Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Foreboding Fables and Classic Fairytales: A Discussion On Art In The Wilds Of Eldraine

The warefox among us

I’ve had quite a time leaning into Magic: The Gathering for WellPlayed over the past year. The excellent Phyrexian saga proved an exciting onboarding point for lapsed newbies like myself while providing some of the series’ most interesting art, concepts, and mechanics. After the brief detour into Middle-Earth courtesy of Universes Beyond, Magic is resuming to its ongoing storytelling with a return to the fantastical plane of Eldraine. 

Set in the aftermath of the Phyrexian invasion across the various planes of Magic’s multiverse, what we see of Eldraine is a world healing from the fallout of the past year’s far-reaching war. March of The Machines gave a glimpse of the ruin of Eldraine, with its crumbling castles and directionless knights. Wilds of Eldraine should bring this world back into alignment but still bear the scars of these conflicts, with the shadow creatures of this realm taking the guise of carapaced Phyrexians.

WellPlayed attended a brief seminar with a couple of the team’s heavyweights on this current Wilds of Eldraine set, joined by lead artist Magali Villeneuve and art director Deborah Garcia. We gleaned the exciting influences and motifs that will take players on a journey through a realm brimming with pastiche inversions of the stories that inspired fairytale classics before they were given their modern, animated retellings.

Deborah Garcia, the team’s art director, is responsible for the direction of the lore and world-building in this set. Garcia has previously worked on other narrative-heavy card games with evocative art such as the fantastic Arkham Horror and Lord Of The Rings Living Card Games. Together with Villeneuve, they have worked together to set the tone and style for Wilds of Eldraine.

Deborah Garcia Art Director

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Magali Villeneuve – Concept Artist

Garcia speaks about having directed art on these previous IPs and how this experience has focused the desired output on Wilds of Eldraine.

“We wanted to land on artists that were especially great at being creative with light sources and able to paint magical effects in a really enchanting way, as well as elasticity of facial expression, momentum and physicality.”

There is also the burden of artistic and narrative canon that Garcia discusses as being an ever-present challenge when directing a return to established lore such as with this successor to 2019’s Thrones of Eldraine and the series’ established 30-year history. 

“Part of producing art and working with artists for Magic is needing to really understand its lore, purpose and history. It has such an incredibly long history that we must always keep aware of. Any new cards must not overstep or recycle [from Magic’s history], but keep things new, fresh and fun to paint. This is a big goal that all our art directors have.”

Magali Villeneuve is introduced as the lead artist on this set, responsible for creating the world guide that provides the themes and styles that govern the set. Villeneuve speaks of the Hans Christian Andersen tales that were illustrated in a peculiar fashion that didn’t approach fairytales in a typical, child-friendly way. This worked as an influence in Magali’s blending of fantasy and mature themes. Eldraine is not presented in the over-saturated grimdark style of ‘dark fantasy’ but rather emphasises the mature musings of classic fairytales that contrast with the seemingly innocuous surface of children’s fables. 

WOE: Werefox Bodyguard WOE: The Princess Takes Flight WOE: Ego Drain

Exploring Villeneuve’s relationship to this new set, she confessed to her favourite cards in the set as well as the stylistic motifs that are present in her contributions to the set. 

“I can only talk about the visual side of MTG. If I had to choose a card from a fellow illustrator, I would say I was really impressed with the Warefox Bodyguard by Nestor Ossandon,” said Villeneuve.

“I had love at first sight with the saga The Princess Takes Flight by Julia Mezgur. It really is a beautiful card featuring a princess. Both cards show how interesting Eldraine is as far as art is concerned. Both have different styles but the same atmosphere.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Garcia concurs, before adding her own personal pick to the runnings.

“My very, very, very favourite card is Valera Lutfullina’s Ego Drain. It’s a high-fae with their arms across a man’s face, mentally pulling him apart. It lands on that sense of texture and crispness, with really stark colours and striking contrasts. It has all three of the tones [of this set]: whimsy, darkness, and enchantment.” 

This era of fairytale that is being adapted also comes with cultural influences, in large part from Medieval England. Garcia mentions illuminated manuscripts, woodcuts, and tapestries while also playing with the concept of sagas as a mechanical device in this set.

Villeneuve adds to this, citing the dark and realistic approach to fairytales by Gustave Doré. The French illustrator was known for his woodcuts and depictions of magic and emotion in illustrating popular tales. 

Finally, Villeneuve discusses Eriet, the white-haired and prominent collared character that has been the face of much of WoE’s marketing. For Villeneuve, this character distils the visual subtleties that give this set a modern visual interpretation of older fairytale stylings. Artistic motifs such as roses and thorns, the lace linings of Eriet’s dress, and the carvings upon her throne. Villeneuve envisions Eriet as mired between beauty and danger, which is also reflective of the Eldraine setting at this time. She chuckles that she could spend the rest of her career working in Eldraine, a setting most reflective of the styles she would happily and endlessly explore as it is most comfortably within her wheelhouse. If you see parallels to Beauty And The Beast, you are probably seeing a muse of Villeneuve’s at work. This animated classic got her furiously into drawing and links neatly to this set’s themes.

Wilds of Eldraine is currently available at your friendly local game store or major gaming outlet, with starter kits available for newcomers or Commander sets and boosters for those returning for Magic’s latest chapter.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Written By Nathan Hennessy


You May Also Like


Seal the deal by hijacking a train and going sicko mode


Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the moth