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Altered Reality Challenge #5 – Winners!


As promised, the winners of the Altered Reality Challenge#5 are here!

Popular Vote

1st - Thomas Parker

2nd - Claudio Torres

Judged Result

Congratulations to Claudio Torres for very narrowly winning by the judging panel. As with all previous ARCs, this utilized a three person judge panel to rate the art and provide comments on the cards. Thanks to Drew Sitte, Eric Klug, and Jeremy Froggatt who joined me on this latest ARC judging panel.

Note that the scores provided are aggregated across all three judges scores, and the commentary provided is from just one of the judge.

Black Wing Studio

When an alter involves a found image, my evaluation revolves around two factors: How clever is the placement, and how well is it painted? Ron does a great job here with both. Combining Birthing Pod with the image from Futurama turns my impression of the card completely on its head. I’m laughing instead of picturing some gross, Phyrexian gestation. As with most cartoon alters, it could be cleaner, but it’s ninety percent there.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
8.33 8.33 8 8.67 8.33



Rick Parker

Smooth cuts and perfect edging are the highlights of this piece. The candy heart is a fun idea, too. Normally, I would think adding outside media to 3D cards would look awkward, but that's not the case here at all. The card does look a little flat, however. I'm sure it looks better in person than in pictures as with all 3D cards, but it might also benefit from either more space between some of the layers or bending and shaping the layers.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
8 6.67 8 8.67 7.67



Tyler Chester

I like the idea of a ghost wandering around looking for love. The cuts for your 3D layers and pieces are very good, especially considering some of the small, tight areas on the Spirit. You cut a lot more details than many 3D alterers might have left flat, which is nice to see. The main issue is that while the 3D element is done well, the painting (and thus everything that makes it on-theme) looks sloppy and detracts from the piece instead of adding to it.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
6.33 5.67 8 8 6.67



Brandon Brown

Brandon hits it out of the park with the creativity here. His is one of the few alters that doesn’t depict a variation of love or relationships. When reproducing a photograph, it’s important to push the realism of the scene. That can be tough to do in black and white—and tougher still when you’re working from an eighty-year-old photo. Brandon gave himself a bit of a challenge taking on that piece, which is something I think all artists should be looking to do.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
9.33 8 8 8 8.44



Julie White

Julie's entry had me laughing out loud immediately. I followed the whole Finkelgate thing, even delving into some of Ms. Bereznak's previous work to see if sounding like a jackass is a usual part of her gig—which it is. The choice of cards is excellent for this piece, including the best possible quote from the article. The art she's put to the card is very well done, making an instant connection to the incident unavoidable. Great choice of subject matter for the Valentine's theme; good work, Julie!

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
9 8.33 7.33 8.67 8.44



Jen Retterer

I am both disturbed and amused by this alter, which I imagine is the point. I like how simple you kept the image. The paint does look a little thick, and there are deep brush lines, so adding more water to your paint and using smaller brushes might improve the quality a lot. This was a great choice for this alter—even the ability of the card (repeated "proliferation") fits the theme.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
8.67 5.67 6 8 7.11



Dean Wolf

Dean’s alter is refreshing, choosing to focus more on the original story behind Valentine’s Day. Having incorporated tedious, repeating designs into my own work, I can relate to how difficult taking on such a task can be. As far as that’s concerned, Dean comes through fairly well. The card choice and composition are also well thought out. My biggest problem with this piece is the execution of the textbox area and skull, which is where Dean loses the most points with me. Overall, though, it’s a nice looking alter.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
8.33 7 7.33 8 7.67



Claudio Torres

Incredible work; I was glad to see the GatheringMagic readers agree. I thought the choice of the card was a little odd until I noticed the flavor text—very nice touch. The planning and craftsmanship that went into the flowers is impressive. The contrast between the detail level of the flowers compared to Grakk and friends is a little jarring, but it doesn't prevent this from being great.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
8.67 9 10 6.67 8.67



Robert Mitchell

Being one of those players whose wife believes Magicis a waste of time and money, I would give almost anything to be able to cast this Reversal of Fortune in real life! The idea on this one is fantastic and very much on-theme. The actual art is a little weak, namely the white wings behind her, but the humor is strong enough to carry me past that. Thanks, Robert!

