A sneak beak at a legendary bird!
Are you by any chance a mountaineer? Do you dabble in adventourism or a bit of ornithology? Perhaps you’re simply a crazed daredevil looking for a thrilling experience? Then I have the perfect activity for you: seek out a mountain, climb to its highest peak (pretty easy so far, right?) and just wait. Chances are that you’ll catch a glimpse of a big, hungry – perhaps even a little bit dangerous – creature. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, a legendary griffin!
Feeling confused? Worry not, all shall be explained! With the head and wings of an eagle, and the body of a lion, the griffin isn’t exactly your everyday animal. It’s a fictional combination of two real-life animals, and one of the most popular beasts of legend throughout history. It has been around for centuries, tracing as far back as 3000 BC and making cameo appearances in everything from Egyptian to Greek mythology. That’s an impressive resume!
Minecraft builder MegRae is not only a fan of mythical beings – she’s also quite used to building them. In the past, she has worked across land and sea, so naturally, in one of her latest builds, she wanted to go above clouds to create a creature of the skies.
“I've always loved the thought of mythical creatures and trying to bring them to life as I imagine them,” MegRae tells me. “I love fantasy because it's open to more artistic interpretation, although I don't exclusively build in that category.”
MegRae always aims for something new with every build, both to challenge herself and to improve her craft. Her griffin was no exception. Being somewhat new to organics, the griffin became a most impressive-looking tutorial for her. The build started from the first mountain cliff on a small map, but quickly grew to include more details for the griffin.
“I had artistic goals, such as realism with the griffin, and a more stylized approach to the atmosphere,” MegRae explains. “The mountains specifically I made more whimsical by making them spiked. Overall, I wanted to create the sensation of an intimate presence with the griffin. Viewing it in its own world where no one would be watching, on the peak of a mountain above the clouds.“
“I always imagined it journeying high above the clouds, resting on a nearby mountain...”
We’ve been taught that the early bird gets the worm, but I think it’s safe to say that MegRae’s griffin won’t be able to find any worms above the clouds. Her creation gives the impression of a cold windy morning. The griffin standing tall on a high peak, scanning the vicinity for either prey or a long-lost friend. I do hope, for the sake of all mountain climbers, that it is the latter. MegRae of course has her own interpretation of the scene. “I always imagined it journeying high above the clouds, resting on a nearby mountain, and calling out to other griffins who may be flying nearby.”
As someone living in Sweden, I can’t help but to notice that griffins are a big part of its history, and can be found anywhere from coats of arms to old statues guarding castle gates. Heck, we even name our planes after the fabled beast! Perhaps it isn’t that surprising, as it is a symbol used by many European countries. Being a combination between a lion and an eagle – often perceived to be the kings of the jungle and of the skies, respectively – the griffin is said to represent courage, strength and intelligence.
What truly makes the griffin look majestic is its impressive wingspan, which was an important element for MegRae to experiment with and get just right. According to her, crafting the wings and all their feathers was one of the most difficult aspects with the build, since it required a very specific amount of detail.
“It can be frustrating trying to think through details such as length and width of feathers, the angle of the wings, the angle of the feathers on the wings,” says MegRae, “but seeing it all come together makes it worthwhile. Thankfully, I only had to create one, mostly by hand, before copying the second.”
With her griffin finished, MegRae has already moved on to new daring projects. As she continues to challenge herself, it’s not unlikely that she will explore yet another legendary beast.
“I've always loved three-dimensional art and seeing others' amazing Minecraft builds inspired me. It's not only satisfying but also beautiful. Minecraft is more to me than just a game. It's my favorite form of art.”