Sep 292011

Occasionally I create a piece for Magic that practically vanishes.

Sometimes the piece is put into the graveyard. This is a repository for art that no longer has a home due to its card either radically changing – and requiring new art – or the card being scrapped entirely. I have one piece that may never see the light of day as it was a very setting-specific creature for Kamigawa and Magic may never return to Kamigawa as it wasn’t a popular block.

The other occasion when a Magic piece doesn’t reach its broadest audience is when it’s an image for a token, especially when it’s a token made solely for the digital version of the game.

This entry is about the latter.

I was assigned the horror token card for the Ravnica set. The card that actually generated the horror tokens was painted by someone else and it didn’t actually show any horrors so I was free to design my own creature. The art description amounted to not much more than “It’s a horror and it lives in Ravnica”.

So given that, I went for a disturbing, distorted creature, y’know, like you do. I wanted to creep myself out if I could.

Horror token sketch.

And I painted it in an unsettling mix of reds and purples that while suggestive of those few minutes right after sunset actually have more in common with the colors of raw meat.

Horror token final painting.

Now with 80% more tendrils!

The creature flying overhead is a callback to the card that generated the horror tokens in-game.

And, yes, I sleep just fine at night, thanks.

Aug 172011

Sage from Antiquities

Continuing the previous theme of cards from Antiquities, let me tell you about the Sage of Lat-Nam…

The Sage was the first human I got to paint for Magic and his card was my first taste of the off-beat groups of gamers growing up around the game: It was at the Essen toy fair in 94 or 95 where I met a young French guy who not only collected dozens of the Sage of Lat-Nam, but the card had become the official mascot of his gaming group who had named themselves “The School of Lat-Nam”. He was delighted at the opportunity to get a boatload of Sages signed.

I’ve no idea what became of that group but I did think about them when I was working as story lead on Alliances, where I reintroduced Lat Nam. Hopefully it gave them all a big grin.

Anyway, jumping to 2005, I did a private commission of the Sage and this time I got him up out of that seat. I figured he’d be grateful after being stuck in it for twelve years. This piece was done entirely in pencil. Scanning and making the image look good for the web makes the pencil work look darker than on the original piece.

Sage of Lat-Nam Sketch

Here’s a nice close up of his face. I think that facial expression tells you all you need to know about the wisdom of pestering the Sage while he’s reading… several books… simultaneously.

Sage of Lat-Nam Close Up

Jul 292011

CCG Artist proofs are special version of the cards that have a blank white back. Each artist receives roughly fifty of these for each card he has published. Usually they’re sold at shows as a collectible.

Occasionally people pay extra to get a sketch put on the back.

And every now and then, someone wants something completely crazy…

Phyrexian Dreadnought on four A.P.s

This was a special commission and the Phyrexian Dreadnought shown here stretches across four Dreadnought APs.

These days, I recommend if someone wants something this crazy, they let me just put it on a piece of art board because I can do a better job on a surface that isn’t four cards trying to shift out of place as I’m drawing on them. Still, if that’s what they want…

The person who commissioned this was also going to buy the Dreadnought original but had to back out. His loss as there was someone else eagerly waiting to nab it.

Oct 282010

While I’m busy with some stuff (including my wedding anniversary!), I’m going to fire some sketches your way.

This time, it’s an alternate take on my Zur the Enchanter card from MTG: Coldsnap. The sketch cycle for Zur was one of the lengthier ones of my Magic career, probably only beaten by the crazy amount of drawings I did for the 8th edition version of the Lhurgoyf.

The art description for Zur was pretty brief, and it was only through several cycles of sketches and emails that we nailed down just how crazy Zur needed to look…

But when I started the process I imagined Zur as a more serious, even grim, figure pushed to the edge of his sanity and disdainful of those of ‘lesser power’ who had usurped him…

Zur: First Sketch

Yeah, he’s one grumpy enchanter ready to ruin your day.

So, for my next sketch, would you like something else from Magic, or something completely different?