Tide of War
Fast becoming a mainstay of the Magic illustration multiverse, artist Wayne Reynolds has contributed nineteen pieces of Magic card art from Champions of Kamigawa through Guildpact. You can see his work on such cards as Hinder, Tide of War, Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni, Doubling Season, Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, and Wreak Havoc, among many others.
The first step of the creation of a card's art is its art description. The art description tells the artist what the card will do, what its flavor is, and what the mood of the illustration should be. Here were the instructions given to Wayne for Skeletal Vampire:
Location: The sky at night
Action: Show a vampire drifting through the sky (wingless). This isn't just any vampire, though -- this vampire has been reduced to a skeleton. He's all bones except for some kind of metal that encases and protects his undead heart. To show that he's a vampire and not just a floating skeleton, give him long, creepy fingers and be sure the fangs are showing. Also, two bats flutter behind him in the air like escorts.
Focus: the skeletal vampire
Mood: You can strip him of flesh and sinew, but you can't kill him.
The next step is for the artist to submit sketches of his or her vision of the art description.
Sketch to Final Art
Here's Wayne's initial sketch submitted for Skeletal Vampire:
Skeletal Vampire sketch by Wayne Reynolds
Wayne nailed (or did he stake?) the art description right off the bat (ugh). The final art lines up so well to the sketch that we thought we'd let you watch the full-color final art emerge from the sketch step by step.
Click through the numbered buttons to compare the composition of the sketch to the full-color final art.
Cool. Nice job, Mr. Reynolds. In the final art you can clearly see the protective metal casing our bony friend uses to protect his sensitive heart-spot, and you can see indications of veins, sinew and possibly even organs clinging to his bones. We like how the texture of his escorts' tattered bat-wings match so well with the flayed scraps of clothing flapping behind the floating vamp. And check out the rooftops of the gloomy Ravnica district that he calls both home and hunting ground.
And here's the card in its final state, as you can see in booster packs of Guildpact. Summon up a bat brigade over the rooftops (with a little help from Wayne Reynolds) with Skeletal Vampire!