Magi — Merry Christmas 2010


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Dedicated to my wife Jessica.

I try to do at least one Christmas wallpaper a year. It’s been a tradition since I first started DB. After depicting mostly secular icons for many years I felt inspired this time to explore the Christian aspects of the holiday.

I was at Ian’s school “Holiday” concert recently and was disappointed that many of the songs I sang as a child (O’ Holy Night, Silent Night, The First Noel, etc) were no where to be found. I’d never heard most of the ones they chose.

I think whether you are a believer or not I think there are a lot of beautiful songs, art, and traditions to be found in the Mass of Christ.

The tale of the Magi always captured my imagination as a child and I hope you enjoy my depiction.

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109 reviews for Magi — Merry Christmas 2010

  1. Aaron

    Would be even better if you could have a pickle jar version with out the wise men.

  2. Enoctis

    ps… I appreciate the extra effort of making it fit the iphone screen!

  3. Enoctis

    I love this one! And thank you for the reminder of the real reason for the season. I really love the pickle… while I love the ethereal dune ridges and ripples and noctilucent clouds in the gallery version, I have always loved a clear, starry sky. The silhouetted magi solves the footprint and shadow problem. The focus overall is more upward, which is where it should be!

  4. Lidia

    Nice pickle!

  5. Aaron

    Would also like to see this with out the wise men and camels. Dunes and deserts at nice is cool.

  6. Ron

    I wished there was a pickle jar version of this as a dual screen but without the wisemen and camels.

    Love the blue dunes and the night time look.

    Keep up the good work!

  7. Mary

    I am actually an atheist and yet my favorite piece of music is Handel’s Messiah. This beautiful picture falls in that same category. You don’t need to believe in a particular god to appreciate beauty. Thanks.

  8. Fritz

    I haven’t visited the site for a few months. Just bought a 27″ iMac (my first) and I returned to download some wallpapers. I am happy to see the new beautiful wall papers!

    Keep up the great work!

  9. Logan

    LoTR, huh? Any chance of ever seeing a Middle Earth based wallpaper? Come to think of it, “Subterra” reminds me of a scene in the Gandalf/Balrog battle.

  10. Jeff R.E.


  11. John

    I remember a long time ago there was a period when you had a “what I’m reading” portion of your home page, or something to that effect. Would it be possible to create a books/other forms of art thread where you could discuss your influences in literature etc. with us?

  12. Ryan

    “Dune” had a huge influence on me when I first read it. I think I was around 12 or 13 at the time. I’ve read the first 4 books numerous times but never could get into the series after that. “Dune” (and “LoTR”) definitely sparked my love of world building.

  13. Tyranith

    I’m very new member of the site but I know your works since long time. Almost from the begining online of the site and I just want to thank you for your efforts. This image makes me remember Frank Herbert’s saga, Dune. and absolutely wonderful.

  14. Dana

    Ryan, what a wonderful depiction…

  15. Jef

    Thanks Ryan!

  16. Henry v.

    Ryan you continue to amaze me with your work. Thank you very much!

  17. kellzilla

    Just pretend they’re not the Magi, and poof! You have some modern-day desert dwellers walking across a modern-day desert, with a cool blue moon backdrop. Voila! No more religion attached.

  18. Matt

    Though I respect and appreciate your religious beliefs, I do not hold them. I do however like the imagery here and would love to see this image without the wondering camels.

    Merry Christmas and thanks for the beautiful work!

  19. Fizzrate

    For me this feels like a classic wallpaper from earlier this decade, and I LOVE it!

  20. Casey

    If one’s belief system aligns with Christian mythology, I can see the strong sentimentality aspect of this piece but in terms of straight artistic quality and that “I’m amazed” factor I get when I come to this site, your other work is hands down better. Like I said, good but not on par with your top work.

  21. Chris

    Thank you so much Ryan for making this a Christmas portrait and not just a Happy Holiday’s thing. I’ll gladly give this a perfect score!

  22. Coffi

    Who needs footprints or drifting sand? You caught the mystery, sprit and promise of ” Christmas. That’s where the art is, not all the little details.

  23. Tay

    Ryan, you and your wife may enjoy this site:

    It is a scientific and biblical exploration of the validity of the Star of Bethlehem.

    That is what this beautiful depiction of the Magi reminds me of. I’ve been a lifetime member since the nineties. This is my favorite. If only people could know the peace of Christ and that the search is worth the effort. Thank-you Ryan.

