Night's Whisper by David Martin

Night’s Whisper by David Martin

Collecting original Magic art typically involves searching for paintings of the art done for your favorite cards.  An often overlook avenue for collectors, both new and well established, is the original sketch done for the card.  While not every piece has an original sketch available, it provides a collector the another opportunity to obtain a unique piece of art, especially for digital work.

Every artist follows their own method.  Ranging from creating multiple sketches before a final painting to 100% digital production, you will run into a wide range of approaches among the artists that have done art for the game.

Some artists create a full size sketch, affix it to a board and proceed to paint directly over it, using the image underneath as a guide.  Other artists will only create thumbnails or vague character studies before moving on to creating the piece in their medium of choice.  You see alot of this with digital artists.

Digital Art

Magic is being done increasingly in digital media.  The trend is unmistakable.  The benefits to the artist that doing work through the computer are many, but as collectors of original art, that typically leaves us in a lurch.  While being done in the digital format makes the art no less amazing , there is no opportunity to hang a unique piece of the game on our wall.  Prints and high quality canvas recreations are often made available by the artists, but they are just not the same.  There is a magic missing.

Threads of Disloyalty by Anthony S. Waters

Threads of Disloyalty by Anthony S. Waters

That is where the Original Sketch comes in.

While the industry is embracing and incorporating digital production, many artists, especially those that work in both media, will use pencil underdrawings and sketches to cement their ideas.  Often this sketch is scanned into Photoshop and provides the backbone of the final piece.  Sometimes the sketches will be collected into sketch books displaying character and environment concepts.  Either way, these sketches provide that special link to the game that is missing with a print, that one of one feeling that collectors seek.

Sketch Economics

Sketches also provide a great gateway into collecting Magic art.

Simply put, they are cheap.  In my experience, the sketches are typically sold for ~1/10th the price of a comparable painting.  While pricing will vary by artist, I’ve seen original sketches normally range from $10 to $100 depending on the size and complexity of the drawing and the popularity of the card.

Enter the Infinite by Terese Nielsen

Enter the Infinite by Terese Nielsen

Will you find some artists asking more?  Definitely, but they are typically the more prominent artists that are already mostly sold out of their original paintings.  Even with these artists, I have found the prices to roughly follow the 1/10th rule ($100-$400).

Baleful Strix by Nils Hamm

Baleful Strix by Nils Hamm

Thumbnails are generally not seen sold as single images, but as collections in sketch books or the like.  Some artists even refuse to sell them as they feel they do not adequately represent their work.  While I understand the sentiment, as a collector they still represent the work and the thought process that went into creating the final product and have a place in my collection.

The added benefit of being cheaper presents less of a hurdle to propose an original sketch as a gift for a Birthday or Holiday.  While paintings around $100 are still out there, most are priced well above that point and are therefore harder to propose as a gift.  The original sketch of your favorite art for around $50 is a much easier pitch to make to a parent or significant other.

If you are looking for a gift for a Magic player or collector in your life, they will definitely appreciate the gesture of giving them one of these sketches as a gift.

Hopefully you enjoyed this brief introduction into collecting original sketches and will consider starting or adding to your collection with one in the future.

When you ask an artist if they have any originals left, make sure to ask about sketches as well, you might be surprised as the answer.

Make sure to check in next week when we talk about common pitfalls for new collectors.