The creative process behind each piece of Magic art is unique to the image and the artist.

From the art description to the final product, the Art in Focus series reviews every step involved in crafting the art of Magic the Gathering in the artist’s own words.

This week we shine the spotlight on Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Akroma, Angel of Fury by Terese Nielsen from From the Vault: Angels.

Take it away Terese.


When I hear the word “wrath” I don’t generally think of hope, honor or righteousness. I find those to be a bit of a mismatch, similar to reading from the Big Book; “Every living substance that I have made will I destroy,” and several pages later: “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.

Regardless, I wasn’t asked to write prose for the bible or bestow names on Magic the Gathering angels. So, we have “Akroma, Angel of Wrath,” champion of law, righteousness, hope and honor, and an alternate reality of her, called “ Akroma, Angel of Fury,” bursting with chaos and destruction.

My intent was to ratchet up the polarity of their personalities: the heavenly juxtaposed to the savage, vengeful presence.

I wanted the white Akroma to feel like someone I could trust and to feel awestruck by, but apprehensive about the red Akroma’s unpredictable, explosive temperament.


From start to finish my visual allies were Ron Spears’ vibrant version of red Akroma and Chippy’s masterful, elegant rendition of the white Akroma. I followed their costuming cues, while allowing myself a bit of stylistic freedom.

Speaking of costuming, both of these girls have swords, I tell ya! Blades this size actually need wings of their own! But hey, we’re talking about angels here.

Angels (with superhuman powers) or not, I feel that one would need to sport more than a little angelic muscle to hoist those babies, not to mention that capable physiques are my default preference, as you probably already know.


I mean, these angels are supposed to inspire armies and sow chaos and destruction. Both of their bodies were loosely referenced from photos of Erin Stern, who is a Figure Olympian and awesome fitness guru, and also my reference for Basandra, Battle Seraph.

Below, are the assignment descriptions given to me by the art director.

I noodled around with many tiny thumbnail versions and then went on to tighten up the two I felt best about. The sketches were then submitted and approved and then I went on to paint the illustrations. Both pieces are rendered on velvet fine art paper using acrylic, oil and colored pencil.


Title: Akroma, Angel of Wrath


Color: White creature
Location: Your choice
Action: Show the angel Akroma, an alabaster-skinned, indigo-haired champion of law and righteousness. She is the righteous advocate of justice. Show her in the sky over a battlefield. The camera directly in front of her as she approaches fearlessly, leading her troops into the fray. Maybe in the background, we can see legions of knights behind her, willing to follow her to their deaths.
Focus: Akroma
Mood: An awe-inspiring leader of armies




Title: Akroma, Angel of Fury


Color: Red creature
Location: In the night sky
Action: Show the angel Akroma as a fiery angel of vengeance. Hovering in the night sky, she holds a flaming sword above her head. Beams of reddish light stream from the sword, illuminating the dark horizon. This is an “alternate universe” version of the white-aligned Akroma. We need a new version of red-aligned Akroma. She is like a natural disaster soaring through the skies, sowing destruction and chaos in her wake. Red-aligned Akroma is unpredictable, savage and callous.
Focus: Akroma
Mood: Ruthless and vengeful


A few questions popped up after these girls were revealed at the SDCC panel. Some wondered if the Akromas are a diptych. The short and only answer is “no,” but that would be cool.

I was also asked, “Since you’ve illustrated new versions of Hanna and Akroma, are there any other Legendary Females from Magic that you want to try your hand at re-envisioning?” None in particular pop out, but I’m definitely open to suggestions.

Something I just realized a week ago that would be super fun is tiny 4×4” symbolic Planeswalker portraits like the one I just finished of Dack Fayden for Meadery’s charity tournament.


The original artwork for Akroma, Angel of Wrath is currently up for auction (Painting & Sketch), and the painting and sketch for Angel of Fury will be sold right after the first auction ends.  Anyone interested in purchasing prints or some of her other work should check out her website..

If you want a chance to win free prints and potentially artist proofs of both Angels, make sure to check out the Auction Guessing Game for the Akromas.

Thank you Terese for sharing this story with us. 

Check back next Thursday for more Art in Focus.