A key part of any game is the art and animation, and ArtStation, the world’s largest media and entertainment artist platform, was on hand at MIGS 2017 to show some art at a pop-up gallery. This group has more than 400,000 members and nearly three million unique visitors each month, making it a key player in the industry.
ArtStation had an innovative gallery with large-scale smart frames showcasing various artists and genres. One of the more interesting sequences cycling on one of the smart frames featured the winners from the ILM Art Department Challenge. That was a joint effort between Industrial Light and Magic, Wacom, and ArtStation to create unique images in the Star Wars universe. To say the results were stunning is an understatement. Visit the submission page to see some of the amazing pieces created by the ArtStation community.
They also had numerous artists, each with their own smart frame displaying some of their key works. My favorite had to be Johannes Helgeson. His art style is angular, distinct, and very, very cool to look at. I had a chance to speak to him, and found out that while he works as an animator and artist by day (and just got a key new role at Gameloft) he also sketches, paints, and draws for hours each night. He was incredibly passionate about his work, and when I talked to his peers and some folks at Gameloft they were as impressed as I was.
ArtStation also threw a Nocturne event at MIGS which had attendees enjoying a drink while chatting with the artists and flipping through some of the art books. This was a great chance to meet some of the artists and team in a more casual setting. MIGS is a great place for making connections and interacting with developers, and it was quite interesting watching the groups mingle and chat. I would not be surprised if some of these great artists came out of the event with a path into the gaming industry.
The ArtStation section also displayed a new art book from Martin Deschambault called Project 77. A different type of art book, it’s centered around a personal IP created by Deschambault and was handcrafted by ArtStation to include original artwork, step-by-step tutorials by the artist, short stories by Jeffrey Campbell, and a foreword by Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier.
The book is amazing; Deschambault has a striking talent for creating a world with his images. He actively works at Ubisoft as a concept artist on some of its top games, so his skill is already recognized in the industry. The book filled with images and associated stories is a way for him to create his own universe.
The writer, Jeffrey Campbell, worked on his own at first to create the narratives inspired by Deschambault’s images. This added color to the already striking concepts with story notes about the world Deschambault was creating with his images. In one concept image, for example, there is a ship flying near some massive buildings and the story accompanying it talks about corporations controlling the world and warring for additional power. The image instantly evoked BladeRunner, but with a uniquely dark twist.
Deschambault told me he drew inspiration from all kinds of sources, like BladeRunner and Star Wars, in building his universe. You can see those influences in the book, but I also saw Mass Effect, The Expanse, and horror elements from Dead Space. Despite similarities to these inspirations, though, the look and feel is unique, dark and captivating.
The book is a great look into a universe with some very interesting story hooks added to flesh it out. So far there is no plan or path yet for the Project 77 IP to become a game or movie, but Deschambault is hopeful his creation will eventually expand to another medium. As he is active in the videogame industry he would love to see his universe become one of the next classic game scenarios, but until that happens he will keep expanding his creation.
Project 77 is available right now via Amazon. It’s a great book with stunning art supplemented with stories and guides exploring a universe I would love to see more of.