Force of Will was the very first Magic card I ever did for Wizards of the Coast back in 1996. Though I didn't know it at the time, it turned out to be quite an auspicious debut, I guess you could say. It's remained THE most popular card I've ever done, and I've painted well over 150 images for the game since then.
The art director for MTG at the time, Sue Ann Harkey, had seen my art from comics I'd painted for DC and Marvel... I had also done some vampire paintings for a different WOTC department that she may have seen.
Anyhow, she called me up and asked if I wanted to take on a few cards in the upcoming set, Alliances. Of course I was delighted and eager to break into a new venue, and accepted at once. When she was talking to me about my assignments, she mentioned in reference to Force of Will, "I'm not sure, but I think this is going to be a good card for you."
Guess she was right. It's been one of the hallmarks of my Magic career.
Back in those days, the art direction and descriptions tended to be a bit looser... and they came over by fax. (For you young people, faxes came right after pony express in the timeline of things). I wish I still had the original art description, but as far as I can remember, here's all it said:
Depict a Shaman using fire or red magic
Working title: "Stop Spell"
I'd always thought Wolverine was a cool character, so I decided to give "Stop Spell" a don't-mess-with-me Wolverine-type attitude. I was surprised that when the card came out, it had a blue border, instead of red.
Back in the days of fax machines, I was also using another technological dinosaur... the polaroid camera. Actually, my custom was to shoot reference with a 35 mm camera, and then drop off the roll to a 1-hour photo place, but I didn't have the luxury of that much time when I was sketching Force of Will.
It was late at night, and I didn't have much time left on my deadline, so I had to spring for the polaroid (which cost me $1 per photo and looked pretty crappy most of the time). Neither did I have the luxury of some body-building superhero at my disposal for reference, either, so I used what I could get... someone close to home... uh... me.
Back in those days I was working out pretty hard (anybody heard of Bill Phillips?) and had about 9% body fat, so I stripped down to my underwear, set up some good underlighting and let my little 6-pack create the foundation upon which I built my studly Force of Will.
Actually, that's really kind of embarrassing to admit... in fact, after you finish reading this post, it will vanish in a *poof* of smoke, leaving no trace that it ever existed... either that, or I'll have to kill you. I don't actually like looking at that old photo... it's not that my body looked bad, but the granny panties... geez. I didn't know Victoria back then.
Anyhow, I painted Force of Will bigger than I generally paint Magic cards now... the dimensions were probably 18 x 14". Even so, I want to say it came together in a couple of days... on the faster side. And I hadn't been out of school very long, so I probably painted the whole thing with gouache and colored pencil.
In 1997 (I think?), I was invited to sign at a Pro Tour in Stockholm, Sweden. Force went with me, but didn't come home. He'd lost his passport and got wisked away by the Swedish authorities (the same ones that are after Assange). No... actually, he fell in love with a "player" (some of us have that unfortunate experience). I think his name was Sven.
Seriously, though, it was hard to let him go, but pretty exciting to be taking home a nice wad of cash from the trip. I haven't seen or heard of Force since... I'm sure he can take care of himself, but still, I wonder. Every now and then I'll see his face... I have these recurring dreams of painting over him, time after time after time, morphing him into other characters. Weird.
I've sold hundreds of prints over the years, as many people want him for themselves and as gifts for their friends. There are two sizes to choose from:
You KNOW you need this for your deck! : ) I figured out a way to take photos periodically while altering cards. So, we put together this little video showing the card morph from Force of Will to Force of 300. I'm a little embarassed to admit that even when I'm the one that painted it, I think it's sort of magical to watch come to life.
The mediums used for this was primarily water based oils, with touches of ink and gouache.
If you'd like to grab this one for your collection it's on ebay for the next 7 days!
he majority of alterations I create are on Force of Will cards. However, once in a while I like to mix it up and have fun doing something different. This is a playset of the special M11 foil promo cards, The Birds of Paradise.
My intent for this playset was to embellish them in a way that seemed somewhat reminiscent of old illuminated manuscripts. The luminous foil cards look beautiful already, so I chose a subtle approach, adding ornate touches of gouache and gold ink, and finished by signing in gold.
If you'd like this playset for your collection they're onEbay NOW for 5 days!
While we're on the topic of the art for this card... I oftentimes get asked if I just come up with ideas for cards, or if I'm asked to illustrate a certain thing. In the early days of Magic, there was much more visual flexibility. However, now there are specific style guides as well as detailed descriptions. I've posted the art description I was given below:
TITLE: PROMO Birds of Paradise ART DESCRIPTION: Color: Green Creature Location: Sky Action: Show a bird of paradise (based on the real-world bird of the same name) that is flying out in the wild. Focus: On the "bird of paradise" in flight Mood: a living rainbow, and a thing of beauty in this bleak, grey world Notes: Normal "real world" birds of paradise" have only 2 tail feathers, however, the one you paint should have many long tail feathers, not just two, with each being a different bright color.
The elegant curves in the work of Alphonse Mucha continually inspire me. You can see his influence in the design of the tail feathers.
As a side note, if any of you are especially intrigued by these gorgeous birds, there's a wonderful full length Nature show about them which I found fascinating.
Shown below is the sketch I created and emailed for approval.
From this sketch, I went on to paint the final art using acrylic and colored pencils. You can get up-close and personal with part of the illustration if you want to see some of the details.
Limited edition of 150 - these prints are on beautiful, textured 13x19" archival watercolor paper, signed and numbered. Buy now!
Do you have a handful of favorite cards that you would absolutely LOVE to have embellished with Terese's signature? You don't HAVE to go to an event and stand in long lines to have it done. She's more than happy to sign cards for all of her fans!