The Art of the Alter

The Art of the Alter

For a short time from November 2014 to February 2015 I was looking for ways to drive more traffic into our brick n mortar. Specifically, I was trying to get better turnout for our Magic the Gathering tournaments. I had recently been made aware that people altered the artwork on MTG cards by painting them. Knowing that everyone loves promos, I thought I could make something unique. Something that people would enjoy to have in their collection. They would be rare because I would only paint one offs, so collectability would be there. I also loved to paint. So I gave it a go, painting a series of cards over those 4 months and giving them away to the top finisher of Wednesday Night Magic at Tyton Games.

Each card would be painted in a single session. Each one would take anywhere from 9-12 straight. Reason being is because each layer had to be applied as thin as possible and in many coats. I didn't want to add heft to the card. I wanted to feel like it hadn't been painted. I was always pleased with the results. Some more than others. I look back at this time fondly and wish I had the time or the patience to do more. Anyway, I thought I would share them with you because I enjoyed painting them and still think that they are pretty cool.


Siege Rhino (Rocksteady)

This was the first altered art I painted. It was the one that got me hooked. I just loved it. I started with the idea that Rocksteady is a rhino so this card was just calling his name and who doesn't love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I always wanted to paint a full set (4 of the same card) with the same theme. Sadly, I never finished a whole set. This one took me about 8 hours of painting. That didn't include planning out the card or giving it a couple layers of matte clear coat after I was finished. I did end up painting another Siege Rhino card because, I mean, who is Rocksteady without his partner in crime? Although he isn't a rhino but a hog.........


Siege Rhino (Beebop)

I know, I already said that Beebop isn't a rhino but who better for Rocksteady to bring into a siege? I really wanted to make a full set of Siege Rhinos but the idea just ran out of steam here. The goal when I started was to make the art have something to do with the title of the card and I had already strayed with this second one. Since they were my first two cracks at making altered art cards, I kept them in the family. I gave them to the other owner of Tyton Games, at the time, Ty. These two are the only ones I can actually see in person today. The rest of the cards I'm about to show you were given away for WNM. :(


Murderous Cut (Shredder)

Sticking with the Ninja Turtles theme, I present Shredder on the appropriately named Murderous Cut. Although I can't recall ever seeing Shredder murder anyone. This card is where I started pushing myself a little bit. I tried some different techniques out on the ol' shred head. I'm definitely no Picasso but I was proud of what I accomplished. People got excited when they saw this as one of the top prizes for the Wednesday tournament. I got excited when I saw they got excited and it only made me want to make more.


Clever Impersonator (Archer)

This was probably the hardest card for me to paint. I knew it would be difficult but when I conjured up the pairing of Archer with the Clever Impersonator title, I couldn't go back. Archer and this card were hot at the time and I knew it would make a good match. Although I'm not as pleased with the outcome of this one as much as some of the others, I do still love it. Pay no attention to the fact that I completely forgot to put the light gray shading on his pocket flap. I guess that's what happens when you sit for almost 12 hours straight painting.


Villainous Wealth (Scrooge McDuck)

Good old greedy Scrooge McDuck. Nothing says Villainous Wealth like this top hat wearing, cane toting, wealthy billed bad boy! This was also the first card I decided to add a little more to than just the background glow. Scrooge definitely needed his pile of money because that's what defines him. Since I had him break the frame (come out of the artwork's bounding box) I knew throwing some coins in there would add some more depth. I was very pleased with how this turned out and at the time it was by far my favorite card.


Ashcloud Phoenix (Charizard)

Yeah, a dragon is not a phoenix. I broke from the formula again. I couldn't help it though, I wanted to make a Pokemon/ Magic the Gathering mashup and I just couldn't find the right card. I figured the fire match up and the way the colors go together would be enough to justify not sticking to the title association rule. It was definitely a sought after card during the tournament and that was enough to make me happy that I went through with it.


Dig Through Time (Hook) 

What a banger! I absolutely love this one. It isn't about the painting itself because it isn't one of my best. I didn't do a lot of shading because I was pressed for time although I do like the green wispy flame glow that he has. What does it for me is the title, the pocket watch, and the hook hand. When I saw this shot of Hook literally digging through time I had to slap it on this card. I guess you could say I was making Lorcana cards before Ravensburger. :P


Villainous Wealth (Montgomery Burns)

Here it is. The second in the two card Villainous Wealth series and my hands down favorite card that I've painted. I don't exactly know why it's my favorite but it is, by a long shot. Maybe it's the look on his face, along with the shading and the money flying around that just screams the title on this card. The colors work well together and he breaks the frame just enough for effect. If it was any set of 4 cards that I wish I would have completed it was the Villainous Wealth series. Sadly, it stopped here. Still I'm sure Mr. Burns would say this card is excellent!


Wild Slash (Wolverine)

This is the end, my only friend, the end. My final card was by far my most detailed. It took me the longest to complete. If I recall it was a little more than 12 hours. I wish I knew how many layers of paint I threw on this card but I do know it was a lot. I was pleased with the outcome but I felt as though I rushed it at the time. I'm still pleased with the outcome. I don't know why this was my last and I never decided to do another. It's been almost 10 years since I made this. I wonder who has it?


Anyway, thanks for taking a look at a short period of time in my life when I was cranking out altered arts. At the time it was a lot of work but I'm glad I did it. The hard work was justified when I saw people come in for Wednesday Night Magic and they would oooh and aaah at the chance to win one of these. I also loved doing them because they set our store, Tyton Games, apart from other game stores. It offered up something unique to our patrons. Something we still try to maintain to this day.



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