Totally Tropical

The weather is finally worthy of Lmaoki’s Rite of Spring build!

Spring has technically sprung, but as I look out of the window onto the desolate wasteland that is Canada after six months of snow, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever see anything green and leafy again in my life.

And so, I found myself staring at Lmaoki’s Rite of Spring build, green with envy (or I would have been, if I could remember what the colour green looked like). Reminiscent of the brilliantly botanical beginning of Disney’s Moana, Rite of Spring imagines a verdant world of colour and coral surrounding a central figure. It’s hard to tell where the figure’s dress, in rippling shades of green and yellow, ends, and where the water begins.

The build is based on one that Lmaoki did for a two-hour contest on the Builder’s Refuge server, with the theme “Tree of Utopia”.

“I felt that the plot entry was rushed,” they say, “and didn’t live up to what it could have been, so I decided to dedicate a full project for it.” The original still has some of that organic detail seen in Rite of Spring, but focuses more on a woodland theme rather than oceanic plants.

“I designed my piece around nature,” says Lmaoki. “The lady herself is supposed to represent a humanoid tree, adorned with a royal dress. Much of the inspiration for this build came from fabrics or nature.” You can see that inspiration in the flow and movement of the dress as it billows out behind the woman, and the way her headdress mirrors the growth of the tall, tubular plants behind her. There are even starfish, flopped over the rocks as if they were just taking a quick nap before returning to the sea to do… whatever it is starfish do.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not easy to replicate the natural rippling of fabric in our silly cube game. “Minecraft is blocky and not really made for curves,” says Lmaoki. “It was quite tricky to develop the organic objects. It took me a while to create the custom sugarcane in the background and all the other nature elements.”

But the most challenging part of the build was, unsurprisingly, the dress itself. “Fabric is complex material to model in general,” admits Lmaoki, “and it is no exception in Minecraft. It took around an hour to visualise, plan, and create one of the larger pieces of fabric. With my technique, the results can be unpredictable, but that’s what I found beautiful about it.”

Lmaoki does use plugins to create their builds, which is why they were able to build something like Rite of Spring without having to place each block by hand. They even admit that a manual technique would make such a build “extremely difficult or impossible to complete.” Even using plugins, though, this build took three weeks to create.

Like many Minecraft builds, it’s at it’ best looked at from afar - as an entire piece, the colours blend and melt together beautifully. But looking at Rite of Spring up close can be an interesting experience in itself, as the individual textures become more noticeable, and the artistry that has gone into choosing colours and textures becomes more apparent. “Yes,” says Lmaoki on their Planet Minecraft page, predicting questions from amused viewers, “her dress is made of Cactus.” Ouch.

“Minecraft has a variety of green colors and shades,” says Lmaoki, “especially if you include non-traditional blocks such as plants. I decided to pair the green with the golden yellow colors of the glaze terracotta.” Lmaoki even admits that they like these strange, up-close details, saying that the Cactus blocks are their favourite part of the piece. “It’s so weird and unconventional, but it works so well! It’s pretty funny to me, and I love it.”

Lmaoki didn’t become such a creative, talented builder overnight, though. They are keen to stress how much they have learned or experimented with in Minecraft over the years. “There’s a variety of things that I have learned from building in Minecraft; most of them are fundamentals of art which can be learned through any medium, but the most interesting thing I’ve learned is problem solving.

“A lot of the things I want to build are often too difficult with the current tools I have, so I would often experiment with different techniques to see what I can make. Sometimes they fail, or sometimes they allow me to something complex like fabrics.”

Minecraft, like any artistic medium, requires skills that can only be learned through practice, and by learning from the techniques of others. Lmaoki might be the Michelangelo of Minecraft, but perhaps you could be the Monet?

Fun Fact! Tom is too uncultured/stupid to know who either Michelangeo or Monet are. The original names of the Mario brothers, maybe?

Written by
Kate Gray