Today I thought I’d share a selection of my digitally painted faces at full zoom… These are all for Magic: the Gathering cards, so each face on the printed card is only a fraction of an inch tall. At full zoom, you can see how loosely I paint them.

When I paint faces for printing this small, I compress the value range of the flesh and focus on making readable the expressive features of the face: the eyes, eyebrows, and lips. I think of each of these faces as if they’re wearing makeup for acting on stage.

My partner Anthony Palumbo posed for this fellow:

Getting the facial expressions just right is one of my absolute favorite things. Tiny changes in the angles of the corners of the eyes and mouth make a huge difference!

(Here’s a bonus second face from the background of that one)

I love to make each and every face look like a different person, from playing with the skull structure…

…to adding a dramatic makeup look and eyebrow piercing.


I try not to repeat the same lighting scenarios or poses but the exercise of putting these together has got me noticing that I’m still clearly partial to that confident back-tilt and eye contact. It’s so good for Magic characters though!