Friday, March 9, 2012

Updates: Art Projects and Magic Alters

I'm doing a lot of freelance work right now so while my blog makes it looks like I'm not doing much I'm actually doing more than I've ever done...I just can't share anything yet. I'm really happy with the work I've been producing though, it's definitely some of my best. I'm very excited to announce I successfully completed my first job with Fantasy Flight Games! The first job I received from them is still in the works, but the 2nd job I got with them is completely wrapped up and I'm on my way to doing even more work with them, which is GREAT. It feels really good to be working with a company as distinguished as FFG and to also be invited to do additional work. I guess I did something right on my first job then!

Onto Magic Alters!!...
Above are 3 new alters. I think I'm going to try and paint out the names of cards that have the name rewritten in the rules text from now on. I really like the feel of the Shriekmaw and I want to do more like that. I tried to do the same with Markov Blademaster but the paint got super chunky which kinda stinks. I'll see if I can do anything about that though. I need to learn to stay patient and not get frustrated with the paints, it gets tough when you have to fight against the paint. On the more positive side, Merfolk Sovereign is probably my best alter yet!

Here's the full list of cards done so far...
Demystify - Christopher Rush
Thallid Germinator - Tom Wänerstrand
Chandra's Spitfire - Justin Sweet
Grim Poppet - Kev Walker
Kessig Wolf - Wayne England

Child of the Night - Ash Wood
Utopia Mycon - Anthony S. Waters
Doom Blade - Chippy
Sudden Death - Dave Allsop
Full Moon's Rise - Terese Nielsen

Cone of Flame - Chippy
Darkthicket Wolf - Wayne England
Crossway Vampire - Mark Evans
Nightbird's Clutches - Jason A Engle
Curse of Stalked Prey - Christopher Moeller

Chandra Nalaar - Aleksi Briclot
Chandra's Outrage (2) - Christopher Moelller
Volcanic Dragon - Chris Rahn
Lurking Crocodile - Donato Giancola

Overrun - Carl Critchlow
Lumberknot - Jason A. Engle
Blightning - Thomas M. Baxa
Phyrexian Obliterater - Todd Lockwood
Sprout Swarm - Chippy

Fume Spitter - Nils Ham
Lightning Bolt - Christopher Moeller
Stromkirk Noble - James Ryman
Vapor Snag - Raymond Swanland
Ember Hauler - Steve Prescott

Essence Scatter - Jon Foster

Shriekmaw - Steve Prescott
Merfolk Sovereign - Jesper Ejsing
Markov Blademaster - Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss


  1. Hi Mike -- I'm not really clear on what "doing" a card illustrated by another artist means. It would be nice to hear a bit about what you want to get out of the experience and why. I mean, I'd modify my own cards for fun, but not somebody else's. No censure, just curious. Thanks!

  2. Hi Heather, I'd be happy to answer that!

    I first came across an altered Magic card while playing against a stranger and I thought the end result was really cool. The game even paused for a minute so I could get a good look at it. I decided it might be fun to give it a try myself. After doing my first few cards I found the process to be a ton of fun and very relaxing.

    As mainly a digital artist these days, altering Magic cards gives me an opportunity to put the stylus down for a while and play with my acrylics. Not only that but it's taught me a lot about color matching and mixing. It challenges me creatively too with each card.

    Lastly, it's a really nice feeling to see my Magic decks fill with more and more alters, and it makes them feel more personal to me. I've been enjoying the game more and more lately and doing alters is just another way for me to enjoy Magic.

    It's one of my goals to eventually illustrate for Magic, but I feel like I'm a little ways away from obtaining that still. I'm looking forward to modifying my own cards in the future but until then I've been enjoying altering other people's cards.

    If you have any other comments or questions I'd be happy to hear them! A part of me has felt conflicted about doing alters the whole time I've been doing them. I realize that it could be considered stepping on another artists toes, but at the same time I feel like it could be considered harmless and maybe even complementary to some degree, but it's hard to come to a conclusion.

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I really appreciate you leaving me your question, I hope I covered everything.

  3. I can see how as both an artist and a gamer, a play deck of your own alters could be a very meaningful thing. Extrapolating, I can imagine a player-collector with a specific totem animal -- say, a monkey -- who could want to collect his favorite cards all modded with monkey drawings and paintings.
    I wouldn't mind modifying my own card illustrations that way, I've done it a couple of times. As a old traditional-style illustrator, I think learning to digital-paint is probably a better use of the time, tho.

    After that, it gets kind of murky. I've run into altered cards by other artists that were signed with my name, theoretically, and it gave me a sad.

  4. The totem animal idea sounds really cool. I might want to try something like that in the future. I agree it's most likely way more effective to do digital exercises and such if my main goal is to learn.

    I definitely understand your concern, and I know it's possible step out of lines doing card alters (something I try hard to avoid), especially by doing something like altering a signed card. It seems really sneaky and messed up to ask an artist to take time to sign a card for you that you plan on altering afterwards. I feel the same way about altering proof cards too. I have a few signed cards, some of them are proofs and I would never want to ruin the card with altering it afterwards.

    For a while I've been thinking of writing an open letter to Magic artists to get a mass of opinions on the subject, and I think after talking to you about it I feel like it's a good idea. Thanks again for your input!