09/05/2011 Feature: "Creating the Art of Innistrad"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Feature Article, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
WOW. WOW. WOW. WOW. WOW 

UN - FRIGGIN - BELIEVABLE 
I may be in love. I'm buying like a case of this so I can wallpaper my house in Innistrad.
Rules Adviser, casual tournament organizer, lover of EDH and MtG evangelist.
Love love love it. The artwork is just amazing. This is turning out to be an amazing, flavorful set. Love it
This is my favorite world! Every time I see it, it just looks better!
This art is just incredible. Village Cannibals is the best- actually genuinely scary.

Having said that, I don't like the dragon much. It's a bit too Mirrodin for my liking. I would have avoided dragons altogether, or done a much sturdier-looking stone-like dragon, almost a walking cathedral.
I've gotta say, although I normally don't care much about the flavor/setting of the game, the artwork here has really nailed the setting on this one.  Impressive.

My only complaint is that dragons really don't seem like they belong in this block.  If elves can sit a block out, dragons ought to have, too.  Functionally, your big flying red/blue monsters could and should have been gargoyles.

I hope foil lands aren't shorted due to the regular ones being replaced by that checklist thing. I'll probably have to put foil INN lands in all my decks now. How cool is the pirate ship island? Best island ever.

I want like... I want the original arts for:
The ship breaking on the rocks with a cemetery in the foreground.
Balefire Dragon
The very painterly one with the menacing shadow and the woman clutching her sheet to her chest
Endless Ranks of the Dead
The island-ship

The art is simply brilliant in this set. I really liked the concept arts for the vampires. Brilliant.

Has WotC ever considered doing an art book for each set? I sure would buy ISD's art book...
I'm loving the artwork for the spirits, and the tricorn hats of course.

That one Skeleton with the Candle is also pretty sweet as well.
great job jj & creative team, really nailed the flavor and art for this set, (and im really not a big horror guy either) zombie buthcer guy at the beginning kinda creeping me out..lol
The one fourth from the bottom with the zombies looking through the stained glass window?  Priceless.  Best-looking piece I have EVER seen on a nonland Magic card.

Stupid dragon though.  Utter crap in constructed, utter bomb in limited.  This is exactly the sort of card they shouldn't make; it's no fun anywhere.  Add to that the fact that the art is completely jarring and that the flavor text sucks and you have a gigantic fail - the first true failure of the set that we've seen, IMO.
All of the art looks great, but this article and its blown-up pictures made me realize something. What is Olivia Voldaren resting her right hand on? It looks like her knee, but it can't be due to the position of her feet. Look at her feet. Her legs are either straight with the mysterious "non-knee" being something else, or her legs are made of rubber. Am I missing something here? 
I much prefer the concept art for Balefire. Also, the last artwork concerns me - it reminds me of a certain E Cullen, although he wasn't so bloodstained.
Congrats again Jeremy. This is beyond great. 

Edited to add: I agree with carrierpigeon. Endless Ranks of the Dead has one of the best paintings to ever be printed on a Magic card. It's even better bigger than card size. 
I much prefer the concept art for Balefire. Also, the last artwork concerns me - it reminds me of a certain E Cullen, although he wasn't so bloodstained.


I kind of agree with this. While they more or less look like the same dragon the pose kind makes it feel less badass. It still looks bloody amazing, but I think a different pose wouldn't have taken it from 11 to 12.

But yea, I still love that art and all the art from the set. I really can't wait to be able to buy pack after pack of this. 

To quote my friend as he read this, "I am happy that the game is finally acknowledging my sexuality."


I don't think wizards has fully realized just how much this means to the average gay person who plays their games.

I'm going to need high res copies of all of these images.  Simply put, this is the most amazing art I've seen in a magic set to date.  I'm so hyped for this release!
The artwork is just amazing.  It might just be the best art Ive seen for a Magic set.

That picture of Olivia Voldaren is jarring.  I didnt notice until DirkMantooth put me onto it.  Its a family site, so I wont say whats on my mind.  It does seem like a very glaring mistake.

