First though, let's go back and have a bit of an abbreviated history lesson for those visiting for the first time.
|My 1st Render.|
No, not that Genesis, but the birth of the modern MTG proxy community could be attributed to the MTGSalvation forums in the now-closed "The Make a Proxy" thread. Right around the release of SOM is when I started visiting, having an interest in MTG and as long as I've played, in proxies. It was a collaborative and engaging, albeit small, community of folks sharing what they rendered, fulfilling requests, etc. This eventually ended when several posts of people printing out proxies using POD sites went unchecked.
That closure led to this blog being established before a revamped "Digital Renders" thread got off the ground. Salvation is still a great place to get your feet wet. Personally, I disliked the restrictions put in place, and am no longer a contributor to the site.
|This became Snapcaster Mage.|
What do I mean by "vanilla". Basic, potentially bland, though technically adept. At its roots, a vanilla render is one that only replaces 1 or 2 elements of a frame or art and presents itself as close to a WOTC card as possible.
In this example, a card that never saw print was used, but rendered in a way to make the presentation of the card rather blasé. There was little effort made in making it special in any way. Sure, the art had to be sourced, and I found a somewhat suitable blurb for the flavor text, but other then that it just looks like a classic card. Fine I suppose, but if you want to compete in a contest, this is about a 5 out of 10.
In short, vanilla entries just don't stand out or stir up Judges emotions, which leads to lackluster results.
Vanilla, With Sprinkles
|The very first Super Art Planeswalker|
Now we know what basic is, what's one or two levels beyond that? Let's call it "vanilla with sprinkles". A basic render, with a touch of creativity thrown in for good measure.
Here we see an oft rendered Planeswalker, Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Loads of differences with the printed card. We can see the border and background texture of the card are gone, and the colors around the title and type bars have gone missing too. The text box has been condensed, perhaps a touch too much.
We also see "spill". Spill refers to the art covering up part of the card elements, in this case, the head peeking out in front of the title bar. In the current "meta" of renders, this would be considered probably a 6 of 10. Decent, but it's been done to death.
At first glance, this appears to be nothing more than vanilla with sprinkles.
Once you delve a bit further, you start to notice the textures have slightly changed, and there are custom expansion symbols and foil stamp. More work, some subtle, went into this than the Jace we just saw. The spill is more difficult to accomplish. The chosen alternate art needs to fit the card, and while it does in the color spectrum, the vorthos of it fails miserably. Ivy isn't a Giant Shaman, and certainly does not tap for X spell mana.
Scoring on this would be in the 7-7.5 range. Technically and fundamentally strong, but still no wow factor.
Which leads us to....
Let's take a look at a card we did previously. Again we see Big Jace, and this one looks a bit different.
For one, the color around the card elements is back. This makes it easier to identify the card as blue. There are the same subtle changes we saw in Chocolate with the texture additions and spill. So what makes this Salted Caramel and puts it in contention to win?
The work put in to make it appear as though it's raining. The water drops on the "lens" of us as a viewer. The little splashed of water hitting Jace's hood and cape. The cleanliness of the render, with no one miscue overly noticeable.
This would score in the 8.5-9 range.
When submitting an entry for inclusion into any of the contests, ask yourself if there's anything you would change. Chances are a tweak here, or a nudge there changes the overall flavor of the render. Vanilla is fine and complex flavor. But salted caramel is so much better.
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