Getting everything compiled for this review took a little longer than usual. It seems that the amount of people posting in the altered art forums grows exponentially month to month, resulting in roughly two to three pages per day to dig through for potential all-stars! The initial cut had over 50 different entries I wanted to display or discuss. Obviously, this needed to be pared down a bit to fit it all in one article; so sadly, some real gems fell to the wayside. Those, and many others, can be viewed by going through the MTGSalvation art forums, if you're so inclined, as that is my main source of material for this column.
Without further ado, I present you May:
The month of May started off strongly with a couple of fantastic original works by Demonium and BadDeacon. If you've been following my review articles for the past couple months, you're sure to recognize Demonium's work upon first glance. Vibrant colors, beautifully crafted subject matter, and interesting placements made this piece stick out to me while I cruised the forums. It seems as if he's used Bonnie again (his girlfriend) as the inspiration for Iona proper, but also has some neat things going on below her. There is a sword that makes its way through the text box as well as some Zendikar-themed Plains far in the distance.
The Stoneforge Mystic was done by a relative newcomer to the altering scene, BadDeacon. Nothing about Deacon's work is bad, as this created quite the stir on the forums for both his art nouveau style as well as his unique border work incorporating the swords. I loved this art even more after Galspanic mentioned that she looked like Bette Midler!
Eric Klug, level 8 alterist, has been diversifying his portfolio much more as of late. Typically remembered as the guy who does superheroes, it's refreshing to see other facets of his skill set put to use. Brainstorm with Einstein is a fantastic fit for the card, but is also executed wonderfully in shades.
This Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas from Yawg really caught my eye, despite there not being a ton of painted areas. The addition of the wings and extension of the lightning are the only major items, but it is the line etching that adds so much to this alter. Yawg has used these lines all over the piece to really give it a different feel, and I love it.
Underground Sea is a great card to... wait a second... that didn't come in foil, right? Amazing work by Yawg on this one; when I first saw it, I thought it was a real Underground Sea that he'd applied a foil layer to. I'm definitely planning on applying the old dual art onto painlands in the future for my Commander decks, as it looks absolutely stunning.
I've done a Fauna Shaman in the past and loved working in that range of colors, but mine didn't turn out half as nice as Sandreline's. The beautiful terrain at the bottom of her alters has become a signature, and this one is no exception. It's funny how such simple things as blades of grass really bring the whole composition together. The curling bramble shoot is a nice touch as well, though it does draw you away from the Shaman proper.
Are you kidding me?! Look at the detail in Eric's Sword of Body and Mind. This is insane! The Asian characters are so incredibly tiny that he must have used some sort of magnifying glass to achieve that level of detail. I can't even begin to think of a brush or pen I own that could do that detailed of line work. This guy is Magic.
Leaving Klug's fine hard line work, we move over to CardKitty's beautiful soft shading on this Wasteland. Seasonal alters have been popular for some time now, where the artist takes a playset and does each card a different season. It's a great idea because it allows you to artistically diversify the individual cards while keeping them part of a set. My only criticism on this, and all the CardKitty pieces, is that Dereck and Eva seldom paint below the midway point of the text box. This is fine on most cards, as the perspective almost ensures you can't go too low, but the tree on Wasteland just naturally wants to extend below the text box, in my opinion.
This Hymn to Tourach alter sees Klug hit 50% of my daily faves list to this point. No, he doesn't pay me to promote him; I'm just a Klug nut-hugger. Honestly though, when altering Magic cards is your day job, you're bound to churn out a few good cards, right Eric?
Classic t-shirt image that you've seen everywhere (including with Obama and Steve Jobs), put on the most fitting of Magic cards. Hilarious home run.
I put Sandreline's Guru Force of Will set on display last month, and almost everyone I spoke to mentioned them as possible favorites from the entire review. To have Sandreline bring the Guru style again on this Sensei's Divining Top playset is fantastic. Her execution of the Guru theme has definitely improved over last month's attempt, in my opinion, and I can't wait to see what she Gurus next!
