An Exercise in Patience

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Welcome to week 5 of our little masterclass in altering cards. If you've been following along since week 1 you should feel fairly comfortable doing basic alterations with your cards. Last week we covered some of the more advanced theory behind painting, and this week we are going to put it all together on our first mythic alter. Last week I mentioned that there is money to be made in painting Commanders, so enter Uril, the Miststalker.

This is a surprisingly tricky project, so feel free to view this as your “Color Theory Boss Battle”. We will be working primarily with a mixture that includes 4 different colors and even using different shades of that. Creating these values can be time consuming, disheartening and very tedious. You will find yourself constantly remixing colors just to touch up an area you thought was done. This project, especially the beginning, will try your patience like never before. As with any other project though, once you gain an understanding of the particular hue in question, things will become easier. You can achieve this by experimenting with your paints. The more you experiment, the more you will learn about how your paints work together. If, though, you find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated by this project, do not be afraid to walk away for a while. The paint and card will both still be there when you calm down. That being said, let's dive in!

Patience, discipline...

To begin with, take your Titanium White and Mars Black and mix up a light gray. Add to this an amount of Ultramarine Blue to make a slate(ish) color. This will make a decent undercoat color to lay down on our borders. From here you'll want to add Naphthol Crimson to your mixture. You should come up with a sort of grayish purple often associated with pocket lint. From here you can add blue and black to darken your color, or white and red to lighten it to match the mountains and mists surrounding our hero. As usual, I cant tell you exactly how much of either, as different print runs will produce different colors on the card, this is where the earlier mentioned experimenting will pay off. Use this color to match up with the mountains. Be sure that you are matching the mountains and not the mist that surrounds them. While this is drying, this may be a great time to take a break from color matching and just paint the bottom border black.

The fun thing about this card is that every thing can be painted using different values of the same color. So as we move on to the sky, you can take your mixture and add varying amounts of white and red (using blue every now and then to balance it) to match the gradient of the mists above and around the name box. You will also find that some of the same colors can be used to create the mists around Uril's legs. I've found that by using a dry brush, and moving from a darker color to a lighter, a convincing mist can be painted in a matter of minutes. The tricky part is, once again, matching the original color of the mist. Luckily, there is a secret to that with a very technical name. Fudging it occurs when instead of matching the color exactly, blend the original color with a similar one of your own creation. As long as the two colors are very close in appearance, the general effect of this can be very convincing.

Really? That's it?

By now your card should look roughly like the second example. From here you have touch up work left to do. By playing with your mixture you can always find a “better match” to the colors. There are always details that can be added or improved as well. Perhaps you want to add more mist around that peak on the left. Maybe you want to drag the mist further down the text box. Unless you have been commissioned to work on this card, than this is your artwork. Take this opportunity to own it. Who knows, one could possibly even see the mist creeping over the text box for added flair.

Now that you have started to master the basic concepts of color, we can move on to some of the more exciting types of alters. Before we do though, I'd like to invite you all to join in a little competition. All of you have 3 weeks to alter a card, best alter wins! Details follow:


–                    You may use any Magic:the Gathering card you wish.

–                    You may not paint over the entire text box, if you plan on using the text box in someway, please keep at least 70% of it visible.

–                    The original name, mana cost and power / toughness (if applicable) must be visible, though their text boxes need not be.

–                    The original artwork must be visible and un-altered (save for “Fudging it” along the borders)

–                    Keep submissions family friendly.

–                    The Judge (me) has the final say on the legality of all submissions.

You will be judged on:

1 - Color Matching

2 - Professionalism (clean borders, neat presentation etc.)

3 - Creativity (What you do with the space around the original picture)

Criteria listed will be weighted in that order. In this way, technical skill comes to the forefront of the contest, with creative flair used as a tie breaker.


-                      Due no later than May 2, 2011 at 11:59pm

-                      Please submit an image of your card while still on your art board with some notation of your screen name (post-it note, masking tape etc.) to prevent fraud.

–                    Submission may be sent to me via email, please use “Art Contest” in the subject line.

–                    The winner(s) will be contacted via email for contact information to receive their prize.

Prizes will include a Foil Mirran Crusader for 1st prize.


-Contest must include at least 4 submissions by 4 different people.

Additional prizes will be added depending on the number of submissions. (probably booster packs)

-All (serious) artwork will be posted in this article series unless otherwise noted by the artist. The winner WILL be posted.
Questions, comments, concerns may be sent to me via email or left in the comments section. Use what you have learned from this series and really apply yourself. I cant wait to see what you guys come up with! Good Luck!

Until next time!

-The Painters Servant

Twitter: PaintersServant


One thought on “An Exercise in Patience

  1. Im am really liking this series, I havent tried altering in years but I may give it a go. Ill ship you the pic if I get time to do it by the deadline even though I wont accept prize (QS writer etc etc). Im looking forward to where this goes from here, your work is beautiful and I expect there are many other talented artists out there.

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