Transcending Scales

Udvio makes concept art at staggering sizes

A hostile land dominated by a monster of nightmares. A cliffside city of huts towering above burning sands. A moody underwater city that trawls Bioshock's oceans for inspiration. These pieces of epic concept art each use Minecraft as their canvas - but at such a scale that their voxel origins are barely visible. They’re the work of Marceau Nakayama, known on Planet Minecraft as Udvio.

“I like the way you can experience your own creation and share the in-game experience of your 3D models with other people,” explains Udvio, on why Minecraft is his tool of choice for bringing these worlds to life. “I think that's probably the biggest difference with any other creative tools. You can really get inside this world and enjoy the different aspects.”

The trick to building such ambitious projects, apparently, is to not think of Minecraft as a game with limitations. “I would almost totally ignore the scale of the game and I would try to test Minecraft like any other 3D modelling tool. That's where I worked on the huge scale builds and I think that's where people got really impressed because when they saw some of the pictures I posted, they couldn't tell at first sight if it was Minecraft or another game.” Yes, well, they certainly didn't fool experts like us! OK, maybe a little. Shut up.

Akumu - The Dream Consumer. Render by JoeBricksy. Udvio says the idea was to "incarnate the cycle of time through a personification of a divinity."

Kite City & the Burning Sands. Render by FallenArchangel. "In an alternative reality and unknown location, people struggle to survive in the vast lands of what they call the Burning Sands."

Kite City & the Burning Sands. Render by Udvio. The settlers' huts are clusters on outcrops of rock, where they hope to catch the cooling breeze and avoid sandstorms.

Koris - An Underwater Utopia. Render by CrankerMan. The Art deco architecture is heavily inspired by the city of Rapture as it appears in Bioshock.

Princess Zabiyah. Render by CrankerMan. Inspired by Orientalist fiction of the 19th century and "a context of political and economic tensions in the ancient middle east."

Triangular Ascension 2.0, depicted at the top of this article in a render by CrankerMan, is Udvio's favourite piece, inspired by cyberpunk fiction like Blade Runner.

“Since I was young I've had the strong influence of science fiction movies,” explains Udvio. “I think it inspired me a lot subconsciously. Now I want to focus more on the in-game experience. Try to push the concept further and think more about how the player is going to interact with the map itself.”

So he'd rather players didn't just admire screenshots but download and interact with the maps themselves? “Yeah, definitely.”

You heard the man! You can gawp at more of Udvio's fantastic artwork on his site, or you can take a tour yourself and read more about individual map’s inspirations here.