Alterations - June Review
Happy M12 everyone! New set releases always lead to an epic month within the Magic community as we get a hold of the new cards and figure out what to do with them. Alterists get a double shot of awesomeness as we get to both play with and paint the new cards! I'm really excited to see things like Angelic Destiny and Visions of Beyond painted in the coming weeks but for this review we'll glance back into the June archives which included a few Flusterstorm alters from the recently launched Commander product. Enjoy!
Kicking the month off with a Black Lotus is pretty neat for a change. I've only seen the king of cardboard altered a handful of times in the past but this month we are blessed with two! The Lotus pictured has been expertly extended by Laura Van Wie. Mimicking the textured greens of the background is definitely harder than it looks and Laura pulled this one off very well. The intricacy of the texture she's painted here would have taken hours to pull off this nicely. Great job!
The Avenger of Zendikar was done by Bristol who happens to be one of my two favorite original alterists. I've only seen the odd piece show up in the forums over the last few months but it seems that he dove back in this June as I'll be featuring four or five of his recent alters unfortunately leaving many an amazing artwork aside to make room for other artists.
The piece itself is pretty straightforward. Momma tree is watching over her flock of baby trees as they play in the meadow one beautiful morning. I know it's a big RAWR tree monster but I find the art very calm soothing and generally pleasant to look at.
One sleep later and Bristol had six amazing Merfolk alters up on the forums. My Legacy Weapon of choice is a Bertoncini-esque fish deck so I fell pretty hard for this set of alters. The florescent colors chosen are stunning when put against a pitch black background and his black pen work puts a really nice final touch on all these pieces. I mentioned six alters but I'm only showing three; the others can be found at his site or directly on the forums (near the bottom).
I don't think I've shown any work from Spline312 in the past though it's hard to keep track at this point. Either way I really liked the depth in his Wolverine Beast Within. The light/shadow is done so well that it turned out looking 3D!
TraVeIIeR is another fledgling paint-mage that is quickly growing in skill. The Preordain he's extended here revealed to me for the first time that there is a wizard in the background. I know it's obvious now that I go back and look at the original but I used to only see the glowing electric stuff previously. The only thing that bugs me about this alter is the wizard's mouth. Does he have bucked teeth or is it just a little tartar sauce left over from the fabulous fish he just cooked in his pot? We may never know...
The exploding top is from one of our favorite (non-banned) personalities from France Sandreline. As I understand it there were four Mental Missteps commissioned to different artists around the globe and they would each be doing their alter with a different Legacy one-drop integrated on their native language Misstep. Such a cool idea and I'd love to see more of this kind of community building in the future!
Masamune is back this month with some original fish of his own. His Merrow Reejerey is very thought provoking; with the sweet tail behind him what could be drawing his attention in the other direction? Seriously though the facial features draw you in and you can see real depth in the character which is really tough to accomplish on this scale (in my opinion).
If you frequent the SCG Open Series coverage I'm sure you've already seen Klug's The Tabernacle at Masterpiece Vale. Eric's Master's Edition I alters are the most incredible things going on in the community right now and I really hope he continues to do them... with both ears intact.
Yep that's Dirk Nowitzki ready to jump into battle and blink permanents. It seems that celebrity portraits is the hotness among the heavyweights and Poxy bangs with the best.
Two very different takes on Batterskull popped up in the forums on the same day from some of our regulars. BigUp was at it again creating this to put in his insanely cool black and white cube. He uses Andy Brase as inspiration in a lot of his alters and they're always sensational. Upon Googling (spell check passed Googling; it's officially a verb!) Brase I was able to find the source image and am amazed at how well matched BigUp's version is; what do you guys think?
The colorful Batterskull was done by Sandreline who also referred to an existing piece of art that I recall being a desktop wallpaper some years ago. She's used this green Saturn on an island before and it was a piece that everyone seemed to really enjoy so why not replicate it here right? The added touch of the splashing water is what really makes this alter stand out for me though—it looks so good!