The dragon art is great, but why?  Why a dragon in a horror set?  It just seems too out of place. 
All of the art looks great, but this article and its blown-up pictures made me realize something. What is Olivia Voldaren resting her right hand on? It looks like her knee, but it can't be due to the position of her feet. Look at her feet. Her legs are either straight with the mysterious "non-knee" being something else, or her legs are made of rubber. Am I missing something here? 

I think her hand is supposed to be drawing up her dress, but no, it does not look quite right.  The pull on the dress does look less like a pull and more like a bent leg under there and the hand isn't gripping the dress properly.

Thanks for noticing that because Olivia's art bothered me for awhile now.  I also feel like the line of her neck is too long, but I'm not sure.

Endless Ranks of the Undead's art is still immaculate, and Village Cannibals' art is implemented with perfect subtlety.

I really like Winona Nelson's pitchfork woman.

Howard Lyon's people are off-putting.  The well piece is great until you get to the girl who looks plastic.

Corsets by themselves or on the outside are still hilarious.  I love the thought put into the viewer's point of view, and I also love Jarvis' shout-out to gbq guys, which I've felt lacking from MtG in general, though it kinda erased the fact that not all ladies are into dudes.

though it kinda erased the fact that not all ladies are into dudes.


Well, all of the cheesecake in the game is there for them already. Really his point was that they have a little bit of stuff for people who find the male form attractive sexually.




though it kinda erased the fact that not all ladies are into dudes.


Well, all of the cheesecake in the game is there for them already. Really his point was that they have a little bit of stuff for people who find the male form attractive sexually.


My point was that Jarvis noted that the men were for "ladies" and "bro-philic dudes".  See how the latter is modified so that it specifies guys who are into guys but the former is unmodified so that it forgets that not all women are into guys?

