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  • February 19, 2024 6 min read 0 Comments

    Magali Villeneuve is known throughout Magic: The Gathering for illustrating some of the game's incredible Planeswalkers and many of its most iconic characters.

    Now Magali has teamed up with the OMA Store to offer a limited edition collection of licensed Magic: The Gathering playmats and prints, gorgeously extended to see the full scene. 

    magali playmat collection kickstarter

    Wizards of the Coast has worked with hundreds and hundreds of various talented artists over the years. These brilliant, creative people have captured the essence and flavor of Magic in picture form; many of which we readily associate with the game. Depending on what era you began playing and what formats you enjoy, I am sure there is a piece of art or two that epitomize Magic: the Gathering in your visual mind.

    shivan dragon art



    This week I want to study one of the most talented, well-recognized artists in the game’s recent history: Magali Villeneuve.

    The Art of Magali Villeneuve

    A Brief Background

    Magali Villeneuve is a French illustrator and freelance artist, whose work has been used across numerous franchises including Magic, A Song of Ice and Fire, Star Wars, Warhammer, and Lord of the Rings. According to Wikipedia, Villeneuve didn’t actually go to school to study art—instead, she is completely self-taught. Talk about impressive!

    While Villeneuve started creating art professionally in 2006, she didn’t begin contributing art to Magic’s multiverse until a few years later, in 2012. Since then, she has submitted well over 100 illustrations for cards. While Villeneuve started her art career by creating physical paintings (e.g., for book covers), Villeneuve has since transitioned to working completely digitally, stating that she “couldn’t make it without a digital technique.”

    Considering the detail and precision Villeneuve includes in her art, I can certainly understand this motivation! Her pieces are absolutely incredible.

    guardians of meletis art

    sylvan safekeeper art

    According to Scryfall, the very first card that Villeneuve illustrated was Guardians of Meletis, from original Theros. From there, she created numerous pieces from various Commander sets, Khans of Tarkir, Magic Origins, and so forth.

    Whether it be creatures, planeswalkers, instants, lands, sorceries, artifacts, tokens, sagas, etc. You name it, Magali has created artwork for it. She’s also done some fabulous work on special promotional or rare printings of cards.

    ragavan art

    Few people have been as impactful, prolific, and created art so iconic.

    A Creature Study

    For the rest of this week, I’m going to share some of the more recognizable and impactful pieces of art that Villeneuve has created for creatures in Magic. In fact, I already used a few images above. Do you recognize the special printing of Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer? That pesky monkey pirate, the bane of many Eternal players (not to mention Vintage Cube), this iconic art is done by none other than Villeneuve! Speaking of Vintage Cube, Villeneuve also created the easily recognizable art for Leovold, Emissary of Trest.

    But that’s not all. In fact, there were many creatures that I hadn’t even realized were illustrated by Villeneuve until I started researching her! For example, did you know she created the art for the Crimson Vow reprint of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben? Talk about a powerful, iconic creature from Magic’s history!

    thalia art mtg

    Commander fans may recognize this one: Titania, Protector of Argoth:

    titania art

    Check out the details in this piece. Villeneuve does a fantastic job integrating nature into the art by having Titania surrounded by trees and greenery, including on her clothing, in her hair, and even tattooed on her skin! If this art doesn’t scream “powerful green elemental” then nothing does!

    Remember when Winota, Joiner of Forces terrorized Arena players for a short period of time before it was banned in Historic and Explorer, not to mention Pioneer? Well, that is another impressive Villeneuve piece!

    winota art

    Winota is depicted as a fierce warrior leading a pack of ferocious beasts, both on ground and in the air (I love the Pegasus flying up in the sky). The flavor of this art is spot on with the card’s ability, and I think she does a fantastic job with lighting and shadows, giving this artwork the feel of a Boros card, through and through.