More amazing alters than usual showed up on the 8th and I had to pare it down to just four must-sees.
Klug starts the day off by taking us Back to the Future with this Timetwister. I love the detail that has gone into this one with all the tiny little lights buttons and line work looking amazing on the finished product. The fact that the DeLorean is a beat-up heap in the movies and it's been painted on a beat-up Timetwister makes me giddy. I'm sure that correlation is coincidental as the owner probably didn't have multiple Timetwisters to choose from but it's still funny.
Mayael the Anima was done by another fresh face in ChiliPepper. I've seen a good number of Mayael alters in the past and they generally end up looking a little odd. The work CP has done on this one though is really clean and natural looking.
The second half of the day's spoils begins with Sandreline's Mox Opal with a blue twist. This alter is part of a commissioned set of three which you'll see in the next few days. As with her Batterskull the water is phenomenal. Basically everything is great with this one; the land in the back moon and cloud cover water dripping from the hands...really well done.
Then we get another Demonium treat with this Thraximundar. Demo's crazy colorful alters almost always make it into my review as I have a serious problem leaving them behind. The gruesome image is fantastic but what really caught my eye was the skull watermark in the text box something that is rarely toyed with unless it's an existing guild emblem or Phyrexian symbol.
I like pretty things and subconsciously end up playing white blue or green in almost all of my Constructed Draft and Commander decks. In World of Warcraft the only characters I leveled past 20 were on the alliance side until Blood Elves were an option. That's how bad my fluffy bunny side is.
Aside aside the Swamp Opal is sweet as far as the art is concerned with excellent lights and shadows on the trees. The mist reminds me of the water splashing in the previous one so I'm guessing she used the same technique.
Darkness continues as we hit Blackbull's Phyrexian Obliterator. I love the idea of replicating the textless player rewards frame style and Blackbull did a really great job on it. It almost looks like a WotC printing...oh yeah...
Here's the last in the set Mox Opal: Plains. Fantastique Sandreline! The neat line of flora makes it apparent that we're in a farm field of sorts accomplishing the plains feel very well despite it being depicted at night.
Something I mentioned earlier but worth expanding on is her clouds in all three pieces. I remember my father mentioning clouds being something very difficult to paint properly while I was growing up. He went to Stonehenge when I was in my early teens and when he came back he worked on a painting of it that was four feet high and maybe ten feet long spanning four canvasses that was on a wall at home. He worked on it between other projects for years but I recall him spending a lot of time on those damn clouds. I really appreciate anyone that can pull off decent clouds now. Here is the small scale (roughly 20” x 50”) practice piece he did before tackling the big one if you're interested.
Whoa! Avatar of Woe never looked so good (Sorry rk). I'm going to assume that the younger generation of Magic players missed watching the epic sitcom Blossom so here's a quick video to get you up to speed. Thanks for making my day Eric!
Basic lands are always a great choice for altering as they're cheap and tend to stay on the table for a fair amount of time. There have been many debates regarding the coolest basics to run but how can you top altered ones like Poxy's Swamp? If I had the time to paint my basics I'd be running them but until then I'll keep playing my Odyssey foils.
Wild Nacatl no wait...look again. Yep that's actually a Mental Misstep! An artist with the handle IPlayThisGame posted this on the forums and I seriously did a double take. It actually looks like the Nacatl upon first glance which is a testament to his ability.
Both of these were submitted by Masuli and are fantastic quality alters on older cards. Archangel is certainly my favorite of the two with the vine-covered railing in the forefront cementing this alter into my article.
Scragnoth is also very well done. Looking down the right-hand side of the card you'll see quite a bit of detail and shading on his legs and back. What's great about both of these pieces is that he's managed to replicate the original artists' style quite effectively.
