Uncover a land of fairytales and wonder. Welcome to Eldraine in our coverage of the newest set’s artist summit!
No, this isn’t our set review, today we have something a little special to share. Just the other day, Wizards of the Coast held an artist summit for their latest set and invited us to come along and ask some questions. The two artists we got to meet were Deborah Garcia and Magali Villeneuve. Both have extensive backgrounds working on other card games.
On the MTG side of things, Garcia is an art director on Magic’s Worldbuilding team and has lead projects like Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate and upcoming sets Murder at Karlov Manor and Modern Horizons 3. Villeneuve is a concept artist who has lent her talent for dark fantasy art to Wizards over many years with not just Magic but her art has also been featured in a few D&D source books as well.
But let’s move onto the questions! I’m not going to transcribe the entirety of the questions, but just enough to get the picture.
Q. As Wilds of Eldraine takes place after the Phyrexian Invasion, how did you work to create a more dark and weaker fairytale inspired plane?
Garcia: “We first took a look at what happened during the events of March of the Machines and worked to include them at a concept level. For example showing Castle Ardenvale in ruin or knights that have lost their kingdom and now roam the realm. The Wicked Slumber was a huge event that started during MOM and continued throughout as well.
So making sure to design the visuals during a concept push and place them strategically helps connect it to the Phyrexian Invasion. At a card level we tried to carve out a space for illustrations that had that darker tone that was made to look more unsettling than what we explored in Throne of Eldraine.
Also returning to the sources of fairy tales was pretty fruitful as those original fairy tales are much darker than our current cultural perception.”
Q. As the card styles like the adventure cards were used in the previous Eldraine set, how are you ensuring the style is still fresh?
Garcia: “To keep it fresh and exciting we wanted to work with artists and art directors that are especially great at creating magical effects in an enchanting way. As well as being able to paint physical and facial expressions as well as lots of momentum and movement.”
Q. As this is a fairytale inspired set, what sorts of media or references did the artists and art directors use to inspire their approach for the set?
Garcia: “Usually when we start a concept push we will give the artists a list of media compilations.”
Villeneuve: “We had a general tone that was very clear We also had the first Eldraine set to work from which is a good help to understand what the set is going to be about. But in this case we had to add a darker touch to the original work.”
Q. “What are some of your favourite pieces of artwork from the set? Be it your own or someone else’s?”
Villeneuve: “I was really impressed with Werefox Bodyguard by Nestor Ossandon Leal. I was really interested with werefoxes during the concept push and I think he did a really great job. I really had a love at first sight moment with the saga by Julia Metzger, The Princess Takes Flight.
I think both cards show how incredibly interesting Eldrine is as far as art is concerned. I mean both cards have very different styles but they still have the same atmosphere.”
Garcia: “If I had to pick my own, my very, very favourite card would be Valera Litfullina’s Ego Drain. It really lands on that sense of texture and crispness that I wanted to see and it has really stark colours and a really striking contrast.
When it comes to the art of Magic cards, there’s so much variety. So many talented people have been commissioned over the years to make some iconic pieces. From Christopher Rush’s Lightning Bolt and Black Lotus, to Mark Poole’s Birds of Paradise and Ancestral Recall, to Rebecca Guay’s Bitterblosson and Channel. The beautiful art depicted on these cards have become truly timeless and the same can be said of Villeneuve’s art. The facial features and body language she conveys in her art are truly remarkable.
Older cards like Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Narset, Enlightened Master are so recognisable because of the art that it’s impossible to mistake them for any other card. And now Eriette of the Charmed Apple and Rowan, Scion of War have entered her ever expanding portfolio. I look forward to seeing what else she can create in the future. Also while Garcia isn’t a card artist herself, the sets wouldn’t be what they are without her art direction and as such I’m glad I was able to listen to her thoughts on how the set came to be.
A big thank you to Wizards of the Coast for allowing us to sit in on this artist summit and ask Villeneuve and Garcia some questions. With Wilds of Eldraine released, stay tuned for our set review with a fantastic unboxing and be sure to check out more of our tabletop content plus join the Qualbert Discord for all the latest updates.