  24. Erin


    What a beautiful piece! I have enjoyed your work since ’99, skimming the frees when they were updated until recently subscribing. But this one speaks to me in a way none of the others did. I love the stark, harsh landscape lighted by the star. What a lonely and difficult journey they must have taken, but perhaps they had a night like this to enjoy.

  25. Macindean

    I think it is wonderful! Captures the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you.

  26. Joe

    Let’s stick to the blasphemy! 🙂

  27. Brian

    Absolutely striking!!

  28. Angie

    I love seeing Christian content in your wallpapers 🙂 This one is so beautiful! If you make another holiday wallpaper, I’d love to see something not blue. Not that I don’t like blue, it just seems like a lot of your wallpapers are dark and blue. I’d love to see something colorful like your past Christmas wallpapers, like your Snow Globe, or the Ornament one. Keep it up – I look forward to seeing what you come up with in the future!

  29. Gina

    You are very talented and your work is a blessing to some of us. Thank you for you and thank you for giving us Christians a more “traditional” piece. It is lovely as always. Gives my heart joy. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  30. Cappydawg

    This is a beautiful picture. I love the blues and how quiet the seen looks.

  31. Cappydawg

    This is a beautiful picture. I love the blues and how quiet the seen looks.

  32. Labanimal

    There’s a chunk of the sky missing on the 5760×1080 compared to the 7680×1600

    nothing photoshop can’t fix 🙂

  33. Brian

    Very nice. I am not offended by secular holiday pictures or religious Christmas pictures. I appreciate you not being politically correct and creating what you darn well want to. I look forward to all your holiday (Halloween, Christams) work.

  34. Zenith

    Thanks Ryan, I really like your Magi wallpaper and I will certainly be using this during the Christmas period. Like a number of your wallpapers, Magi manages to capture a particular mood or atmosphere which is usually very difficult to accomplish.

  35. Michelle

    Amazing, Ryan, as always. I love the desolateness of the desert and the mountains of sand in the lovely depth of the night you have captured here. I have been meditating on the Magus that made the trek this year and wondering as they gazed into their reflecting bowl and saw the star (really a conjunction of planets) and found the prophecy and moved after it (a two to three year journey) if I have the same wonder, passion, and hope that they had in their hearts to risk so much for what I believe. This fits with my own meditations so perfectly. Thank you.

  36. Tom

    Love the new wallpaper. Just what I was looking for this time of year.

  37. Andy


    Haha. I got the same feeling as well. Add some footprints, shadows etc.

  38. Walo

    I was wondering why I thought there was something unnatural about the image. When I read your post about adding shadows to the figures, then I noticed that it was that what was missing.

  39. Rick W

    Thank u for doing a wallpaper to get us thinking about the true meaning of xmas. His birth is what it is all about.

    Matthew 2:1-2(KJV)

    1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

    2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

  40. PixelHead

    Great job on the design and thanks for sharing your story. I agree with your statements and observations. Thanks again!

  41. Mike

    What a great and detailed portrayal of the travels these men faced. This is awesome and looks so good on my computer. Thank you for this great image!!!

  42. Chris

    I was talking to a friend about this today who is also a DB subscriber. We had a couple of other ideas: If the footprints are tough, how about shadows of the camels and Magi to give just a little depth there? Also, if there were maybe a faint glow of a city in the distance (like where they were going to), that might add a little more color to it. Just a thought…

    Still really like this one in any case.

  43. Jesus

    The Christian aspects of Christmas are always overlooked. Thanks for exploring them.

  44. Alex H

    The classic Christmas story with a dB touch. It’s great

  45. jbhodges7

    For a slightly similar image, a secular photograph, see

  46. Atma

    I am pleased to see the magi as I don’t think much about them when Christmas is coming. Thank you for that.

    I can see small stars on the left part of the picture, but they are not visible enough in my opinion (or I should reconfigure my monitor).

    Merry Christmas !

  47. jmpond

    The cool blue color theme is perfect for this setting! As usual, awesome work!

