Illustrator François Coutu discusses his favorite artists, the video games that inspire his vivid artwork and his ambitions for the future…
3dtotal: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
My name is François Coutu; I am an illustrator and 2D animator. I currently work for Budge Studios
here in Montreal as a 2D artist. During my free time I like to create illustrations for my own fun. I like video games a lot, so my illustrations are often are based on my favorite video game titles.
Based on my experiences playing "Darkest Dungeon”
3dt: Tell us about your art and the things you like to make.
My illustrations generally feature characters evolving within vast landscapes. I love to create series of illustrations; I think my Metroid
and Dark Souls
pieces are prime examples of that. I choose to work this way because it gives me a lot of storytelling opportunities. For a long time, I contemplated the idea of creating comics (and still do) but as my first love lies with illustration, I think creating series is a good mix of both.
Firelink Shrine, one of the most emblematic location from "Dark Souls”
3dt: Who has had the biggest influence over you and your art?
These days; Kilian Eng for sure - his work has been a revelation since I discovered it and I strive to eventually create artwork of this quality. He is a master at creating grandiose, overwhelming illustrations. I am also a huge fan of artists like Takeshi Koike, Nicolas Delort and Sergio Toppi. Since I first played it in 2012, the video game Journey
has also been an enormous inspiration.
Depths of Maridia from "Super Metroid”
3dt: What artistic skill or style do you most envy? What would you like to learn in the future?
I envy the imagination and dedication of artists who choose to go forth with ambitious projects and are able to deliver amazing work in the end. For example, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
by Hayao Miyazaki; it's a masterpiece. He created a seven tome series with the end goal of putting it on screen. It's not often you see so much dedication for a storyboard! In the end, only a fraction of the books made it into the film.
Quelana, the daughter of Chaos from "Dark Souls”
3dt: If you had no limits on time or budget, what would your ideal project be?
At some point, I would want to create a book which would be halfway between a graphic novel and a collection of illustrations. I have a lot of ideas for a specific universe I want to create, and I would like to fill it with those images and tell a story with them. I wouldn't say it is totally fanciful because I definitely intend to create it in the next few years, but having no time or budget limits would be great!
Caverns of Norfair from "Super Metroid”
3dt: What techniques, styles or software would you like to learn in the future?
3D modeling is a technique I would like to learn at some point in my life. I work in video games and using only 2D feels restrictive at some moments. I think once I know it, I will have a lot of visual opportunities open up to me.
The Reunion complete triptych. Experimenting with the idea of telling an original story through a series of illustrations
3dt: What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I would have to say my latest triptych "The Reunion.” Before that, it had been a while since I illustrated anything personal. Being able to come through with that project was not only a good indicator of what I was able to accomplish with my imagination, it was also giving me lots of ideas for the future and for the book I mentioned earlier.
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
It is on the long run, but I would like to be the art director of video games I create within my own studio (or at least that I own partly.) I have a couple of friends in the business who share the dream of owning a studio as well. It would be great to do that with them.
Ceaseless Discharge from "Dark Souls”
3dt: If you weren't an artist what do you think you would be doing?
Something along the lines of history or philosophy, I think. I have always been a history buff; I like to learn about all the events that helped shape our society, whether they are recent or long gone. Maybe also a writer? I don't know; it's hard to tell at this point.
Brinstar Wilderness from "Super Metroid”
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next? Any cool projects we should look out for?
I have a lot of personal projects and ideas going on at the moment. I think I can say I want to expand on the universe featured in my Reunion triptych. Also, I am playing Bloodborne
right now, and I am very enthralled by its story and universe. I can say for sure there will be some fan art happening at some point during the year. That's all I will say for now, but I'm sure I will have some more inspiration along the way!
The city of Lost Izalith from "Dark Souls”
Take a look at more of François Coutu's amazing artwork on his website
Buy a print from François's personal shop
Follow François on Tumblr
Check out Francois's tutorial of Lost Izalith here