Saturday, January 4, 2014

Magic: The Gathering - Ordeal of Thassa

-By Howard Lyon

Happy New Year! I am looking forward to pursuing new challenges, knowledge and outlets for my art this year. I find myself entering 2014 energized to work and have set big goals for myself. I look forward to sharing my efforts here on Muddy Colors throughout the year!

So far though, 2014 has brought me… a cold. So, I thought I would bring a little fire to this post and show the steps for a recently released Magic: The Gathering card.  The card, titled 'Ordeal of Thassa' was done for the Theros release.

Rough sketch.  I did several thumbnails for this piece, but I kept coming back to this gesture.

A quick value study to see if my shapes were going to work.

Knocking in some color, but still focused on the values.  I made an adjustment based on feedback from Jeremy Jarvis, the art director for this piece, and changed the helmet so that it was less generic Roman.

Zeroing on the color and making adjustments to the proportions.

Establishing textures.

More rendering of surfaces and effects.

Almost there!

Detail of the helmet and breastplate.

Detail of some of her adventuring gear and I think that is a vial of skin moisturizer.  If you are going to wander into an inferno, it is a must.

Detail of the fire and smoke in the background.... debated if this was a boring detail or not.  Remember, I am hopped up on cold medicine.

A larger shot of the finished painting.

I have really enjoyed illustrating for Magic.  It has a great community of players that really appreciate the artwork and aren't shy about expressing their opinions, both supportive and critical.  That kind of engagement is a large part of what has driven Magic to be as successful and long lived as it has been.

Looking forward to more magic in 2014!


  1. Thank you very much for doing this run-down. Very useful to look at! Oh, and very nice artwork too :)

    1. Thanks Euxcine. I am glad that it was helpful! Happy New Year!

  2. You're simply BRILLIANT, Howard. Hope I'll have at least 0,0001% of your spark with my Magic work! I'm glad you're there as a inspiration for me, I mean, damn, you're inspiring in every other facet of life!!!

    1. Hey! I am really excited for you. Magic is a great product to do work for. Lots of creative freedom. Your creativity will really shine with MtG. Great things are ahead of you! Thanks for the kind works Rafael!

    2. Man, I'm so, SO humbled by your words. <3 I thank YOU sir, for putting up with my self doubts and for always uplifting me - let's make things happen beyond our dreams in 2014 and beyond!

  3. This is great! I got into magic because I loved the art so much

    1. Thank you! I love looking through all the cards. There are so many good artist and paintings out there for Magic. Chris Rahn is a real standout for me. Great color and design. I hear it a lot that the paintings (not mine specifically) got the person into MtG or it kept them collecting. I can see why, there are many images I would like to collect!

  4. Wow. for a long time i was having trouble with what to do with my sketches and had a ton of trouble with photoshop. Thank you for showing me a great and fantastic rundown of how you produce a lot of awesomeness. ^^