One of the fun things to do with Magic cards (besides play Magic with them, of course) is altering them!
What is card altering?
Altering cards is a process by which artists take existing physical cards (Magic, Pokemon, Yugioh) and create different versions of art on them. If you look around the web, you’ll find some amazing examples of extended artwork and borderless altered cards.
Altering cards has been a hobby of mine for some time, so I wanted to share a simple method I used to create these fun Adventure Time-themed Magic tokens. Feel free to try card altering yourself, and if you do I'd love to see the results. Post them in the comments! Now, onto the tutorial...
What do you need?
There isn’t one specific right or wrong way to alter cards and I encourage you to experiment with different mediums and styles. That being said, here is a list of the art supplies I generally start altering projects with:
• The cards you wish to alter
• Paintbrushes – you’ll want to work with smaller sizes to get details. I use two Princeton Art Brush Co. Round, sizes 1 and 3/0. You can use smaller or larger ones, it’s up to your personal preference.
• Acrylic paints – I use the Blick Studio Acrylic paint set of 24 tubes.
• A small dish or palate for mixing paints
• A small bowl of water for washing brushes
• Paper towel for drying brushes
• Fine tip pen or marker for line work
• Newspaper/scrap paper to protect your work area
• ** Optional: Masking tape for blocking off portions of art you’d like to keep. I use ¼” wide tape.
• ** Optional: Toothpicks for corrections
Lastly, you should have an idea of how you want to alter the cards. For this project I’ve chosen a Human and Wolf token, which I plan to alter into Finn (the human) and Jake (the dog) from Adventure Time. I used this photo for inspiration:
1. Apply gesso to your artwork area.
Gesso is a primer for paint. Because cards already have a somewhat glossy finish on them, I like applying gesso to give my paint a good base and to lighten up and smooth the background colors. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I apply a few coats until I’m satisfied, then wait for it to dry.
2. Use a pencil to lightly sketch an outline of your art.
3. Start painting!
I find it’s easier to start with the lighter colors, and then fill in the darker ones last.
4. Add outlines and details.
I used a thin-tipped marker for making black outlines. Something like a fine point Sharpie pen would work as well.
Step 5. Paint the background.
Step 6. Add outlines and details to the background, then touch it up!
And that's about it! Using this method, I created a set of Adventure Time character tokens and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out.
Til next time,