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It is time to submit... how to make professional cards.

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Redcap
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Alright, I have sat on an idea for nearly a year now and have polished to the point that I am ready to submit to a publisher! Yeah!!!

However, I am not quite sure how to make professional feeling cards. As it stands, for prototyping all I do is print on card stock, cut, and viola; however, they don't feel like playing cards. Any suggestions how to make professional feeling cards for a publisher without large cost?

seo
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stickers

Buy a playing deck, full sheet stickers, print your card designs on the stickers (make sure the design is a bit smaller than the cards, but covers all the original design), cut and paste.

Color laser on coated adhesive paper will give you cards that look so good they might fool many people.

Cheap and great results.

Dralius
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I used to use stickers on

I used to use stickers on cards to but the stickers were so thick that once added to cards it made a 54 card deck look like an 80 card deck. These days i print on paper and use a spray adhesive. This is harder to do and you must be carful not to allow the adhesive to get all over. With practice I have learned to get good results that don’t fatten my deck much.

tdishman
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I've seen pre-perforated

I've seen pre-perforated cardstock before (already cut for playing cards). I can't remember exactly where, but if you can find some you could create a printing template in MS Word to print card fronts/backs.

Another option is to find a custom card printer online to help you generate a prototype set. Here's one I found pretty quickly that specifically addresses custom card games (scroll to the very bottom of the page):

customizedplayingcards.com

I have no idea what this service would cost, but it looks like they cater to small-run print jobs.

Redcap
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Spray adhesive may be the best option in this case.

Stickers may not work for this particular project, but spray adhesive sounds like it is the best bet. What kind do you use though?

P.S. I sent in a price quote for the website you gave me, I will respond back with what they say.

P.P.S I just had a thought that I am going to try. I am going to get some elmers white glue and make a watered down form of it. I am then going to put it in a spray bottle spray it on the cards and smooth any inconsitencies. That may work ... I will let you know.

seo
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3M

A water-based adhesive, when applied to the paper card fronts you want to paste, will be partially absorbed by it, making them stretch. Paper tends to stretch irregularly, so when you try to paste a piece of damp paper some wrinkles may result. When the paper loses this extra water, it will shrink again, curling your cards.

3M Super77 Multipurpose Adhesive Spray is the one you need. It is expensive, but it's the right tool for the job, and one can will let you paste lots of card decks, tiles, boards, etc.

Another option is to just print on card or index stock, laminate (optional), cut, round corners. But unless you're really handy, your cards won't be the exact same size, and that is a bit annoying most times.

Redcap
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That is the one I found at staples.

Looking at the glue, that is the one I found and will use. Didn't know that about curling cards, but makes sense. Thanks.

MatthewF
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Cardstock and Cold Lamination

Cold-laminating 110# cardstock makes the best prototype cards I've ever played with. They shuffle just like "real" cards, they stand up to hundreds of shuffles, and they feel like (somewhat plasticky) cards in your hands.

Print both sides of 110# cardstock. Laminate using a cold laminator like the Xyron 900/Xyron Creative Station. Cut the cards down. Poof, perfect cards.

In fact, I recently made a new batch and took photos because I plan to put up an article about how to do it, but it'll be a little while yet.

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Semi-gloss Photo Paper

If you don't care about the backs, you can get a good set of cards by printing on semi-gloss or "satin finish" photo paper. They are opaque except when held up to the strongest light, they're the right thickness, and if carefully cut, they shuffle well.

To cut them, use a straight-edge cutter with a "fence" (a sort of backstop taped to the cutting surface) to ensure that all cards are the same width and height. Round corners with a corner punch. The results won't fool anybody into thinking they're real cards, but they work just fine and the faces will look as good as your artwork allows.

There is apparently no such thing as double-sided photo paper, so you can't print on the backs.

Here are some cards I made using this method:

Spatial Delivery cards

Redcap
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I love the feedback!

What is funny is I have heard this conversation a million times before, but until it is really time to do it yourself you just kind of glance over the details. I have already bought an adhesive spray and will go that option tonight, but if I can't seem to get it right it is good to know the other ways as well. Which I may have to resort to. :)

While I am at it does anyone have suggestions of how to package my game. Would a simple envelope with my cards rubberbanded together work or is a more professional package required?

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Proto Presentation

Publishers all say that the prototype quality doesn't matter; designers all worry that it really does. I don't know which is true, but it doesn't hurt for your proto to look good.

If yours is just a deck of cards plus rules, I'd say make a nice tuckbox for it. Here's an online pattern maker that's pretty good:

http://www.comfused.be/flex/tuckboxmaker/v3.swf

Redcap
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Great!

I would rather err on the side of over preparation as well so I thank you for the tuck box which I will be using.

