Paint to Power – Freehanding Moxen by James Griffin

Altering Commander: The Sissay Project by James Griffin


I like the summer, there are holidays and apparently also my first ever UK nationals to attend.  I flew back into the country on the Saturday, so I was able to ‘nip’ three or four hours down the road to the big old competition.  I can’t compete, and the side events exciting me beyond all telling, but I’m up for getting out my alters and trading my way to another piece of power in earnest.  Normally, it happens in trickles, doing commissions at a distance and mailing them to people, or doing comparatively small scale trades with local people, but an opportunity like this means that I can set myself a challenge like trading for the next piece of the puzzle.

To cut a long and ego soothing story short (which is of no interest to anyone else anyway I’d wager), the day was a blast, I played some good commander and some standard, chatted altering and vintage, but most importantly, I met some really nice people with whom I was able to trade some alters and just generally get to know, which was a singular pleasure.  For those of you who I said hi to who recognised me from these articles, can I just say hi, it was nice to meet you.  Finally, at the end of the day, I took some of the cards and cash I had accrued and brought a signed played Mox Ruby.  My folder is starting to look pretty good right now.  Here’s the obligatory triumphal picture:

Given the happy convergence of some time off work and the nats, I did get the opportunity to spend some real quality time on some vintage cards to go with the power when it is complete in a deck.  Because I was on holiday, I didn’t take progress pics, but you can see the results below, and I’ll explain each in turn.  I wanted to paint with the power nine as the theme.  First up was a Thirst for Knowledge, and where better to begin than a black lotus.  It was a simple matter of extending the shoulder pad of the tezz and adding his head, legs and back.  Then I removed the vial he was holding along with the straps between his fingers, with acetone, and spent a couple of hours using really thin layers of white and grey shades in watered down layers to blend the removed patches into the background.  Then it was the fun bit, I painted the lotus with an open stance, along with the earth that Tezz is holding, and added in the mana coming out of it.  I always wondered how a black lotus actually worked, and this seems to be the best option I can figure out.  Sort of Power Rangers style.  Aww, now I think that it looks rubbish again.  Aah well, moving on…


The next cards I worked on were the Leylines of the Void.  These were in essence a pretty simple set of alters, except for the rock stretching across the text boxes and the branches across the title boxes in counterpoint to balance it out.  I got that done for each of them, and then it was on to four of the five moxes.  This may not look like much, but the emerald is only about two and a half millimetres across, and so getting the detail I needed into such a small space was a singular challenge.  To make them stand out I added some extra shine from three of them onto the surrounding rock, and painting them was a happy and most well enjoyed eight hours.  YOu can see one of them here with my forefinger for scale purposes.

Finally, I had received a Yawgmoth’s Will from a friend of mine in trade, a much loved card of his, and one that was…erm… to put it politely… played.  I cleaned off the grease and grime, and then proceeded to work on the most involved alter I have completed to date.  I knew what I was working towards from the beginning, including the last of the moxes in the alter, but there wasn’t anywhere to attach it.  So, the chain had to come into being.  I began with working the chain through the dude’s hands, and off the side of the card.  I then mapped out in grey where the rest of the chain will sit across the (damaged) text box.  Using grey, I filled in the links, taking some practice on other pieces of paper in order to give the links a ‘linked’ feel.  Then I used white and black to give it a shiny look – more contrast equals a shinier look to the finished chain.

Yes, it took the better part of a day and a half, yep I wouldn’t normally put that sort of time into something so comparatively small, but hey, I was on holiday J  Then the ground got added, which also took a load more time, but it allowed me to cover up the corner of the text box.  I then distressed it more by altering the colour in patches, and adding a couple of tears into the sides.  I will be smug now I think and say I was surprised by how much I liked the results of that bit.

Finally, Mr. Yawgmoth gets an eye, again, largely because I could, and all of his body gets the highlights and lowlights repainted to clear up some of the card damage and make him stand out all the more.  Then I take a break, and come back a little later, all ready to add the Mox Jet to the picture, an give the chain a reason for the kink and perspective change near to the bottom.  One can make gems look shiny without resorting to reflective varnishes or anything like that with a bit of sneaky painting.  You can get an idea of this on the original artwork of the moxes, and that is mirrored in the one on the Yawgmoth’s Will, with white highlights painted to make it look like it is smooth and reflective.

I hope you like it.  As a bonus, some of the cards I have also for sale right now are below, just email me if you’re interested in any of them.

All the very best,

James Griffin



Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways