Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Starting With the Man in the Mirror

Since Wizards of the Coast released the Commander preconstructed decks earlier this year, many of the requests I've received have been for the new commanders. So far, the only one I've done is this Riku of Two Reflections for Andre Garcia, the guy behind T:apped.
The big challenge here was cutting identical mirrored pieces when the art was so dark; without clear outlines it was easy to go astray. Like many of the cards I make these days, the process was documented on GatheringMagic.com.
Other new commanders I have planned are Zedruu the Greathearted and oversized foil Edric, Spymaster of Trest.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Broken Record

Making this 3D Kiki-Jiki was a lot of fun. For a long time I avoided cutting up cards that cost more than $1 each unless they were commissions; I'm glad I let that go because a lot of my favorite 3Ds would never have been made otherwise.
I currently have about 10 normal Commander decks built. In those, there are certain cards that I consider annoyingly powerful so they're only in one deck even though they could fit into the colors for more than one. Constant Mists, Tooth and Nail, Genesis Wave, and Reveillark are on that list. Kiki-Jiki is certainly strong enough to make that list, but I love the card too much, and it's in 4 of my 5 decks that play red - only Atogatog doesn't get one.
The process for making this card is detailed here. The card itself is currently in Trick Jarrett's possession, along with a bunch of other awesome Kiki-Jikis - foil Japanese, From the Vaults, and a Guru alter by Eric Klug.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

As Bad as Advertised

Back in the day, this was one of my favorite cards. Stealing effects of any type seemed insanely powerful to me. I was very happy when I was contacted to make this for someone whose love for the card was stronger than mine.
Of course, it turns out in practice that The Wretched's ability never triggers; he's either an unblockable 2 power for 5 mana (blah), gets blocked by a chump who's dead before he can steal it, or gets blocked by something that can kill it so it's not around to steal anything. That didn't stop me from dreaming up scenarios involving Lure and Regeneration.
This 3D was the first one I made after I bought pottery tools to help with shaping individual pieces, so it has a lot of curve in the body parts and wings.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I made this for an article on GatheringMagic because it won a poll for which card I should do next. I don't dislike the finished product, but I think that being 3D makes it less creepy.  Part of the atmosphere of the original art is the murky darkness of the room; detailing the spine, blades, and pincers takes away from that by defining the borders of everything too much.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tho Pretty and Popular

I initially built my Teysa, Orzhov Scion deck because white and black were the colors I played the least of among my other decks. I avoided working on this 3D Teysa for a while - it was actually the winner of a poll I put in one of my articles, forcing me to finally make it.

If you're interested in Teysa's story, consider checking out MTG Fiction's review of the Guildpact novel.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Good Buddy

Anson Maddocks was known for making some of the creepiest, most memorable art of the early years of Magic, but it was the size of this guy that captured my imagination back in those days (10 power! For four manas!!).

Whenever I cut up a Legend I get curious about the character's backstory. Apparently the Lord of Tresserhorn was killed and reanimated by Lim-Dul. Who knew? (beside every Vorthos ever)

Friday, September 9, 2011

If He Rode a Phelddagrif, He'd Be Augustin of Hippo

Grand Arbiter Augustin IV is the epitome of an awkward card for me. The art was fantastic for 3Ding, but the effect is one I'd never play in any deck, ever, let alone as a Commander. For the most part, I try to avoid cards that mess with what other players are trying to do.
That's the reason my Commander decks feature almost no removal - I'd rather spend my cards doing fun things of my own instead of messing with other players' stuff. Sure, not playing Swords to Plowshares and only having counterspells in one deck sometimes causes me to get blown out sometimes, but I want that to happen. I would rather lose a spectacular game than win an average one.
For the walkthrough of how I made this Grand Arbiter, check out the article.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blinded by the light

After a long wait, I finally finished my first all-foil card, the From the Vaults version of Rith, the Awakener. When it comes to 3Ding, foils present a number of difficulties compared to regular cards. Two big ones are:
1) Foils are much harder to cut, so doing fine details is very difficult.
2) When you cut open a foil, you expose not only the inner white (which normally is easy to color away with a pen) but also the plain foil layer (which can't be colored away with a pen). This makes edging tricky; some spots will have shiny dots or lines because of the foil peeking out.
While working on Rith, I discovered another issue. The "memory" of foil cards (their tendency to revert back to their original shape) means that shaping & molding of parts of the card doesn't work as well as with normal cards. I tried to mold the top layer of trees to ripple and bend in multiple directions to give it more depth, but each time it would return to mostly-flat after a couple hours.
Despite the challenges, Rith turned out really well!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The More Popular Brother of Rosheen Meanderer

The episode of Avant-Card Show I was on is currently up over at their site and on MtGCast.com. This is the Brion Stoutarm that I talked about during the show. I also featured it in my most recent article; there's not much to add to what I said there so I'll just link you over to it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

He Fronts a Math Rock Band from Ohio

When I made this 3D Craw Wurm for my first article over on GatheringMagic.com, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it afterwards. I chose the card because it was a favorite of mine when I started playing but didn't know if anyone would want it.

Imagine my surprise when someone immediately contacted me looking to trade for it. Since then, I've had two more requests for a 3D Craw Wurm. I guess I wasn't the only one who considered it a favorite.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

No idea what an Asura is

Last night I was a guest on the Avant-Card Show along with Eric Klug. Debbie recently commissioned us to make cards for her cohosts; Klug made a set of Avatar of Whoa for Christian and I made this Jenara, Asura of War for Brian and a Brion Stoutarm for Andrew.
 Art elements that float in the foreground such as Jenara's emblems are a problem for 3D alterers. I haven't found a perfect solution, but in this case I decided to raise them out and shift them to the background.
On both the Jenara and the Brion I also raised the mana symbols in the text box (and tap symbol on Brion), something I rarely do.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lady in Pink

This is still one of my favorite 3D cards, and one I wish I still had. Shaving and weaving the pieces of her robe and hair took a ton of time but the result was pretty great. Sadly I didn't get great pictures before I sold it.

