Primal Clay Through the Ages

Posted in Arcana on July 12, 2012

By Monty Ashley

Some Magic cards are hard to illustrate. Take, for example, Primal Clay.


This is a card that can be any of three things:

  1. A 3/3 artifact creature,
  2. A 2/2 artifact creature with flying, or
  3. A 1/6 Wall artifact creature with defender

How do you depict that? The art description for the Magic 2013 version says this:

Color: None (artifact creature)

Location: Unimportant

Action: This creature is made of magical earth/clay that can take various shapes. Show us the moment it’s in the process of changing. Maybe its a fat helix made from earth/clay that arches upward out of the earth. Perhaps a dust cloud rises around the helix. In the dust cloud we see the shape of birds and beasts. (The animal shapes in the dust cloud would be subtle.)

Focus: The helix of animated earth

Notes: You can play with how to solve this, its living clay that can take various forms. we just dont want to too strongly commit to one form over others.

So the artist was given plenty of leeway.

Before we look closer at Lucas Graciano's Magic 2013 art, let's see what the earlier versions looked like.


The first version was in Antiquities and created by Kaja Foglio. In shows a lump of clay from which two humanoid figures are forming. But there's something you might not have seen before!

Antiquities Primal Clay | Art by Kaja Foglio

See the light area around the clay? It's someone's hands! The clay is actually very small in this version.


For Fifth Edition, a more abstract version was created by Adam Rex.

Fifth Edition Primal Clay | Art by Adam Rex

In this version, different areas are pushing out creatures. There's a dragon coming out the top and a face coming out the front. And on the left, there's a hand reaching out.


Magic 2013 Primal Clay | Art by Lucas Graciano

The most recent version has a less abstract setting: some sort of wizard's laboratory. And instead of having smaller individual creatures being formed, it appears to be trying to turn itself into two different things!

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