The 5 (and a bit) Colors of Magic ““ Artifacts (1994)

In 1994 I created a series of promotional images for Magic: The Gathering. These pieces were meant for flyers timed for the ’94 con season, and the game’s first anniversary.

Unless you’re one of about a dozen people, you’ve never seen them before. To find out why, check out the prologue to this series.

The project was to be six images, one for each color of mana (the cornerstone of power and flavor in M:TG) and one extra for today’s subject – Artifacts.


This is the general layout of all the pieces in the series; a color-themed planeswalker centrally framed and playing Magic cards, surrounded by creatures (and occasionally spells) of the appropriate mana color (or colorless in the case of Artifacts).

In addition to being given carte blanche with what to include in each image, I was also allowed free rein to extrapolate these creatures beyond what we’d seen previously in the confines of the card image window. Knowing that, don’t think of these as official versions of the creatures, just my take on them. Especially since I added a curved abdomen to the Dragon Engine in the hope of mirroring the curve of its neck but ended up just making it look pot-bellied! Win some, lose some…

An interesting wrinkle to all of this was that in ’94 all of the Magic artists still retained the copyright to their images. I think the working logic for this project was that they were free handouts and so didn’t require any special agreements, but if they’d been on retail products, then they’d have had to pay all the applicable artists a royalty. I think. Hey, it’s 19 years ago! I just know that Jesper would have done right by the artists like he always did.

Anyway, have fun trying to spot all of the cards referenced in this project. All six pieces pulled from cards from Alpha through The Dark. Feel free to post guesses here, on Facebook, Twitter or whatever Magic forum led you here. I’ll be curious to see if I’m able to sneak any by you.

Were you able to name all the cards in the artwork? The answers are below.

The next piece I’ll be debuting will be Red. Those of you that’ve read any interviews I’ve given, probably know that Red and Black are my favorite colors in Magic. So, we’re going to start at Red and work our way around the color wheel until we finish up at Black!

The Answers – What Cards, Hidden Where?!


  1. Dragon Engine
  2. The Stuffy Doll from The Rack and Black Vise. But this time it’s getting the squeeze from –
  3. Gauntlet of Might
  4. Black Lotus
  5. Amulet of Kroog
  6. Mirror Universe – An oval frame is used in all the pieces of this project but this is the only time it refers to a card.
  7. Juggernaut
  8. Ornithopter
  9. Obsianus Golem
  10. Ashnod’s Transmogrant
  11. Chaos Orb
  12. Obelisk of Undoing
  13. The ghostly glow and symbols around the Chaos Orb is Nevinyrral’s Disk. The other clue is the ghostly red tendrils reaching across the picture.
  14. Primal Clay
  15. Yotian Soldier
  16. Strip Mine – This last one is a bit of a cheat as it’s a land, not an artifact. However, all the images in this project include the land appropriate for the mana color and as this is artifacts which usually only need colorless mana, Strip Mine seemed to be the logical land to pair with it as – at the time – it was the only land that focused on colorless mana.

Also there’s a theme going on in the lower half of the image. The Chaos Orb destroys cards, the Obelisk of Undoing removes cards from play, and Nevinyrral’s Disk wipes out everything but land, and Strip Mine is able to destroy lands. To balance that all the creatures in the lower half are stepping from the Primal Clay. The cycle of artificial life!

A Quick FAQ

Q: Are you going to sell prints of these?
A: No. As I mentioned above, many of these creatures are actually copyright a number of original Magic artists. You could argue it’s covered under “derivative works” in copyright law but out of simple respect I’m not making prints.

Q: How about playmats?
A: Oh hell no. Then I’d be in trouble with the original Magic artists and WotC. No thanks.

Q: But I want to own these!
A: You’re in luck. I’m going to make them available as wallpapers soon.

Q: How soon?
A: When I have a moment. Things are busy.

Q: Are the originals for sale?
A: Yes, I’ll sell the original paintings but I’d prefer to sell them as a set. I’m not considering offers until all the images have been unveiled.

~ by Pete Venters on September 12, 2013.

One Response to “The 5 (and a bit) Colors of Magic ““ Artifacts (1994)”

  1. My guesses are the following cards: Dragon Engine, Gauntlet of Might, Obsianus Golem, Chaos Orb, Black Lotus, Juggernaut, Amulet of Kroog, Obelisk of Undoing, Ornithopter, Yotian Soldier, The Rack (Doll), Ashnod’s Transmogrant, Primal Clay

    I am just not sure if the brown circle around her head is a reference, and I am not sure about the device holding the cards to the right.

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