FEATURED MODS AND MODDERS – Doom BY Ken Byrnes
written by: Terrence Sellers
It may or may not be fair to say that Ken Byrnes is the most talented modder in Australia right now, but it’s more than fair to say that he’s the most technically skilled one. While he may only have been modding PC’s for the last year and a half, he’s been a professional artist in just about every trade relevant to modding for more than 20 years. The number of technical skills he has makes him a force to be reckoned with in the modding community even if he had no interest in case modding. He has professional level experience in air brushing, spray painting, oil painting, clay modeling, 3D modeling and texturing, wood working, metal working, and a number of other visual crafts. While the Case Mod World Series ANZ edition was only his second modding competition, he’s won countless trophies and prizes for art competitions in other mediums. It’s almost unfair to compare other modders to Ken because he’s not just stacking the deck, but building it from scratch.
Having only done three mods total, Ken Byrnes has already won two modding competitions and become a well-known sponsored modder. One could even say that he’s helped put Australia on the modding map. And he hasn’t even been involved in PC building for that long. He built his first PC when he was 30 years old and only built one other one before he got into modding 15 years later. To have started modding at such a late age is a rare thing. To excel at it so quickly is even rarer.
A Long Road Home
Ken Byrnes has many skills but he has yet to find a lifelong profession. Call it boredom. Call it bad luck. He’s a master of many trades but has never settled on a profession that he both loved and could keep doing for the rest of his life from a financial standpoint. It was this lack of contentment and stability that led him to learning all these art forms, but the more he learns the more he wants to do. He entered the modding scene for similar reasons. He just needed a new way to try to express himself artistically that would challenge his abilities.
As Ken has continued to improve his already excellent modding techniques, he has also grown more passionate for the craft. Currently it’s still just a hobby. He works a full time job and can only mod on nights and weekends, usually in his kitchen. But he has high hopes that modding could eventually become a real profession for him. He has aspirations to create products that other modders and PC builders can use to improve the appearance of their own PC’s. For the first time in a long time he’s found a line of work that might finally be what he’s been searching for.
The Secret to World Class Modding
When asked about how he approaches modding and art in general, Ken gives a very interesting and introspective answer. He doesn’t do anything less than to the best of his abilities and he doesn’t take on any projects that he doesn’t believe he can do differently and better than what’s already being done. If he can’t innovate within the art form then he doesn’t become involved in it. His approach to modding is based on these key tenets. If the mod isn’t personally challenging and innovative then it’s not worth his time. His ultimate goal is to create mods that change the way other modders look at and ultimately do modding.
Basically everything he does is by hand. He claims that any texture he can create digitally he can do again in real life by hand. Obviously a useful talent in the world of modding. Many of the pieces you see in his mods are hand fashioned out of foam or plastic and painted to have the appearance of different materials altered by time. And only time will tell what else he’s capable of.
It should come as no surprise that the opinion of onlookers is an important part of modding for him. One of the most important ways of judging his skills as an artist is by how other people respond to it. He may enjoy creating art but he doesn’t see it as being for himself. He’s creating for the enjoyment of other people. It’s because of this that Ken’s mods are always modeled based on a theme. His debut mod was in celebration of the release of Fallout 4. His second was Star Wars themed. And of course his latest mod was based on the game Doom.
Ken is an avid gamer so it makes sense that his mods often reference video games. But his preference is to show without telling. One of his goals for the Doom mod was to create something that people would instinctively recognize as referencing Doom without actually writing the word Doom anywhere on the case. Clearly he accomplished this goal and he managed to do it in only six weeks.
The biggest challenge for Ken when it comes to modding is knowing when to stop. For him, and many other modders for that matter, a mod is never really finished. If not for a contest deadline or sponsorship request, he could probably work on the same piece for an eternity. Even after a mod has already won a contest, he still wants to add more to it.
“There are still things I’d like to add to Doom.”
But Ken is quite the busy modder now. He already has 3 other projects currently in the works, two of which are based on upcoming movies. Sometime next year you’ll be able to see mods by him based on Guardians of the Galaxy and Transformers. He’s already working on next year’s Case Mod World Series entry and hopes to win the global competition.
Ken Byrnes is an excellent modder for all the right reasons. He’s not some lucky kid who accidently stepped into modding and happened to excel. Nor was he easily handed the tools to succeed. He’s a prime example of what can be accomplished with time and hard work. He wants to be recognized for his talents and has earned the right to expect that. He believes anyone can be a great modder if they put in 20 or more years mastering the various art forms needed to create great mods. He should be considered as a role model not for being unnaturally talented, but for being inspiringly committed to perfecting his skills as an artist.
He doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to encouraging people to learn and perfect themselves as artists either. He’s an active part of the modding community as a teacher and mentor. He posts his work on 16 different forums and is always happy to answer questions about his process. He personally mentors two other modders in Australia, who have also competed in the Case Mod World Series ANZ edition. He even helps train salespeople with installing water cooling systems on behalf of ASUS. Ken Byrnes is a true craftsman and should be considered a role model to all people who want to excel at something, whether it’s art or anything else.