    In fact, Villeneuve seems to have a knack for creating artwork associated with legendary female characters! To rattle off a bunch, we have Winota, Thalia, Titania, Anikthea, Captain Sisay (Secret Lair), Danitha, Eowyn, Eriette, Galadriel, Jirina Kudro, Linvala, Mirri, Narset, Norika, Oviya Pashiri, Rashmi, Rebbec, Rowan, Shanna, Tana, Teysa Karlov, and Wayta. I am counting over 20 female legendary creatures in Villeneuve’s repertoire! That’s just incredible, and I’m not sure how many artists, if any, has created a similar number of iconic pieces!

    captain sisay art

    wayta art

    narset enlightened master art

    No matter if the creature is white, blue, black, red, green, colorless, or some combination therein, Villeneuve has created artwork for a creature that fits perfectly within the color pie.

    Then there are my absolute favorite creatures illustrated by Villeneuve: Angels. My readers may already know that I’m a huge fan of the angel creature type in Magic, and some of my all-time favorite pieces from the game are angel creatures.

    Of course, the original art for Serra Angel, by Douglas Shuler will always have a place in my heart. That said, one of my favorite pieces of angel art is Villeneuve’s Seraph of the Scales. In fact, I own a foil copy in my binder already because I love this art so much, but I never put two and two together to realize this was done by the well-renowned French artist!

    seraph scales mtg art

    What do I love so much about this particular angel? In addition to a pretty face, I like how Villeneuve depicted the tension of an Orzhov creature, balancing dark and light in the piece. We know the seraph’s wings are white, but because of shadowing they look gray-to-black. She’s holding a set of scales, which is a literal depiction of the card’s name that also symbolizes the balance between light and dark. Finally, the majestic, bright landscape is overshadowed by dark rainclouds above. Everything in this art screams “dark + light” balanced together on this majestic, angelic creature’s shoulders.

    Rivaling Seraph of the Scale’s beauty is Linvala, the Preserver from Oath of the Gatewatch.

    linvala art mtg

    In contrast to Seraph of the Scales, Linvala is purely white in color identity and the artwork highlights this fact! Take a look at Linvala’s wings—they have lighting and shadows just like Seraph of the Scales, but Linvala’s wings have more white coming through. Her clothes are also white, and she’s holding a golden shield. While there are clouds in the sky, those surrounding Linvala are being highlighted by the sun, giving warmth and light to the card that Seraph of the Scale deliberately lacks.

    The last angel I’ll mention is Serra’s Guardian, originally from Core Set 2019.

    serras guardian mtg art

    Here we have another purely white, magnificently beautiful angel flying through the sky. Serra’s Guardian is reminiscent of Linvala in terms of pose, shading, and a sun-through-the-clouds look. Another brilliant piece by this talented artist.

    Wrapping It Up

    I’m only scratching the surface this week, talking about some of my favorite creatures illustrated by Magali Villeneuve. She’s done it all: angelic, white creatures like Serra’s Guardian, blue mages such as Glacian, Powerstone Engineer, and dark, mischievous creatures such as Dhund Operative.

    dhund initiative mtg art

    The list is seemingly endless, and each piece is just as impressive as the last! Just look at the details in Dhund Operative! It’s a simple common, 2/2 human rogue creature from Kaladesh, yet the artwork for this card is simply amazing. The girl is standing in the shadows, giving a dark undertone to the card, but she’s stalking during the day and so you see a bright, well-lit corridor in the background. The figure’s clothes are colorful but dark, and the motion of her skirt doesn’t escape notice. Finally, the curves of the lamp to the figure’s left and the archway in the background scream “Kaladesh” to me. Everything with this art is spot on.

    I’ll wrap up here for this week, with the intention of diving into other card types that Magali Villeneuve has illustrated in the coming weeks. If you think these creatures are iconic and impressive, just wait until you see some of the Planeswalkers she’s illustrated! Her instants and sorceries are nothing short of amazing as well. You won’t want to miss it!

    Want to see even more of Magali Villeneuve's art? Follow the Kickstarter today!