magic: the gathering card thumbnail - need concept and composition critique

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Thread: magic: the gathering card thumbnail - need concept and composition critique

  1. #1
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    magic: the gathering card thumbnail - need concept and composition critique

    Hey Guys,

    First critique post, also not used to "design by committee" but I want to give this board a try!

    Project: looking to put a portfolio together for the mtg brand and am doing a practice piece. This is inspired off the character Rubina SoulSinger http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/Ca...verseid=201227 , based off the description that she's a faerie who steals souls of those wandering through her territory.

    At this first stage, I'm just trying to get down the concept - does she look like she's stealing a soul? If not, what are your suggestions? Other than that, critiques on the composition? I notice some things but I want to see what you all say

    Please also ignore color, style, lighting, etc. I'm only interested in concept and composition at this point!Name:  kariguenther_mtgsoulstealer_draft2-2.png
Views: 528
Size:  266.7 KB

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  3. #2
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    When I looked at this, Mind Rot initially came to mind, probably because you have the soul coming out of the head. When I think of a soul being drained, I usually think mouth/eyes, like in the card art for Remove Soul:

    http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Ca...iverseid=83228

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    It seems like you tried to squish the characters into the box we are seeing. I would zoom out a decent amount so you can do more with dramatic poses and such.

    I agree with Yuu-chan in that when I see your image, soul stealing isn't 100% clear.

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    I'm seeing a bit of 'electrocuting'.

    ...which is only my opinion.
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    As said above, I'm not quite sure it looks like soul stealing. If I wasn't told in the description that she was supposed to be stealing the victim's soul, I would have thought it might be something like electrocution, mind-control, or a raising a zombie.

    I agree with Nickk, in that the image seems a little squished, and thus there is a loss of clarity and drama. There are also some anatomy issues that are kind of bugging me, such as- there are some major foreshortening issues with the outstretched arm, her shoulder is placed too high up, her head is a little big for her torso, and her chest area in general looks kinda off.

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    Wow thanks for all of the responses guys! Glad you all replied, I really see the confusion now. I'll do another thumb where there is a lot less 'electro-magic', more seeping from the eyes/mouth.

    And for the zooming out, still a good idea if the focus will be on the character and not the action of the spell? I tried to keep the guy out of the picture for the most part, but I can also see the lost-drama effect it has. Anatomy wise- yes, aware so far. Not going to tackle perfect structure until I settle on a thumb and can go to shooting reference.

    Thanks again! Really really helpful.

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    Hello,
    Honestly I think you're pretty far off in concept and composition. The spell isn't like soul stealing at all. According to the card it's a mind control (gain control of target creature) type of spell she uses. What u have is like this. http://mtgcardsmith.com/view/soul-steal-5 When u should be looking at comps and designs like these.
    http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Ca...f%20Temptation
    http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazin...om/arcana/1431
    http://www.magicspoiler.com/mtg-spoiler-subtype/faerie/
    She is a faerie after all and she is regular human sized in your image and she is malevolently stealing that poor saps soul which suggests a destructive and sinister element which isn't present in the existing depictions of the character. so it doesn't fit the character description and her own design is completely lacking at the moment which is something else you should take into consideration.
    You should do more thumbnails for this. Here are a couple of quick ones I did to show more along the lines i think u should be heading. Just my opinion though, feel free to use or explore similar or different variations.
    Name:  mtg-rubinia-soulsinger_comps.jpg
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Size:  227.4 KB

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    Hi Blankstate. Thanks for your thorough response. I was hoping to get someone who knew a lot more about magic to help with my concepts - I'm new to the game and have only been working of Art Director's descriptions (not the card descriptions. It seems the majority of art orders I've found from artists already working with wizards don't ever get a description of what the card does, only the art guidelines and the AD's words). That said, the links you've provided are very helpful, especially the article that goes into length about faeries. The only difference I can see otherwise, is that Rubina SoulSinger doesn't have wings, so she can't be flying.

    I will definitely be doing more thumbnails, glad to have gotten so much help on my first try. Thanks again!

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    Yeah a friend got me into playing it some a while back so I am pretty familiar with the game and it's mechanics. You should familiarize yourself with it more if you're gearing a portfolio towards getting that specific type of work.

    What description of her do you have?
    " Project: looking to put a portfolio together for the mtg brand and am doing a practice piece. This is inspired off the character Rubina SoulSinger http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/Ca...verseid=201227 , based off the description that she's a faerie who steals souls of those wandering through her territory. "

    It's the first time I've ever seen this card/character so I'm not familiar with her either but you linked a page that shows two different depictions of the same character. One older by Rob Alexander where she clearly has wings and one newer by Cynthia Sheppard. The new one is apparently a redesign of the old where it isn't clear if she has wings or not. Looking at the new card again and some of the comments show a different insight. Someone said: "Seeing the new art and flavor text made me think she was some sort of contract-maker. Rubinia Soulsigner instead of Soulsinger. It even fits with the card's effects. I need to read more carefully."