I've noticed just this month that Yawg has been leaving the black border around the card. I'm not sure how long he's been doing this, but it only became apparent recently, so I'm assuming this may be an attempt to ensure the cards remain legal for tournament play, as the existing border is one of the main criteria in higher-level tournaments. Regardless, this Karn Liberated is really well done. The color and texture matching make it seem as though this were the way the card was printed, which is the goal of any extension. Great work!
You're probably all aware of my contempt for anime girl alters, as I covered my stance a few months back in my style guide. This Admonition Angel by Spline312 however, I'm quite fond of. The girl he's drawn for this seems to fit for me. In the original Argyle art, the angel is in a dark, gothic-looking cathedral of sorts, with the stained glass window in the back and darkness all around her. Spline did the same thing, took the feel of the original art, and put his own anime spin on it. Thumbs up!
On to another gothic piece on a white card (weird right?) with my pal Poxy's Spawn on this Resurrection. Again, the subject matter is well chosen for the card name/function, if you're familiar with Spawn's back-story. Spawn was one of the handful of comics I ever bought more than five of, so I'm a little partial to this, but thinking objectively: the gritty nature Poxy has managed to capture with his black line work really makes this alter awesome. I like how it's less cartoony and has more realism to it, making this one scary Resurrection to face from the other side of the table!
Two incredibly awesome originals by Bristol went up on the 13th, spawning a page-worth of comments, and rightfully so. I saw the Vines of Vastwood first and was taken back to some Nintendo game for some reason. I can't figure out which game it reminds me of, but I'm sure it'll come to me after this article sees print. Anyway, the art is really neat and is the kind of thing I'd like to see brought back into Magic in general.
The direction the art has gone in the last few years has been increasingly computerized, realistic type stuff, which I do enjoy; don't get me wrong. It's just that having a mixture of styles and mediums really made for an interesting set with more instantly recognizable pieces, in my opinion.
Enough about that, on to the Snuff Out! The perspective of the candles (being lower than them, looking up) makes this art engaging. Like the Vines, the art is directly a result of the card name, and I really love where he went with this one. The candles have an interesting ethereal texture to them, the foremost of which seems to have a female form wrapped about the candle looking at us... not sure if that was intentional, but it is awesome.
Jace, the Sub Sculptor! Thanks Yawg. =oD
Here is a truly wicked Force of Will set done by Poxy, based on a set that Terese Nielsen has done in the past. The addition of the chained Mox is certainly a nice touch that Poxy has added, though; being primarily a white player, I'm missing the Mox Pearl love.
The only change I would make to these would be to make the purple mist like Terese did on the black one instead of using fire... bringing me back to my issue with FoW in the first place—the art not matching the card.
I absolutely love seeing old duals altered and would love to acquire a handful of beat up ones for future restoration. Klaid does this Tundra justice by matching the extension colors well and by adding a snowy dragon to the mix. His ethereal wings are beautifully done, being outlined ever so faintly to give them presence. The only thing missing for me is the card name up top, though that is just a personal preference. I hope there are more in this vein to come from Klaid!
Tezzeret has certainly been getting a lot of alteration love these past few weeks, so I shied away from putting too many on display, but this one by Laura Van Wie is the cream of the crop. The addition of the rocks on the bottom came off really well, as Laura has done a fantastic job giving them the proper dimension and colors. Her matching throughout the sides and top are also really well done, leaving us with an overall amazing Tezz alter. I do have one nitpick, and that is the purple diamond above his loyalty counter. I'm guessing it was meant to be a hole that we could see through the rock to where the ground is purple on the right, but it just stands out to me.
This really has been the month of the Yawg, as this guy has been tearing it up more than usual. Both pieces shown here were posted by Yawg on the 18th, and both were extremely well received.
There has been some work analyzing and deciphering the Phyrexian language in this thread on MTGS, and Yawg put the work there to good use on his insane Elesh Norn. The fact that he was able to replicate text with this fine detail astounds me... so I'll be picking up a 0.05mm multiliner in the near future.
The Starry Night is a Van Gogh painting recognized worldwide, and Yawg adapted it to fit this Sol Ring nicely. The colors he's used are bang on with the original, and he's left the border white, which really seems to make the piece pop. Nice work again Yawg.
