Magicthegathering.com is running "best of" content during the holidays, and will return with new content January 4, 2006. This Magic Arcana originally ran May 17, 2005.
One particularly impressive piece is attached to the ridiculously good Saviors creature Kagemaro, First to Suffer, previewed yesterday in Mark Rosewater's column. Kagemaro also appears on some Saviors deck box packaging. Well, lucky you: today we take a look behind the scenes of the illustration of this bombtastic demon. But first, some background on the artist, Adam Rex.
Artist Adam Rex has contributed over one hundred pieces of Magic card art since way back in 1996's Mirage set. You can see his work on such cards as Breezekeeper, Reflecting Pool, Confiscate, Tiger Claws, Consume Strength, Cognivore, Decree of Justice, Cranial Plating, and Kumano, Master Yamabushi, 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 Adam for Kagemaro, First to Suffer:
Location: black-aligned location of your choice
Action: Show Kagemaro, a feared and fearsome ancestor kami. This is the powerful manifested spirit of a long-dead human (solid, not ghostly). Should look like an ultra-powerful, ancient master of death magic with supernatural aspects of your creation.
Focus: Kagemaro, the powerful black-aligned ancestor kami
Mood: one thousand generations of perfecting the art of suffering
Notes: This is a spirit world creature, so it should have orbiting objects. And it is a legendary creature.
The next step is for the artist to submit sketches of his or her vision of the art description.
Here's Adam's initial sketch submitted for Kagemaro, First to Suffer:
Kagemaro, First to Suffer sketch by Adam Rex
Here we see the bloated form of this Wrath-on-legs. On a lot of legs. As we can see, Adam chose to represent Kagemaro's power and corruption through a multitude of weapon-wielding limbs, a swollen body, and a breath of black vapor. The energy objects floating around him are disturbingly muscular or organlike, and he squats on some kind of fungal throne in the swamp.
The art team only wanted to make sure that Kagemaro had a third eye (the visual cue for all Kamigawa demons), but otherwise gave Adam the go ahead to paint the final.
Adam submitted this final art.
Kagemaro, First to Suffer final art by Adam Rex
Kagemaro got his third eye, and an unsettlingly regal bearing from his bulbous head/crown and horns. The corrupt exhalation has become a solid black fog here, an indication of his deadly activated ability. Note the elbows on his two center limbs -- they bend upsettingly backwards. And he brandishes a menagerie of exotic Japanese weaponry with all those other limbs.
Here's the card in its final state, as you'll see in booster packs of Saviors of Kamigawa. Get ready to make your opponent suffer (with a little help from Adam Rex, and a lot of help from the Time of Need-able fattie legend with an instant-speed Wrath of God attached) at the prerelease!
Johnny Art Quiz answers
A: Johnny, Combo Player (Yes, the card is pictured in its own art)
B: Mind Over Matter
C: Cadaverous Bloom
D: Urza's Contact Lenses
E: Clock of Omens
H: Soul Foundry
Bravo to those of you on the message boards who nailed the answers yesterday.