Alter Feedback – “Dual Lands”

Reddit user u/chiefkiefchief is planning on making a set of “Dual Lands” for their cube. These are the first two that they finished. Overall, they are pretty good for a person starting out with card altering. However, there are some areas that could be touched on.

  • Color Matching
  • Paint Thickness
  • Extending the Art
  • Symbols
  • Text

Color Matching

The color matching in this card is pretty good overall. There’s one spot that really stands out on the Quarry, the Boneyard has a bit more but that’s a different issue.

With the Quarry you can see the clouds are a bit on the yellow side while the other clouds have a purple tint to them. If you do all of your cloud work out of the same mix this is an easy fix.

The Boneyard however, there are spots where you can obviously see where the paint starts. It’s not that the color matching is bad or off, it’s just that the paint isn’t going to be as glossy as the printed card. To fix this you can paint more into the art. Not covering it completely, just adding bits of paint in so that the mat looks like it’s supposed to be there. The other way to get around this is to add a spray varnish when you are finished. I like to use Matte or Satin varnish. When you do this keep in mind that the varnish can change the colors of your paints. Test how your paint reacts before varnishing your finished piece. 

The light shining in at the top of the Boneyard can use a bit of work as well. If you start with the dark background color and work your way forward you can acheive a nice gradient. While you’re working put down a layer of paint, pat it with your finger and let dry. Repeat this process getting a little lighter and thinner working towards the light blue color. Patting the paint while it’s still wet will smooth it out and blend it with the layer before it.

Paint Thickness

When working with alters you have to remember to keep the paint thin. These cards seem to be pretty good but you can still see brush strokes in the art. If you are coming from traditional canvas work to altering this can be a difficult transition. Mostly because you don’t have to worry about and sometimes want to see the brushstokes in your canvas work.

When I put my base layers down I usually do 2-3 thin grey layers. Each one is ‘patted’ down and smudge with my fingers. This will keep the layers thin and keep the stokes from showing. 

Extending the Art

A big difference between an ‘good’ alter and a ‘WOW’ alter can be the detail that is added. For some cards extending the art is simple, you just paint what is there. With other cards, especially if you are doing textless/full art alters, you have to make up what you think should go in that area.

There isn’t much to add to the Quarry. If I were to do the extension I would have drawn out the road. Then adding something small in the bottom to finish the piece. A bush, patches of grass, stones, even a shovel stuck in the dirt would do the trick. This way there’s more to the card than ‘just brown.’

There is so much potential with the Boneyard. However, putting detail in darker art can be difficult. I find that new artist tend to fade to black when presented with art like this because it’s easier.

There are ruins in the art that could have been extended. There is also a crack/riff towards the bottom of the printed art. It’s not going to disappear behind the type plate. Then to finish the piece adding rocks and some plants to the bottom of the card is icing on the cake!


If these were free handed these are fantastic! When I do symbols on cards I print out a template and use a carbon copy method to transfer it to the card. Using a 6B or I prefer a 9B pencil to cover the back of the transfer, simply trace the image where you would like it on the card with a fine point pen or mechanical pencil. The more precise the point the cleaner your graphite line will be. Don’t push too hard though, if you do it will leave an indent in the card. 

You can change the ‘graphite’ that you use for your transfer. With darker images I sometimes use white chalk because it is easier to see.

With the cards shown here the symbol doesn’t have to be put on until the end. You can trace the symbol on before you start your extension so that you have an idea of where it’ll be. But I would paint it on last. If you don’t then you come across trying to add background behind them and make it look like the background was there first. Always work from back to front. 

When you do the outline of the symbol I recommend using a liner brush. They can hold a lot of paint so you an make long smooth lines  with one stroke. Also practice on a piece of paper before you work on the card to see how your paint is flowing. Paint flow can differ from day to day and even change from the beginning of your session to the end of it. 


Putting text onto cards neatly can be difficult. 

When I do text change on cards I digitally put it on the card so that the size is correct and it don’t go over the area it it should. Then I use the carbon copy meathod to transfer the correclt sized text to the card. 

With painted text I like to use a 20/0 Spotter brush. I feel like I have the most control over the paint with it. Try not to have your paint too wet when working with text, and try not to do a whole letter at once. The ‘I’ on the Boneyard it looks like you started to put it down and a water drop came off of you brush into the paint and that’s why it’s so thick. If that happens you have a quick few seconds to take a paper towel and remove the paint from the card ans tart again. If you didn’t catch it in time you can take the paint off with a toothpick. 

Overall these cards aren’t bad! There are a few quirks that will go away with time and practice. 

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