Paint to Power – Thor of the Hammer by James Griffin

Altering Commander: The Sissay Project by James Griffin


I’m painting my way to the power nine.  I’m altering cards (many of them) for people, and taking cash or trades for it.  I’m going to use that to trade for or purchase the power nine by the end of the year.  I have Timetwister, now it’s time to look for someone who can trade me another piece of the puzzle.  Know anyone?  Today I’m going to do something that doesn’t come naturally to me, but is what my client wants, I’m going to do a cartoon alter of Thor on Koth.   Let’s see how it turns out.

The first plan with a cartoon alter like this is to find a suitable picture of the subject like Thor, here is the picture I found:

I clear Koth from the card with Acetone and then turn my attention to my iphone of all things.

I pull the picture onto the screen and zoom it to just the right size.  I have a cover on it that allows me to draw over it, so I grab some parchment paper, tape it down and set to work with a pencil tracing the image.  I can’t photograph this bit as I use my iphone for the photography.  Aah well!

Then I go over the important bits in pen.

Following this, I turn it over, draw pencil over the pen lines from the other side, and tape it down to the card, pencil side down, pen side up, and rub a pen lid over the parchment to transfer the pencil to the card.

Looks messy? Well lets give it some clarity by using a black pen to fill in the black bits.  I’m going for a cartoon look here, so its important to accept that it is going to be stylised, not my usual style to be honest, but I’m up for it if it gets me closer to power nine – my Timetwister is beginning to feel lonely in the folder all by itself…

It takes an age (well, a couple of hours) to get the inking right – but if a mistake is made (see his left fist on the right of the frame), then I have a white paint pen which covers up the black in a couple of layers.

Next its time to do the colouring,  I add a few thin layers of the flesh tone, deliberately feathering the darker shaded parts into the black pen which helped to begin to get some tone into the colouring.  I then mix the flesh tone with  white and add highlights to make him look more muscled.  The same thing happens with the other basic colours such as the hammer head and cloak

Then, once the colour is blocked in, highlighted and shaded, the black pen comes out again to redefine the lines.

The background needs clearing up.  I use several layers of brown and khaki green.  The card looks browner near the top and greener near the bottom.  I want the background to be like a comic, plain to allow the character to stand out, however if you look closely, you can see the fading from one colour to the other down the side of the frame.

I continue to work on the head face, chest, and helmet, and when they are done, and I’ve smoothed out the background some, it’s time to sign it and put it in a sleeve (always a good feeling) ready for the client to ping his opponent to death.

As ever, I hope you like the alter, I’ve also finished a Swords to Plowshares:

…and I might even find time to alter something for myself between commissions.  If you want me to paint your cards for you then get in touch on Facebook or on the mtgUK Chat Room and we’ll set it up.  Time Walk beckons…


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