Sketches: Sway of the Stars

Posted in Feature on December 21, 2005

By Wizards of the Coast is running "best of" content during the holidays, and will return with new content January 4, 2006. This Magic Arcana originally ran February 24, 2005.

Welcome to another edition of Sketches! This time we take a behind the scenes look at the illustration of Betrayers of Kamigawa's insane blue reset button, Sway of the Stars. But first, some background on the artist, Randy Gallegos.

Struggle for Sanity

Artist Portfolio

A veteran when it comes to Magic art, Randy Gallegos has contributed over ninety pieces of Magic card art since Ice Age. You can see his work on such cards as Vexing Arcanix, Rashida Scalebane, Tempest Island, Shock, Sleeper Agent, Accumulated Knowledge, Sage Aven, Auriok Salvagers, and Struggle for Sanity, among many others.

Art Description

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 Randy for Sway of the Stars:

Color: Blue
Location: nighttime; blue-aligned location of the artist's choosing
Action: Show a Japanese wizard under a big, bright crescent moon. The wizard's long robes are flowing outward in all directions as though being blown by wind. Pinpoints of light like stars drift around the wizard.
Focus: the nighttime magical ritual
Mood: secret, rare, reality-shifting

The next step is to submit sketches of his vision of the art description.


Here's Randy's initial sketch submitted for Sway of the Stars:

Sway of the Stars sketch by Randy Gallegos

Randy's an old hand at this -- he nailed the art description right off the bat. Note how there are seven stars floating around the wizard. That corresponds to the seven cards and seven life each player gets when you cast Sway of the Stars.

Final Art

Gallegos submitted this final art. Although the final piece needed cropping to fit on the card, we bring you the full piece, in all its glory, here.

Sway of the Stars final artSway of the Stars final art by Randy Gallegos

Nice, huh? In the final art you can see that the wizard has new runic detail in his robes. And of course you can see a lot more of Kamigawa's famous waterfall (the location of the mortals' mystic school, Minamo, School at Water's Edge).

Finished Card

And here's how you can see the card in its final state, in booster packs of Betrayers of Kamigawa. Get ready to reset the game-state (with a little help from Randy Gallegos) with Sway of the Stars!

Sway of the Stars

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