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November 07, 2017 3 min read

The creative process behind each piece of Magic art is unique to the image and the artist.

From the art description to the final product, the Art in Focus series reviews every step involved in crafting the art of Magic the Gathering in the artist’s own words.

This week we shine the spotlight on Blightning by Thomas M. Baxa from Shards of Alara.

Take it away Tom.


Blightning was a fun painting to do. I don’t remember the exact art description, but it was essentially a lightning spell attack. I really wanted to show a guy getting fried! So I decided to zoom in close on the face and have it turning dark, both in shadow from the intense lightning glow, and as a result of being singed from the inside out!

If I recall, the humans in this block were a little zombified looking, hence the gaunt features and missing nose flesh and cartilage. It was fun having the electricity glowing from within as it boiled his flesh and burst his face open from the sheer force of the blast. Ouch!

Since this was such an iconic composition, and the face was distorting, I relied on my imagination to build the forms and anatomy. I do remember they wanted the lightening to be magenta in color, so I chose to use green tints in his skin and magenta as the background color.

Fizzle, pop, gurgle, burn – leading up to an eventual exploding head!

This is a simple image, but there is still a lot of thought that goes into any painting. I always mount the sketch to a board then tint it with color, magenta in this case. Then my main focus was on the values of the face: where it would be dark because that part is more dense, like the forehead; where the skin would be translucent, like the ears and thin pieces of flesh closest to eruptions; where the lightning would shine on the skin surface and light it up, and where the lightning will glow through, like at the eye slits and between the teeth.

Once most of the face was rendered, I painted the lightning bolts, first with a medium-light pink, building to near white-pink for the hottest hots.

I like to create a lot of movement and drama, even in a simple composition. I think I achieved a sense of outward thrust from the force of the spell. And the simple inclusion of his unclenched fingers in the lower corner, indicates a loss of motor function and sense of surrender to his impending doom.

I cannot stress enough how grateful I am that folks out there are enjoying my work and sharing it on social media when they can. I’m excited about this partnership with Josh and OMA because they are always so great at supporting fantasy art!

And, as always, I have all kinds of Original Art, Sketches, Prints, Artist Proofs, Books (Blood Rituals: The Art of Tom Baxa, Get Work as a Fantasy Artist) and Merchandise available at my website. Great and Scary things are coming!


You can check out Tom's portfolio and learn more about his work at his Website and his Facebook.

If you really enjoy this artwork, you can now purchase an official Playmat.  Profits are split with the artist, so every sale directly benefits the artist.

Thank you Tom for sharing this story with us.

Check back soon for more Art in Focus.

Josh Krause

Josh Krause owns and operates the Original Magic Art Store.

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