AI art has been quite a controversial topic in the world of Magic: the Gathering. The trading card game giant is renowned for the beautiful artwork featured on its tens of thousands of cards. Creating work for the world’s most talented artists, the card game has even become host to some of the best fantasy manmade art in the entire world.
The artwork is so highly regarded that even Midjourney, one of the biggest AI art generators, has been caught sourcing MTG art for its AI creations.
With the AI revolution becoming bigger by the day, Wizards of the Coast released a statement claiming that AI would not be used in any finalized MTG products. Despite this statement released on December 19, 2023, a new promotion on Magic’s Twitter page has caught the eyes of players, raising accusations that Wizards of the Coast is once again using AI artwork. Players are outraged.
Lands and AI
In an effort to promote the retro-bordered Shock Lands releasing in Ravnica Remastered next Friday, Wizards of the Coast included a rather novel-looking background that raised alarm bells with many MTG fans. Despite Wizards quickly releasing a statement that this art was, in fact, not made by artificial intelligence, Magic fans quickly highlighted some features of the background, accusing this particular claim of being total hogwash.
Fans outline multiple questionable inclusions in the art that may indicate that this background was made using the aid of AI. The most telling appears in the top left image. The details on the right of the pressure meter become increasingly messy to the point where they are almost illegible.
Other details, like pages blending into each other on a book on the far right side of the image, some compressed-looking pipework that makes little sense, and some extra elements that logistically rarely exist, have many fans convinced that this background is an AI creation.
There are an overwhelming number of different elements in the image that seem off. While there is no proof that this background was made using AI, it does seem incredibly likely. If this was not AI-generated, the strange elements in the artwork become even more confusing. Why were these decisions consciously made?
Further tweets highlight even more aspects of the background that just seem off.
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This Needs to Stop Happening
This AI-esque artwork appearing after Wizards of the Coast made a statement against AI in their finished products looks particularly bad. This technically isn’t part of a Magic card within itself, but it is nonetheless a part of an MTG promotion.
This isn’t the first time Wizards of the Coast was suspected to be using AI by the player base either. A few months back, another MTG promotion on Twitter was deleted after players started accusing Wizards of the Coast for using AI in the background art. This was quickly replaced with a new promotional piece that is more traditionally seen for Secret Lair releases.
Even before that, disgruntled Dungeons and Dragons fans were outraged when finding AI-generated artwork in the Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. Featuring artwork from D&D artist Ilya Shkipin, this also became a massive controversy.
While the accusations seem overwhelming, as of the writing of this article, the tweet in concern is still live for everyone to see. If AI generation was used to create this background, it was likely an accident. Should this be AI-generated, regardless of whether the choice to use AI was purposeful or not, Wizards may benefit from stricter screening processes to ensure that something like this does not happen again. One solution offered by many players is to add an artist’s credit to each piece of artwork used by Wizards of the Coast. This could help humanize the artwork. The artwork in question does not currently have a credit.
Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons are some of the absolute titans of man-made artwork. Let’s keep it that way.