What's your inspiration?


I was wondering, how do other people find inspiration for their card designs? Do you get it from playing the game, from browsing art, or do ideas just pop into your head?

I mostly get inspiration from browsing art, but I also play the game on my iPhone (Magic Duels) which can sometimes inspire. I bet if I played mtgo it'd be a better source for inspiration but it's a little too expensive for me currently and now I don't have anyone to play paper with.


  • edited April 2016
    The reason my set is going so slowly is because I'm only making cards as I come up with ideas I think are genuinely interesting. For me, I have a story for the plane and the major thematic elements associated with the set. Coming up with ideas tends to be easier when you already know most of the mechanics and themes you want to use.

    There are only a few cards I've made based on art I've found that I liked. I almost always do it the other way around, find art to match the idea.
  • edited April 2016
    Sometimes a mechanic idea or card interaction that (I think) hasn't been done will pop into my head. It'll just stew there for a while and eventually I will start looking for an art piece that relates to the idea.

    More often my inspiration comes from contests (at least lately).

    Occasionally artwork I happen by will inspire a card all it's own.

    Still other times I will have some sort of story, theme, or decklist in mind and make a couple cards to work it out.
  • My inspiration comes from both art and my grandfather, now deceased. As a kid I would make up card games on whole sheets of paper and force him to play with me as I made up rules. He's been one of the few in the family that first supported me and my lifestyle and hobbies (Games, writing and art instead of sports or the like) and he continues to inspire me with nearly every aspect of him that I remember. :)
  • There is a certain national tabletop RPG, Tormenta, in which I take inspiration from time to time. Aside from that, Deviantart, Critical Role and Magic Duels too - not sure how it works, but we could play sometime Saveria :D. Mine is Steam's version though.
  • For me, it's definitely the video games I play. I had a set I stopped doing that was based on SotC in my first several cards, and other cards, such as the Magala card I created, are based from enemies in video games, usually bosses.
  • Art tends to be the driving force for me. Even when I'm working on a set or on TheMechanix, I will spend an insane amount of time looking for just the right art.
    Loxodon Plantcaster - http://mtgcardsmith.com/view/loxodon-plantcaster
    This art drove this card. I wasn't thinking of making this until I saw the art, and then it all just came together
    Lethal Protector - http://mtgcardsmith.com/view/lethal-protector
    We needed a card to fill a slot, and I knew I had seen the art I wanted to use, so I spent parts of two days looking for it.
    Weeping Widow - http://mtgcardsmith.com/view/weeping-widow
    This art I had, but didn't know quite what I was going to do with it. Once I saw the Mechanic I was going to base the card off of, I knew it had to be this artwork, and then I built the card around it.
    I think you can make a great card with a stick-figure for art, but it just feels more complete with art that helps convey your "vision"
  • I'm mostly inspired by the contests. I find it difficult to think of a card idea in a vacuum and I don't tend to spend time thinking about cool cards or mechanics or even lore - so making a set would definitely be beyond me. But if someone says 'make a creature that does this' or 'make an enchantment that does that' I can focus my thoughts and something usually pops out. That's why I very rarely make non-contest cards!
  • Mine is the art. I just have an idea like: "Make a warrior!" And I look up warrior. Then the art makes that card. Sometimes some weird art pops up while looking for Ezuri, Renegade Leader's art, and I make a card out of it. I dunno.
  • I like to think my inspiration is whatever I find interesting.
  • I play MTG with my friends. We have some pretty insane decks. I find this inspires me to make some pretty insane cards myself!
  • For me, it's ideas popping into my head. The artwork's the most difficult part.
  • I've seen art and thought, "That HAS to be a card!" and have developed the card around it.

    Mostly my ideas come through feeling "voids" while playing. I'll be in a game (normally Commander) and think, "It would be incredible if there were a card that did XYZ..."

    That is one of the reasons I'm so glad to have found this place! It's loads of fun to come up with ideas, and also to have people help balance them out to be realistic for play.

    I just recently got MSE to enhance my designs and plan to order a pack of custom cards soon to introduce into my playgroup, probably in a cube. It has been an amazing journey so far and it has become a really fun hobby for me and my fiance.
  • edited June 2016
    Sweet where (generally: state, country, etc.) does your playgroup meet?
  • @Faiths_Guide if you mean where did my fiance and I meet, here in Michigan 11 years ago :)
  • @mintyfreshmana
    Well that's a bit to far to drive (from Cali) to for a game night... rats.
  • @Faiths_Guide Rats indeed! We have a VERY small group - most Magic players around here are serious tools. Used to do the whole FNM thing, but that got stale QUICK. Now we do casual Commander and other fun casual formats here and there.
  • edited June 2016
    You'll just have to get me a ticket to fly out there some time. I've got family somewhere around there (which is almost true anywhere in the country as my dad is the youngest of 7 siblings). :D
  • @mintyfreshmana My play group was small like yours too, when it was just me and my ex-boyfriend, and occasionally another friend from nearby Tokyo.

    @Faiths_Guide you play with your family sometimes correct? I once introduced my little sister to drafting. She inherently followed the Bread strategy and loaded her very first deck with removal and flyers and won the mini tournament we had going that night at my friend's house. I think we drafted m12 that night.
  • @saveria201
    Yeah, pretty much exclusively with family. Most of my free time is spent with siblings and close relatives!
  • Everybody, quick! Watch this MTG documentary:

    info here: http://magic.wizards.com/en/content/enter-the-battlefield
  • I often play dumb custom card games with friends: something like someone comes up with some card criteria (an alternate win condition, or something), and then the others have, say, a minute or two to come up with a card following that criteria. You'd be surprised by how many good ideas I come up with.
  • I mostly just browse the web for fantasy artwork, and when I find something I like, I try to think of a card that would represent the artwork as closely as possible. Or if I'm making cards about the Song of Ice and Fire series, I just try to come up with cards that match people or events from the books or show.
  • edited January 2017
    I play a lot of digital games on top of my playing of magic and board games and one of my all time favorites is Half-Life. Along with all the other games that go along with that franchise and I thought."What would half life look like in magic. I have a half life set going already and it's starting to fill up. By the time i'm done ill have a card for every entity and enemy from half life looking like magic cards. If you want to see my set so far please do and tell me what you think!
  • Some ideas come in my head others from hearthstone etc. Finding art is the drag for me.
  • Apart from that game, my main inspiration would be looking at popular/existing cards. Most of my cards can be found to be based off something!

    Take my most popular card, say http://mtgcardsmith.com/view/duskcast-infiltrator?list=set&set=16469
    This was based off the idea of combining sen triplets and @Tomigon's emissary mechanic.
  • Mostly I have a deck idea and think of a card to play in it / counter it. Sometimes I just browse the contests on MTGCS and they give me ideas, which I may or may not enter into the contests.
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