Worlds: The Art of Raphael La­coste

Panorama special The epic en­vi­ron­ments of game and film artist Raphael La­coste get the crowd­funded art­book they de­serve

ImagineFX - - Reviews -

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.

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