a gallery of computer-generated images

Baron Vladimir


The obese villain of Frank Herbert's novel "Dune", the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is always a good subject for a render. My first attempt was a long time ago, and used some very simple models and software. Technology has moved on a long way since then.

When I saw the new George HD figure, I knew that I needed to revisit this theme. My new version of the Baron is basically a Genesis 3 male with everything weight-related turned up to the maximum.

Herbert doesn't actually describe the Baron's appearance in detail. About all he tells us in "Dune" is that the Baron is hugely fat. The popular mental image of the Baron has been heavily influenced by screen portrayals. In David Lynch's film of "Dune", Kevin McMillan's Baron Vladimir is not just insane but hideous as well, disfigured by facial boils. In the SciFi Channel's miniseries, Ian McNeice offers a slightly less extreme version, preserving only the red hair of McMillan's Baron and doing away with the boils and the madness. A less well-known alternative is shown in the sketches by Moebius for Jodorowsky's planned version of "Dune".

My version of the Baron looks rather gloomier than either of the screen versions. Following McMillan's model, he is unkempt: the implication is that he spends so much time on scheming and depravity that he doesn't bother much about personal grooming. There's no textual authority for this: it would make just as much sense for the Baron to be very vain about his appearance, lavishly-dressed and meticulously-groomed. My version also departs from the text in that the Baron looks more depressive than manic: perhaps he's just having a bad day.

I had originally planned to include Feyd-Rautha, the Baron's nephew, but I couldn't make the model work well in the composition, so I removed him (but see this alternative image). In his place is Piter de Vries, the Baron's corrupt mentat. Herbert's descriptions of the mentat vary: he is introduced as "a slender, short man with effeminate face" who takes "mincing steps" (effeminacy and sexual deviance are hallmarks of Herbert's villains). Later in the book he is described as having "hawk features, blue-ink eyes ... tall, though slender, and something about him suggested effeminacy". Perhaps the change from 'short' to 'tall' was an error on Herbert's part; perhaps de Vries simply looks tall to Jessica. My version of de Vries is not notably effeminate, but he is rather pretty, and he has the blue-on-blue eyes (from addiction to the spice melange) and stained lips (from addiction to sapho, another drug).

The setting uses pillars from the Dimocrates model; the Baron's chair is from DM's Kapelle, modified by the addition of various 'greeble' objects. Many elements were re-textured using Mec4D's PBS Iray shaders.


DAZ|Studio 4.8
Photoshop CC 2016
Intensify CK 2015