Today, a known associate in Sam Gaglio, aka Magic Man Sam, aka the brilliant mind behind Rhystic Studies on YouTube and I sat down to have a chat about War of the Spark and its art.
Before that happens, you should quickly read a mini interview I had with art director Taylor Ingvarsson.
With there being so many iconic characters on multiple cards, was there anything challenging or unique that ADs had to do for this set to ensure character depiction was accurate across art styles?
Taylor: The unique situation was that there were so darn many Planeswalkers, in addition to our set goals, that we had to double down on our pre-commission planning to get all of these amazing characters illustrated. Another challenge we were excited to tackle was to portray these characters within a war zone - how would it look to really ramp up their power suit to help immerse the players into the story, and communicate each characters individual traits. As far as Planeswalkers art styles go, we typically lean toward realistic representations, but truly, there is no one correct style for depicting them. It really comes down to the goal of the card, the set, and what we’re trying to communicate to the viewer that will help reinforce the character’s mechanical space as well as making them look as cool as possible.
How difficult was it juxtaposing an Egyptian style into the land of Ravnica?
Taylor: Both the planes of Amonkhet and Ravnica are absolutely beautiful, and their architectural motifs fit quite lovely together. The idea wasn’t to bring structures directly from Amonkhet but rather construct them on Ravnica out of Ravnican materials. This helped to keep the feeling of subtle manipulation and influence across the plane which, in my opinion, feels more sinister than dropping in architecture directly from Amonkhet.
Is it still Autumn? How did you express that in the art with so much other action?
Taylor: For the most part, yes. We wanted to carry over the autumnal coloration from Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance into War of the Spark. In this set we were working with a pretty heavy narrative theme so adding that pop of color was a nice way to bring in some vibrancy to the urban pallet of Ravnica. Also, you will notice throughout the set, the sky changes colors to help carry the story forward from a vibrant morning sky, mid-day sun, and then to a dark, yet colorful night sky as Bolas kicks off his sinister Elderspell.
When we see cards that have stylistic departures from things we were used to as a normal is this artists pushing the envelope, art direction pushing the envelope or both working in tandem?
Taylor: That depends on the project and what the needs or vision is for the set as a whole. The Art Director and Writer may have a strong idea that pushes the style of a particular spell or creature to enhance the cool factor - that will become a targeted ask. Other times, an artist may send in an alternative sketch that still delivers on the art brief, but offers a unique visual direction. That can be an awesome surprise, and if we see it as a benefit to the card and the set we will usually OK the artist’s vision. It’s a joy to be able to collaborate with such amazingly skilled individuals who bring their own voice to the table, as that enhances the visual range for our card sets.
And now to hear more on the art, click through and enjoy.