Meet the Modder: Alex 'Maki Role' Banks
All of us here strive to ensure that bit-tech is a great source of news and an excellent place to go for reviews, but for some people it is the modding that ensures they keep coming back. Modding is something that we are extremely passionate about, and we want to get more people involved. One way we want to do this is to introduce you to established modders. This will allow you to see what they do and what you may need to become as popular as them.
The first modder we thought of is Alex 'Maki Role' Banks. He is popular on our forums and has won plenty of Mod of the Month competitions. He also walked away with Mod of the Year for 2016! He has talent coming out of every hole, so we thought he would be a great person to start with.
Alex is very well known for his amazing photo realistic renders. I mean, look at these:
Click to enlarge
So, without further to do, let's have a chat with Alex!
What is your name, what is your username, and where do you come from?
Hi, I'm Alex Banks aka Maki Role or Praetex Design, and I hail from London, UK
Nice. So, how long have you been modding?
I first began modding in 2011, albeit on a much smaller scale. It’s a field I’d been interested in for a good 5-6 years already, having been introduced to it as a teenager. I didn’t feel confident to delve into it, however, until I water-cooled my first PC.
That seems to be a common problem. People see modding as something really hard, but it isn't! What actually started your career in modding?
I’d say what really kicked it off was taking part in bit-tech’s first Build a NUC contest in 2013. It forced me to think in a more structured way, given we had to submit intended designs, with the top five submissions being provided the hardware to construct the actual cases. This really allowed me to become more familiar with designing a case from the ground up and going from paper to digital and then eventually a physical prototype.
Click to enlarge - Vesper was Alex's brain child for the NUC contest.
I actually remember that competition well. Since then, you have done a lot of mods. Which of them is your favourite and why?
That title would probably have to go to Loramentum. Not only was it my first foray into the world of CNC machining and custom water-cooling manifolds, but it’s stood the tests of time and rigours of daily use. For a machine that appears to be so delicate, it’s been carted around the country safely numerous times on the train. Not only that, but it has been upgraded and continues to function as a daily gaming rig. There’s just something so satisfying about seeing one of your creations in daily use.
Click to enlarge - Loramentum packs down into a suitcase for easy transportation
I recently saw one of your friends using Lorementum at iSeries and was surprised it was still going; it has done well indeed! Where do you find inspiration for your builds?
It’s cliché, but from all around me. Loramentum is inspired by all manner of Hollywood “devices”, Vesper from bat wings, Aetos from Eagles, and Exsectus purely from wanting to showcase the hardware itself. I like to let the hardware do the talking and be the focus where possible. I’ve always found PC parts fascinating to look at, so I enjoy having them on show in my builds. So when deciding on themes and forms, I try to choose ones that will allow this without conflicts.
Click to enlarge - Exsectus and Aetos looking proud
Do you have a “signature look” for your mods?
I would say my signature is a clean aesthetic, not minimalist per se but well finished. I like hardware to be visible or at least playing a role in the look. One thing I’m fairly known for now is CNC work with water-cooling loops. I love the shapes and routes that become possible with this method; it’s a completely different ball game to working with tubing. Similarly, many of my builds are known for the realistic 3D renders of concepts and the parts themselves. I see representing the design as part of the challenge.
Click to enlarge
What three tools do you use that you could not live without?
I would have to say my digital calipers, cordless combi-drill, and cordless jigsaw. The calipers allow me to construct the detailed 3D models found in many of my projects and to be be much more accurate with my work in general. The drill and jigsaw really are classic modders' tools; they just have such versatility. I love using modern production methods like CNC machining and 3D printing, but I would ultimately find it harder to live without these basic tools. A good drill and saw in the hands of a skilled operator can make for some surprising opportunities.
Click to enlarge - Alex loves his tools