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  • February 26, 2024 7 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

    The Magali Villeneuve Kickstarter is officially underway, and it has been a screaming success! It’s not a surprise, really, given how talented this artist is—the more I have read about her previous work, the more impressed I have become.

    Plus, the hits keep coming! Have you seen the newly spoiled art for Villeneuve’s Modern Horizons III printing of Tamiyo?

    modern horizons 3 art

    According to her Twitter, this piece was created not digitally as most of her work, but with oil on canvas (50x60cm). If Villeneuve decides to sell this piece of art at auction, I guarantee it will sell for a healthy price. Even though it’ll inevitably be out of my price range, I’ll still follow the auction closely in an attempt to live vicariously through the auction’s winner.

    Last week I wrote an article introducing some of the most recognizable, iconic pieces from Villeneuve’s Magic portfolio. However, I stuck to mostly creatures in the article. This week I’m going to shift gears and talk about some of the Planeswalkers Villeneuve has illustrated for this beloved card game (Tamiyo is the first one, just above!).

    The Planeswalkers of Magali Villeneuve

    With Planeswalkers, the frame an artist has to work with tends to be cropped a bit in order to make the text box larger. That being said, you can still see tremendous detail in all of Villeneuve’s Planeswalker art. Additionally, even though it’s opaquely hidden beyond the text box, you can see additional details cleverly integrated down below the art frame.

    Let’s take a look at one of my favorites as an example: Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

    Chandra, Torch of Defiance

    chandra torch of defiance art

    Villeneuve’s art for Chandra is overflowing with gorgeous detail. Chandra’s armor is textured, layered, and carefully crafted. The fireball emanating from her hands are swirling in such a way that reminds me of what I picture a ball of burning plasma would look like. Chandra’s hair is electric! Behind the figure, Villeneuve also went liberal on details, capturing Kaladesh’s cityscape in the background. There’s even a small flying ship(?) off to the right.

    Let’s not overlook what’s going on below the Planeswalker – Chandra type line. Notice how in the background, you see the rest of Chandra’s ensemble: armored legs and perhaps a flowing cape of sorts are seen below. Even though it’s partially obscured, you can see appreciate the details that Villeneuve put into the piece from head to toe!

    Alright, now I’m jumping to my absolute favorite Planeswalker art by Villeneuve: Serra the Benevolent.

    Serra Benevolent

    serra benevolent art

    Judging by how many Kickstarter participants commented their interest in purchasing a Serra the Benevolent playmat or print, I am confident that I’m not the only one who likes this Planeswalker’s art most. What is it about this piece that resonates with fans so much? Well, or one, everyone loves Serra’s character from Magic history, and Villeneuve does Serra justice with the sharp curves of her face and flowing, blonde hair. Her outfit is also incredibly done, with the flowing cloth off to the side indicating movement.

    Even the background makes this piece impressive, with the clouds and sunlight peeking through, accentuating Serra’s attractive features. My favorite details are in her attire—the feathery, asymmetric shoulder guards, the golden ring keeping the outfit together, and impressive greaves protecting her legs. She’s both feminine and powerful, and given how powerful Serra’s abilities are, it’s only fitting!

    Speaking of powerful abilities, Villeneuve has also completed artwork on two versions of Vraska: Golgari Queen and Regal Gorgon.

    Vraska Golgari Queen and Vraska, Regal Gorgon

    vraska golgari queen art

    vraska regal gorgon

    Both versions of Vraska showcase her intimidating, serpent hair and dark disposition. I wouldn’t want to mess with either version! Once again, the attire Vraska is sporting in the artwork is incredibly detailed and fits extremely well with the Planeswalker’s color affiliation. There’s a dark, creepiness to it that aligns with the black color, but also a natural, scaly appearance that appeals to the green mage. In Golgari Queen, Vraska is shown seated on some sort of mossy, disgusting (and uncomfortable looking) throne. In Regal Gorgon, she’s dressed for the undercity ball and you can see a bit of optimism via the sunlight filtering through. With all of Villeneuve’s work, these two pieces are gorgeously detailed and truly bring to life this mythical character.

    Villeneuve has also created the art for two versions of Kaya: Bane of the Dead and Spirits’ Justice, the latter of which just released with Murders at Karlov Manor.

