Aether Revolt

Yahenni’s Expertise – Aether Revolt © Wizards of the Coast

[pix_dropcap]I[/pix_dropcap]t’s preview season again for the upcoming Magic: The Gathering set Aether Revolt, due to hit stores January 20th, 2017.

So far two of my cards have been previewed: Yahenni’s Expertise and Scrap Trawler. I believe I have a total of five cards in Aether Revolt. Originally Solemn Simulacrum was going to be Aether Revolt, or at least it was commissioned during the same wave as Yahenni’s Expertise and Scrap Trawler. I was a little surprised when it came out in Kaladesh. I also created a story illustration and trailer illustration for Aether Revolt, so keep an eye out for those.

Creating Yahenni’s Expertise

The art description for Yahenni’s Expertise was a little daunting since it called for multiple figures, figures on the ground (which means lots of foreshortening), and buildings.

When I posted Yahenni’s Expertise, some people asked whether or not Yahenni was a female. Back when I received the original art description, Yahenni was referred to as a female. I know aetherborn are genderless, so I’m assuming at some point between receiving the commission 10 months ago and now some changes were made to the lore. If you read my post about designing the aetherborn, you will know that many changes were made during the design process, including their name (originally called sootfolk).

Aetherborn don’t have any visual gender cues, so I needed to show Yahenni as a female without resorting to giving her breasts. I hoped giving her a little more swing in her hips would do the trick. I looked at a lot of runway models to try and get the same feeling.

My initial sketches that I submit for approval are usually pretty rough. I was a little off-model, so I needed to make some changes to Yahenni’s design. I think I had Gonti fresh in my mind when I created my initial sketch.

One major change that occurred during the painting process was the pose of the guard she is sucking the life from. Originally I had the guard’s back to the camera. After I started blocking him in, I felt like the audience wasn’t connecting enough with the guard. There was a loss of empathy and horror. Changing his pose meant starting over, but I think the end result was worth it.

Scrap Trawler – Aether Revolt © Wizards of the Coast

Scrap Trawler takes place in a dark sewer, so I needed to find a way to light the scene. I suppose I could have gone with blue lights powered by aether, but I decided to have some light shining in through a window.

I wanted a strong directional light that would tell the story and direct the viewer’s eye. I think I would have lost some of that impact if I went with a bunch of lights on the walls.

I think Kaladesh and Aether Revolt gave me a lot of opportunities to play around with dramatic lighting, which is something I’ve been pushing in my art recently. There is one painting in particular that I’m excited to share from Aether Revolt, but unfortunately it hasn’t been released yet. I guess you will have to wait!