During our time at E3 this year, we were lucky enough check out a behind closed doors presentation of Rise of the Tomb Raider. Though we haven’t heard much about the game — which is due out November 10th — we’re able to reveal that Xbox and developer Crystal Dynamics will be announcing a new limited edition poster program and showing off the first piece this week at San Diego Comic-Con.
The program will consist of a series of limited edition Rise of the Tomb Raider posters created by four famous artists, including comic book artist Geof Darrow, who did his own interpretation of the “Woman vs. Wild” theme they stressed at E3. In the wake of Mr. Darrow’s piece (which you can check out below), there will be posters from the award-winning, independent design studio La Boca, graphic artist Frank Kozik, and the crown princess of poster art herself, Tara McPherson.
While we don’t know who will be tackling which concept or when their art will be released — aside from Darrow’s — the three remaining works will be interpretations of “Tombs”, “Guerilla Combat”, and “Lara’s Journey”. These three topics alongside “Woman vs. Wild” make up the four key pillars of of the Tomb Raider experience the developers wish to deliver to fans.
To get a better understanding of the program, and the first piece created for it, we interviewed Crystal Dynamics’ Brand Director Rich Briggs and artist Geof Darrow. Check out what they had to say below.
Nerdist: Where did the idea for the poster program come from?
Rich Briggs: Rise of the Tomb Raider is built on four key pillars: Lara’s Journey, Woman vs. Wild, Tombs, and Guerrilla Combat. This is the overall experience we want to deliver, as well as the moment to moment gameplay that makes up the adventure. We highlight each of these pillars in different ways, and Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics have partnered with four iconic graphic artists to bring their unique interpretation on the most important parts of the game. We’re showing the first poster, Geof Darrow’s interpretation of “Woman vs. Wild”, at San Diego Comic-Con and we’ll have more posters to unveil in the upcoming months leading to the launch of Rise of the Tomb Raider on November 10.
N: How were the artists picked for the project and why did you choose Geof Darrow as the artist for “Woman Vs. Wild”?
RB: Each artist is a visionary and a leader in their respective field. Geof has an incredible talent for drawing compelling action scenes, and several pieces that he’s done have featured a one-against-many theme. This was perfect as we wanted the “Woman vs. Wild” poster to represent that at times it can feel like the entire world is against Lara. She has to overcome huge odds in order to survive and accomplish her goals.
N: What was the creative process like with the artists? Did you enjoy working with them?
RB: It’s been a great process. We’re always very excited but also a little nervous to have other artists draw Lara. On one hand you have a highly talented artist who’s going to bring his or her vision, style, and interpretation of Lara to a new piece of art. The point isn’t to creative direct the process and tell the artists exactly what you want them to draw. Instead we do a kickoff, provide information on the game and details on the pillar that each artist will create a poster for, and give some guidelines. After that, you wait to see what comes back. The hint of nerves comes from that wait where you wonder “Are they going to get it?” and “What’s the art going to look like?” Suffice to say, we’re very excited by the first poster and think that the series is going to be something fans will love.
N: During our meeting at E3, we were told Rise of the Tomb Raider was going to dig deeper into the “Woman Vs. Wild” theme. What was the reason behind that, and what does it mean for Lara?
RG: Lara is making a choice to go on this adventure, she’s putting herself in harm’s way to find the Lost City of Kitezh. The secrets of history are hidden in the most dangerous parts of the world, which is why it takes someone like Lara to find them. “Woman vs. Wild” is our vision for delivering Survival Action, and it represents the fact that Lara is able to go into these harsh environments and survive using her skills and her wits. We want it to feel like the world is filled with secrets to discover, and there’s a certain sense of wonder in that. On the other hand, the world is fiercely protecting those secrets, whether with treacherous landscapes, inhospitable conditions, or predators that act as guardians. That’s why we describe our environments as some of the most beautiful and hostile places on Earth.
N: Can you talk about the other three pillars, or artists?
RG: For pillars, “Tombs” is obviously a key part of the game that fans have been waiting for, and we want to celebrate the thrill of discovering and exploring these deadly ancient spaces. “Guerrilla Combat” highlights the tactics Lara uses against her enemies, whether it’s crafting weapons and equipment, or climbing trees to perform a takedown. Finally we have “Lara’s Journey”, which showcases how she’s made the choice to go on this adventure, accepting her destiny to become The Tomb Raider.
For the other artists, we are excited to announce that La Boca, Frank Kozik and Tara McPherson are the other three artists who will be providing their vision and interpretation of the key themes for Rise of the Tomb Raider and Lara Croft. La Boca is an award-winning, independent design studio in London specializing in art & design for the film, music and fashion industries. Frank Kozik is an American graphic artists best known for his posters for alternative rock bands and is considered one of the world’s top rock poster artists. Tara McPherson is known for her work in the music industry and has been referred to as “the crown princess of poster art.”
As for which artist is working on artwork inspired by which pillar? That’s something you’ll have to stay tuned and find out as we unveil more in the upcoming months leading to the release of Rise of the Tomb Raider on November 10.
N: What kind of research went into creating the wildlife Lara encounters throughout Rise?
RG: I’m sorry to say we didn’t send anyone out to live with bears or wolves. We want to deliver a Survival Action experience that is compelling and relatable, but we’re not building a hardcore wildlife sim. We needed to find the balance where the animals behave in a manner that feels realistic, but everything still supports our gameplay. A great deal of research went into what the animals look like, how they move, how they react under certain circumstances, how they behave with each other, and what animals would be found in each location. All of this led to a great ecosystem that provides both a combat challenge, as well as resources for the crafting system.
N: What was your interpretation of Lara Croft before you started this project and how had it changed by the time you finished your piece?
Geof Darrow: Obviously, I knew of the character from the video game and then from the movie with Angelina Jolie, but it existed mostly in a world that I was not a part of. When I finished, I realized she had a way with animals and isn’t afraid of showing tough love with a pick axe and a pistol.
N: The theme of your illustration is clearly woman vs. wild, how did you arrive at this specific depiction for the piece?
GD: I wanted to show a woman as a self-sufficient action hero, not a princess waiting for a man to solve her problems: she never has and never will. I wanted to depict her as fierce, independent and strong.
N: How does this interpretation fit into your overall body of work?
GD: This version of Lara Croft is the first real woman hero I have ever drawn.
If you were impressed by the first poster, keep Nerdist tabbed for future updates on the project.