Behind the Scenes of Streets of New Capenna's Stylish Booster Fun

Posted in Feature on April 7, 2022

By Clayton Kroh

Clay is a content strategist, writer, and editor. He's a content editor and writer for DailyMTG, and has contributed creative work for Magic: The Gathering sets. On the side, he writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Booster Fun is building an impressive history of design and artistry. Each set pushes the boundaries of what we expect from a Magic set, from the mechanical and aesthetic designs of frames to the innovative art that fills the card space. Streets of New Capenna adds to that history with its own exciting contributions. Here, you'll get a look at the work that went into the card treatments and learn about the talented people who bring them to life.

Spara's Headquarters by Dominik Mayer
Artist: Dominik Mayer

Wizards Team Members

There are always many people behind Booster Fun cards, and this set is no exception. "There are lots of hands in play here," said Art Director Tom Jenkot.

Some of the people working on treatments and printing techniques remain the same, such as Lisa Hanson and the Print Innovation team who worked on the foil and printing wizardry, including a new technique debuting in Streets of New Capenna. Daniel Holt returned to work his own brand of UX magic on frames.

Tom Jenkot and James Arnold also continued their stellar work on Booster Fun. "I led the team on card treatments for this set," said Tom, "from frames and art style, through concept, testing, et cetera. James Arnold did most of the heavy lifting with the frames here, and what beautiful frames they are!"

There are also new faces behind the scenes, and one of those is Sarah Wassell. Sarah headed up the art direction for Streets of New Capenna.

"This is my first set as an art director," she said. "I worked really closely with Tom Jenkot to write style guides for the Booster Fun cards. These style guides are how we translate an art style into clear guidelines for artists so we can create a series of cards that have cohesion and look like they are related to each other, while still allowing enough space for artists to go wild with their creativity and crazy ideas."

Booster Fun Artists

"Finding artists that could do this style was fun and a little difficult," said Tom. "This was made easier with the addition of Sarah to the team, who not only found most of the artists but also commissioned all of the art for the set. What a great start to her time on the team!"

More than 40 artists worked on Booster Fun cards for the set, 18 of whom are new artists to Magic.

These include Olga Tereshenko, Erin Vest, Yoshi Yoshitani, Serena Malyon, Samy Halim, Rhonda Libbey, Brian Miller, WFlemming Illustration, Sam Chivers, David Curtis, Ann-Sophie De Steur, Zbigniew M. Bielak, Zoran Kardula/Cardula. Shawn Pagels and Elektrodeko were also new artists to Magic who specialize in the art deco style.

"Kelley Harris absolutely nailed the Brinkley Girl style of art that was popular in NYC in the 1920s," said Sarah. "Nell Brinkley was the 'Queen of Comics,' famous for decades for her artwork of fun-loving and independent female characters."

"Tom Roberts was one of our main inspirations due to his Metropolis poster from his portfolio," said Sarah. Tom did the striking artwork for Elspeth Resplendent (seen below) and Ob Nixilis, the Adversary that you'll see among the borderless planeswalkers later on.

Elspeth Resplendent
Artist: Tom Roberts

"Jack Hughes is a really cool artist that Tom [Jenkot] signed up—his work is incredibly stylish and fashion-forward, yet he has the skills to do more than humans." His work can be seen on the Falco Spara, Pactweaver card showcased in the golden age treatment you'll also see later.

A returning artist was Julie Dillon. "She had done a ton of work for Magic in the past. I came across her portfolio independently and hired her for a bunch of pieces, which she knocked out of the park—seriously, they're some of the best pieces in the set."

All of these artists created amazing and fresh work within those guidelines established to capture the style of Streets of New Capenna.

Styles and Influences

What excited the teams about working on Streets of New Capenna Booster Fun? Tom summed it up in a word: "Style. One hundred percent the style of every character in the set. The real-world parallels were so exciting."

Sarah echoed those real-world parallels. "There is so much rich cultural inspiration to draw from," she said. "Film noir, pulp and sci-fi novels, urban design of video games, fashion from the '20s—it's just back-to-back high notes."

Talk of influences also brought up another oft-repeated word: research. On a set like this, you want historical knowledge plus an understanding of the cultural contexts, the historical events, and the philosophies that influenced the visionaries of the period. And this means research.

But this is fun research. "Doing research on buildings and intricate metalwork designs was exhilarating," said Tom. "And, of course, the artists of the era. Tamara de Lempicka was tops. Sonia Delaunay and Erté. French Vogue covers from the first half of the 20th century."

The movie Metropolis was a source of inspiration for Sarah, as well as Tamara de Lempicka and Erté. "The Chrysler and Empire State Buildings," she added. "The Great Gatsby. World's Fair posters. 1920s hood ornaments. The Ballets Russes. Fashion magazine covers, textile design, jewelry, and architecture of the 1920s. Nell Brinkley. The Thin Man movies."

They've done their homework, no question.

