I had just that privilege this week, as I dove head first into another restoration project. A lot of the cards I work on aren't in the greatest shape, but I don't actually do a ton of fix-it jobs on alters gone wrong. Luckily the Jace I worked on several months ago taught me a few things about removing caked on paint without damaging the underlying card.
As before, I don't feel comfortable showing the full card in its original state. Someone put some amount of time into painting it, and I know as well as anyone that there's a learning curve when it comes to painting and alters (I myself have learned a ton over the past six years). That said, here's a crop of the card when I received it from the client:
The spot underneath the title was a quick attempt by me to see how easily the paint would come off. I was happy to learn it wasn't too bad at all. Using a variety of tools eventually I discovered the card underneath:
The scrapes didn't occur in removing any paint. Those were there originally. The previous alter was either trying to cover that damage, or a crude attempt by the artist to have a blank canvas to work on. I'll just say this: I don't recommend erasing, acetone'ing, or scraping cards before painting on them. You can save a lot of time and accidental damage by simply painting on a grey base-coat (a primer if you will) from the same black and white acrylic you use to do normal painting with.
These restoration jobs add a new dimension of fun to my work: discovering the hidden card underneath all that paint and finding creative ways to fix the damage. Once the paint was removed, I had the task of preparing the surface for its new paint job. Because some of the outer layer had been stripped away I need to repair areas of nothing but exposed paper. That meant priming first and carefully sanding down the surface with super fine, 600 and 1500 grit sandpaper. The end result was far from ideal, but it was manageable.
The told the client right off the bat that restoring the card to something that resembled an unaltered card was likely impossible. We settled for a simple extension, keeping those lovely two-tone Alpha borders, which I also touched up to keep everything looking fresh. The end result is clean and elegant, two adjectives I always keep in mind when working any project: