Set Art Showcase: The Stunning Artwork of Wilds Of Eldraine
The art in Magic: The Gathering is phenomenal. I've written about the best art in the game, and it's never easy to pick just ten or so cards. The artists often outdo themselves, and their stellar work has set MTG above nearly every other TCG in terms of art. The newest set, Wilds of Eldraine, doesn't disappoint in this regard. So, today, I would like to showcase the art from the set with my top 10 best Wilds of Eldraine art list.
The Best (Top 10) Art From Wilds of Eldraine
Art is subjective, and what is "best" is certainly an opinion. One hundred people could make a "best Wilds of Eldraine art" list, and they'd probably all look at least a little different than what you see here. Not only is that ok, it's good! With that out of the way, I picked the ten cards that, in my opinion, stand above the rest for one reason or another. Kicking things off, we have number 10.
10. Crystal Grotto
We've had a few different versions of; this one by Andreas Zafiratos is my favorite. The use of subtle light and shadow changes is done very well, and the crystal itself is fantastic. Look at the tip where it's broken and the sunlight hits it - It looks razor-sharp, incredibly realistic, and manages to draw my eye every time I look at it.
To me, all of those things were apparent pretty quickly. But it took me several minutes of looking at the card to figure out what the quality I liked so much was... And then it clicked. The card is set underwater. It's crystal clear (no pun intended) water, but that's what gives it the dreamy depth that is so visually captivating.
9. Rankle's Prank
This is our second time seeing Ranke (third if you count), and the mischievous faerie looks about like usual. The art isn't incredibly complex (at least compared to some) and looks slightly cartoonish, for lack of a better word. But that's what makes it good, I think. It tells a story in a picture. Up to his old tricks, Rankle and some friends have subdued a less-than-fortunate faerie in a web.
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The devil is in the small details here, though - First, the placement of the fae. Everyone but Rankle is popping up from behind something. This means the whole lot of them were hiding, waiting for the victim to spring the trap, and then sprung up themselves. My favorite part is the look on the face of the trapped faerie. It really leaves me wondering how long he's been hanging there at this point... Or how many times they've gotten him like this. Oh, and does this give anyone else Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School vibes? Cause it does me.
8. Taken by Nightmares
Here, we have a knight who has passed away underneath a monstrous tree. I would assume he was simply asleep, but the flavor text says, "Dying in your sleep is never peaceful when Ashiok is involved." So, I take that to mean he's "bought the farm" in what would usually be a peaceful fashion in this dim-lit, whimsical forest.
In general, the artist, Artur Treffner, did a great job. When you look at the card instead of a blown-up image, the things in the tree are hard to see at first, almost like parts of the tree. Even their outstretched hands are branch-like.
The whole scene is a little creepy but stoic as well. The way they look and reach down from above doesn't feel malicious. It seems they want to help ensure he doesn't become some lost, forgotten, sad spirit upon passing. Of course, this is just my perception, but it's a pretty moving display if you get the same thing I do when you look at it. Comment and let me know what you think of this one.
7. Conceited Witch
The amount of detail that artist Anna Pavleeva, put into this image is crazy. We're a little desensitized to amazing art these days; there is so much great stuff and some very talented people out there. But seriously, grab a pencil or a brush and try to recreate the hand of the reflection. Even without worrying about scale, centering, placement, or shading, just that one hand is a task unless you're artistically inclined. With that in mind, look at the picture again.
The witch's face in the mirror, her eyes set back deeply in her face, the bones of her thin fingers, the glow of the cursed apple in her hand, the cracks, the brambles encompassing the mirror, everything is draped in detail! The longer you look, the more you find.
6. Spell Stutter
It's a little hard to describe what makes this great, but it is easy to see. Using her breath to ward off some firey spell coming her way, this thing seems to be partially made of whatever this magical essence is. It flows from within her ribcage, where it seems to concentrate. It rides up her neck and into her head, glowing from her eyes.
Then, there is the phenomenal clash of colors. The red and the blue look like exploding stars in space, and where they meet is a hot, nearly white embrace that marries both forces to one another flawlessly. I'm not an expert on color theory, but I know when something works. And this works! I can only begin to imagine how pretty this will be in foil. I must say, Liga Smilshkalne, now has my second favorite counterspell art of all time, behind only the originalby Terese Nielsen.
