Horror of the Broken Lands © Wizards of the Coast

[pix_dropcap]W[/pix_dropcap]ith the prerelease just around the corner, all of my Amonkhet cards have now been previewed. I have a total of seven cards (eight illustrations) in the set, although technically Gideon, Martial Paragon is part of the Planeswalker Deck and not the main set. You can take a look at Gideon, Martial Paragon and Grasping Dunes in my previous blog post, Amonkhet Preview Season.

In my previous post I mentioned that I also created 10 story illustrations for the Amonkhet block. These were pivotal moments in the story that needed to be visualized, not just for the writers, but also for possible use in the trailer and card art. One such illustration ended up being used in the trailer (at 1:18) and for the card Gideon’s Intervention.

The original story illustrations I created were in black and white and were a much wider aspect ratio. I needed to move around some of the elements so that it would work as a Magic card and, of course, color and finish the illustration.

You’ll notice that Gideon’s armor changed from the original story illustration. Back then we hadn’t finalized Gideon’s design, so I just used his generic armor from earlier sets. The background and Gideon’s spell effect also changed, but most of the illustration is pretty similar to my original idea. I’m assuming that I will be able to post the other nine illustrations once the entire block has been released. Here’s to waiting until July!

Never © Wizards of the Coast

The next two illustrations are for a single card called an aftermath card. The card is Never // Return, which can be found here. Never is probably one of the highest key paintings I’ve done for Magic (other than Gideon, Martial Paragon), or maybe just in general. Kaladesh had a lot of bright sunny days, but Amonket even more so. I really wanted to get across the idea that she’s baking in the sun. She’s about to die and she knows it.

Return © Wizards of the Coast

While I wanted people to realize it is the same person in each card, I also wanted to make them feel drastically different. The easiest way to do that was to change the color palette. I wanted to change the time of day to sunset in Return.

Time should have passed in order for her to decay into a zombie, but also from a metaphorical sense; the sun is setting on her life, she has reached the end of her days on this plane. I don’t know, maybe that’s a little too corny.

Now that WotC devotes a lot of time and energy into worldbuilding, each block feels fresh and new. You don’t get burnt out painting the same generic fantasy illustrations because the world is always new. If you get tired of painting filigree, don’t worry because the next block is just around the corner. I think it also helps artists to break out of their comfort zone. I know I wouldn’t have painted these designs if left to my own devices, so it’s nice to be forced to play in these different arenas.

To find out more information regarding aftermath cards, take a look at WotC’s article Doing the Aftermath.

Time to Reflect © Wizards of the Coast

The next up is Time to Reflect. This was a very challenging painting for me because it required several elements that needed to fit together and work on a card. I needed to show someone being forced into a sarcophagus, a zombie trying to close the lid, a row of sarcophagi, and additional zombies.

At first I didn’t have the zombie in the foreground, instead he was back by the other zombie and they were both forcing the woman into the sarcophagus. The brief called for one of the zombies to use a staff or weapon to push the woman into the sarcophagus, but after I turned in my sketch, we felt that it looked a little too violent. Violence against a woman by seemingly male figures wasn’t something WotC or myself wanted to convey.

I decided to make the second zombie really close to the camera and I wanted everyone to be extremely close together, almost on top of each other. I wanted tangents in the painting so that the viewer felt anxious. I shoved the woman’s face right up against the hands of the foreground sarcophagus to reinforce her claustrophobia. She’s in real trouble, and it should feel like there is no hope. The world is closing in around her.

Hooded Brawler © Wizards of the Coast

The last up is Hooded Brawler. The architecture in this one gave me the opportunity and excuse to use more dappled lighting in my illustration.

I could have gone a little lighter in the shadows, especially on the architecture on the left. Some more bounce light would have helped make those darker areas read more easily. I also think the naga’s knife is getting a little too lost.

Thanks for taking a trip through Amonkhet with me. See you next time!