Sorcery: Contested Realm
Sorcery: Contested Realm is a new Trading Card Game that completed a record-breaking $4M Kickstarter campaign in April 2022.
All artwork for the game is hand-painted, commissioned from legendary fantasy and RPG artists, MTG original artists, metal album cover artists, and card alter artists, resulting in stunning visuals that capture the essence of the golden age of fantasy art.
The Alchemy of Iconic Art
Sorcery: Contested Realm delivers a visual experience like no other Trading Card Game (TCG).
An extensive lineup of iconic artists span various industries and artistic genres.
The depth and quality of every card evokes an 'instantly iconic' emotion from gamers, collectors, and art enthusiasts alike; reinvigorating a sentiment that hearkens back to the golden era of fantasy art in the TCG industry.
The Right Ingredients - Painter & Brush
The allure of Sorcery art is rooted in the variety of world-class artists selected for the project. Sorcery Designer, Erik Oloffson, targeted a diverse group of talented artists and illustrators to fill specific needs for the project. A total of 35 artists were commissioned for the initial game release with backgrounds spanning:
Premier RPG and TCG projects
Trading card alters
Fine art paintings of mythological, celtic culture, and historical significance
Heavy metal album cover illustration
Fantasy gaming and book cover illustration
Mapping and cartography for gaming and real-world application.
The exceptional art quality instantly captivates gamers, collectors, and art enthusiasts.
The artists themselves have expressed great admiration for their peers. Metal album cover artist and musician, Mattias Frisk, remarked: "it is an honor to be part of the game, especially since one of my all time heroes Dan Seagrave has done a few artworks for the project."
Up-and-comer artist, Caio Calazens, emerging from the trading card alters scene from Sao Paulo Brazil, expressed how excited he is to be creating artwork in a peer group that includes iconic artists who illustrated the games he grew up with. The list includes several artists who achieved notoriety during the booming 1990s Seattle RPG and TCG scene:
Anson Maddocks, Melissa Benson, Jeff Menges, Drew Tucker, Margaret Organ-Kean, and Liz Danforth
Alan Pollack fondly recounted how he first heard of the project through friends and early-career artist colleagues Tony Szczudlo and Jeff Easley of Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) and Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) fame.
Note - click on any image that follows to learn more about the artist!
A significant differentiator in artistic approach for Sorcery is its use of hand-painted artwork for all illustrations.
Artists were given the creative freedom to use their preferred traditional mediums, such as oil, acrylic, water color, pen and pencil, or a mix therein. This delivers all of the authentic benefits of traditional art:
Vibrant, rich color composition
Dynamic texture from prep, natural material, and finish
Fine line work accentuating compositional elements
Captivating lighting effects
Majestic and whimsical landscapes
The traditionally painted artwork creates great intrinsic value:
From the gamer perspective, the richness of the artwork creates instantly recognizable visual cues that naturally connect art design to exciting game mechanics. This is a hallmark of golden era TCGs, where card artwork became organically iconic as associations were bonded to memorable gameplay moments.
For the collector and art enthusiast, the exceptional art quality delivers a deeply satisfying pack-opening and collecting experience. Every pull offers a sense of wonder and excitement. The satisfaction of set completion, and pride in artwork display, feels truly rewarding.
Consider, for example, ...
the warm red and orange color tones in Lindsey Crummett's "Beast of Burden"
the menacing kraken lurking in ominous waters in Dan Seagrave's "Great Old One"
The Portal of Imagination - Wide Open
Sorcery creators used an art design approach that fully maximized the creative brilliance of all commissioned artists. The team's philosophy is that card art design should be as open and diverse as the gamer's creative freedom to build and pilot a deck that suits their preferred play style.
This was accomplished by providing artists with only very high level conceptual direction. This approach mirrored 90s era game design where artists were provided little more than a card title. Many of the artists selected for the Sorcery project experienced this approach decades earlier in their career. Several highlighted the benefits of being afforded this creative freedom.
Tony Szczudlo commented that "it is every artist's dream to be allowed the opportunity to paint what they want".
Liz Danforth echoed these sentiments, stating that "back in the day, we rarely got more than the title of the card"; and "Erik makes me part of the project without hanging me out to dry. Gives me the guidance I need without micromanaging my artistic skills or creative will."
A few examples stand out from interviews with artists reflecting on their experience creating paintings for the initial set release:
Alan Pollack stated: "Erik gave me very little art direction for my Sorcery art. That's what made it so much fun...every artist had the freedom to create art in their own way, no theme, no style guide."
An early fan favorite is Alan's "Psionic Blast". The only direction given was to be a guy using mind power to blast his enemies. After submitting a couple different approaches, Erik and Alan decided the overhead view fit best with the text boxes on the card. Alan recalled posing for the wizard in Psionic Blast to use as a reference model for form composition and lighting.