdom to share,

  1. “Find a reference, it really helps. It gives you the idea of how the project will be.”
  2. “Look for dragon anatomy. It's really useful if the reference doesn't show the whole dragon. The anatomy can also help you to build a dragon without any reference.” This one might be a bit tricky if you’re actually looking for real dragon anatomy (given they don’t exist and all). But researching anatomy of similarly structured, real-world animals or understanding the work of other dragon-drawing artists can certainly help!
  3. "If you're already good at drawing, making an organic build is close to drawing. First you ‘draw’ the basic shape, refine that shape, then add the details. When the whole shape is done, you can start colouring it.” Here, Khalester wants to give thanks to Phalladius for helping him with colouring Mors and Punky!

I hope some intrepid builders follow in the ferocious footsteps of Khalester’s creatures. After all, there’s no such thing as too many dragons! Well, unless you're running away screaming as they try and burn you alive, I guess.

Renders by nygma_ and DoMoND

Written By
Andreas Inderwildi