I will be writing a series of articles about the called 'The unforgivable sins of WotC', but that could be a long time before I get to finalizing it. No, this article will be in defence of modern MtG art.
Now I will be the first to fully admit that the art on modern products are lack luster, to cluttered. After all, some pieces of art are commissioned to be released as other medium pieces (promotional material, ect). This often results in art pieces that are cluttered, confusing, or just plan unmemorable.
Another issue with modern art, is how generic it looks. Take this common as my most often used example:
This could literally be any video game promotional item. I remember joking about that at the prerelease.
Now I'm not bad mouthing the artists themselves, I can't draw for shit. I'm instead talking about the lack of direction (or too much direction) from the company itself.
However, when WotC does get it together, they can still make some memorable pieces of art w/ the in house artists.
Now while the majority of card pieces, don't capture the magic, the mystic, like the original art, these are still good pieces that deserve respect, for their technical value, and there memorableness.
(Note: I'm considering everything post Garruk/Liliana controversy as modern for the sake of discussion, since that was the last time the art direction got a major overhaul).
First Example: Angelic Destiny
While a little before the cut off, I love this piece to much not to include it in this list. This card alone makes for a good argument for digital art on M:tG.
(Thalia has a similar look, and gets an honorable mention here).
|Tell me this isn't great looking|
Speaking of Thalia, some of WotC best art work isn't in packs anymore. When the 'Inventions' and 'Expedition' secret rares were announced, it was commented on how nice the art looked on many of the cards. I said this wasn't anything new, WotC was paying premiums for it's best art to be on promo products.
|Steve Argyle's Thalia.|
Here is a portrait piece worth the same appraise as Douglas Shuler. Yes, it's a bit over polished, and I don't like how much in the large print the CGI of the sword doesn't match with Thalia, nor how polished it is in itself, but none of that is noticeable on the actual card.
It's best quality is how unusual it is to other pieces in the game in it's current form. Again, this wouldn't fit with the Tome feel of early years of the game, but I wouldn't be able in good heart to call it generic.
This piece, from Karl Kopinski looks like it could be straight from some Mirage era card art. It has good coloring, good sense of speed, but is sadly a victim of NWO, and is unplayable because of it.
|http://teresenielsen.typepad.com/the_world_of_terese_niels/2012/04/avacyn-restored-descendants-path-a-journey-of-personal-healing.html (Just read it).|
One artist, who hasn't gone the way of Guay, is Terese Nielson. Whether it be her, skill, her long standing reputation among Magic the Gathering fans, or her involvement with the company, her art never fails to impress, both visually, and skillfully. Working on the game since Alliances, she's drawn more then one piece you are familiar with. She's developed a reputation in recent years for ignoring the style guide to some real solid effects.
|Probably the most Greek feeling piece in Theros.|
Dictate of Heliod looks like nothing else in the set, but man, does it look amazingly Greek.
|Enter the infinite|
Honestly, I could sit here all day talking about how awesome her art is, but I won't.
Sadly these aren't the standards, but the exceptions, to the rule. These are the outliers now, in modern M:tG, but the occasional good piece of art still exists on the cardboard of MtG.