ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Altered Art Cards

Updated on February 21, 2012

How to Make Altered Art Cards and Where to Find Them

Find beautiful altered art cards and learn how to make your own on this page. You'll discover altered art card galleries, cards for sale and tutorials on how to make inspiring creations.

If you're new to altered art cards, you will also learn more about them and their associated elements - altered art, artist trading cards (known as ATCs or ACEOs) and mixed media art.

I've been making altered art cards for a few years, inspired mainly by vintage and shabby chic designs, as well as fantasy and surreal imagery. Read on to find out how to make your own, or peruse creations by myself and other artists for inspiration or enjoyment!

Photo Credit: Copyright of the author. All rights reserved.

This work is the copyright of the author (2012). Please DO NOT copy this elsewhere either in print or online. Photos are copyright of the credited sources.

Altered Art Cards - copyright of author
Altered Art Cards - copyright of author

What are Altered Art Cards?

All About... Altered Art * ATCs and ACEOs * Mixed Media Art

Altered art cards are collectible artist cards that have been created using altered art, usually incorporating one or more existing artworks or objects to create something new. Most are usually the size of artist trading cards (known as ATCs or ACEOs) or standard trading cards and cigarette cards.

First of all, what is altered art?

This usually refers to the process of altering or combining existing works of art to create a new piece. Speaking more broadly, however, the expression can also include the alteration of everyday objects to create artwork as well, such as fabric, paper, fibres, paint, rubber stamps, scrabble tiles, books and many more.

So, this is mixed media art?

Often, yes, because several different elements can be used. Mixed media art refers to artwork that has been created from several methods, such as combining watercolour and oils, or embellishing a painted artwork with fabrics or 3D objects. However, altered art is not always mixed media art, because a piece of art can be altered using just one method of art, such as painting over an existing image (an example would be colour painting a black and white vintage image).

Photo Credit: Copyright of author. All rights reserved

Photo Credit: Playingwithbrushes via Flickr Creative Commons

Defining Altered Art Cards

So, altered art cards are a form of altered art in card format. While these can take any form, the majority tend to be ATC or trading card size. It is currently popular, for example, to alter trading cards from popular series such as Magic: The Gathering, and many such cards can be found on eBay.

Altered art cards created from scratch tend to be artist trading cards or ATCs, also known as ACEOs (Art Card Editions and Originals). These started out as artist cards to swap, but are now often sold. They must always measure 2.5 x 3.5 inches. You can find out more about these cards here:

What is an ACEO or ATC?

A definition of the ACEO or ATC, along with a history and guide to making them.

Of course, you can also use art cards to alter other pieces of art or objects, by fixing them to journals, boxes and all kinds of things!

Make Beautiful Altered Art Cards and Other Projects

Altered Art: Techniques for Creating Altered Books, Boxes, Cards & More
Altered Art: Techniques for Creating Altered Books, Boxes, Cards & More

This beautiful book is filled with altered art inspirations and gets consistent 5-star reviews on Amazon. It includes ideas for altering anything from cards, cigar boxes, old album covers and playing cards, to vintage board games, old books and more.

Covers tools, materials and processes as well as artistic traditions and inspirations.

Painting, sewing, collage, metalwork, scrapbooking and more. Make wall hangings, art dolls, art cards, art books and much more.


Photo Credit: June Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons

  1. Artist Trading Cards
  2. Altered collectible trading cards or cigarette cards
  3. Gift tags
  4. Greeting cards
  5. Your own tarot or oracle cards
  6. Playing cards
  7. Card collage
  8. Fancy labels
  9. Love and friendship cards

Photo Credit: playingwithbrushes via Flickr Creative Commons

Materials for Making the Above Altered Art Cards

To create the beautiful colour effects above, I used Ranger inks and distress products. I highly recommend anything by Ranger and Tim Holtz - their products are excellent and Tim Holtz's projects and ideas are just fabulous. You can find tutorials for the methods I used in his DVD below.

For making ACEOs, you can't beat Strathmore Illustration board for a quality base, especially if you are drawing or painting straight onto the card.

Artist Trading Cards, 500 Series Illustration Board

These lightweight, vellum finish trading cards are made of the same 100% cotton fiber, acid-free paper as the Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Boards. Artist Trading Cards are a great way to meet other artists, share creations, and build unique collections. The only official rule is the trading card size, which must be 2.5" x 3.5" (64 mm x 89 mm).

Photo Credit: June Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons

How to Make Altered Art Cards - Video Tutorial - Large Collage Altered Art Card

This video shows how to make a large altered art card using collage techniques. You can use it to make something similar or adapt it for a smaller medium, such as ATCs.

Make Magical and Whimsical Altered Art Cards and Other Projects

Altered Art Circus: Techniques for Journals, Paper Dolls, Art Cards, and Assemblages
Altered Art Circus: Techniques for Journals, Paper Dolls, Art Cards, and Assemblages

Another 5-star rated book, Art Circus is whimsical, magical, inspirational and more! Whether you want projects or ideas, this book is a pure fantasy land for altered art and other artists.

