Top 10 Card Art: Adventures In the Forgotten Realm
Zariel, Archduke of Avernus
Scott M. Fischer
In the set Adventures in the Forgotten Realms there are two versions of Zariel and while the other is fantastic this version is the one that caught my eye and made it onto this list. It’s a piece of art that feels both high art and high fantasy, in that its imagery is extreme and yet its balanced and crafted so nicely. The primary focus of the character is crisp inside the triangle created by her weapon and yet everything else seems out of focus, which creates an image that draws you into the center right away.
For me it’s impossible to escape Ryan Pancoast’s work in Magic: the Gathering, but I do understand why he might slip by unnoticed to others; believe me though that’s a compliment. Ryan Pancoast has a way of making characters fit so nicely into MTG, his style just fits so well it’s almost as if he were destined to make art for this game. I like what we see here as he manages to reinvent a classic character from the forgotten realms and make him look like another cast member of the multiverse.
Here we have a classic work by Daarken. I think he is at his best when he is giving us art that is on the darker side of things, work that’s ethereal and yet full of substance and I will be adding Mind flayer to that list. His take on the mind flayer feels a little different, somehow more alien. It’s truly creepy and I know if I saw those fingers cross above my head I would shiver and die.
I hadn’t heard of Daniel Zrom before making this list and his credits in MTG are few, but I really do hope they hire him more often. DemiLich is such a fun piece, but I urge you to check out more of his stuff if you get a chance because wow. Let’s get back to this card though. This piece is in many ways simple and yet perfectly detailed where it needs to be. The crystals that form the teeth and eyes are somehow beautiful and yet haunting, jagged, and yet symmetrical. I could see an adventurer making the wrong turn and coming face to skull with this thing and being unable to move, stuck there paralyzed and confused.
Fate’s reversal is a great example of a story within a piece of art. At the bottom we see the fates represented on a taro card, the threads of fate starting within the card itself and springing out in a glowing purple light that frames the two fates of our character. The bleak yet hopeful side to the right and the tragic yet beautiful fate on the left. There is a dichotomy and balance that is achieved that I found to be mesmerizing.
Icingdeath, Frost Tyrant
I typically am not a big fan of dragon art, even if it is striking, as I prefer to see the human form in art, but I had to make an exception for this piece. I love the colors used here, the icy white and blue in every shade with the golden glow underneath make this piece both striking and cold. The way the crystals form on its back while merging with the ice in the background make for an amazing creature. That said I would urge you to check out Kieran’s other work though, as his character pieces are beyond amazing and I look forward to more work from this artist.
Xanther, Guild Kingpin
Now this is a first, the same artist back to back but I mean you see why with the art for Xanther. There is just so much going on in this picture and those for me are always the most fun. Each character in the image is their own story and really builds this idea of a den for scoundrels. To the elves whispering in the back left to the Dwarf and Goblin making some sort of deal. Its absolutely a fun piece of art and one that showcases Kieran’s ability to tell a story with one still image. Just spend some time looking over this one, it’ll be worth it.
Shessra, Death’s Whisper
Marie Magny does a lot of work for League of Legends and Runeterra and that same crisp character art makes for a good transition into Magic: the Gathering. This piece of art is simple and yet striking, beautiful yet deadly and for that I can’t get enough. In a lot of ways, it does lack the color composition that would make it stand out as a Green/Black card but that really is my only gripe. Hell, I love it so much it’s my current background on my PC. All in all, this is a great addition to the game and I am sure we will be seeing more from this artist in the future.
Grand Master of Flowers
Now here we have a mesmerizing piece of art in Master of Flowers. The circular framing of the upper half of this character is masterful, of course you see the halo of golden birds around his head, but you may miss how it continues on creating a perfect circle with the red rope. The technique places your eyes right where they need to be and then pulls you in further with the golden eyes and dangerous yet charming face. This sort of planning makes it fit within Planeswalker art quite well as the lower half is usually cut off or obscured when in card form and so the effect is amplified. Yongjae is a master, and I don’t have enough good things to say about all of their art.
Lolth, Spider Queen
Alright we are at the number one spot with an artist you may be familiar with if you’ve read a few of my lists. Jesper shows us once again his ability to craft monsters, but monsters that aren’t just frightening, they are gorgeous as well. If you just look at Lolith herself, you see a creature who is almost motherly, that is until you see she cradles a dying adventurer like she would cradle a babe. The fear continues to set in as your eyes move down and truly understand the horror at hand. The spider body is grotesque, the skin is pink and hairless, the folds show its composition. Now you look on in fear and disgust. It’s a hard balance and one that Jesper is all to good at.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realm was one of those sets that didn’t have me excited about the art, as the world has been done and overdone, and yet here we are with 10 great pieces that can stand up against any other Magic art. If you enjoyed this article, then be sure to let me know down below and become a member of the site so that you are notified when my next article goes live. For that just scroll down past the comment section.
With that friends, I’ll catch you in the multiverse, bye!
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