the latest set from Magic the gathering is called: Wilds of Eldraine. Its a fairy-tale inspired set with lots of well known figures like the Beanstalk Giant, Sleeping Beauty and the pied Piper.

I had the honor and pleasure of working on the set to shape the style guide and give flesh to ideas and design before the actual commission of illustration began. It is a really fun experience getting to design elements at this early stage. And during the weeks of doing concepts, I suddenly spotted a small sketch by the intern Amanda Lee. it was a hydra with many heads and instead of heads it was geese necks. I instantly laughed at how silly and unfrightening it looked and then shouted out: “I wanna paint the goose hydra!” I was sure it would never get to be a real card, but I was hoping it would somehow be a part of the set, no matter how stupid it looked.  I think I kept saying that every day for the rest of the week “ I wanna paint the goose hydra”. So a couple of months later Ii got an email from my art director: – I got you the Goose Hydra.

The goose hydra was all I could think of since that. I instantly had the idea of her honking and making a lot of noise, scaring away the ordinary smaller geese. The nest is huge as hell resting on a cliffside and below you could see the cloudscapes and the mountain. 

The sketch came out with no other iterations. 

I painted a color comp in acrylics. Since I knew the necks and the body would be white I was facing a harder task: I had to make everything surrounding her darker. I also wanted the scene to be bright and happy so I kept the colors nice and saturated. 

When I finished my acrylic comp I noticed how busy it was: I was afraid that the white of the clouds would take away focus from the white goose necks, so digitally I edited the comp to lose the white in the background also I tried adding yet another cliffside to the lower left bottom area to get a darker shape behind the wing as to not lose the silhouette reading. 

In the final I added some more orangey bounce light to the plumage to even further enhance the effect of bright sunlight. 

The most fun was painting all the expressions of the faces and imagining the sound each one would make. I might have said some of the sounds out loud while painting. 

acrylic comp

Digital edit

Sketch with digital values