Book Review: Project 77 by Martin Deschambault

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Project 77 is a personal project that has taken concept artist Martin Deschambault many years to conceive and create. He spent 6 years in the video game industry to develop his skills to be able to paint at a quality level he wanted. The artworks in this book certainly benefitted from all the years of hard work and determination.

Project 77 is a large 112-page hardcover that features a dystopian sci-fi universe imagined by Deschambault. It reminds me of some of the earlier books published by Design Studio Press, e.g. KOLONIE, Exodyssey, Alien Race, and also the recent ones by Simon Stålenhag. It's not that the art looks similar. The similarity is in how artists would just come up with a concept, then create and visualise everything around that, and then compiled all that into a book. It's always cool to see such personal projects come to fruition.

In Project 77, corporations and armies fight for power and resources, and crime is everywhere. The future is bleak and the artwork reflects that with the dark serious tones with strong blacks used. It's amazing how light and shadows play such a strong part to creating mood. The lighting in the scene can be beautiful but with large areas of shadows, it makes the whole place looks more tense and quiet, and in certain cases make the air feel thick.

You'll get to see lots of sci-fi cities, space ships, landscapes, machinery and robots. The ideas are well conceived and beautifully executed. The book has only 112 pages and at the end of it I wished there were more. There's so much details and depth in the artworks. When I say depth, I mean that it really feels like there's a lot of space in the paintings, you can feel the vastness. Most places in the environment art feels huge because of the atmospheric perspective that makes the background feel expansive.

There are several stories included and they were written by Jeffrey Campbell. They are short stories of characters who live in that dystopian world. As standalone stories, they are nice to read, but they don't really work as well with the artworks because there's no visual link. The artworks that appear besides the stories may not reflect what the story is talking about, so there's this disconnection. But anyway, the highlight of the artbook is the artworks. But it would have been really cool if the stories could link to the art in a stronger way.

Another nitpick I have is, some titles for the artworks are printed onto the artworks. So sometimes you have a beautiful wide landscape painting and at the side there are words printed over. The placement of those titles could have been moved to the bottom, outside of the art as there are plenty of space in the book.

There are a few tutorials included at the back of the book that goes through the painting process from start to finish. Interested artists should be able to pick up useful insights and techniques there.

Overall, the artworks are fantastic and that's all it matters. If you're a fan of sci-fi or concept art, check out the book.

Project 77 is available at Amazon (US | CA)

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