I have seen 1 proto-type which did get published though which looked pretty ... not good... and it was to Pandemic. The proto I saw, and I may be wrong, looked like it was in a makeshift cardboard box with very little to no graphics on it, so I think to some degree if the idea is really really good than a proto-type may not be too important; however, with that said I know enough about first impressions to know that the only thing a good looking proto will do is add to credibility. Thanks again for the template

seo
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another template generator

The link Rick posted doesn't work for me, so, just in case anyone else has the same problem, here's another tuckbox template generator:
http://www.cpforbes.net/tuckbox/tuckbox.cgi

finke67
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card sleeves

what about just putting the photo paper into card sleeves with a solid background? Like the kind they keep magic cards or other CCGs in.

tlmirkes
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seconding the sleeves

When I playtest card games, I typically print a black and white set of cards on cardstock, trim them down, and put the cards in opaque-backed card sleeves (I have about of million of them from my M:TG days). They work great for shuffling, protect the cards from wear and dirt, and can easily be swapped out if I should need the sleeves for another game. If the front of your cards are works of art, but the backs lack any design at all, I would think these could help present the game without calling attention to the missing backs.

I can't imagine game company folks seeing your cards as the kids at the local gaming shop would use them can hurt the impression, either ;)

Xianpiper
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Coating for cards

What type of adhesive do you use?

I've got a deck I'd like to coat but have no idea what type of coating to use or where I could find such a coating.

Gizensha
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I think there's a certain

I think there's a certain element of professional pride there, and no matter how many times publishers tell people that prototype quality doesn't matter (and in at least one case, apparently, that if a prototype from an unknown designer looks awesome it's going to put the publisher off on the assumption that more effort went into the artwork than the game design), we're going to want our prototype to look its best since, well, it's our baby.

FunkyBlue
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What I did for my Frag

What I did for my Frag expansion was thin printer paper glued onto a casino style poker deck. I used an Elmer's glue stick. It's solid enoug that it didn't warp the paper and if you put the card between two heavy, flat objects to cure, they didn't warp at all. Also, the casino style decks are a heavier stock and I think that helped stop the warping, as well.

I put all of my Frag cards in deck protector sleeves as the high school kids I let use the set tend to be a little rough with the cards at times. Using the deck protectors also masks the hand-made cards from the originals.

Mondainai
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I have asked for a quote from

I have asked for a quote from the customizedplayingcards.com, thanks for the link.

But if I still would make some 100s card decks at home, I wouldn't have money to laminate all cards, and not time to sit and glue. I would need a paper that was strong to begin with, so I can just print and punch.

What paper would you (laser) print on? I'm simply looking for a name here, such as "plastic coated wonder card stock 150g" or something like that.

(shop assistants don't know anything these days, they just go: "don't know, check on internet and come back when you know what you want")

seo
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if you like your laser printer...

... avoid using plastic coated papers on it! Actually, I think (I may be wrong, since English is not my native language) that there's lamination (plastic mounted on the paper) and coating (some sort of varnish or lacquer). You're usually safe with coated papers (though not always), but NEVER use a laminated paper in a laser printer. Same goes for tracing paper; some tracing papers, when put under the heat of a laser printer's fusor will form blisters and even burn, ruining the printer.

Grudunza
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I ordered some blank card

I ordered some blank card sheets recently from http://www.plaincards.com/

The sheets look good, and presumably the cards will turn out nice, but the thing is, they specify not to try printing them in U-turn printers where there's a tray on the bottom and it pulls the paper around and back out the front, and that's what I've got... The cards will punch right out in a machine like that, and I'm not even going to try, because this printer jams up on anything remotely heavy. So I'm going to take the sheets and my files to Office Depot or Staples and have them try it. I'll report back and maybe post a picture of how they turn out.

MatthewF
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Grudunza wrote:I ordered some

Grudunza wrote:
I ordered some blank card sheets recently from http://www.plaincards.com/

The sheets look good, and presumably the cards will turn out nice, but the thing is, they specify not to try printing them in U-turn printers where there's a tray on the bottom and it pulls the paper around and back out the front, and that's what I've got... The cards will punch right out in a machine like that, and I'm not even going to try, because this printer jams up on anything remotely heavy. So I'm going to take the sheets and my files to Office Depot or Staples and have them try it. I'll report back and maybe post a picture of how they turn out.


It might be worth noting that though my printer is also a U-turn printer, I had no problem with getting the Plaincards sheets through it, much to my surprise.

I was disappointed by their light weight and coarse perforations, though, so don't use them. Another company produced some heavier ones a while back, on actual playing card stock, but those failed completely in my U-turn printer (and they don't make them anymore).