I'm leaving for GenCon in half an hour - if you're there, find me in the TCG hall.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Where it all began

After making 90 or 100 3D Middle Earth CCG cards, I came back from GenCon with a ton of Alara Reborn cards, including a plethora of tokens. The first Magic card I ever made 3D was this Bird Soldier token:
I'll show the first card I ever made some day; it was a Lure of Nature from the Middle Eart CCG, art by Quinton Hoover. Hoover's old style of art is fantastic for making 3D because of the strong outlines around every object.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sphinx of the Godhead

A little over a year ago a group of players on the mtgsalvation forums decided to build a deck for Sheldon Menery. They settled on Isperia the Inscrutable. I made this 3D Isperia around the same time:
One of the more common questions I get asked is "What do you do if you make a mistake?" Generally it's not a problem; I rarely make mistakes but when I do I can usually use that layer in a different spot where the mistake won't be visible. That sadly wasn't the case on Isperia; I made an incorrect cut on the last layer I was cutting and didn't have any more copies of Isperia to use to correct the mistake. If it had been a commission I would have tracked down another copy of Isperia, but since it was just for fun I let it go and constructed the card as it was.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Garfield, PhD

Phelddagrif and Karona, False God were the first two Legendary creatures I used to make 3D cards. While Karona was the first EDH deck I built in paper, I had a Phelddagrif Commander deck on Magic Online for a long time before that.
My paper Phelddagrif deck has gone through many changes, and is currently one of my favorite decks. It started as an Awkward Hug deck, but now is a very aggressive beatdown deck.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Watcher in the Water

Before I stopped cutting up Middle Earth CCG cards, the Watcher in the Water with John Howe's art was in my queue to make 3D:
I wanted to cut it up because I thought that the intertwining tentacles would look really good in 3D. I switched to cutting Magic cards during Zendikar, which had a similarly tentacled creature:
I'd love to build a Lorthos Commander deck with Quest for Ula's Temple, but Wrexial, the Risen Deep is probably a better Commander for that deck since he has a lot more ways to tutor up the Quest.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Goat Cannibal Goes Berserk

My Atogatog deck is probably my strongest deck at killing one person at a Commander table. It's packed full of almost every Atog and good Changeling plus the best pump spells: Berserk, Fatal Frenzy, Tainted Strike, etc.
Of course, since it's an Atog deck it's full of supoptimal cards that fit the theme, including the abyssmal Barren Glory. I'd play The Cheese Stands Alone instead, but that's just overpowered.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Less Generous Than Zedruu

Since it's July 4th, I had to put up the only R/W/U 3D card I've made:
Thematically the R/W/U Commanders are along an interesting spectrum from "Greathearted" to "Jerk who blows up your lands" (with "Crazy Berserk" in the middle).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Transmuted Masterfully

In the process of working on this card (and thus staring at it for hours) I realized that the Master Transmuter's pose is pretty much impossible to hold with the human spine.
Then, I happened across @Rudjedet's blog, where she said basically the same thing while striking a nice Master Transmuter-inspired pose.
I guess that etherium is pretty awesome stuff.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Less random than Tariel

I'm not sure what it is about dragons, but for some reason their art is almost always fantastic for 3D. I found the same to be true when I was making 3D cards for the Middle Earth CCG - many of my favorite 3D cards from then are dragons or drakes (though sadly, Smaug's art is very disappointing).
I bought a set of the Commander decks on release day, but life has been so busy that I still haven't had a chance to play with any of the cards.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bloodbraid Human vs Bloodbraided Elf

Kresh the Bloodbraided has seriously deceptive art. There are certain parts of it that are very obvious and easy for 3D, but then other parts of it that are blurry or hyper-detailed which makes them hard to plot and cut. I think that's a pretty common trait of Raymond Swanland's art.
Kresh was another of the early cards I did when I switched to Magic cards. Compared to other cards I did at the same time, there are more things I'd change if I did Kresh again, but I'm not entirely unhappy with it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sometimes I feel Elephant-y

With the shortage of normal layers, I knew that Horde of Notions would be almost entirely piecework. What I didn’t know was what exact pieces I would be cutting and from what copy of Horde I would take each piece. As a result, I ended up using one more copy of Horde than I needed to because I was wasteful with some early cuts.
One suggestion I've received regularly is to raise words or mana symbols. So far, this Horde of Notions is the only card I've done that with, and only with the symbols in the activated ability.

Friday, June 17, 2011


After making a partially-foiled Mangara of Corondor, I decided that the Teferis I had in my binder would look good partially-foiled too, so I picked up a foil copy.  Less than 24 hours later Wizards made the announcement for From the Vault: Legends, which will have another foil Teferi in it. Whoops!
Other than that, not much to say about this Teferi that I didn't say in the article I wrote about it.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Not yet old or useless

I used eight copies of Sharuum the Hegemon for this 3D card, and I'm pretty sure I could have used eleven or twelve. There is just so much overlapping detail going on! The card looked pretty great, but looking at it now, a year later, all I can see is the spots I didn't detail that I would if I did it today.
I don't repeat 3D cards much - actually, so far I've only done one card twice (Scion of the Ur-Dragon) and the second version was an abacus life counter so the construction was quite different. There's a good chance I'll be revisiting Sharuum soon; I'm not sure how different it will be but there's a good chance I'll feel compelled to layer all of the pillows, which will take a long time. Wheee!