Cloud Spirit is a very interesting illustration, which upon first glance looks like a fairly straight forward concept depicting mountainous terrain on a picturesque day with scattered clouds. And perhaps as the flavor text describes, this is a rational and logical interpretation of what the image portrays. However, upon further inspection, the artist's (Michal Nagypal) intent is revealed.
In this illustration (as in several other works by Michal), the artist evokes the concept of Pareidolia.
Pareidolia is the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual, so that one sees an object, pattern, or meaning where there is none.
A common application of this phenomenon is often used with clouds. The flavor text pairs perfectly with the illustration concept:
Children picture creatures in the clouds.
Innocence sees what wisdom cannot.
Like many of Michal's Sorcery: Contested Realm design concepts, the illustration draws inspiration from a prior work that Michal had created and exhibits in a gallery in Prague....
To fit the format of a Sorcery trading card, the mountains were added to balance the illustration and create room for the text box without compromising the meaning of the illustration. Mr. Nagypal described his design approach as follows:
I was fascinated by pareidolia phenomena (it means that some object reminds you of something else, most commonly we see in objects' faces) it has roots in prehistory in recognizing predators. The clouds were a great tool to play with different shapes.
Cloud spirit is a card that was revealed early in the development of Sorcery: Contested Realm. Its design mechanics and text has remained largely unchanged, with the exception of the type line text, which now reads: "An Ordinary Spirit hovers o'er the heavens".
Previously, the text read: "An Ordinary Spirit soars in these skies". This is the type line version that you find in sample cards from the game's early development stages.
Below is an image of the original painting, where you can see compared to the card that some digital color tone adjustments were applied to enhance the illusion of a spirit 'soaring o'er the heavens'...