The artwork on Magic: the Gatheringcards has evolved over time. In the beginning, it was from artists that Richard Garfield knew. It has since evolved into something that fantasy artists aspire to be a part of. Let's look through some of the newest reprints of cards and how the artwork on these new ones look compared to the original versions of the card. How do the new artists shape the artwork to fit in the plane of Ixalan?
Mind Stone has become a Commander staple. The original artwork is of a staff with a literal stone brain on the top of it. The stone had multiple keys attached to it that unlocked the hearts and minds of the thralls in the background of the art. Each of the thralls are wearing the same simple white shirt and have the most neutral of expressions that you could have.
The Ixalan printing is the most recent version of the card and it has surely changed. There are vibrant blue, pinks, and purples here, which is a stark contrast to the dull yellows and oranges of the original printing. Instead of the Mind Stone being an object that someone was able to hold and use over others, the Ixalan version looks almost to be a stone carving into the rock. Surrounded by runes over top a hole in the rock face that was made for a person to walk into it. There are surrounding petroglyphs in the cavern leading up to this cryptic skull in the wall. It has a ominous presence, but still feels very important to the people who made it.
I never really understood the original art for Wayfarer’s Bauble. I mean… it’s cool and all, but it’s just a bauble. This thing is a total head-scratcher. We have no idea where it came from, how it works, or what it's for. It doesn't even seem to be designed to help us with anything.
Now this new Wayfarer’s Bauble is here to help! It's giving, reading the stars; it’s giving, Sextant.
This new bauble has the intricate etchings that Ixalan is known for as well as being made out of gold. The different lenses show that the item can be used for different ranges of travel, from short distances to long distances. This is a fantastic way to show what a high fantasy version of a real-life item would look like. For example, one lens might be used for traveling within a city, while another lens might be used for traveling between larger landmarks or even looking at other planes. This would allow the user to travel quickly and easily, without having to worry about things like transportation or logistics.
We’ve been long overdue for a Descendants’ Path reprint and I love the detail in the new version! The original artwork has so much detail in it, you could just sit and look at it for hours to see all of the intricacies. It’s a seamless combination of math and art that is able to show so much history. However, I think there may be too much going on for a piece of Magic card art. I enjoy easter eggs in the pieces, but I don’t really want the whole thing to be a bunch of pieces, you know what I mean?
The new Ixalan version is very clear about what is going on and then you can look more into it. The leader figure is a mysterious figure whose role is not entirely clear. Some believe that they are a spiritual leader, while others believe that they are a political leader with a similar role to the Huey Tlatoani of the Aztecs. The Huey Tlatoani was the supreme ruler of the Aztec Empire, and they had a great deal of power and influence. It is possible that the leader figure in question has a similar level of power and influence. However, it is also possible that they are a more spiritual leader, who is not involved in politics. It is still too early to say for sure what the role of the leader figure is, but they are certainly an important figure in the community. It is also implied that these two people are part of one whole as it is very symmetrical besides the different outfits of the two people. The symmetry of the image suggests that they are two sides of the same coin, and that the future is something that they will face together. The different outfits of the two people could represent their different roles in the future, or the different paths that they will take to get there.
Lastly, my favorite reprint from this set is Bloodghast! This card was a powerhouse back in the day when it first came out and the artwork is super cool already. The bright red on the face and fingers contrasts well with the yellowish greens of the background. This bright contrast draws the viewer's attention to the entire piece of art, allowing them to look and appreciate the whole thing.
The red is also a very eye-catching color, so it helps to make the subject of the painting stand out. The contrast between the red and green also creates a sense of movement and energy, which can be very engaging for the viewer. Overall, the use of color in this painting is very effective in drawing the viewer's attention and creating a sense of excitement and energy. There is isn’t much lore flavor to the original Bloodghast, it’s just a generic looking vampire. Though you could say that it is unique to Zendikar because of the line tattoos on his head and arm.
The new version is super cool! It’s a conquistador vampire. The vampires of Ixalan are representative of the Spanish Conquistadors of our world. They have similar weapons, profiles, and clothing. Ixalan overall is a plane that is inspired by Mesoamerican themes from 15th and 16th centuries. The vampires of Ixalan are a powerful force on the plane, and they have a long and bloody history. They are often seen as oppressors by the other races of Ixalan, and they are feared and hated by many. However, the vampires also have a rich culture and history, and they are not to be underestimated.
Ixalan is a beautiful and dangerous plane, and it is full of mystery and intrigue. The vampires of Ixalan are just one of the many fascinating aspects of this plane. There’s a lot of movement in this version also! Lixin Yin did a fantastic job with the antimony of the vampire, which from personal experience, foreshortening like that can be very challenging. With the hand coming forward and the rocks in the foreground there is a lot of depth in this piece as well. The vampire's pose is full of tension and energy, and the foreshortening is very well done. The hand coming forward really adds to the sense of movement, and the rocks in the foreground help to create a sense of depth. Overall, this is a very impressive piece of work.
Ixalan has a super interesting background and lore behind it so there’s a lot of room for artists to explore as they make pieces for this plane! There were a few more reprints in this set that I didn’t go over. What is your favorite that I didn’t mention? Was there a card that you were hoping got reprinted and didn't?