Hello everyone! It’s time for another Magic: The Gathering art dump for Hour of Devastation, which was just released yesterday.
I didn’t have as many illustrations in Hour of Devastation and I wasn’t completely happy with the illustrations I produced. I was on a concept push when I worked on these illustrations, so maybe that’s why I didn’t get as many. There are some sets that just turn out better than others for some reason. Maybe it was the content or maybe it was the amount of time or stress I had going on with other projects. Or maybe I was just in a funk. Who knows.
It’s definitely frustrating when a new set finally comes out but you aren’t exactly happy with your results. I don’t think it had anything to do with the world. I really enjoyed the world and I feel that my Amonkhet illustrations were stronger than my Hour of Devastation illustrations.
Diabolic Edict has an interesting story behind it. You may have noticed that it has a much wider aspect ratio than a typical Magic card. That is because this illustration wasn’t originally commissioned as a Magic card, it was commissioned to be part of the cinematic in the Hour of Devastation expansion for the Magic Duels mobile game. When I saw the preview of Diabolic Edict, I was very surprised to see my art. After some research I found out that Hour of Devastation was no longer going to be released for Magic Duels and that Amonkhet was the last expansion pack for the game. I guess they didn’t want the art to go to waste. At least now I’ll get proofs!
I actually created another image that took place right before the image used in Diabolic Edict. It was sort of a before and after shot. The first shot was of Rhonas with his arms outstretched in his best “come at me bro” pose while the Scorpion God’s shadow loomed over him. Since all of the cards have been spoiled and this is the last set for the Amonkhet block, I’m pretty sure that illustration will never be used.
I mentioned in my last two Amonkhet posts that I worked on some story illustrations before any art was commissioned for either Amonkhet or Hour of Devastation. Over the course of 15 days I was tasked to create 10 story illustrations, 5 for Amonkhet and 5 for Hour of Devastation, and also create a new planeswalker. No pressure, right? Since this was a pretty tall order, the 10 illustrations were done in black and white.
These illustrations weren’t going to be in the style guide and were basically just going to be seen internally for the writers. Once previews of Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation started showing up, I noticed that some of the scenes I concepted were turned into Magic illustrations. I’m not sure if my story illustrations were given to the artists as reference, or if the ADs simply gave them the same brief. Either way, it was fun to see what other artists came up with when given the same brief.
Life Goes On was definitely a hard illustration for me. There are numerous figures, some key figures, and I was doing this while on a push in addition to some other Magic illustrations. The mood of the painting was also incredibly hard to convey.
Samut is supposed to be rallying the other initiates to fight against the gods Bolas unleashed. I was worried that people might think she was cheering the death of Rhonas instead of using his death as a catalyst to stand up against Bolas and his horde. I’m still not sure if it reads correctly. I hoped that Djeru kneeling and laying his hand on Rhonas would show that they are lamenting his death, but who knows. It might be a small detail that no one notices, especially at card size.
I think the second half of Reason // Believe was the only illustration that I was ok with. The first part of Reason // Believe was a simple broken tablet, so it isn’t anything special. I suppose it makes for a good before and after illustration, but not so much as a standalone illustration.
At card size (and because of the smaller art due to the format) it’s probably almost impossible to tell that the tablet in Believe has the symbol of a hydra on it.
I wanted to give the hydra heads their own personality, as if they are all autonomous, so one head is looking back at the others as if to say “hey, whatcha doing?” Or maybe the other head bopped him and he’s looking back to see what the problem is. Maybe they don’t particularly like each other and they get into fights and arguments. They probably fight over food too, cookies in particular. Amonkhet sand cookies.
Abandoned Sarcophagus is another illustration that still gives me nightmares. It seemed really simple and straightforward when I received the brief, but it always seems like those briefs end up being the most troublesome.
I’m not sure why I had so much trouble with this painting. Maybe it was the perspective or maybe it was because of the gold, I don’t know. I feel like this was another weak illustration from me for this set, which is unfortunate because it seems like people like the card.
I think that always happens. The more you hate a painting, the more players like the card, and vice versa. Maybe it’s Wizard’s way of keeping balance in the world. You can’t enjoy your painting and have it on an awesome card!
Samut was the planeswalker I designed while I was on the story push. Coming up with a new planeswalker is always challenging and horrifying. Are the players going to like her? Are they going to hate her?
Of course I didn’t design Samut in a vacuum. There was a team of writers and ADs who came up with the idea of Samut and what she should look like. I took some cues from the other initiates when I designed Samut. Cynthia Sheppard had created this cross-armed design that was reminiscent of a sarcophagus and I thought it would fit perfectly with Samut.
Other initiates leave their faces and torsos unprotected so that they can receive a glorious death in battle and claim their place in the Afterlife. Putting the crossed arms over Samut’s chest shows her defiance of Bolas and the trials.
Other than Sarkhan Vol, Samut is the second biggest planeswalker I designed. I came up with the design for Ob Nixilis, but he didn’t have a very big role since he was only featured in Commander 2014. I was really excited when I saw that they released an official Samut skin for Minecraft. Look how cute she is!
Creating a new planeswalker and 10 illustrations in 15 days was definitely challenging and I wish I had more time to work on them. Doing color treatments of all 10 paintings would have been great, but would have probably been a waste of resources considering they were only used internally.
I hope you enjoyed this closer look at my story illustrations for Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation. See you next time!