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  • April 20, 2017 3 min read 0 Comments

    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 the Glory-Bound Initiate by David Palumbo from Amonkhet.

    Take it away Dave.


    Here is the art description that I received from Wizards.

    Art Description:
    Location: In the interior of a huge monument, maybe like p. 48 or 49A, with sunlight streaming down from above
    Action: This is a male human initiate. He is raising an enormous arrow of the god Oketra above his head. Retrieving this god's arrow is the ultimate accomplishment of Oketra's trial, so show him in a pose of accomplishment and victory. The arrow is scaled to the gods, who are 6x as tall as a man, so the arrow should look as big as a javelin compared to this initiate.
    Focus: The initiate
    Mood: Strong, confident, proud of his accomplishment.

    This piece came together a bit looser than usual for me.  I didn't have a model on hand that fit the character as I saw him, so reference of the figure was somewhat minimal (some snap shots for pose and lighting mostly) and and his look was worked out on the board.

    Likewise, the setting felt very abstract in the description and in the style guide.  A figure surrounded by an enormous monument is tricky without the environment completely stealing the show, so I went about my sketch working more in shapes that had no specific meaning.  I wanted to design a space that supported the mood and THEN figure out how it worked as a structure.  The initial sketch shows something like pillars arranged to have a feeling of rising up and with the emotion of swelling dramatic music.

    The primary feedback that I was given by Mark Winters was to further define what that space was and possibly give it more fantastical aspects.  Some details like the floating pillars were specifically mentioned.  In some ways this moves away from the original feel, but I think it replaces it with an equally apt note.  The original pillar design was climactic in a way that felt fast and loud, like bold trumpets of victory.  The revised plan has more mysticism and gives the champion more strength.  It almost feels like the floating pillars are being lifted by the golden arrow he holds above his head.

    As with all my work, I started with the most important focal areas (the figure) and worked outward to the supporting areas.  I like to work this way because it lets me say what is needed without getting lost in unnecessary details.

    In the end, I was really happy with how this set went and that includes this image.  I was concerned at first that the setting might be tooooo Ancient Egypt but, whether it is or not, I ended up really enjoying my assignments.  The images I've seen for other cards have been fantastic, maybe my favorite group since Innistrad.


    The original artwork for Glory-Bound Initiate was created traditionally. The original painting and sketch is currently being auctioned off on the MTG Art Market Facebook Group.

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

    Thank you Dave for sharing this story with us.

    Check back next Thursday for more Art in Focus.

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