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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Do It Yourself

Subject: Free card composition/layout software for PC rss

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Dave H
United Kingdom
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I've only just started diy card making, using GIMP for detailed graphics work and LibreOffice Writer for card and page layout. I'm finding that Writer is perhaps not the best option as it doesn't seem to like too many graphics in a document and crashes and produces PDFs that won't open on other computers.
What free software for PC would you recommend for card making. I'm intending to use the label on playing card method with full page labels hand cut to size sometimes on cheapo cards and sometimes on more premium playing cards so I'd like something that can tweak overall height and width (ie not stretch graphics but leave text unchanged). Thanks
 
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Eddy Sterckx
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Vodkaman wrote:

What free software for PC would you recommend for card making. I'm intending to use the label on playing card method with full page labels hand cut to size sometimes on cheapo cards and sometimes on more premium playing cards so I'd like something that can tweak overall height and width (ie not stretch graphics but leave text unchanged). Thanks


Sounds like Scribus is more than enough for your requirements. Nice interface and shallow learning curve.

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Terry Kirk
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I've been using the mail merge function in publisher and access to create mine.
 
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Eddy Sterckx
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kirkatronics wrote:
I've been using the mail merge function in publisher and access to create mine.


And you can get them for free where ?
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Peter Zoche
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Take a look at CardMaker. IMHO it is one of the best free tools for creating cards. You can get more info here on BGG:CardMaker Users
It takes some time to get into it, but if you read the tutorials you will get nice cards soon. I regularly use it creating cards for my game projects.
 
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Olivier POYEN
France
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It has been a long time since I did not debug/develop this one, but at the time, that would be my pet project:

BGM:
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/21368877
 
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Gadi Oron
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2 great scripting options that give great results: Nandeck & Squib.
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Dave H
United Kingdom
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eddy_sterckx wrote:
Sounds like Scribus is more than enough for your requirements. Nice interface and shallow learning curve.


Thanks Eddy, I've never heard of Scribus before but it looks good and a shallow learning curve is a big plus. I'll download it when I get home
 
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Luke Phillips
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Vodkaman wrote:
Thanks Eddy, I've never heard of Scribus before but it looks good and a shallow learning curve is a big plus. I'll download it when I get home


If you don't find the learning curve shallow (I didn't ) then check out Inkscape
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Terry Kirk
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eddy_sterckx wrote:
kirkatronics wrote:
I've been using the mail merge function in publisher and access to create mine.


And you can get them for free where ?

You can download the 60 day trial from the official site.
That's what i'm using.
 
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Chris Schumann
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lukerazor wrote:
Vodkaman wrote:
Thanks Eddy, I've never heard of Scribus before but it looks good and a shallow learning curve is a big plus. I'll download it when I get home


If you don't find the learning curve shallow (I didn't ) then check out Inkscape
I'm a big fan of Inkscape. It's very capable, so it's hard to learn all the tricks in its bag. Plus, so far, it can only do one page documents.

But it is totally free, and there are lots of videos on Youtube that demonstrate the tools.
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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Let me third the Inkscape recommendation. I'm only just dipping my toes in at this point, but with the great template Jake Staines made, it allows me to get cards laid out for easy construction. I'm not really much of an artist, so I'm simply picking apart PnP PDF or JPEG files and formatting them into the folded 4-up format, but that works really well.
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Daniel Piovezan
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Why not use GIMP for card layout?
 
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Dave H
United Kingdom
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Curse all those greetings card makers for clogging up my card making search results, but thank you to everyone here for suggesting different tools. There's a lot of options but the good thing is, they're all free so I can dabble with them all.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Introducing Squib: a Ruby gem for prototyping games (latest is v0.11.0, 2016-09-15)
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Chris Schumann
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BozoDel wrote:
Why not use GIMP for card layout?
I use GIMP heavily to make the images, but for lines, text, and fills, I want to use vectors, and keep those elements separate from the images.
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Lawrence
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claudermilk wrote:
Let me third the Inkscape recommendation. I'm only just dipping my toes in at this point, but with the great template Jake Staines made, it allows me to get cards laid out for easy construction. I'm not really much of an artist, so I'm simply picking apart PnP PDF or JPEG files and formatting them into the folded 4-up format, but that works really well.


I just discovered this method thanks to your comment. This would have saved SO MUCH time if I had known it was this easy to re-structure PDFs into book style prints.

Lining up the backs and fronts of cards has been driving me insane lately and this makes it effortless. Thank you.
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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mavericklancer wrote:
claudermilk wrote:
Let me third the Inkscape recommendation. I'm only just dipping my toes in at this point, but with the great template Jake Staines made, it allows me to get cards laid out for easy construction. I'm not really much of an artist, so I'm simply picking apart PnP PDF or JPEG files and formatting them into the folded 4-up format, but that works really well.


I just discovered this method thanks to your comment. This would have saved SO MUCH time if I had known it was this easy to re-structure PDFs into book style prints.

Lining up the backs and fronts of cards has been driving me insane lately and this makes it effortless. Thank you.

Yeah, finding his comments & video was a revelation. I'm now picky about the PnP files, and pull them apart to reformat so I can use this method. It makes building the components so much easier. The same basic setup works great for double-sided counters as well, there's just no pre-built counter template that I have found; I just work in GIMP for those.
 
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Andrea Nand
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Modena
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nanDECK can be used in two ways: as a script language, and as a visual tool (both with or without mailmerge with a spreadsheet data file).

