What are the Magic Frames and Types?
And how do I use templates related to them?
Under 5 Minute Read.
In this article, we cover what the types of MTG frames are and how to use the templates we have for them.
There are three primary MTG card frames: Vintage (Alpha to just before Eighth), Modern (Eighth to just before M15), and Pioneer (M15 to Today). These can generally be seen as the “old school” frame, the “box” frame, and the current frame. However, inside of each of those frames is a nearly endless sea of variations and remixes. In the following paragraphs, we are going to go over some key specifics and how they relate to Alter Sleeves. If you would like to delve deep into the history and facts about the frames, check out the MTG Fandom wiki page on the topic: Card frame | MTG Wiki | Fandom; images will be used from here to present specifics.
We actually have a large selection of premade photoshop templates that you can use based on a variety of card frames that are available, it however is not all variations but rather just major ones. You can check that out here: Frame Files. The naming of each of these is based on the set in which that frame turned up or the name of that specific type of frame as detailed below.
The original magic frame was used from the start of the game in 1993 until 2003 with the set Scourge. It is the most easily identifiable of the frames as it looks radically different than the current one. These are labeled as “old” in our frame files.
It sometimes has grey text due to how it was printed back then. Reprinted cards originally had a white border.
The second major frame ran from 2003 with Eight Edition until the original Conspiracy set in 2014. It introduced a lot of changes to the magic frame; like the signature font, Beleran, and very clean concise styling. The modern frame has a different placement for the artbox and text box compared to both the original and M15 frame.
The current magic frame is the M15 frame which started with the set Magic 2015 which was released in 2014. It has a much more narrow border compared to the other major frames.
As briefly mentioned before, there are many different frames in the game besides the three major ones. For altering purposes, most of the time you would be targeting one of these three. Some specific mechanics have frame types, some specific lands have a different frame type. To figure out which type of frame you are working on and to find the name of said frame type, check out the wiki’s card frame gallery and try to find the name that matches that in our template’s folder.
It is really important that you alter not only is it set to the right frame or card but also that it has the most accurate tag possible. We strive for having Alter Sleeves tagged in whichever types most suits it. Of course, there may be some overlaps between types, but there will be a single tag or two that are the most accurate for your alter. Over tagging can lead to confusion for the buyers when they are trying to sort through the numerous designs that Alter Sleeves artists have to offer.
One of the other key aspects of an Alter Sleeve is whether or not it is a frame. Now, this is not referring to the card frame, but rather the way the Alter Sleeve functions. A frame is a type of altering, but is also a “master type” for an alter; it is either a frame or it is not. When you upload your alter you need to select if it is a frame or not.
A frame is a generic type of sleeve, it can go onto any card that matches the card frame it was intended for. Say, for example, you could design a lattice frame alter that fits any M15 card, but only M15 cards.
Types are what you select when uploading a not-frame alter under the “What kind of alter is this?” drop-down list.
Adornments are design elements that are added over the original art to replace or highlight an element in the card or art. Some examples include, but not excluded to:
Costumes on characters
Stained glass (of the art box only)
Extensions extend a part of the original art further into the card frame. This alter type will typically extend a single part of the card’s artwork but not all of it. Think of it as a “frame break.”
An art replacement fully replaces the art of the original card with completely new art. This can be extended into the frame as well, the specifics are that it's 100% replacing the art box.
Borderless is a type of extension so that it expands over the border. If pieces of the extended art go over the text box to create a 3D effect that’s okay. The important part is that the borders are completely covered and the text area is mostly legible.
Box Topper is a type of mimic style. This is to mimic the box toppers from the Ultimate Master’s and collector’s sets. The sleeve should mostly be transparent. They only extend to the left and right of the art box. This tag type should not include “fade to black” border extensions.
A Crop out is a type of extension to highlight a specific part of a card while replacing the rest of the art and/or border with new art. The most common sleeve design for these would be the galaxy alters. Similar designs like seasonal alters could also fall into this category if enough of the original art is changed.
This type of alter looks to extend the original art to cover the printed card border, but leaves a piece of the frame. These designs are meant to make the frame look like it is floating above the card’s artwork. These are most commonly done with older sets. Usually, they only cover the black border of the printed card. These work really well with how Alter Sleeves are printed.
Frames are a generic type of altering that should fit across many different cards. Frames should not cover the center area of the card. The original artwork, name, and textbox of the card should be visible. The difference in “frames” and “adornments” is that “adornments” are for specific cards, while “frames” can work with any in a given amount of sets/mechanics cards.
Full Art extensions extend out the original art of the card to cover the card completely. One of the key things is that the text box and border of the card should be covered.
This type of altering fully replaces nearly everything on the card except for possibly the nameplate and type plate. You shouldn’t be able to see what the original card is. These sleeves will be able to be used with any card that the customer wants basically, but should not be tagged as a frame. Think like an Elf that can be any other Elf card.
This type of altering replaces the original art and borders with completely new art. The key point is that the art box is no longer recognizable by the card’s original art and that the textbox is still legible.
Textless alters are designs that cover the textbox completely. Designs that do not extend the original art but cover the text box. Language/text change alters are most likely to use this type of tag. It should also be noted that alters that omit the text plate are usually not allowed and may get rejected.