  48. Ryan

    I tried my hardest to “disturb” the dune behind them, but for some reason Vue d’Esprit wouldn’t let me. I put the figures on a tiny corner of a pretty vast landscape (4096 x 4096) and just couldn’t get my terrain brush small enough to make the necessary perturbations. I’ll keep playing with it though and if I can make the footprints work I will post an update (probably just replace this one rather than Pickle Jar it).@RC: One of the downsides to working in 3D is that the newer software cannot render scenes created using the older versions. For example, the plug-ins I used to create the lights in both versions of “Blue Christmas” no longer function because the company went out of business. In fact the company behind “World Builder” (which I used to render the first “Blue Christmas”) is no more. My plan is to update most of them overtime, but they would be very difficult (or impossible) to re-render.

  49. Hunter

    Just remember that regardless of religion and beliefs, Christmas is a time for others… A time that you put your own selfishness aside and make someone else’s Christmas special. For some that’s by buying a loved one a gift, or spending time with the family. For others, it’s a time to help out those less fortunate who don’t have a family or even a house to spend Christmas in…

    Merry Christmas all.

  50. Tyler

    And the wind couldn’t have blown on the sand? If you notice the ridges on the dunes, those are obviously the result of a desert wind. This is my favorite Christmas image to date, and I applaud Ryan for honoring the traditions of the Bible and the majestic tale of our Savior’s birth.

  51. Littlemom

    I found myself pleasantly surprised when I saw that your render was the Magi. And was touched by your comment as well, as a Christian myself I love everything about the Christian side of Christmas as well as the lights and stuff. I found your render very beautiful and it has definitely been added to my Christmas wallpaper rotation. Thanks for making it. Merry Christmas Ryan to both you and your family. God bless you!

  52. Henrik

    Nice picture 🙂

    But woudent the people leave some footprints behind them ?

    Looks a bit weird without that on the picture 🙂

  53. Bruce

    Hey Ryan,

    A wonderful addition to your Christmas collection. Definitely one I will reuse each Christmas.

    On a separate note, your link to the “640 x 960 (iPhone 4)” image brings up the 320×480 image.

    All the best this Christmas season. Keep up the great work!

  54. Simon

    I’m normally not into all your holiday wallpapers (except the ones for halloween)… but this one is actually very awesome.

    Great Job!

  55. Travis

    Ryan, you’ve hit the nail on the head (image and commentary). I too miss the standards of old and am sad to see how society has pushed away such joyful traditions.

    Thanks for the beautiful image to move us along in our holiday cheer! Merry Christmas!

  56. RC

    It’s probably just me but, eh. Would still rather see widescreens, not updates, of some of the older Christmas images like Holiday Flouresence, Ornament, Yuletide 2000, even Blue Christmas.

  57. RC

    It’s probably just me but, eh. Would still rather see widescreens, not updates, of some of the older Christmas images like Holiday Flouresence, Ornament, Yuletide 2000, even Blue Christmas.

  58. Greg in CA

    In my kid’s school they sing Kwanzaa(sp?) and Hannakuh(sp?) songs as part of their Christmas pageant because they want to include everyone belief’s in the school. But at the same time they don’t sing the traditional Christian Christmas songs because they don’t want to offend those same people. Seems like a double standard to me…

  59. Thomas

    Great Christmas wallpaper! Ryan, wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas!

  60. LorettaYeo

    I agree with what you wrote above. The problem has never been the celebration of Christmas, but the attitude of some celebrants that we ALL should celebrate it in the same way they do. When people feel comfortable claiming that America is a Christian country, they are missing the point entirely. They see Christianity as the “one true” faith, and Zeus et al as merely myths. Heck, some people even think Catholics aren’t Christians. Go figure. I like the wallpaper; I don’t use any of your other holiday themes, but this one’s a keeper.

  61. Benke

    I like the idea and blue is my favourite color 🙂 however I find the background of the image (mountains and sky) a little bit empty. Maybe its the lack of contrast, I don’t know. Could a black sky (with clouds and the star) add more to the image? Otherwise great work and I’m a big fan of your desktop images since many years back! 🙂

  62. JT

    So am I! It’s beautiful. “Silent Night” will never be the same.

    A blessed Christmas to you and yours as well. Thanks!

  63. Silvaria

    Even though Christmas is celebrated in a secular way by many people, it is both pagan and Christian in origin. Although I do prefer the Santa Claus wallpapers, this one is awesome. Kudos yet again. 8)

  64. Jenanne

    This one put me in the Christmas spirit! I’m not traditionally religious (haven’t found the right church yet), but this is wonderful. It’s going right on my desktop. You are right – many people are trying to be way too politically correct. Thank you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  65. Brent

    What can I say that has not been said already? Magical, Spectacular…simply amazing! It gets even more so as the image pulls back to a dual and triple screen. A true Christmas masterwork!