Grudunza
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MatthewF wrote:Grudunza

MatthewF wrote:
Grudunza wrote:
I ordered some blank card sheets recently from http://www.plaincards.com/

The sheets look good, and presumably the cards will turn out nice, but the thing is, they specify not to try printing them in U-turn printers where there's a tray on the bottom and it pulls the paper around and back out the front, and that's what I've got... The cards will punch right out in a machine like that, and I'm not even going to try, because this printer jams up on anything remotely heavy. So I'm going to take the sheets and my files to Office Depot or Staples and have them try it. I'll report back and maybe post a picture of how they turn out.


It might be worth noting that though my printer is also a U-turn printer, I had no problem with getting the Plaincards sheets through it, much to my surprise.

I was disappointed by their light weight and coarse perforations, though, so don't use them. Another company produced some heavier ones a while back, on actual playing card stock, but those failed completely in my U-turn printer (and they don't make them anymore).

Yeah, I tried one sheet in my HP U-turn printer and it was a definite no go... I took some of the sheets to Office Depot to print and they didn't turn out great at all, either. It took a few tries for them to get their printer to handle it right, but even the ones that looked good on one side ended up being curved and definitely wouldn't go through well to do the backs. So I have one batch of one-sided cards and I guess I'll use stickers for the backs. But also, it was a major pain to punch them all out. I bent the pages every which way on the perforation lines, but a lot of them still didn't want to come out without a fight. Anyway, that was kind of a waste... So I definitely cannot give my recommendation for the Plaincards.

infocorn
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Fusion

Using Rick's idea (which I LOVE, as I can get photo paper pretty cheap at our $1 stores), has anyone used customizable (read: 8.5x11) labels for the back art?

capeverde
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Card design software?

What software can people recommend for simplifying the card design process? After glancing over the http://www.plaincards.com/ website suggested by Grudunza, I noticed that they offer a 'QuickCards' program for making the desired deck.

Any other recommendations for card design software? Ideally Open Source/Freeware :)

Other than Photoshop/GIMP/Inkscape/Illustrator of course.

CV

uniqgurl21
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Thanks for posing this question

It helped me :)

bouiboui
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I've been looking for this

I've been looking for this for a long time now (months) but still didn't find what I'm looking for. The best answer I've found yet is Spielmaterial.de's blank cards:

http://www.spielmaterial.de/english/playing_cards,_card_boxes.htm

They are real playing cards, just blank, they have the same size, they are already cut-out, they feel almost like real cards (feels a bit like touching paper), but I can't print on them (sic).

The only time I tried, the result was like printing on a magazine.

But what strikes me is that there are lots of printing companies (who print flyers, buisness cards, newspapers, and the like) and I can't find any that can provide me the right kind of paper.

Where do they get their paper from???
What I'd like to know is: on what kind of paper are magic's, hasbro's, etc cards printed on. There must be an answer... ?

gameprinter
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Playing Card Stock

Magic, Hasbro, etc. all print on Playing Card Stock (PCS). PCS is 2 layers of white paper with a thin layer of black stuff in between. The black layer prevents light from shining through the cards. The resulting laminate is a bit stiffer than most papers of the same thickness.

MtG uses a 300gsm PCS, or about 11.4pt in US equivalent. We usually use a 10.5pt or 11.5pt PCS in games we manufacture. For most games, the difference is not noticable during gameplay.

That's what PCS is. The reason you can't find it because it is hideously expensive and a specialty paper (for people who don't normally run cards). Even for us, PCS costs a ton more than an equivalent 12pt card stock that isn't PCS. For example, 12pt C2S (coated on 2 sides) costs just under $350 per thousand for 10,000 sheets. 10.5pt PCS costs just under $700 per thousand for 10,000 sheets. Those costs more than double when only ordering 1000 sheets. Thus, no one wants to carry it or order it unless they do alot of it.

For cards you can print on, look into 110# white index. It's similar to the paper they use for Community Chest/Chance cards in Monopoly. It's an uncoated stock, so you can print on it easily. It won't feel slick like a playing card, but it's thick enough to have a good feel to it and since it's uncoated you can print/draw/write on it.

bouiboui
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Thanks !

Finally !

Thanks a lot, that's a clear and detailed answer.
It wasn't so much about being able to make the same, but at least knowing how it was made.
Again, thanks.

guildofblades
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POD Playing Cards

Not quite so handy if you are just looking for one play test set, but if your game is at the stage where you want a small number of final sets for demoing, showing to manufacturers or for selling yourself, our POD Playing Card printing service has a minimum print run of just 10 sets, no set up charges and at an affordable rate.

More info here:
http://www.guildofblades.com/podcards.php

Thanks,
Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.guildofblades.com/retailgroup.php
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com

JumpingJupiter
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print shop

Find out who the highest recommended print shop in your town is. Ask them what options they offer. Show them examples.

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