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
7 6.33 6.67 8.67 7




This piece has a lot of great things going on with it. The majority of the elements are well painted; Stoneforge Mystic could use a little tweaking in my opinion, but it’s something I can look past. I love how there are a lot of little details moving your eye around the piece: Jace, Stoneforge, the bars, the text, and finally that realization (“Oh, that’s a Jitte!”). An alter that can hold your gaze like that is a great quality to have around an image-saturated culture. It’s just really solid work.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
8.33 8 8.67 5.33 7.78



Karyn Hetmanski

This alter is so striking. The proportions and details are a little off, but by using so much empty space and zooming in so far, those problems become less noticeable. It fits the theme in a way that seems both obvious and clever at the same time. Very nice.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
6.67 5 4.67 6.67 5.78



Thomas Parker

It’s really easy to have a soft spot for this alter. It immediately conjures up the memory of those cheesy store-bought valentines you passed out in second grade. The pun is great; the simplicity is great; I just have one problem. When you’re attempting an alter this simplistic, I think you really have to hit execution out the park. I want to see crisp lines and solid color. That said, I still adore this alter and hope to see more from Thomas in the future!

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
8.67 7.33 5.33 9.33 7.78



Oliver Webster

Although this Dragon Broodmother didn't send me into fits of laughter like some of the other entries, I can truly appreciate the time and effort that Oliver has put into her. The painting of the mother is beautiful—a lot of nice detail has gone into her face. The lighting throughout is excellent, and using valentines between a mother and children was a different direction than all of the other, more typical, lover scenarios. Thank you for including your source material—it was nice to Google some pictures from the book and see where your inspiration was found.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
8.33 7.67 9.33 7.33 8.11



Elizabeth Maxwell

This is a pretty clever idea that I think just loses a bit from card choice and execution. Persecutor is fine, but doesn’t this alter just make more sense on a Liliana? The background could use a little work to bring it up to par with the foreground, and Jace could stand out a little more. Critiques aside, I respect Elizabeth’s ambition for choosing to paint the entirety of the card—with two figures no less. It’s that initiative that elevates altering to greater heights every day!

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
9 7 8.67 8.67 8.22




After I get past the irony of DeadheavenAlters painting a very holy angel, I do see a wonderful piece. The flowing red cloth is really sweet, the angel's pose is great, and the wings are a heck of a lot better than I can pull off. My favorite thing in this one, though, is the clouds. Surely, most people will skip right by them, but again, because of my ongoing battle with the puffy things, I have to praise them when I see them done nicely. With all the detail going on throughout, the one thing I was distracted by was the wonky arrow. You can obviously draw and paint well, so the crooked arrow seems like something you may have rushed in order to get the piece submitted. (Don't worry; I've done this, too!) Other than that, I would say to be a little more careful with your paint—there are a few spots where you see little globs. These are easily fixed, though, just by picking them off while they're still wet. Awesome work, Deadheaven.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
7.67 7.33 8 8.67 7.78



Miguel Hernandez

You picked some difficult positions in which to paint Jace and Liliana, and in some areas, you succeeded, but in many, the proportions and angles look wrong. It's hard to see beyond that. I do like the concept and composition—especially how brightly the foil shines behind the two of them. At first, I thought that this alter would be more appropriate on Liliana's Caress, but picking the more playable card was probably a good choice.

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
7.67 6 8 7.33 7.11



César Miguel Molina

Blackbull is a character with whom I am certainly familiar, having viewed countless alters by him in the past. The work is always quality, and this one is no different. There is a lot going on with this piece—spider webs, roses, love dust in a bag, and dust being sprinkled about—all of which is really well done in such a small amount of space. I only wish he’d included a little description or something to explain what is going a little better!

Creativity Execution Complexity Thematic Overall
7.67 7.67 9.33 6.67 7.78


Thanks again to all of our contributors and contestants (with a very special bonus thanks to Gathering Magic's editor, Andrew)! If you have feedback, ideas, or suggestions for the next Altered Reality Challenge, you can share them here or email me directly (stybs@gatheringmagic.com)!

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