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

42 replies [Last post]
55cards's picture
Joined: 10/11/2008
'DECAdry' stationery 'TopLine' brand business cards

Hey there,

I'm in the UK and I found a great way to produce prototype cards is to use a particular business card stationery produced by DECAdry (these are available in places like PC World in the UK, and also at various online retailers - not sure how available they are in other coutries).

Here's a link the product info:

These are pre-cut cards that come on adhesive sheets. The absolutely great thing about them is that you can print one side then peel them off and stick them back down again to print the reverse. They go through my colour inkjet without any problem and after a little 'working' even riffle shuffle pretty well. Once printed the colour seems 'fast' and doesn't come off when handled, although as with any inkjet printing if they get wet then you're in trouble.

They are a little pricey, but you can buy boxed packs of 50 sheets (500 cards) - and buying online is much cheaper than going to your local store.

Anyway, I have had great success with them and find them invaluable for creating game prototypes, so you might like to try them out if you can source them.

BlueToy's picture
Joined: 10/18/2008
just my 2 cents

I'm more of an illustrator and self-publish my own works, but as they deal with things in card-format, hopefully these will help:

The (playing) card stock mentioned is also called black-core paper. I've been trying to search online if its sold in small batches, but no luck with that. So far it seems there are online sellers from India and China, but I they didn't post prices. The $700 price seems reasonable, at least for a big-scale project. I remember reading off the website of a European card manufacturer - I think it was AG Mueller - that the stock they use was double-ply *something* Can't really recall much of it. I'll be going to China probably within the next few weeks on a totally unrelated endeavor, but hopefully I can find those card manufacturers with backdoor-type retailing.

I guess the best alternative I can think of at the moment's 300 gsm cardstock and then lamination. The problem is that unless the cardstock is pretty rigid, there's the risk of the lamination warping.

Anyone know of a good water-based type of playing card varnish? The main problem I see in using varnish is how to apply it evenly (unless you have those expensive sheet card-varnishing machines). Spraying has a risk of giving it a rough, sandy texture. The solution I've thought of which might work for small-scale projects such as making sample cards, would be to use a silk screen-type of application and squeegee the varnish through the mesh onto the surface of the cards. This would result in a tolerably even surface. Here's where the water-based part comes in: easy cleaning.

Hope that didn't make things more confusing.

Joined: 11/03/2008
Making cards

I have recently hit upon using no-sew fabric adheasive to bond paper together. Even normal sheets of paper end up with a good snap to them with this stuff glueing them together. It's kind of like a sheet of hot glue gun stuff with waxed paper on one side. It iorns on and creates a firm bond.

I have found that metallic wrapping paper used as one of the peices not only is opaque but the backside (wich shows when the metallic side is on the inside) very glossy. A combination of 65 pound cardstock and gold wrapping paper produces a very good, completely opaque, glossy card. I spray them with krylon triple thick glaze, the spray doesn't seem to affect the adheasive (I have had issuse with spray adheasives unsticking due to the laquor).

The adheasive is reasonably priced at $10 for 10 yards. It would probably work even better in a laminating machine but I have no problems with bubbles when using an iorn.

Joined: 11/12/2008
Good-looking cards in two easy steps

It seems that all this talk about adhesive and multi-ply paper and laminating is too much for a prototype.

When I first started working on my game 5 years ago, I printed simple B&W designs onto cardstock on my old HP 692, and then put address labels on the back of the cards to reduce the transparency, but it made for thick decks and ugly cards, which turned off game testers right away. I shelved the project.

I hauled it all out a few weeks ago and have been pouring new effort into it. For card design I found and used the free Magic Set Editor (even though my game doesn't resemble Magic at all):

It gives you a wide range of adjustable templates with the ability to add in your own templates if you are so inclined. I re-designed my cards using it, and came up with a back design which was mostly black so as to eliminate transparency.

There are two decks in my game, and while I created them both using the Magic Set Editor (MSE), I printed the first deck on my Lexmark X4580 for about $20 worth of ink. The result looked OK but the card finish is rough and they don't shuffle well.

So for the second deck, I set the MSE print output as a PDF file which I then sent to Staples to laser-print double-sided on 110 lb cardstock. Getting them to print it properly was a challenge (worthy of another post), but it only cost me less than $7 CAD, paper included. The laser printing itself added a gloss to both sides which eliminated the need for lamination and makes shuffling feel natural.

With both decks there were minor issues lining up the front and back (off by as much as 3 mm) but this could be resolved by tweaking the output file or the paper tray position. I used a papercutter and the corner rounder from my wife's Creative Memories scrapbooking supplies to cut them out. Because of the manual labour involved, they're not all exactly the same size. But I'm not hugely concerned about that at this stage in the game development, as I have decent-looking, playable decks.

dnjkirk's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008
I've probably said it a few times...

I made my best homemade Genji prototype this way:

1) went to the printer, and got the card fronts printed on one side of a normal, plain bond paper with the card backs printed on the back of the same paper. The backs were black, so it had good opacity.
2) hot laminated all the pages of cards
3) cut the cards out on a guillotine.

They are still laminated, still have good slip, and are thick enough and have some spring. It's seriously easy and cheap and it works.

bluesea's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
was alignment of the front to

was alignment of the front to back an issue or was the back a general pattern that could be cut any ol' way?

dnjkirk's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008
To make it easy...

It was just black with a small picture in the middle of the card with plenty of buffer around the edges. Centring was therefore not a terribly important issue.

Joined: 10/11/2008
To create a deck of cards...

I recommend to use 'Nandeck'.

Custom Playing Cards
Joined: 02/04/2010
Example Name
hoywolf's picture
Joined: 01/27/2009
Card Sleeves

finke67 wrote:
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.

This is how I prototype my card games as well, I print out the sheet of paper then I slip it in a Magic/WoW TCG card with a sleeve (Deck protector), the slip of paper wont fall out and it has the hardiness of a playing card.

Ultra Pro is generally what I use, I'm sure you can find these at a local comic store or a hobby shop. If your don't own any TCG/CCG cards, some comic stores sell singles for a few cents, just buy a bunch to be the backbone of your cards.

Here is a link to their website:

Joined: 08/30/2010
Good card printing site

You should try and create your playing cards online. No need to do it yourselves and also fully customizable which I like. Can choose from front, back, front and back, plain and with designs. Will save you a lot of time.

Minscfan's picture
Joined: 12/03/2010
Good info - how about off-sized cards?

A lot of the resources mentioned are standard playing card sizes, except using blank stock and printing / cutting yourself. Are there any resources for square cards (like Settlers)? Or larger cards (like Joan of Arc,or perhaps some Tarot cards)?

Personally - I dislike the tiny cards used in some games, like St. Petersburg or Ticket to Ride -- I like beefy, oversized cards best. I know costs go up, but as a player I enjoy games that use larger cards, particularly when the cards play a large role in the gameplay. The drawbacks to larger cards may be the lack of sleeve options - but I can live with that if the cards are a good quality.

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