Worlds: The Art of Raphael Lacoste
Panorama special The epic environments of game and film artist Raphael Lacoste get the crowdfunded artbook they deserve
A compelling collection of game and film environment art from Raphael Lacoste.
When it comes to digital environments, Raphael Lacoste is one of the biggest names around. Once Ubisoft’s award-winning art director on Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia, he later moved into films to work as a matte painter and senior concept artist on the likes of Terminator Salvation and Death Race. Then in 2009, he went back to games, working at EA, and is now back at Ubisoft.
Earlier this year, he launched a crowdfunding campaign for an artbook that would bring his best work together in one place. Worlds: The Art of Raphael Lacoste is the result, and from the cover image alone – an epic, stirring vision of dragon boats, mountain vistas and gigantic, menacing tentacles – you know you’re in for a treat.
The hardback, landscape-format book kicks off with a foreword by Halo art director Sparth, and then an introduction from Ian McQue, lead concept artist on Grand Theft Auto I–V. Then it’s on to the main event: Raphael’s stunning artwork, spread generously across 112 pages.
The four main sections cover the artist’s work on fantasy, science fiction, his concepts for the Assassin’s Creed saga, and book covers, respectively. Each begins with a short discussion by the artist, printed in both English and French. Brent Ashe’s layout benefits from minimal clutter (the captions are restricted, for the most part, to title and year) and intelligent use of white space, giving each piece full room to breath.
And what work this is. With bold use of colour and tone, breathtaking attention to detail and a sweeping sense of wonder, these scenes stimulate the imagination on an epic scale. Our personal favourites include the explosive Mothership Wreck, a terrifying vision of a giant spacecraft hurtling towards a futuristic cityscape; The South Kingdom, depicting a horse-backed warrior surveying a heart-pulsating panorama from Assassin’s Creed; and After Earth: A Perfect Beast, one of the scariestlooking aliens we’ve seen in ages.
A fifth chapter features a selection of the artist’s sketches, providing a fascinating insight into his process, and then a final section includes three short tutorials, each showing how Raphael created a particular artwork in five steps.
While it’s quite light on pages for the relatively high price, for an admirer of Raphael’s art, this beautiful book is simply essential. There’s also a lot in these pages to offer any artist with an interest in creating digital environments in general, too.
Note that this book is a limited edition run, which is only available on the IAMAG website, although we’re told there may be a reprint if demand is high. And we’re pretty sure it will be.
Raphael painted the cover art to After Earth: A Perfect Beast, a prequel story to the film.
Raphael Lacoste’s Lost Island – his concept art for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.