Entertainment

This Surreal Alien World Is Full of Monsters, Robots, and Pinups

Pascal Blanché takes a break from art directing video games to create darkly beautiful science fiction illustrations.

by DJ Pangburn
Jan 7 2017, 1:10pm

STARDUST. Images courtesy the artist

For the past 12 years, Pascal Blanché has worked as an art director at one of the AAA gaming industry’s most successful studios, Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs), all the while continuing to explore his solo artistic career on the side. While the French, Montreal-based artist has spent as many as three years working on titles like Myst IV, James Cameron’s Avatar, and The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, working from conception to shipping, he pours his free time into vivid science fiction 3D digital portraits, set amidst equally fantastic imaginary worlds.

While a piece like HYPERSLEEP, with its oxidized copper extraterrestrial alien skull, calls to mind H.R. Giger’s work on the xenomorph in Alien, Blanché's poster, MECHA, has a more cyberpunk flavor, featuring what looks like a cybernetic soldier. As Blanché tells The Creators Project, he comes from a French art school discipline, where he learned photography, painting and sculpting, before working for six years in the entertainment industry. Most of his work, however, is inspired by science fiction book and magazine covers, as well as sci-fi movie posters, of the 1970s and 1980s.

HYPERSLEEP

“I was and still am a big fan of Heavy Metal magazine, known as Métal hurlant when it was first published in France,” says Blanché. “I have many artists from that era that I admire and who, in my mind, are still the only references I like to look up when I am looking for inspiration—Frazetta, Moebius, Corben, Bisley, and also some manga artists like Miyazaki and Otomo.”

While his artwork showcases vastly different characters, environments, and scenarios, Blanché says that he likes to imagine that these creations are all part of the same world. In his mind, the world he has built is called "Derelict Planet"—a place where aliens, monsters, robots, and pinups all live and coexist.

ROBOTICA

In creating an artwork, Blanché thinks of possible themes, as well as poses or an overall composition. Other times a title comes to mind first. Usually the design and specific elements come together as he works on the image. To create the works, Blanché likes to use kitbashing techniques—the practice (often used in model building) of using design elements from disparate creations to assemble a whole.

“This means that lots of my design elements are mashups of multiple different existing elements from other models,” says Blanché. “Most of the time I set up my poses, compositions and elements in 3ds Max, then export those elements in ZBrush to refine them and push the details even further. Then I render the scene in Keyshot to finish with Photoshop for final colors and touch-ups.”

SANCTUARY

This results in a range of fantastical science fiction work. Some pieces look like homages to Heavy Metal—some even feature the magazine’s actual title. But, in a piece like ALIEN LANDSCAPE #1, it’s anyone’s guess what type of kitbashing Blanché deployed, if he used any at all, because it looks like it oozed out of his imagination fully formed.

More recently, Blanché has been reposting previous artworks, stripped of their vibrant retro colors. These remixed black-and-white images serve as a looking-glass version of Derelict Planet for both fans and casual observers to enjoy.

RED GIANT

HUNTERMOON

Jack the Giant Hunter

DANU

NOMAD

HIGH PRIEST

Blanché currently posts his artwork on Instagram, and sells prints, posters, t-shirts, and other items on his Society6 page. There are currently no plans exhibit the works in a gallery, but he won’t rule out the possibility. Click here for more of Pascal Blanché’s Derelict Planet artwork.

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