ETA: It would be like posting cheesecake and noting "This is for the guys."  Actually, no, it's not really for all the guys. 
I cannot stress enough how thoroughly they've nailed this set.  I can't afford to buy much of it, but I will do what I can to support this fabulous work.
The butcher is stomach-turning, a little too much for my taste, but I understand why they're doing it even if it's not for me.
No Olivia Voldarren is not extremely happy to see you - she's just pinching and lifting her dress, probably so you can get a good look at her gams (perhaps she's fishing for compliments, perhaps she just wants to blind you with cheesecake and make you hesitate a split-second while reaching for that Wooden Stake).
The looming council of village elders looking down on what might be a slightly sickly victim...dunno what's going on here, but I'm fascinated to find out.
Mr. Skull:  Gyyyyauuugh!
Steven Belledin:  Amazing architecture sketch.
Daarken:  Very creepy cleric dude, I hope he's a card.
Basic Land Concepts:  While nice, they're far too dark; I can't make out any details.  I hope the set makes extensive use of "Hollywood darkness" (ie a deep blue wash that's actually fairly bright) to let us make out the details of things hiding what the characters experience as pitch-blackness.  Actual pitch-blackness just isn't much fun in a visual medium for the most part.
Clothing:  Hit this one out of the park.  It's a subtle detail, I wouldn't have wanted to be one of the ones who has to work hard on making it happen since I care to a far too slight extent to have wanted to expend effort on it, but it really builds atmosphere and as long as I'm just a casual observer, I'm glad of the work others have gone to.  The issue of "street opulence" is an interesting one to consider - in many stories where the characters are supposed to be desperate and poor, one does wonder why they can afford to dress all fancy.  Rule of Cool is an acceptible justification for such things, but it's always nice when someone bothers to look deeper.  In more specific detail, I especially like the dude in the middle with the collar-mask, and am curious about the bizarrely costumed "valkyrie"-type warrior lady in the corner.
Vampire Clothing:  They're not showing much skin by my standards, but the goofy collars and such do make them seem rather alien, as if they're beyond mortal concerns such as comfort.  Either that or it's silly, but I'll flatter the art team by assuming they had the first idea.  I'm distinctly puzzled by the vampire cleric with crosses all over her (quatrefoil rather than Christian, but still), but on the other hand, I really love the sword that the red-haired girl is holding.  And I'm very curious about the veiled Ophelia type on the right; she definitely has a neat story behind her.
Sorin Markov:  Woot!  We already know that my favorite planeswalker is turning up in Dark Ascension (still not happy about that name, but oh well), and this gives a very logical reason why.
Misty Forest:  Astonishingly beautiful.  It simply must be a wallpaper.
Werewolves:  I will bet anything that Steve Prescott is a White Wolf roleplayer.  In fact I could swear that some of the art in Werewolf: the Forsaken looks exactly like this.  The only real difference is that these werewolves all have a rather starved, emaciated look, which suits well with them being more thoroughly monstrous.
Candle Skeleton:  Altogether ooky!  He looks like he has a bit more grey matter left in his skull than the average Drudge Skeleton; I'm very interested to see what he turns out to be.  With Spirits and Zombies both cropping up in blue, the seemingly nautical look of this thoroughly corporeal and fleshless undead has strongly piqued my interest.
Balefire Dragon:  Pretty decent-looking, but I agree that the concept art was necessary, that the set didn't really need a dragon, and that the card is uninspiring (it's basically just a simplified relative of Mordant Dragon; how many variants of "it breathes fire on everything" can they do? get new material, guys!).
One-Eyed Shadow Guy:  Wow, that is very nice art.  Again, needs to be a wallpaper.  I really wanna know what this thing is.
Blue-hair Lady:  I was wondering if they'd work any Merfolk references into the set.  There shouldn't be many, but an occasional mermaid tempting lonely dudes on the beach to swim out after her and drown is very fitting with the Victorian motif.
Possessed Girl:  This is one of the few arts in the set which I don't think turned out that well; it's a little too crisp-looking and obviously digital to quite have the romantic look.  I would have applied a smudge filter.  Still, will make an interestingly different look for some sort of Breath of Life effect.  It makes me wonder...in a culture that venerates permanent death as the ultimate reward and is terrified of the undead, if someone just resurrected as themselves, miraculously, with no unpleasant aftereffects - would their own village-mates re-murder them out of superstitious fear?  It seems likely, and reinforces that Humans are monsters too in a world this grim, which is a theme I really want to see get some play.
Wishing Well:  There aren't too many references to money in the game, and I'm happy about this one.  I'm hoping perhaps it's a non-red coinflip card; maybe Demonic Tutor that only works half the time would be playable as an alternative to Diabolic?
Slawomir Maniak art:  All I can say is WTF?  Pretty, but I don't get it at all.  Very abstract-looking, seemingly almost more Mirrodin-esque, or maybe art-deco.  Dammit, now I want an art-deco Magic world.
Chick with the Eyes:  Way too much mascara there, lady.  And then I noticed the stitching on the forehead.  Presumably a blue Zombie.  (Still not happy about the Frankenstein = Zombie thing, I would have liked to see distinctions between miraculous, scientific, and occult reanimations as a way of reflecting the color wheel, with the white ones being the actual person, the black ones being blasphemous mockeries, and the blue ones being hollow robotic replicas that are less horrible than the black Zombies but still creepy and unnerving in an Uncanny Valley way.  That may be exactly what we get, but we know that the result will still be counted as Zombies, and I'm sad about that.)
Conclusion:  There are as always a few nits to pick, but overall they're doing better than ever, and I'm officially stoked.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi

though it kinda erased the fact that not all ladies are into dudes.


Well, all of the cheesecake in the game is there for them already. Really his point was that they have a little bit of stuff for people who find the male form attractive sexually.


I'm a little unhappy about that, though I don't think it's anywhere near being an actual problem.  My observation of American culture has always been that while cheesecake may make straight women and gay men unhappy, beefcake tends to make straight men and lesbians much more unhappy.  The audience for Magic is heavily male, and heavily straight, and that demographic contains a lot of guys who equate even the slightest tolerance for flattering depictions of manflesh with being "totally gay".  Exagerrated homophobia is much more likely to raise a strongly negative reaction than simply a failure to supply lusty ladies and bros-who-love-bros with the hunkery they crave.  Still, it's not like they refrain from painting Giant Spiders even though fully a fifth of the population is arachnophobic, to say nothing of all the blood in pics like Macabre Waltz, so I guess it's appropriate for them to transgress against other subjects that part of the audience might wish to avoid.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi

Innistrad looks pretty awsome. I guess my only complaint is the dragon. As a warcraft fan, one thing that always bugs me is the huge underbites that you see on a lot of wow related stuff. And this dragon looks very warcrafty. It's dumb though. The only time you see underbites in nature is with surface dwelling fish and sea birds like pelicans. Normally the smaller jaw is the one that happens to be on the side in which food is normally found. Thats why ALL predatory birds have the top side of their beak hooked and overtaking the bottom of the beak.