Gala Greeters Box Toppers

A lot of research stands behind the work on the Box Toppers of the Gala Greeters card. If you haven't seen these fantastic cards, you're in for a treat:

Gala Greeters (EN)
English
 
Gala Greeters (SP)
Spanish
 
Gala Greeters (RU)
Russian
Gala Greeters (PT)
Brazilian Portuguese
 
Gala Greeters (KR)
Korean
 
Gala Greeters (IT)
Italian
Gala Greeters (JP)
Japanese
 
Gala Greeters (DE)
German
 
Gala Greeters (FR)
French
Gala Greeters (CT)
Chinese Traditional
 
Gala Greeters (CS)
Chinese Simplified

These traditional foil cards are found in display boxes of Set, Draft, and Collector boosters, and they offer something special to Magic collectors the world over. Each Gala Greeters Box Topper is unique to the language they appear in, featuring art that reflects the regional culture and style of that language (check out Max McCall's Collecting Streets of New Capenna and Streets of New Capenna Product Overview articles to find out more about these and other cards in the set).

New Capenna may be a fictional place, but it draws on real-world and historical elements to create resonance with the audience. Depicting culturally and historically expressive scenes for Gala Greeters drove a serious effort that spanned several teams.

"This project needed a lot of team involvement," said Sarah. "Lauren Bond, Grace Fong, and Harless Snyder were essential in coordinating with the regional teams and researching historical references. Elements of Streets of New Capenna are also about the party atmosphere happening in the city, so this allowed us to incorporate historic fashion elements from each region, as well as food and drink from the period."

Art Deco Treatment

The aesthetic that absolutely screams the era reflected in Streets of New Capenna is art deco. Even if you're not an artist and can't precisely define it, when you see it, you get the vibe—elegance, affluence, and style.

"For the card treatments, art deco is such a specific art style that has really interesting historical roots," said Sarah. "Its genesis was at an exciting pivot and evolution of art in the world, incorporating inspiration from the shapes of the new Industrial Age with deliberate stylization and minimalism along with brave steps toward Fauvism, Bauhaus, and Cubism. It incorporated cultural influence from Africa, Egypt, pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, France, and Japan."

When it comes to breadth of knowledge and research, this team was on it.

Inspiration for the art deco style came from a wide range of sources—even elevator doors.

"Art deco elevator doors?! Seriously, google it," advised Tom. "Fascinating, detailed, awe-inspiring designs adorned elevator doors in buildings of that era."

Urabrask, Heretic Praetor art deco treatmentElspeth Resplendent art deco treatment

Golden Age Treatment and Gilded Cards

Things get glamorous with the golden age treatment that evokes the aesthetics of the roaring and soaring city life of New Capenna. The art deco influence is felt in the frames of this treatment, which is paired with eye-catching gold.

Raffine, Scheming Seer golden age treatmentFalco Spara, Pactweaver golden age treatment

On top of this treatment, a printing technique is being introduced that brings a new dimension to Booster Fun—literally. Gilded foil cards are golden age treatment traditional foil cards embossed with a gorgeous three-dimensional gold hot stamp.

"3D hot stamp is a technique that Magic has not used on cards before," said Lisa Hanson, the senior creative art director who works with the Print Innovation team to bring cutting-edge printing techniques to Magic. "What is exciting about this foiling technique is that it also adds dimension to what you're foiling. You'll notice that the foil is slightly raised from the card surface and has a highly reflective gold finish."

Gilded card gif showing visual shininess and slightly raised surface

We've witnessed advances in print treatments for Booster Fun cards over the past couple of years, and Streets of New Capenna offered some unique opportunities in this area. "The golden age showcase treatment was really the inspiration for the gilded frames," said Lisa. "The design really captured the ornate style that you associate with art deco, and I really wanted a treatment that played up the elegance of the frame."

Returning Treatments

The perennial extended-art and borderless treatments can be found in Streets of New Capenna. Borderless treatments allow the awesome artwork in Streets of New Capenna to stretch to the edges of the card, side to side and top to bottom. Planeswalkers are a big deal, so they get this special treatment, like the exquisite Elspeth and the dour Ob Nixilis.

Borderless Elspeth ResplendentBorderless Ob Nixilis, the Adversary

Phyrexians are popping up all over it seems. In New Capenna, Urabrask appears to be having a poor time of it, though still looks intimidating in the Phyrexian treatment.

Urabrask, Heretic Praetor Phyrexian treatment

Love for Lands

Lands have had some truly gorgeous representation in Booster Fun over the last several sets. Streets of New Capenna adds its own entries to this growing list of great Magic cards.

New Capenna's glittering and architecturally imposing city scenes are on awesome display in the full-art metropolis treatment. "The metropolis lands are a total dream," said Sarah. "The minimal, graphic style, the soft color palette, the mezzotint texture—the art style is such a perfect match for the set!"

Metropolis Plains 1Metropolis Plains 2

Metropolis Island 1Metropolis Island 2

Metropolis Swamp 1Metropolis Swamp 2

Metropolis Mountain 1Metropolis Mountain 2

Metropolis Forest 1Metropolis Forest 2

From the opulent hideouts to the palatial playgrounds of the city's movers and shakers, nonbasic lands receive equal love with the elegant skyscraper treatment.

Xander's Lounge skyscraper treatmentBotanical Garden skyscraper treatmentZiatora's Proving Ground

There's a city full of Booster Fun treats to be found in Streets of New Capenna. Get a complete view of what's available in the Streets of New Capenna Product Overview, and learn where you can find all of these sweet cards in the Collecting Streets of New Capenna article.

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