Including cutting-edge techniques, projects and divine images, the book has easy tutorials on basic digital altering effects for new and vintage images, as well as projects with step-by-step instructions, an artist gallery of designs, and a section at the back of vintage and clip art images for readers to use in any desired projects. Also covers paper alteration, transforming household objects and more.


Love Altered Art Cards?

Do you make or collect altered art cards?

See results

Creative Ways of Altering Art Cards

Altered Art Cards - copyright of author
Altered Art Cards - copyright of author

Photo Credit: Copyright of author.

This pair of cards features rubber stamped angel wings that have been coloured using Ranger inks, and will be used in an altered art angel piece.

There is no end to the ways in which you can create altered art cards. All you need is something to alter - either the size of your intended card, or a size that can be attached to your intended card. This can be art, a vintage photo or image, an object, a polymer clay item or anything else you can think of.

Then the fun begins! Once you have decided what you are altering, the theme and design, and the basic construction, you can:

Paint it * Draw over it * Ink it * Rubber stamp it * Foil it * Cut it

Embellish it * Stencil it * Pierce it * Stitch it

Digitally alter it * Make it 3D * Mold polymer clay or art clay over it

Antique it * Tea stain it * Distress it * Sponge it

Put fabric on it * Put fibres on it * Put natural objects on it

Collage it * Quill it * Emboss it * Cross stitch it

How many more ideas can you think of?

Photo Credit: PaintItBlack22 via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Playingwithbrushes via Flickr Creative Commons

Again, the possibilities are endless... but here are a few ideas:

Shabby Chic * Vintage * Antique * Retro

Fantasy * Natural * Surreal * Whimsical * Modern * Pop Art

Graphic Art * Painted * Sketched * Inked * Stitched

Animals * Nature * Landscape * Portraits * Architecture

Fantasy * Fairytale * Historical * Futuristic * Science

Children's * Nursery Rhymes * Music & Lyrics * Poetry

Messages * Oracles * Games * Tokens

Altered Art Cards Videos

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - Click images to enlarge and see details

One particularly popular form of altered art cards is altered cards from the Magic: The Gathering or Yugioh! trading card games. These might have been drawn or painted over to create new card designs for those who collect the cards. Fans of the games make their own, or the original card artists sometimes customise their own cards, creating an extra-collectible item! Being one-of-a-kind originals, they can be highly sought after! Here's some more info:

Magic: The Gathering Altered Art Cards

Yugioh Altered Art Cards

Did you Enjoy Reading Altered Art Cards? - Leave your Comments and Feedback here!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • GoblinLackey profile image


      5 years ago

      Interesting read :) I only knew about the altered mtg cards, not all these others. My lens has info focused on painted Magic cards for those interested.

    • JeffGilbert profile image


      5 years ago

      Having created a bit of art on the computer, it's interesting to see altering art manually. Great lens, very informative... :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      A further visit to enjoy some of your art again - beautiful

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens

    • BetsiGoutal1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Cool stuff!! I've been making ATCs for ages, but hadn't seen altered MTG cards... my hubby plays so I have to show him those - a melding of both our interests. Very cool. You should include a link to buying Magic cards in lots on eBay, so that if ATCers like me want to try it out we know right where to go! :)

      Thanks so much for introducing me to this, I might have to do a swap with my local group on this theme.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      6 years ago from Iowa

      So many beautiful ideas and stunning artwork. Blessed. :)

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      NIcely presented lens and full of interesting content, I see that you have included a couple of my You Tube videos on altered cards - thanks for that. A fun read - blessed.

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 

      6 years ago

      very fun and creative lens, thumbs up and Blessed!!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Gorgeous work on your altered art cards!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I think I have made Altered Art Cards but didn't know there was a name for it. I really enjoyed this lens.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 

      6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      delightfully creative lens, blessed

    • Missmerfaery444 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @ChrissLJ: That's a great idea! I bet you could make some really beautiful cards from those.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      6 years ago from United States

      What a fabulous craft! I can hardly to try making altered art cards myself. Really awesome!

    • lilymom24 profile image


      6 years ago

      I have never made altered art cards but it looks like a lot of fun. Lovely examples here. =)

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Lovely, just lovely stuff! I was familiar with Artist Trading Cards before but not specifically of the altered art variety - and I love the altered MTG cards, ha! Maybe I'll finally have a good use for all those cards from the games I used to play in college. Great lens, angel blessed.

    • ChrissLJ profile image


      6 years ago

      I like to make altered art cards from discarded children's books. They are often thrown away or recycled, but many of the pages make wonderful altered art cards for kids... especially Frog and Toad books by A. Lobel and the Elephant and Piggie books by M. Willems.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      6 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Wonderful article! I had not thought of using MTG cards for doing artwork on!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      An excellent means of letting your creativity grow and fly. No limits here. Your work is beautiful.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Your altered art cards are so pretty!

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      6 years ago

      These are amazing! I have not seen such great ones before.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)