Dragons one would expect to hunt very much like a predatory bird. Their food will always be beneath them. Therefore, any dragon with an underbite would be at a disadvantage as it would have much more difficulty actually catching prey in it's mouth. Or even simply picking up food in it's mouth. Rather than biting things, it would be forced to clumsily shovel things up in it's lower jaw and raise it's head to try and catch the food with it's wimpy upper jaw as gravity slides it down the lower jaw.

It's a very clumsy look for a dragon. And most creatures in general.

Gays? Playing MY Magic!?!?

It's more likely then you think.


Seriously though, that shoutout was pretty cool.   
I'm happy to see sex appeal on cards for any demographic. Beautiful people make beautiful cards.


Jarvis continues to keep raising the bar. Truly astonishing work.   
Does there have to be a dragon in each set, especially where they don't really fit in? They're not really special any more. An endless slew of similar red dragons has been served up for a fair while now.
Despite my criticism of the closing bits of this article I've really enjoyed the bulk of it.  The art and flavor of Innistrad are very exciting.


As has been pointed out, Olivia is all wrong.  It looks like her dress is being pushed out by her knee at first, but then one realizes that that can't be the case because of the position of her feet, yet her hand is all wrong for grasping it as well.


The first person view lying in bed with the suspicious villagers all about is awesome.  What's wrong with me?!


Skullface is all Marge from Pee Wee's Big Adventure - wildly and actively creepy.


I also agree that the dragon is the first really bad bit I've seen from the set.  It's very metallic and sleek, very out of place, has horrible flavour text, and is unplayable to boot.  To quote from earlier in the thread it's the first true fail of the set.


The woman on the beach is pure loveliness.


The girl at the well has a very adult looking face, making her not quite right, I think.

The angel is exquisite and reminds me of Bouguereau.


Winona Nelson's pitchfork-wielding girl is desperate and formidable.


But, lastly, the vamps at the end may only appeal to homosexuals after all - the women I know would be pretty grossed out by waxed-chested dudes wearing corsets.    


Anyhow, it seems a very rich and interesting set over all.  Good job.   

Ugh! We had to have a dragon. I was already severely disappointed with the wurm we saw earlier, but as others have said this one sucks even more because it will suck fun out of limited games. Still glad we at least do not have elves. As long as these non-fitting types stay being stupid one-offs I guess it's bearable.

Everything else is awesome! I love the look of the humans in this set and I'm exited to build a deck around the awesome art.

The thing about camera angles is awesome and nice to know.

But, lastly, the vamps at the end may only appeal to homos after all - the women I know would be pretty grossed out by waxed-chested dudes wearing corsets.



Anime (and related stuff like Final Fantasy) always had a relatively huge female following and also has 'feminine' males like that. The women I know will love it. To them Sephiroth is the epithome of masculinity.
The art is absolutely jaw-dropping. I can't express how perfectly the artists nailed the visuals in each piece but also left us with shivers as we imagine just what is really happening, the mood, the horror, is perfect. Man... that one with the rotting flesh butcher almost made me gag, it is mind blowing.


I do have to throw in a quick dragon diss like others have though. The art is decent, but more regal than horrofic, I think he's a bit too big for the castle, and making him a gargoyle or something as others said would have been solid... or like a pit dragon or something... something that isnt plain as day in front of you... something that has more dread or anticipation in the art and mechanic. As far as the card itself goes, I know Timmy wants big creatures, but is this thing ever going to make it into any deck anywhere? I guess they keep dragons on to pull in the new comers in each set, but anyone who's been playing for more than a few months gets pretty bored with cards like this. I wonder if it actually excites and keeps new players or if it just makes them depressed and bitter... having to stare at it stuck in their hand in every single game.
    I've removed content from this thread because trolling is a violation of the Code of Conduct.  You can review the Code of Conduct here.
Does there have to be a dragon in each set, especially where they don't really fit in? They're not really special any more. An endless slew of similar red dragons has been served up for a fair while now.



inoright.


I still remember when Shivan Dragon was cool, because nothing machted it.  Now EVERY SET there is some fodder mythic or rare dragon that never sees any play and just burdels around.

I agree with whoever said they should have gargoyles be red's big flyer instead, that would have been awesome. 
This is excellent stuff. Especially the pieces after "Judge for yourself".

My judgement is: champagne all round for the creative team! Cool
Skullman looks way too excited for me to be creeped out much. Also the fact he's got a goatee.
I think her hand is supposed to be drawing up her dress, but no, it does not look quite right.  The pull on the dress does look less like a pull and more like a bent leg under there and the hand isn't gripping the dress properly.

Remember the time when noble young ladies tied their skirts close to their wrist? But no, still doesn't look right. Perhaps the second straight leg appeared after the piece was essentially finished?
People need to stop hating on the dragon, it's freaking terrifying! An they made it fit nicely into Innistrad as much as they could. Has a "Sleeping Beauty" Maleficent gone all the way bad ass vibe to it (A character who haunted my dreams as a child for a month or so), and I love it for that!

PS: People really need to grow up about sexual orientation comments. He didn't mean anything by it, an no one should be taking offense to it. As someone who is into men myself, the men in the art were definitley not for my tastes, but that doesn't mean I'ma bash the article writer for making a simple generalization, nor should anyone.
People need to stop hating on the dragon, it's freaking terrifying! An they made it fit nicely into Innistrad as much as they could. Has a "Sleeping Beauty" Maleficent gone all the way bad ass vibe to it (A character who haunted my dreams as a child for a month or so), and I love it for that!



This set is not about 'horror'/'terrifying'. It's about Gothic Horror. At least, that's what MaRo emphasizes. There are a lot of terrifying things that simply have no place here. Sleeping Beauty and Dragons aren't Gothic.
People, stop pushing gargoyles into . Gargoyles are /, and frankly that would be the most logical role they'd have in this setting.

Despite my criticism of the closing bits of this article I've really enjoyed the bulk of it.  The art and flavor of Innistrad are very exciting.



There is nothing to criticise; fanservice should be for everyone. Deal. With. It. You are only implying that you're deep in the closet.

 Needlessly to say, the vampires' derp-faces will presumably prevent them from looking appealing to anyone.
IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/global/images/mtgcom_daily_mc52_picMain_en.jpg)IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/73821e61e013eadf56a8e4e2226d89a3.jpg?v=90000)
I
am
in
love!

Gothic and Victorian artwork is a favorite of mine (and something I've been yearning to see after years of cold, sharp digital artwork) and I'm rapidly falling head over heels for Innistrad.  This is a set that might contend with original Mirrodin block and Time Spiral block for my all-time favorite, and I haven't even seen most of the set yet!

On the subject of creature types: While most people would consider cosmic horror to be a science fiction trope, if we follow the threads back to H.P. Lovecraft (whose early works were inspired by gothic authors such as Edgar Allen Poe) there is plenty of flavor for the Horror creature type to have been an entire tribe.  I think the only reason we aren't seeing that is because of the Eldrazi being too recent in Magic's history.  I agree that gargoyles would have been a perfect addition and I bet we'll see several even if there's not a tribe's worth of them.  While I'm betting on seeing a few Mutants, that flavor might be more in keeping with a higher-tech, higher-magic world such as Ravnica.

On the subject of the dragon: I bet they gave Mr. Jarvis the dragon to preview because it would be one of the hardest flavor sells, so rather than avoid the issue they went head-to-head in the flavor column.  I agree that the world doesn't necessarily need dragons, but I'm not staunchly averse to the idea either.
The dragon is simply out of place.  I like the art of the dragon for the most part, but the concept art was better.  The dragon will likely find a home in my BR dragon EDH deck.

Other than that, nice looking art for this set.  I really want to know what the card is that has the art with the shipwreck in the background and the graveyard in the front.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)