This one isn't bad for his first post on the forums right!? I have no idea where Maciek P is located, or if he has other altered cards, but his work on this Myr Superion is awesome. The color matching for the extension is a tad off, but you barely notice that because you're drawn to this sweet black Myr he's replicated in the text box.
So, Maciek P, if you read this...make more and keep posting!
This Azami, Lady of Scrolls extension was done by my friend MJ Scott, who has been heavily involved in the Magic community over the past couple months. You may recognize her as @moxymtg on Twitter, where she is the most active. Besides being an artist, MJ is going to be one of the ladies starting up the first girl-only Magic podcast Serra's Angels in the near future. Exciting stuff!
Sandreline is among a handful of people that just can't seem to put the paintbrush down, thankfully. Another beautiful full-art extension, with some flavorful additions in the bottom half that are very well detailed. Take a moment to inspect the little Faeries below Wydwen, and you'll see that they have little outlined arms, legs, and wings, with a tiny trail of Faerie dust behind them. I also love that she's added the flower in the bottom section, so that we don't have too much uninteresting background going on.
Skipping forward a couple days sees a couple of the heavy hitters come to the table with new goodies. Keiga, the Tide Star is done in the tentacle style we discussed last time by BigUp the innovator... oh wait, that's been taken. Anyway, the blue toned tentacle things are still a favorite of mine, so when he comes out with a new one I love, it has to go on display.
Now, onto one of my favorites of the entire month with this Lion's Eye Diamond. Who better to use for subject material than Ajani! It's obvious to most at this point that this is a Demonium piece, and the accolades he receives from me in these articles is mimicked by most within the altering community for good reason. This original is incredible, and whoever the owner is really got their money's worth with this one. Kudos!
WINNING! It's everyone's favorite warlock in card form, duh! Although the subject matter is a few weeks past its buzz peak, I couldn't leave this one behind. I'm really glad Klug has been doing portraits lately; they're all fantastic!
Check out this Tarmogoyf playset done up with some crazy detailed Dr. Doom shenanigans. Poxy did such a nice job on the metallic mask that it almost looks like it's computer generated! I can't figure out what that skin-colored bump at the bottom is though, unless it's a reminder as to where you place your thumb whilst playing Tarmogoyf?
Also, this was the day my last article went up featuring one of the Force of Will's I'd done recently and a little introspective piece about my personal struggles. Check it out, if you have yet to do so!
Here's another new take on the soon to be banned (!Q#$^@#$%) Stoneforge Mystic by Badjuju. Obviously she has her caw and blade in tow while she hangs out in the woods. I love seeing original pieces like this that show our favorite cards in a different way. Badjuju actually has a whole host of different Stoneforge's he's done, and sketches of others he may be doing in the future at his site, worth a look for sure.
A great number of humorous pieces have cropped up this month, and this is one of the best. It took me a minute to get it the first time, as I recognized Forrest Gump sitting on the bench, but wondered what the heck he was doing there. Then *click*—he's in a Forest! Thanks for this BigUp, but next time I want to see the UFC's Forrest Griffin!
On the 30th, something so much more awesome than a single alter was posted by Garobidou. It is his entire collection (fifth post down, expand the spoiler tag) of altered art cards, which is incredibly extensive. Take a moment to scroll through it, and imagine yourself thumbing through your collection and seeing that many alters... my god that would be sweet!
To close out the month, we have another Demonium piece, one of the best creatures ever printed, Bloodbraid Elf! She's an Elf, has braided hair, and there's blood. What more could you ask for? Dope.
The final piece is this Riptide Laboratory by Nuvo. This is the first time I've displayed an alter by Nuvo, but after going through her (I'm guessing female here) gallery, I don't know how I haven't noticed her in the past. I just love the green tube filled with goo and fish that she's put in the forefront; it looks as if it belongs. I wasn't so sure about not extending straight up to the top of the card... but the more I look at it, the more this choice grows on me.
Well, that's it for May!
I'm hoping to have another article up sometime in the near future regarding the rest of that Force of Will playset, so keep an eye out!
Send me any questions or comments, I love discussing altering with community members!