Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Art of Eldrazi

Now that the full Eldrazi spoiler is up, time for me to showcase some of the more notable pieces.

I always like to note any art on cards that are particularly unique. The ones that stray from the normal "fantasy" genre art. Fantasy genre art has always looked the same to me - traditional art paintings that are detailed and somewhat life-like. But contemporary art is so much more, these days. And I'd like to see Wizards embrace other art styles for their cards. More cartoony and simplistic. Or more digital. More colorful. Or even anime-inspired. This set has great art in it. Let's take a look.

Amazing art for an amazing card. And numero uno of the set (1/248).

This piece is incredibly surreal, particularly because of the halo formed around the Eldrazi's head. It's religiously inspired, but ironic that the focal point is the head of a tentacled monstrosity. Without any context, this piece inspires curiosity in the viewer.

What is this world of floating pyramidal structures and gigantic Lovecraftian creatures? If I wanted to showcase the Eldrazi and Zendikar all in one card, I'd choose this piece.

Art by Jason Felix

I think this is my favorite Mark Tedin art to date, and he's drawn a LOT of Magic cards. The subject matter might have a lot to do with it, but I love his use of brilliant magenta, juxtaposed with an eerie blue. This is a color combination very rarely used on Magic cards, if it's ever been used at all. It's exaggerated, a little cartoonish, but no less epic because of its styling.

There's a lot of whimsy in this piece, and I think Magic needs more whimsy. I, for one, welcome our new fantastical Eldrazi overlords.

Art by Mark Tedin

Well, this is going to a color-extreme. It's like a gigantic snowglobe with a rainbow castle inside. I wouldn't really like this art on anything but a white card because the white border really counterbalances the explosion of color well.

I'm a big fan of the asymmetrical columns of geometric shapes. It's really out-of-this-world. Seems like a big spell for a small man. (But it only costs one mana!)

Art by Veronique Meignaud

Yay for solid blocks of color! I'm a huge fan of this art because it's so graphic-novel-inspired. This art is instantly recognizable at a glance, and it stands out from all the browns and grays Magic artists tend to use. (While on green and red cards they always use a lot of... green and red, which to me is so dull.) This piece's three main shades are yellow, dark blue, and pink highlights. It's bold, and it's making a statement.

Unfortunately, I don't really see "lifegain" when I see a giant yellow streak. And the card itself is not deserving of such incredible art. But I'd like to see more art like this in the future.

Art by Mike Bierek

Another one from Mike Bierek! After seeing this was also his creation, I had to find his other Magic cards. His very first MTG cards were in M10, so he's a pretty recent acquisition, but this piece clearly demonstrates that he's got serious chops. (And that he should keep drawing Magic cards.) His other notable work was Stoneforge Mystic.

Although I like the art on Luminous Wake better, the card Oust is clearly more deserving of this piece of work. The area around the Eldrazi's head is being warped, pulverized to dust-like particles, and exploding in a ball of light all at once. The sky itself is getting twisted by the effect. Is this Gideon's doing?

Art by Mike Bierek

I like this quite a bit, and yes, I did complain about too many "browns". But the subtle lighting effects of this piece are quite cool! It gives a strong impression of weather. The atmosphere is moist and palpable. The golden horizon line is beautiful, and its low placement makes you realize how huge this creature must be. (Well, to me, it looks abnormally large for an antelope.)

Kind of reminds me of monsters from the Final Fantasy series...

Art by John Avon

Get me a desktop-sized image of this right now! WANT.

The sun flare might be a stroke of brilliance. Not that I promote using  more sun flares in Magic cards.

I think this art has a lot of flavor, a lot of character, and a lot of pizazz. This guy looks like the main hero out of a comic book or something. I guess the card itself is quite solid, but his generic name is not doing him justice.

Also, he reminds me of The One Electronic from Rice Boy.

Art by Steven Belledin

This piece is incredibly strange. The opaque-ness of this umbra makes it unlike all the other Umbras I've seen. It's like he's trapped in this supernatural jelly thing with way too many ... apparatuses. Apparati. (That's not a word.)

NO crab looks like that. Seriously. But obviously, I love that blue color. And I love tentacle-y things. So I give this two thumbs up.

Art by Christopher Moeller

Wow. This piece has a disconcerting effect on the eyes when looked at inside a card frame. Primarily because it's all one color tone (rich maroon). The juxtaposition of the maroon and the light blue is weird (but in an intriguing way!). I think Magic artists could exploit the card frames more in general. This is one way of doing it.

The more I look at it, the more it grows on me.

Art by Chris Rahn

Man, this art is just cool. I'm pretty sure this was digitally produced. Can traditional methods achieve that ink swirl effect? Probably, but in Photoshop it probably takes like 5 minutes. It's obvious artists are trending toward more digital art than traditional methods, and I am personally a huge fan of this trend. There are some traditional pieces I really enjoy, but I think the digital medium lends itself more to experimentation (it probably takes less time).

But what do I know. Nothing.

Art by Igor Kieryluk 

Ok, I like weird color juxtapositions, and this is one of them. Reminds me of Spellbound Dragon, which had one of my favorite arts from Reborn. Red cards need to be less overall red. They start to blend together in my mind.

This art will at least stand out amongst its other red counterparts. I'm not 100% behind this piece, but at least it's different. It kind of smashes you over the head with color and saturation.

Art by Steve Prescott
I don't even know what's going on in this picture, but I'm a fan. Looks like an Eldrazi orgy. I like the perspective on this, from above, which is not how most Eldrazi are probably seen. Maybe these are just some of the little ones, though.

It's the texture in the composition I like the most. Very easy on the eyes. And not overwhelmingly red. It's got all kinds of colors. But I can still tell for sure that it's a red card, just from the art.

Art by Justin Sweet

Gigantomancer also looks like the hero of his own story. The card is like the cover to a book you want to read. Hopefully the Praying Mantis talks telepathically to him and tells him things, like what it's like to be upside down.

The art equalizes the two figures and makes them a pair, instead of having one control the other - because of their size similarity and the fact they take up equal space in the frame. Somehow this makes me think they are companions. Not friend and foe. Not master and servant. But in the Magic world it certainly seems humans try very hard to be the masters on their planes.

If nothing else, though, a gigantomancied praying mantis is pretty funny.

Art by Chippy

I like pairs in Magic art. For whatever reason, pairs tell a story automatically. They're a story in themselves. With individuals in a card frame, it's harder to get a story across. If you remember Safehold Duo from Shadowmoor, that was one of my favorite arts at the time. They were battling together for life and limb. And one was +1/+1 and one was vigilant, whatever that means when translated to actual battle.

As for this card, one's an expert in creating mana, and one's +3/+3. And for whatever reason, they're working together; as one sleeps, the other awakens. One likes land, and the other likes creatures. That's a cool story.

Art by Jason Chan

There's been kind of a basic-land fail. No full-art lands. If the above lands were full-art, I would be drooling all over them by now. Still, I imagine foils of those would be pretty sweet.