After a pretty long hiatus from working on Magic: The Gathering, I’m excited to share that I painted a card for the newest MtG set, ‘Throne of Eldraine’.

I was tasked with creating the art for ‘Savvy Hunter’, a Green and Black card, which produces a food token whenever it attacks or blocks.

The art description called for a magical twist on the huntsman character from the “Snow White” fairy tale, except gender-swapped. I was specifically asked to show a badass female hunter in furs, wielding a hatchet, making her way through dense brambles in the woods. She should be carrying a couple animal pelts, or maybe a dead boar slung over one shoulder, to show that she’s an expert hunter.

Like most jobs, I begin my work with simple thumbnails where I can freely explore some ideas with minimal commitment. Not all of these ideas will come to fruition, but it’s important to me to explore them anyways.

Once I find something I like, and that I think is an idea worth sketching, I’ll take that thumbnail and develop it further in Photoshop.

Because of the massive amount of art that MtG commissions, and the fact that the Art Director, Cynthia Sheppard needs to approve every piece of art herself, I tried to make my sketches as refined as possible, so that I wasn’t wasting her time with a lot of back and forth of revisions.

I tried to really nail the color palette (which is quite important in Magic card art), and a lot more of the costuming details than I might typically do on book cover job.

The Art Director opted for the third sketch, due to the straight on view, which she felt gave the character a greater sense of strength.

Admittedly, the third sketch was a last minute idea, as it deviated a bit from the original prompt. As such, it was a bit less refined, and posed a few problems that I never got to fully address in the sketch phase.

When I sketch, I sketch entirely from imagination so as not to stifle my creativity. This means that I sometimes draw things that look OK at first glance in a sketch, but are actually fraught with problems when I need to refine them to a more realistic level of finish. For instance, sometimes the anatomy is too exaggerated, or poses are impossible for a human to assume, and I don’t notice these issues until I actually have to work them out.

In this case, the hero’s posture and the anatomy of the deer slung over her shoulders needed a LOT more work to develop in a convincing manner. Add to that, the fact that I can’t easily shoot reference of a dead deer on someone’s back, MOST of my time was spent working on the animal anatomy.

‘Savvy Hunter’, by Dan dos Santos, © Wizards of the Coast

Here you can see the final art I submitted to the client, which was approved without further revision (above), and how the art will appear on the card (below).

This card, along with SO many other incredible works of art by fellow artists, will appear in the new MtG set, which releases tomorrow!

I’m also very proud to offer a very limited number of prints and playmats featuring this art!

Prints of this image can be found here:

Playmats are available, until stock runs out, right here: