1. Art Description
The art description establishes the parameters of the artist's task. It provides details of what the card will do, what its flavor role is, and what the mood of the illustration should be. Here were the instructions given to Anthony for the project:
"Location: Mephidross metal swamp - Action: Show a 20 foot tall badly warped Nim zombie. Its deformed hulk shambles (or maybe skitters) through the swamp. - Focus: The immense beast. - Mood: Corrupt and powerful."
The Nim are Mirrodin block's zombies. As described in the block Style Guide, they all share a similar feature in that they vent Necrogen gas - a toxic poison. One challenge in visualizing Nim is in how to portray this venting of gas. In previous cards in the block the venting was sometimes obvious. Cards such as Wail of the Nim and Nim Replica clearly display the vents, while other cards such as Nim Shrieker are less obvious about it. Clearly you don't want the vents to overshadow the concept of the creature, but you also want to ensure there is consistency.
For Nim Grotesque, artist Anthony S. Waters turned in these sketches based on the art description:
Nim Grotesque sketches by Anthony S. Waters
Note how the initial sketch clearly covers the concept of the art description, yet it is not clear how the creature fits with the style guide requirement of venting gas. The art team requested that there be a clearer representation of the vents, thus Anthony turned in a sketch revision showing the vents on the back of the Grotesque venting gas which fit nicely with the established style.
3. Final Art
Here's the final art as submitted by Anthony, taking into account the art team's desires.
Nim Grotesque final art by Anthony S. Waters
Finally, here is the card as you can see it in Fifth Dawn booster packs this weekend. We've had to edit the card for previewing purposes which leaves you to wonder just how BIG is the Nim Grotesque?