  66. Seth

    Best Christmas wallpaper anywhere!

  67. Laura

    Perfect. Beautiful. Well done!

  68. Liggs

    Love this one! Footprints & shadows would have been a nice touch but they don’t make or break the image. I just wish you had more than 5 of your 23 Christmas images in dual-screen format. Now that I have Windows 7 I put your images in shuffle. Even some of your more recent Christmas images such as Yuletide ’07 & Silver Bells were not rendered for dual-screen. 🙁

  69. ingo

    ryan, it’s beautiful. really. as a believer, i appreciate the fact that you were willing to do this. i don’t dislike any of your other christmas wallpapers depicting santa and stuff like (it’s all part of the fun of christmas!) but it is nice sometimes to remember what christmas is all about. and i share your sentiment towards the christmas carols i sung as a child!

  70. Kris G

    Thank you, Ryan for doing this. I was settling in to the one in the free gallery. It’s going to be nice to have a Christmas wallpaper showing a REAL part of the Christmas story this year. Merry Christmas from my family to yours. May you be blessed this Christmas season and be prosperous in the coming new year.

    Thanks again.

    Kris G from Ohio

  71. Mars

    Thank you for this one!!!!

  72. Jonathan L

    Perfect timing!

    I was beginning to get antsy wondering if you were going to release a nice Christmas one *before* Christmas… no updates about it at all! 😉 lol

    Hope things are going well, Ryan! 🙂

  73. Reuben

    Thanks a lot for a non-secular wallpaper, last year I edited the Christmas one to remove Santa (you did that later too). It is good to see.

    Have a wonderful Christmas

  74. SteveSw

    In the same sense that you don’t have to “believe” in the Olympian gods to enjoy all the European artwork across the centuries that depicts them, just so you don’t have to “believe” in Christ to enjoy all the European artwork that tells his story. I feel sorry for those who don’t get that.

    Anyway, thanks for this. I like it in its purely secular “artistic” aspect (as another of your great landscapes). I think it’s one of the best jobs you’ve ever done of putting figures in the foreground of one of these landscapes (best in the sense of “most real” and “most balanced to scale” and “most suited to scene”). And, I like its seasonal fitness.

  75. Nightwynd

    Its very beautiful. However, I’m not religious, so I really don’t feel comfortable using this graphic. So, that means I guess I won’t get a new Wallpaper from you this year. Sigh. Not happy.

  76. Wraith

    THIS is Christmas. An excellent departure from Santa, trees, snow and all that. Well done. 🙂

  77. Chris

    First, thanks for doing this! As a minister, I really appreciate having a Christmas background like this with the DB flare! I’ll leave the Christian apologetics for someone else. The scene is simply beautiful.

    I do have to agree with the comment on the footprints though. That would definitely help the realism. The camels would sit better in the sand if they were there. Don’t know if that’s possible to do or not though.

    Still just a wonderful holiday background. Merry Christmas!

  78. Michael

    Nice wallpaper. As an atheist/agnostic depending on my mood I still agree wholeheartedly with not being ashamed to mention/commemorate the better stories from the Christian faith, and this is certainly one of the more special ones. I would like to remind those commenters who mention that Christ is not emphasized in the holidays that Christmas was very much a pagan holiday, not a Christian one (and some churches refuse to celebrate it for that reason).

    As for me, I don’t think we need any excuse, religious, secular, or otherwise, to just step back for a couple of weeks and reflect on family and friendship. Thanks Ryan for a wonderful wallpaper, and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

  79. Melissa

    Thank you Ryan!!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

  80. Nelson

    I have to agree with the others: It’s great to see such a silent, “inspiring” christmas wallpaper. I like that style more than many of your former works.

    However, I can’t fully enjoy it because of the strange appearance of the magi and their camels. Like already mentioned (and explained by you), I miss the shadows and the footsteps. Besides that, the creatures just look too 2-dimensional for me. Maybe it’s because of the shadow problem? And further, the feet of the last camel somehow seem to disappear in the sand.

  81. JohnnyD63

    Beautiful work,beautiful message.I agree…We’ve lost something when it comes to the simplicity of the Christmas message.This one stays on my desktop through the season.

  82. Lidia

    I love it! It’s a beautiful and inspiring wallpaper.