    So is this a "practice piece" or are you going off an ADs or other description?
    Or is it a practice in working from an assignment that already existed somewhere?
    If it isn't an established character based off an established design in the intellectual properties universe then by all means redesign and reimagine away. But if it is then you're going to have to draw the character the same way but in a different scenario. And if it's only a practice piece to get your feet wet then it doesn't matter if you changed the design either.

    Anyways good luck with it. Interested to see what you come up with.

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    Yes, I definitely want to familiarize myself, but I decided to just get the ball rolling before I can go budget a decent haul haha. I am also in Germany and my German isn't that great, so going to groups to find other magic players, while possible, will be difficult. Gotta use what I've got in my corner right now! haha

    And yes, I found the description online,(both Cynthia Sheppard's blog post and http://dougbeyermtg.tumblr.com/post/...tanding-in-the), which is where I got the wings aspect. It would be soooo much easier just to have a copy of the art guidelines, which would eliminate some brand mistakes and make the content richer IMO.

    You also nailed the practice piece part. I just want to get my feet wet, but I really do think the piece would have more value (both personal and otherwise) with a clearer story. I have found about 20 art descriptions of other cards, so hopefully those will be more helpful when I move to portfolio pieces.

    Thanks for all your advice!

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    Sure you're welcome. Sometimes I like to try and be helpful. It seems you picked a card that has some complexity (being multicolored) and confusion surrounding it (due to the creative freedom Cynthia took). Though Cynthia did a beautiful job and her interpretation added more interest. It is obvious she already had some knowledge of the game due to her proper use of incorporating all three colors into the design as well as using blue for the magics color because it is a blue "type" spell.

    For starting out it would be better to work off something simpler. If you feel your strong suit is characters and are more comfortable with that then I'd say start there, but pick an older card to redesign/update that isn't multicolored or colorless and pick one with a generic name like "witch hunter" which hasn't had any other artist's update it. This will allow you much more creative freedom and to get a better grasp on the individual color(s) used. Here is a card search I was able to do on it:
    http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?page=0&action=advanced&type=+[%22Creature%22]&block=+[%22Early%20Expansions%22]&color=+![C]

    It's been several years since I've actually played much and since then mtg has added new characters called planeswalkers who are always depicted in several different cards the same or very similar ways and is what I meant by "established character". Who knows if the creative leads or art directors might have plans for a character like Rubina. Though painting such a character in a different scene could also be a good way to showcase your ability as an artist it's simpler to avoid that when first starting I think. Later you could move on to challenging yourself by trying instants or sorcery type spells which would be less static, more dynamic images. Lands = environments, etc.

    You don't have to be an expert on the game or even play much but fortunately being in a foreign country (I'm in Cali btw) doesn't mean you can't better familiarize yourself with the game. The MTG site has a section on it here:http://www.wizards.com/magic/multiverse/colors.aspx and a downloadable game demo here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/213850/

    Anyways that's how I'd suggest going about it and that's about all the advice I have atm so ima shutup now. Again, gl with your endeavors.

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    I do love the color in Cynthia's piece, but I have avoided looking at it for the most part. Color is my forte and I've done some research about mtg's color system, so I'm hoping it will hold up in final.

    As for my strong suit, I have zero training in character design (in the sense of games or film), but have been focusing on figurative work and portrait work, specifically in regards to editorial - so all is not lost. I 100% want to improve my knowledge on character design (and know creature cards or other illustration jobs that are heavy on character design will suffer until I do), but I want to get out some practice pieces before I hunker down back to study time. Color application, though, not a problem with me. Hopefully my skills in color will translate well for the mtg brand guidelines.

    Also thanks for the inspiration to branch out and learn the game. Thanks again and I'm hoping to have out some more thumbs soon. Been working on them and I'm having my doubts :/

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    Ohhhkay, so. I did several more sketches and in the interest of time, decided to go with this one. Missing are background details, hair, costume that I will come back to after this round of critique but before going to a tighter sketch (prep for final).
    Name:  sketch-three2222.png
Views: 86
Size:  195.4 KB

    Thoughts? For those new to the thread, I am looking for critique on concept and composition (not value, anatomy, style, whatever. I'm not there yet). Description for the mtg creature card of a faerie that steals souls of those who wander through her territory (a forest).

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