5. The End
I love this one. It's set against a stained glass window like in a church, but there's another element here. There's shattering glass at the forefront with a face inside the shards. And it looks tormented. It's as if we're seeing a freeze frame of its final terrifying moments. It's done in fantastic detail, too - The eyes, the teeth, the tiny fragments of glass, everything. And artist Donato Giancola leaves nothing to the imagination. The fear in the face is plain to see. I'm also a big fan of the fact this is slightly abstract in concept.
4. Neva, Chased by Nightmares
The contrast in this art is stunning. The woman, Neva, is being embraced by some legitimately unsettling figures. They're dark and shadowy, almost smoky. Yet they have this bright, pink/purple essence that stands out in the dreamlike scene. I'm a massive fan when a piece of art doesn't ask you to connect the dots. This isn't an image you're supposed to believe is creepy; it is creepy.
Then there's Neva herself, the most brilliant part, who seems to glow from within the darker hues closing in on her. I love that her hair is so dark, juxtaposing her bright dress and pale skin. Then you come to her face, which gives me chills with its expression. It doesn't quite look afraid. Instead, it seems in awe of whatever it's seeing and slightly confused, yet strangely at peace.
It's really almost eerie. This isn't even a real picture, and I find myself sitting and asking, "What does she see? What could she possibly be looking at? Some unimaginable cosmic horror or the face of God?" And I cannot help but think of Aleister Crowley's last words, "I am perplexed!"
3. Twining Twins (Showcase)
If you're familiar with the artwork of Alayna Danner, you can probably have guessed this is her work. She's done countless noteworthy MTG cards and even had a secret lair devoted to her as an artist. That said, she didn't disappoint with her Wilds of Eldraine art either. The showcase version of Twining Twins is exactly what a fairy tale set wants.
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Her style here is whimsical and fun but also mystical and enchanting. The linework for the blue magic swirling about the winged creatures is next level, giving it a tremendous hand-drawn sketch vibe. Alayna has said how much she enjoys painting clouds, but she also kills it on trees. Again, they're somewhat playfully done but also have an incredible gnarled realism. The whole scene feels like a peek into a mischievous, hidden fairy tale world that only the highly imaginative have the privilege to glimpse.
2. Virtue of Strength (showcase)
Danny Schwartz illustrated the showcase version of, and I fear I lack the proper descriptive powers to convey what he did so well. However, I will try; luckily, his work speaks for itself. First off, it's unique. Have you ever seen another card with art similar to this? I haven't. And the cards that may be similar are much older cards, which is cool.
Secondly, Danny is gifted in scale and compositional proportion. The picture seems never to end! From where the sky meets the horizon, to the maze that appears to go down so far that you can't perceive its true depth and the rolling forest in between, everything feels massive. Then, there's the woman. Given the vast scene before her and the endless landscape view, think how high she must be.
I can't quite put my finger on what the yellow and red dots sprinkled on the monument do for the picture, but the image wouldn't be the same without them, that's for sure. As she looks out to the terrain she intends to cross, the call of the unknown and adventure is riveting. And I cannot help but feel that an entire, unexplored world lies just beyond the facades where the image ends.
1. Yenna, Redtooth Regent
My pick for the best art from Wilds of Eldraine is Yenna, Redtooth Regent by Justyna Dura. Her art is always great, but she outdid herself here. The detail is amazing. For example, look at how the sunlight hits her hair in the back and shines through her cape. The endless green hues that surround her, the multitude of different flowers softly raining down petals around her, her face in quiet contemplation.
The beauty of nature and the things that exist within it is on full display here. If you've ever sat in the grass and bathed in the sun's warmth and the smells of the flowers, you can experience this with much more than your eyes. Simply put, it's a beautifully done piece of art. Not just in terms of Magic: The Gathering, but in general.
Wilds of Eldraine has a lot of great art, even beyond what I've included here. If you've only looked at the cards from a gameplay perspective, do yourself a favor and check out the art for the rest of the set. Magic: The Gathering works with some truly phenomenal artists, and their work puts MTG at the top of TCGs in terms of art. That said, I love to showcase it with lists like this, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Now, what is your favorite art from the list or the set, in general? Comment and let me know. I am looking forward to hearing what everyone likes best. Until next time, take care.