Magic: the Gathering (MtG) is a really wonderful license for artists to work on.  The art directors are excellent, giving good feedback and creating a large playing field for the artists to run around on creatively.  Additionally, the fans of the property are consistently courteous and add enthusiasm to the work, expressing appreciation and support.  The Magic community also provides artists the chance to travel from time to time, attending events to sign cards and sell art.

I will be attending an upcoming Magic Grand Prix in Las Vegas, May 28th-31st.  It is lining up to be a pretty significant event in the Magic schedule.  I believe that the largest GP to date was the 2013 Las Vegas event with just under 4,500 players.  This year the organizers are anticipating 10,000 players.

I have attended a few GP events as an artist and with 1500 or so players, they have kept me busy with sales and drawing for a solid 3 days, so 10,000 players should make for an incredible event.

Even better is the great group of artists that will be attending.  Channel Fireball is hosting the event and it looks like they are looking to break a record with the number of artists at one GP as well.  Typically you might see 3-5 artists, but they have announced 19 so far!

I am looking forward to spending time with the other artists that will be in attendance.  It is like a mini, highly focused convention!

The good folks at Channel Fireball know how to put on a good event too.  If you are remotely interested, don’t miss this.

Here is a link to the site with more information and registration: Grand Prix Las Vegas

Since this is a post about Magic, I thought I had better share some recent work done for the game.

Mystic Meditation

This was a great card to paint.  I wanted to create strong shapes and contrast with the huge dragon bell.  I put the two pillars in on either side to create a sense of strength and stability for this setting.  I also made the scene symmetrical to add to the sense of order.

I set the background in blue to give some strong color contrast with the bell and ribbons.  To aid in the visual cues describing the waves of sound coming from the bell I added a series of shockwaves and distortion coming from the bell chamber and dragon mouths, reflecting off the spell cast around the figure.
Lastly, I fixed the dragon heads (after some good direction from Jeremy Jarvis) to better reflect the dragons in the particular world setting and added a little color shift to the shockwaves.
I enjoy adding the small details to scenes like this.  The delicate pinks blossoms on the center column lay undisturbed inside the spherical shield around the figure in the center, as does the tea, set on the clean white table cloth.

Winds of Qal Sisma

I enjoy painting creatures.  It always takes me back to watching Adventure Theatre on Saturday afternoons as a kid.  It seems like there was always some Ray Harryhausen movie on.  When I paint monsters, in my head, they always move in stop motion.

This card was also art directed by Jeremy Jarvis.  This poor band of soldiers is caught in a blizzard, but that isn’t the worst of it.  Their visibility reduced and their senses dulled, they don’t notice the hungry beast tracking them through the snow.  Death is imminent.

Reality Shift

This card was directed by Dawn Murin, and was actually released in two versions.  One zoomed in on the figure in the sphere, and this view with the camera pulled back showing Ugin the dragon, pulling the strings.

One of the challenges of creating art for Magic, is the size of the final print.  You have to keep the big shapes in mind from the start, using either value or color contrast, or both to keep it reading on the trading card.

Thanks for having a look and read and if you are going to the Magic Grand Prix in Vegas I hope you will come stop by and say hello!

Howard Lyon