Spectacular Sails

Gaulight takes us on a naval tour

I hope you don’t get seasick, because today we’re talking to expert ship builder Gaulight about his beautiful boat builds! If you do get seasick, don’t worry, it’s just an article! Unless you’re reading it on a boat? Um, why are you reading it on a boat if you get seasick?

“I’ve always loved ships since my childhood,” Gaulight says. “I love their complexity, because of the rigging, but also because of their elegant hull design. I’m regularly heard saying: “ships of the past are today’s satellites,” because they were and are engineering masterpieces. I’m impressed by how people at the time were able to build such gigantic and intricate structures with simple tools and knowledge.”

Of course, with today’s technology, Gaulight is able to recreate these masterpieces in Minecraft. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy! He told me about his process building a replica of Le Fleuron, a French gunship from the 18th century.

“I first made a blueprint in Minecraft, with its exact proportions. Then I began creating layers that reflected the global shape of the ship and filled in the gaps in order to obtain a completed hull. Afterwards, I created the colour scheme, the stern and bow, and finally I made the masts, sails, and rigging. This took me approximately three months, including intensive research and the actual construction.”

It’s the details that drew Gaulight to Le Fleuron, especially the colours. “It has an elegant red curve, which runs all along the length of the ship, making it quite unique,” he says, explaining the faithful recreation in his version. Not only does this crimson stripe create a consistent visual design that’s pleasing to the eye, the attention to detail on the rigging, flags, and golden stern decoration are remarkable. And, of course, there are the 64 cannons in case of a fight!

In order to get this much detail, he builds the ships on a huge scale. “I used to build them at about the same size as the real ship, but as I improved over time I realised it’s much more satisfying to go bigger! It allows you to put in as many details as you want, like the stern on Le Fleuron.”

In fact, Gaulight’s Le Fleuron is three times as big as the original ship was. “Building at an even bigger scale would have resulted in a more accurate ship, but it would have also needed a considerable amount of time,” he added. But that’s not the only thing holding him back – sometimes he wants to build something so big, but he’s confined by Minecraft’s own height limit!

Creating something so large and detailed isn’t easy. “The bow was the most challenging part,” he tells me. “Making it was not an easy task since there are plenty of curved beams meeting at a common point at the front.” But he doesn’t have any favourite part of the build, because everything has to come together to make it perfect. “I consider a ship successfully done when I can imagine it in my hand, like a real model ship.”

Adding the sails and flags is a crucial part of getting that feeling, though. He tells me that they have to look like they’re catching the wind. “That gives the ship life,” he explains.

It’s easy to imagine standing under those sails in the middle of the ocean. Once upon a time that would have been the job of up to 500 sailors who were needed to keep the ship moving. They would have known they were crewing an important ship – Le Fleuron means “the jewel” in English – but I don’t think they could have imagined it being rebuilt in a video game nearly 300 years later!

For Gaulight, ship building became his focus as he realised how much he was improving with each build. “The key to progression is to analyse mistakes from the previous ship and try to resolve them on the next one.”

His version of L’Etoile du Roy is one of his favourites because it was the first dedicated recreation that he made. “I love her curvature and her colours,” he enthuses.

He’s also enthusiastic about the power of the building community. “It’s a powerful way to express your feelings and your passion, and everybody can share their creations,” he says.

He believes that this sharing is important as builders are inspired by and learn from one another. Giving back to the community by explaining your methods and techniques is a great way to show gratitude for things you’ve picked up from others yourself.

His advice? “Minecraft is a fantastic game with infinite possibilities: the only limit is your dedication.”

So set sail and see where the winds of inspiration will take you!

Renders by Iskillia, VoenixX and Gaulight

Thanks to Bulix for translation help.

Jay Castello
Written By
Jay Castello