Steve Argyle - Legend of the Five Rings release - #268
The Shadow’s Embrace Yoriyomo Kanahashi, card # 45/159
The Legend of the Five Rings expansion The Shadow’s Embrace was released in June, 2012 as a Factory set. This is the first of seven illustrations by Steve Argyle in that set. The factory set was available for purchase divided into nine clan packs and a strategy set. You could buy the strategy set which would include one clan pack of your choice or the factory set which includes the strategy set and all nine clan packs. All cards in this set are of fixed rarity, are non-foil only, and appear as a playset, which is three copies of non-unique cards and one copy of unique cards.
This card is a non-unique Mantis Clan card meaning three copies of it appeared in the Mantis Clan Pack.
Steve illustrated three cards for this set that seem to indicate parts of a single storyline featuring Kanahashi hunting someone down and capturing him.
This image is not rendered with the exacting polish that Steve typically employs with a portrait piece like this one, but every element is still masterfully done. The prominent characteristic in this piece is color. Steve’s understanding of color and lighting, especially where skin is concerned, is exemplified here by seeming appropriate even as the lighting transitions from shadow through natural light to intense fire-light. The lighting is appropriate not just to indicate the source of the fire-light, but also the shadows and highlights that indicate form. Interlacing all of these kinds of light and having the colors react accordingly without losing the conveyance of human skin to the viewer is a talent we should not take for granted.
While doing all of that Steve doesn’t forget to cooperate all of the elements that describe emotion in the face. I have expounded on Steve’s mastery of describing facial expressions countless times. Here we can see what appears to be an interlacing of pride, satisfaction, and a touch of amusement. The muscles that control the skin at the corners of the mouth, the forehead and the eyes are responsible for the most subtle factors of conveying emotions and understanding how that works and being able to indicate it are possibly even more difficult than understanding light and color.
We are all pretty accustomed now with Steve’s methods for painting fire, and it always looks good.