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Bronze Gods: Making a Monument
Building a life-size bronze statue for Worlds was quite a process. Here are the work-in-progress photos.
The first time we thought about making a bronze statue was for Riot’s 10-year anniversary in 2016. We’ve had some epic statues built in the past, but in our minds, a bronze sculpture was a little more monumental (no pun intended).
When we finally made the call to go ahead and build the sculpture, we decided a statue of that size and scope should go where as many players as possible could see it and commemorate the ultimate League experience: Worlds. It was quite a process, so we thought you might like a look at the journey from the spark of an idea to the finished sculpture thousands of players saw in Beijing.
We started with a few rounds of concept art exploring where we could put the statue and what the experience would be like for players who came across it in person. What feeling should that statue evoke?
One of the early concepts was Garen vs. Darius. While the team was pretty excited by this one, we thought it would be even cooler to connect it to the music video in production at the same time, so we changed the creative direction from a 1v1 into a trio of champs fighting.
We used miniatures to figure out the design of the statue before we actually committed to sculpting. We realized a statue featuring three champions locked in battle presented more of a challenge than one capturing a conflict with two clear sides and a distinct focal point. And when it came to Garen, Ashe, and Lee Sin, we also had to take into consideration three very different fighting styles and weapons.
We decided to design their fight as a kind of circle, where each champion is facing two rivals from their own angle. No one is at an obvious disadvantage, and visually the sculpture remains balanced. We also thought about the composition in terms of each champion’s visual “weight”: Garen is a big dude with heavy armor, so he grounds the sculpture, whereas Ashe is the smallest and lightest, so we put her at the top. Lee Sin and his ult were used to connect the whole statue together and guide your eye along the circular form.
Riot doesn’t have any “build a giant bronze statue” roles, so we partnered with Mettle Sculpture Studio to help pull it off. The sculpture began with massive chunk of clay, which they shaped by hand and then supported by welding frames onto it.
Next, we cast the sculpture in resin, adjusted it for composition, and then separated it into smaller pieces that we cast with bronze. The whole process up to this point took about five months.
Lee Sin’s kick led us to try capturing the essence of water in a very solid medium, and to add a level of detail to the sculpture beyond what would be seen at first glance.
While we were pretty confident the miniature composition we designed in plastic would work full-sized in bronze, we were relieved and excited to see the complete sculpture successfully cast. With casting completed, we moved on to sanding, coloring, and polishing—the final touches.
Some fast stats on the final sculpture: Ashe is 320 lbs, Lee Sin is 370 lbs, and Garen is 440 lbs. The water (including the stainless steel tubes for support inside the statue) is 600 lbs and the foundation pedestal is 440 lbs. The statue is made of bronze and reinforced stainless steel, standing 15 feet tall and with a total area of about 250 square feet.
We hope you enjoyed this look into the making of our bronze statue—we had a blast making it!