There is only one man I would send a dual land to for alteration; Poxy. He's put out more quality alters on dual lands than anyone in the community including this Tropical Island. I've shown his silhouette style in past articles and this one is one of his best in my opinion.
The Force of Will on the right was done by Tomcat Mu. Jace's pose is original and the character depth is pretty good particularly his cowl. Kudos Tomcat.
Halfway through the month and we're blessed with arguably the best alter...ever. Now if you follow SCG weekend coverage you'll be familiar with Klug's latest masterpiece. If you live under a rock take a look at this Black Lotus!
From what I understand this is an absolute original not a carbon-copied image as most of his super heroes are. The entire composition was of his own making which is amazing seeing as there are so many elements involved. The choice of an art nouveau style is fitting as he's working with one of the oldest cards out there and I'm relieved we're not seeing Cobra Commander or Megatron on this valuable piece of cardboard.
The posture of the woman is integrated perfectly with the Lotus itself and choosing to keep the flower intact in its original condition adds to the beauty of the piece. The line work within her clothing is very nice and has a touch of Van Gogh to it which isn't surprising as Eric's been experimenting with styles from the masters of old. The mana dial backdrop would have been quite the undertaking and I'd wager he spent roughly half of the project time on that section.
Looking through the mana dial you see the original green background also left intact though he's expanded a small top portion of it to fit within the dial. This is notable because it ends up looking like we're peering through an open window to the green outdoors or maybe a swirling portal to another plane who knows!?
Despite this being the most amazing alter I've seen the little tree in the forefront is a little out of place for me. I'm sure there is significance but having it in grayscale when the rest of the composition is in full color strikes me as odd. The only other nitpick I have about the entire work is that her fingers are spread awkwardly and I thought she was missing a finger at first. Trust me I can see past both those things and realize that this is an alter that will not be outdone for some time. I only criticize because of my bromance and I know he can handle it. =o)
If you're interested in reading Eric's article about this alter click here.
With the thousand-word critique aside we get into another day of regular alters. I use regular loosely of course as we have another couple sick alters from the heavy hitters.
Demonium's Yawgmoth's Will is both beautiful and disturbing. I find the image both very fitting for the card and quite entrancing. You can't help but look at it inch by inch studying the piece. Something about it just seems to draw me in and even if I want to look away I can't. Thank you.
Klug hits again with some back-to-back posting. This time we've taken Venser on a ride down the Picasso express. The style is bang on but I couldn't sit across from someone that played this without laughing a little. I love Picasso.
Mother of Runes is courtesy of Poxy. She costs one white and looks cool. I don't know who this is; I just liked it. Please don't send me emails about who this character is as I'm only interested in the sweet art thanks!
Our first painted Commander card is this Flusterstorm extension via Yawg! Great work from Yawg as per usual.
More Merfolk hit the battlefield thanks to Demonium. This Coralhelm Commander has an ethereal quality to him and brings to mind the Kind of the Dead in the third Lord of the Rings movie. Not only is he badass looking he's wielding Umezawa's Jitte!
Why would anyone want to do this to a beautiful Magic card? We have to see this guy's mug all over the place; was it really necessary to paint him? Luckily this was made especially for Jon and will be tucked in the first page of his trade binder so he can always admire his robo-self. You don't need to worry about someone tapping seven to run out Medina anytime soon.
Another fabulous fish from Demonium makes me very happy. As always his vibrant colors and unique style lead to a really eye-catching piece. Based on the Jitte-wielding Coralhelm I'm going to assume that the Merfolk Sovereign is admiring an Aether Vial. Presumably she's rather delighted it's in her opening hand.
BigUp knocks the new Flusterstorm out of the park with that tentacle style we've periodically witnessed over the past few months. This style certainly looks better on certain cards and this is definitely one of them. If you were to subtract the art over the text box it would look as if it belonged. Beautiful I may commission something like this from BigUp myself!
