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 Living Lore by Jason Felix from Dragons of Tarkir.

Take it away Jason.

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I would like to start out by saying how I am always changing my process of crafting art. Sometimes I work traditionally, sometimes I work straight digitally, and sometimes I will mix the mediums together. Part of this approach is to keep things fresh, challenging, and to broaden my skillset.

The description of the card is as the following:

Title: Avatar of Thought
SIZE: W: 2.103″ x H: 1.543″

ART DESCRIPTION:
Color: Blue creature
Location: On a windswept plain, perhaps in a storm or twilight.
Action: Striding across the battlefield is a bizarre creature. It’s a manifestation of pure thought that is visible only because it has been plastered with unrolled Chinese-style scrolls (no real-world symbols or letters please) that are pressed against it as though blown there by a strong wind. Much of its form is covered in this way. It might leave magical traces like footprints behind.
This creature does not fly, so avoid any appearance of hovering.
Focus: The creature

The challenge, as you can read above, is “What” does the creature look like?

Invisible yet, only visible with unrolled scrolls wrapped on its body.

I didn’t want to complete wrap the creature up in scrolls as it will look too much like a mummy. Rather I wanted to leave areas open to reveal that its true form is invisible & impossible to see without the scrolls present.

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I explored a variety of shapes. First I sketched what the creature would look like if it was visible to the eye.

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Then from there to wrap it up with scrolls and make the flesh invisible. To deconstruct what has been constructed.

For the backdrop, I had imagined a large desert field that is kicking up sand… to give the illusion of a dust storm approaching OR the creature is actually walking thru the storm.

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After sketching, I scanned in the art and digitally explored this idea further. The first submitted sketch was an assemblage of legs and tendrils that really represented an abstract creature.

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The next few rounds I explored recognizable shapes such as a massive spider or even a large bison.

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The general feedback was to avoid animal shapes and stay more abstract.

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After the round of black and white sketches I moved ahead delivered a color comp. I placed a heavy emphasis on blue sketch juxtaposed with a dry windy desert & the withered creature-scroll-thing.

Most of my time is spent developing ideas, thinking thru what I want to create, looking through references for added inspiration, looking at master paintings for possible color direction, and sketching endlessly. By the time my initial thumbnails are approved, most of the work is done and I have a clear roadmap to follow to achieve the final painted image.

The task of creation & brainstorming is done, after that it’s just long hours of hard work simply rendering out the final image.

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After completing the final image, something about it felt unsatisfying about it.

I’m not sure what it was, so for my own amusement I created a second painting and submitted it. It felt more comfortable to deliver 2 images and allow the team at Wizards to decide which image works best.

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It’s been a gratifying experience to illustrate for Magic, to work with Jeremy, Dawn, and so many other amazing people at the Wizards office.

Of course, without all the players of Magic none of this would be possible. Thank you all for having such passion for the game that allows us, the artists, to be a part of the world that has been created.

The original artwork for Living Lore was created digitally.  Anyone interested in purchasing prints or some of his other work should check out his website.

Thank you Jason for sharing this story with us. 

Check back next Thursday for more Art in Focus.