    Thank you for creating a Christmas wallpaper that depicts the Christian aspect of the holiday. As a Christian, I really appreciate it (and certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more of these in future years).

    And I agree that just because one does not believe in a certain set of religious beliefs, it doesn’t mean that one cannot appreciate the good stories, traditions, etc. that come from it.

  83. Guido

    Works now. Strange.

    Thank you anyway 🙂

  84. Ryan

    No, for once I uploaded it to the right directory. Check again for the 1920 x 1080 file.

  85. Guido

    The 1080p file seems to be missing… again…

  86. David


  87. L Upfield

    I love this one. It’s amazing. I’m not very religious but this is still very very wonderful. Happy holidays.

  88. T3chn0g33k

    I’m with you on how the secular aspect are trumpeted about, and at the same time marginalize why Christ was sent to us despite our self-righteous nature. Merry Christmas to you and your household.

  89. Logan

    Nice job; it’s great to see a true Christmas wallpaper. The barren mountains and sandy desert are definitely correct for that part of the world. The only other thing I can think of is, shouldn’t they be leaving footprints behind them?

    Nice work on the star, too. There are many depictions with a nice 4 or 5 point star but I always figured, how would God actually create a star that bright for that short a time? Probably a supernova or something, which I think you captured.

  90. Michelle

    I am not a believer in the Christian faith, but there are plenty of Biblical stories I enjoy from a historical and mythological point of view, so I really do love this wallpaper.

  91. Wayne

    more amazing work…

  92. Molly W

    This is beautiful! I love it!

  93. Jamison

    Simple and a great holiday wallpaper. Double Screen, please!

  94. Ryan

    I tried very hard to get shadows but for some reason adjusting the scene so they appeared caused everything else to look too dark.

  95. Greg

    Uhm, really nice and all, but… those guys dont have any shadows! not ever a darker area by their feet!

  96. Geep

    I really like the simplistic tone of this. Its very nice for this time of year, and being a Christian, its great to see not everyone is focused on the ‘buy buy buy’ that stores have. Great job and merry christmas!! )

  97. dujeon

    This is a fantastic wallpaper, as a christian myself it is truely a capturing and inspiring work of art that is a fantastic look at the greatest story ever told

  98. Andrew

    This is a great scene. I love the looks and layout of everything.

    For many many years I’ve always been watching you create your wallpapers, and finally became a member just a few short months ago. I’m so glad I did.

  99. Betsey

    AMAZING!!! Thank you–don’t change a thing!!!

  100. Henry

    Thank you for your gift of the Magi (yes, the pun is intended, but I don’t mean it jokingly). I think this is my favorite of your Christmas wallpapers. It would make a really lovely Christmas card.

  101. Scarr

    3 years ago I asked for a subscription to DB for Christmas… and it was given to me.

    I can’t think of the word exactly…. but this wallpaper is inspiring. Not only because of it’s simple beauty, but because there are still people out there willing to show the masses that CHRISTmas has it’s origins somewhere outside of Macys…

    Merry Christmas Ryan

  102. McKab

    Wow, Ryan, this is fantastic. I love all your Christmas backgrounds, but this has to be the best one you’ve ever done. It looks so majestic and you really get a feel like you’re there with them as they cross the desert to find baby Jesus. I love it, thank you.

  103. Ray

    Merry Christmas Ryan, and thanks for sharing. I think the simplictiy and relevance of this is just great, in a time where commercialism and materialism prevail in this one religious event more than any other in the world.

  104. chris

    ryan, this is fantastic. an excellent addition to your holiday wallpapers. thanks for sharing this.

  105. Joseph

    I was hoping you would do a wallpaper like this. And my gift was given. Thank you for this hopeful image.

  106. Kellye

    I think this is one of my favorites!It is for sure my new favorite Christmas! Thank you for bringing it to life!

  107. Alli

    Stunningly Simple. Thank you.

  108. Chris B

    The new pickle thumb nails are awesome. And so is the new version. Not sure which i like better, the sand and the fog/blowing sand (kinda makes it mysterious), are awesome in the first one. The 2nd one the sky is amazing with it’s clarity.

    Cool how a few minor changes make the same image totally different.

  109. Joel [nonmonthly]

    I love good Christmas art. Whether it’s religious or something like a country scene (one dwelling in a forest with a lit tree type scene) they are all great. Keep up the great tradition.

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