    Kaya, Bane of the Dead and Kaya, Spirits’ Justice

    kaya bane of the dead art

    kaya spirits justice art

    Since these two illustrations were done five years apart, there are some noteworthy differences between them despite them both being the same Planeswalker. Bane of the Dead is poised and ready to strike, shortly after warping into the plane. The purple coloring is a nice effect, and gives the art a real sense of movement. Kaya’s iconic hair is intricately brought to life in the art, but I must say her lack of eyeballs really freak me out! This is one Planeswalker who came ready for action, and is not to be messed with!

    Spirits’ Justice, on the other hand, reflects a calmer, more approachable side to Kaya. She’s dressed in her best regal attire, cape and all, ready to execute justice on her foes. It almost looks like she’s standing in front of the same building that she was jumping out of in Bane of the Dead, but that could be coincidence. Kaya is still showing off her fashionable hair, and she’s giving this look that says to me, “I see you there. I’m exacting justice, so what are you going to do about it?”

    Again, the details on all of these pieces are most impressive. Villeneuve leaves nothing out, from the outfit each Planeswalker is wearing, to the facial expressions on their face, to the background scenery surrounding their beings. Every Planeswalker Villeneuve has created has been top-notch and most impressive!

    Thus far, I’ve highlighted only a subset of the list of Planeswalkers for which Villeneuve created the artwork. In reality, she’s done many others. Here are some more in rapid-fire fashion!

    Calix, Destiny’s Hand

    calix mtg art

    Remember what I said about facial expressions? Calix looks intense! Once again, the detail in his clothing and the background pillars surrounding him are equally impressive.

    Jaya Ballard

    jaya ballard art

    Readers may not be aware that I have a soft spot for the original Jaya Ballard, Task Mage art. In addition to being very attractive and well-done, the card came out right around the time my interest in playing Magic with friends was peaking. When a card was finally printed to depict the character I loved so much as a kid, with the sassiest and most entertaining quotes, I was instantly lovestruck. It’s exciting to see that in her experienced age, Jaya finally found her spark and became a Planeswalker!

    Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor

    kasmina art mtg

    War of the Spark had a ton of uncommon Planeswalkers, but Villeneuve didn’t treat them any lesser than the mythic rare ones she made for other sets. Kasmina is the perfect example to showcase this—check out the details and lighting on her armor, the blue magic she’s actively using with her right hand, and the faint, but still recognizable archway in the background. This is another cool example where you can see the full frame of Kasmina, legs and all, behind the opaque textbox. No detail was left out!

    Liliana, Waker of the Dead

    liliana waker of the dead art

    Villeneuve had the opportunity to paint this special version of Liliana from Core Set 2021. Liliana has to be one of the most recognizable, iconic Planeswalkers from Magic’s history, and Villeneuve does justice to her characteristic dark-purple dress, black leggings, and cold stare. The scene behind Liliana is dark, swampy, and the undead creature subtly rising from below on Liliana’s left is a marvelous touch!

    The list goes on and on from here. In addition to all of these, Villeneuve has also done art for Kiora, Narset (Parter of Veils and Transcendent), Oko, Rowan, Teferi, Teyo, and Vivien (Champion of the Wilds and of the Arkbow). She has created artwork for well over a dozen unique Planeswalkers in Magic! Not many artists can claim that, I’m sure!

    Narset, Parter of Veils

    narset parter of veils

    The hits keep coming—Wizards of the Coast must be a huge fan as well, because they keep giving Villeneuve some of the coolest Planeswalkers to illustrate! No matter the color affiliation or ability, Villeneuve will create an ornately detailed piece for the occasion!

    Wrapping It Up

    Once again, I must conclude by pointing out that this is only one facet of Villeneuve’s diverse Magic portfolio. Last week I touched on some of her most iconic creature illustrations, and this week I pivoted to Planeswalkers. The reality is, she has done so much more for the game!

    As the Kickstarter continues, I’ll touch on another subset of Villeneuve’s Magic artwork next week. She has created the same level of quality illustrations for other card types as well: artifacts, enchantments, instants, sorceries, and lands. There’s much to explore.

    In the case of these Planeswalkers, I have noticed that my favorite aspects of her art are the clothes/armor worn by each figure, their facial expressions, and the background detail in each piece of art. It’ll be interesting to see if there are certain, consistent components to Villeneuve’s approach to these other card types as well. Stay tuned for next week’s column and we’ll take a deeper dive!