M10 Sketch Options

Posted in Feature on July 29, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast

Here at Magic Arcana, we often show you sketches of card art before they're finalized—a fascinating glimpse into the Magic art process.

But much like card text, it's deceptive to think of a card's art going through an unbroken, inevitable progression from sketch to paint to card. At any number of steps, art concept writers, art directors, and the artists themselves made choices that could easily have gone some other way.

Perhaps the clearest illustration (ha!) of this phenomenon comes when an artist submits multiple sketches for a single piece—two or three different takes on the fantasy concept that inspired the card.

In Magic 2010, with no specific plane to communicate, the choices were often wide open, and many M10 cards started with more than one sketch to choose from. There are many different reasons for picking one sketch over another—tone, composition, fantasy resonance, similarity to other pieces of art for the set, and, ultimately, the subjective guidelines of aesthetics.

Here are some groups of sketches. One sketch in each group was the basis for the art you see on the finished card. See if you can spot the ones that made it.


Three great sketches by Eric Deschamps—but only sketch A, on the left, could become Act of Treason.


Here's another group of sketches, this time by Mike Bierek.


All three depict an enormous spider being frozen in a block of ice. Sketch C, on the right, would be finished to grace Ice Cage.


Here's one more, from Eric Deschamps again. Only one could make it, of course, but with the placement of the figures, the three compositions look pretty neat side by side.


Sketch B, in the middle, became the art for Blinding Mage that you see in booster packs.

Latest Feature Articles


November 15, 2021

Innistrad: Double Feature Product Overview by, Wizards of the Coast

More monsters! More horror! More drafts! More of everything you love about Innistrad arrives January 28, 2022, with Innistrad: Double Feature. Available at your local WPN game store,...

Learn More


November 12, 2021

The Legends of Innistrad: Crimson Vow by, Doug Beyer, Ari Zirulnik, and Grace Fong

We managed to get ahold of the guest list for Innistrad: Crimson Vow, and it's looking kind of wild! We've got faces old and new, fanged and un-fanged, human and . . . uh . . . slime mons...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All