There is a guild for it: nanDeck Users

A script tutorial:

nanDECK, a tutorial for starters

A visual tutorial:

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Olivier POYEN
France
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And here was the video for BGM:

http://screencast.com/t/iFUcKJiYQnlS

And the page with all screencast:
https://github.com/opqopq/BoardGameMaker/wiki/Board-Game-Mak...
 
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Daniel Piovezan
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Whizkid wrote:
BozoDel wrote:
Why not use GIMP for card layout?
I use GIMP heavily to make the images, but for lines, text, and fills, I want to use vectors, and keep those elements separate from the images.

Is it really any better? Will you notice the difference in print?
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Chris Schumann
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BozoDel wrote:
Whizkid wrote:
BozoDel wrote:
Why not use GIMP for card layout?
I use GIMP heavily to make the images, but for lines, text, and fills, I want to use vectors, and keep those elements separate from the images.

Is it really any better? Will you notice the difference in print?
It's not so much print quality, but keeping the vectors separate things. I find editing paths and placing objects much easier in Inkscape.

Maybe it's my inexperience with GIMP, but I find it easier to use the image editor for images and the page layout software for page layout.
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Santiago
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Indeed, I have used Gimp, Inkscape and Scribus (plus of course the usual commercial applications (Ps, Illustrator, etc)) and IMO Inkscape's UI might be a bit easier/more direct (with a pair of irritating exceptions) than Gimp's. Yet thought, they're different tools, and have different scopes. You can do full comics with each one (inkscape gradients and effects combinations (if not planning certain vector exports) allow really curious finishes), they're flexible enough for many tasks.

A good combo is...actually the three of them (Inkscape for vectorial illustration, Gimp for raster (I'd prefer krita for painting), Scribus for layout, page composing, final print export). Once you get more experienced with graphics, you find out is better to actually know every corner of several, not just one application or even one type of application, just handling raster, neither just only vectors. Scribus is a great helper, indeed, a good final step. You can use it to compose a full book or magazine, ie, a rules book. Is prepared to send to print stuff (not in my favorite way, though, I much prefer Xara's or CC's), even supporting CMYK (Inkscape, if you dig well in preferences, now allows to setup a bit better the color management stuff, so that at least, you can work with an average cmyk mode, having the colors visually matching more or less how you need. IMO, the combo is still needing the capability of handling every possible CMYK and RGB color profile, like the Creative Suite allows. This might never happen as I think there would be a licensing problem (open source, closed licenses, etc) with the color profiles stuff, but I did not research much more about the matter, other than knowing the limit. Still, you can always provide a RGB file or a somewhat CMYK file to your digital printer, and let them handle it. Luckily there's growing some sort of new ninja pros in that front, they can handle some stuff incredibly well, despite not being provided with proper print files... )

There are a pair of free tools which I don't handle since a a very much older version, but IMO, they could be handy even in its days. I was mentioning them to a friend recently. They will always feel a bit of a toy for me (but then, this might as well be better for people looking for an easy learning curve), but in some aspects are quite capable (at least older versions I knew) :

PagePlus
http://www.serif.com/int/es/freedownloads/desktop-publishing...

DrawPlus
http://www.serif.com/int/es/freedownloads/free-graphic-desig...

But getting back to serious stuff, my eternal recommendation of Xara's Layout tool, prepared for DTP, PDF/X export, cmyk profiles and all the deal. Much easier than -IMHO- any of the other options mentioned, and extremely comfortable drawing tools. (I indeed have planned to purchase the premium tool Xara Designer Pro, just to have an extra weapon in the shelf, and because I really like their vector drawing tools, probably the more direct/artist friendly I've known (I've played a lot with several versions demos)) Last time I checked, the layout one, the cheap, had all needed and the basic drawing tools were there...Is not free, but, highly recommended, in my very personal opinion. Getting the Corel Draw suite is another great option, and always the safest solution is the CC suite, but these two options might be pricey for those with smaller budgets.

PD: Oh! Also, was forgetting it. A very serious contender is going to be released for Windows (was Mac only before), at a very cheap price, also from Serif (they recently acquired Affinity company, if am not wrong), but from the Affinity line. I have downloaded the beta, but I have not had the time yet to test it in depth. It has professional support for printing and color management (CMYK, etc), at least till further experimenting with it. Only the beta for the illustration/vector package for now, the photo/raster application is surely going to be released as beta for Windows soon (IMO, not before the vector one goes out of beta), too (they are both as release for Mac). This pair of tools seems to be of extremely good quality. Fully professional tools, not toys. (IMO, Xara's, Corel Draw, and these Affinty application are no less professional than CC's. CC is just safer future wise (rarely Adobe would disappear...), and for is dominance in standards, users and companies. For an indy, is quite different, there's freedom... Affinity is, IMHO providing the most interesting innovations (I have a very strong hope in these products). Xara, its great vectorial drawing tools and amazing export and cmyk capabilities, Corel, well, easy learning curve, easy/fast UI and drawing tools, and an overall suite that is caring for the professional in every task. Its vector application is considered as a valid for professional work in many print companies, local print shops, etc. ). But I'm specially interested in Affinity's : https://affinity.serif.com/es/windows/




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Ghislain LEVEQUE
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Let me hop in to suggest another tool, the highly active geckos : https://github.com/Gulix/geckos/ you can use it online here : http://gulix.github.io/geckos/

Quote:

Geckos is a web-application which goal is to create Image cards, through the use of predetermined Templates.

Those templates are built in a simple language (JSON), and can be easily modified.

Set your template, add new cards and edit them, and you can download your images !

No login required, all the work is done inside your browser with modern javascript framework !

Geckos is fully Open-Source, and the source-code is available to anyone.
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