Playful illustration turns Paris into a gaming paradise

We speak to Melissa Brunet about this delightful headline image for an upcoming video game expo.

We're always pleased to see something new from Paris-based illustrator Melissa Brunet; however we're particularly taken by her latest work. It's an illustration for the upcoming Videogame Story expo in Paris, and it's a complete departure from her usual glamorous fashion-inspired work.

The Eiffel Tower sits next to a Tetris tower in this gaming-inspired piece

This new work is more in the style of pixel art, only without the pixels. It's a vibrant piece of isometric 3D art, in which she's created a stylised version of Paris built around video games. It's full of nods to the history of gaming and also features some lovely character design, with lots of little gamers wandering round having conversations about games.

Can you spot all the gaming references?

We spoke to Melissa to get the story behind this fabulous illustration.

How much of a brief did you have to work with? Was it really specific or did you have lots of freedom?

The brief was fairly specific, though challenging. My job was to convey the idea of fun, the idea of history (i.e. retro gaming up to now) and playing (we needed to see people actually playing the games). As long as I communicated these three ideas, the rest was up to me. However, we went through a few concepts before the client decided an isometric illustration was the way to go.

How long did you spend working on it?

I did the illustration in 11 days, though in my head I was thinking it should take a month…

There's an alternative night version of the illustration, too

Is this a new style for you? Is it one you'll go back to?

This is definitely a new style for me and challenged my skill in interesting ways. When the client said he wanted an isometric illustration, I suggested I do a sample. If he wasn't happy with the result, I would recommend other illustrators more experienced in this style. He loved it! And I told myself, "I have strong drawing skills, I can illustrate anything". The client's trust, my determination and my husband's encouragement helped me get it done. I would do another without hesitating. I like that it's different yet was done with the same attention to detail that I strive for in all my illustrations.

Videogame Story is quite a departure from Melissa's usual 'Pixel Glamour' style

Are video games your thing? Did you have to research or was a lot of it already in your head?

Video games were a large part of my life when I was younger so I was familiar with the "past" part of the project. My husband, however, is a true video game expert. He writes about games on which he founded with a good friend of ours. He also plans events for video game launches. He helped me a lot with the references, citing some very obscure retro game consoles, objects and accessories. The rest was just solid illustration skills, i.e. planning out the composition, deciding on treatment, colours and style.

What's your favourite detail?

My favourite detail is the bus driver thinking about having an 8-bit donut.

Videogame Story runs at Paris Expo - Porte de Versailles from 30 June to 7 September 2014.


Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for space parties.