Back-to-back BigUp! Karakas by the light of the moon is a beautiful sight to behold. Keeping the borders intact makes this stand out more to me as if we're looking through a window to an actual place. Stunning piece I know I say that about a lot of alters...but there's just so many cool paint jobs going on right now!
Let's take this Sol Ring for instance Phyrexianized by EbonWingedAngel. I'm unsure if the language is correct and some out there are hardcore about this (looking at you Yawg!) but the language style is very interesting and I applaud WotC for taking the time to flesh out something like this.
As for the alter the fire is pretty well done and changing the ring itself into the Phyrexian symbol was a nice touch.
Another busy day left me with four alters I could not leave out. The two Mox Diamonds are from Eric Klug as he's still exploring historic artists. Both are very beautiful and vibrant and altered in completely different styles leaving the owner of these pieces very happy I'd wager.
The contrast of the pink flowers on the off-white background really makes them pop and I'm drawn more to them than I am the jewel dead center.
In the other piece the jewel receives my initial attention before I'm drawn away to the happy landscape over which it is floating. If I didn't have the responsibilities I do I'd be convincing Eric to be my Enlightened Tutor.
The next piece really caught my eye while forum surfing as I was once deeply addicted to World of Warcraft. Glory indeed the execution of this Azerothian hero is off the chain and it must have taken Laura a hell of a long time to finish this alter. Her attention to detail in the armor and swords make this instantly recognizable as being WoW inspired. It's a shame that it'll be buried in a graveyard.
Journey to Nowhere is the final item of the day with an amazing twist on a really fun alter by JetLeeBoltsFor3. Having painted a Journey in the past I can attest to the fun that this alter brings to the table. Jackie takes it to another level though by bringing a pooch along for the ride. I love how the dog's somewhere works with the man's and I'm happy that they're at least together through this presumably tough time.
You're dead I play red I'll put a fire on your head. Today I'mma blaze 'til my opponent's in flames. Tick tock three turn clock this thing hits you like a truck. Oh oh oh oh...
Rebecca Guay has one of the most recognizable styles in the history of MTG art; it's a real shame we don't see more pieces from her. When somebody does justice to one of Rebecca's cards it's a snap pick for me. This Dwell on the Past was done by Sandreline and it makes the cut for sure. The only thing that stands out to me as being off is the way the right side of the image stretches horizontally as if everything is blowing off to the right. This may be intentional but her hair looks particularly interesting.
When you think he can't possibly top some of his other work Demonium throws this Enlightened Tutor up on the forums. The alter is simply breathtaking. It evokes exactly the kind of response the name implies and the vibrant colors lend to the heavenly emotion. I want this period.
Quidditch anyone? Nuvo recently produced this Tolarian Academy and in perfect timing for the latest Harry Potter bonanza that's taken the world by storm. I have yet to read the books but the movies are quite enjoyable so this tickled my fancy.
Although I'm not as enthralled with this one as I was his Enlightened Tutor Demonium's work simply can't go unseen. Here we have the Akroma's locked in an epic struggle and it looks like Fury has the upper hand. Duals and murals always make for great viewing; let's see some more community!
I'm going to cap the month with three incredible alters on some of our favorite non-basic lands courtesy of Bristol.
First up we have the Academy Ruins which has been completely redrawn from a new perspective. The sketching style he's adopted for all three of these lends to a feeling of ancient history that really works for legendary lands.
Boseiju Who Shelters All is the final alter of the month and it is my favorite of this set of three. In very Avatar-esque fashion the tree literally shelters all as its vast canopy covers the village below. Awesome line work color selection and sense of scale.
With June finally reviewed and behind us I can fully focus on the next couple weeks of preparation for my first StarCityGames.com tournament in Pittsburgh. I'll be there altering along with Brandon Brown and 3D card sculptor Lindsay Burley.
I'm definitely a little nervous but super excited to be there and meet the people that I chat with frequently on Twitter. So stop by my table and say hi!
E-mail: jfroggatt at persona dot ca