Meeple Me
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My goal:
Create a deck of numbered cards (plus a few other cards with text, etc.) that can be used to play several different games: Battle Line, Lost Cities, Parade, Hanabi, and possibly Balloon Cup. This would involve six different suits, cards numbered zero through 13, with a subset numbers in particular suits having multiple cards of the same value for a few of the games.

I am aware that there are several BBG files already in existence that achieve a similar goal (some for Battleline come to mind), but I have a great retro/indie theme that I am excited to implement.


My Plan:
I was going to use computer software to generate the number and suit symbols (to achieve legibility and uniformity), but have hand drawn art centrally which I will scan, then cut and paste onto the template. Something along the lines of Onirim cards, but with a greater variety of images being required. Considering the numbered cards alone, I would need to make 14 different images in six different suits for a total of 84 different images. The reference cards, wild cards, and event cards, would be on top of that.


My concern:
This would be an ambitious artistic undertaking in itself, not to mention the technical aspect of figuring out how to format the image files and attempt to use Artscow to print the cards. I can envision an awesome finished product, but I don't know if I have the stamina or technological prowess to make it happen.


My questions:
Has anyone else attempted a project like this? Should I start with something smaller and more manageable? Would you suggest a different approach? Would you encourage or discourage me from pursuing this DIY endeavor?


Sorry my post became so lengthy - thanks for sticking with me and reading to the end. Any and all advice is appreciated!
- Cristina

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Dallas Tucker
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I can't speak to the hand drawing, but concerning making cards, I would recommend the following:

- nanDECK. It might seem daunting to learn the program for the code, but it is fairly simple, and I wouldn't mind doing most of the code for you if this is the route you take (since it would take a max of 30 minutes).

- Use GIMP to make your card images if you don't already have Photoshop or whatnot.

- Use theGameCrafter to print the cards. I prefer their quality to artscow.

Basically, the process to make the cards would be to create your card layout how you wanted it to be (if you want anything more than the number, suit, and image).

Save all of your images in a folder, making sure they are all the same size.

Use nanDECK to put your images on cards, then your background file, then your suits and numbers. Then use nanDECK to save each card as a png to a folder. Then upload to theGameCrafter, order, and wait for your package.

Done.
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Meaker VI
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Not sure why something like Rainbow Deck wouldn't work, but if you want to do it yourself and you're doing all the drawing/printing/etc.; I'd say go for it. It sounds like you've got nothing but time to lose, and if you are a decent artist (or are happy with your art) and planning quick art it seems feasible.

My word of advice would be to watch out for style differences between your hand-drawing and the computer generated symbols & numbers - if you don't know you can get a drawing onto the computer so it'll look good with the symbols & font you're planning to use, you'll be better off drawing at least the outlines yourself and scanning and clipping those too.
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Dallas Tucker
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Here is a basic nanDECK script to get you started:

--.00847 cm is 1 pixel

CARDS=100
BORDER=RECTANGLE
PAGE=24,32.7,Portrait
DPI=300
CARDSIZE=6.985,9.525
MARGINS=1,1,1,1
GAP=0,0

--DEFINING AREAS AND FONTS AND COLORS--
[pos_val]=0,0,1.5,1.5
[pos_sym]=0,1.5,1.5,1.5
[pos_tl]=0,0,1.5,3
[pos_br]=4.5,6,1.5,3
[char_val]=arial,36,"B"
[char_sym]=symbol,36,"B"
[red]=#FF0000
[black]=#000000
[green]=#00ff00

[val]="0|1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13"

--IMAGES-- (Handdrawn Stuff)
[picture]=dirfiles("C:\...\Images\",png)
image=1-100,[picture],0,0,6.985,9.525

--BACKGROUND LAYER-- (Borders and etc)
IMAGE=1-100,"C:\...jpg",0,0,6.985,9.525

--SUIT 1--
font=[char_val],[red]
text="1-14",[val],[pos_val],"center"
font=[char_sym],[red]
text="1-14","\169\",[pos_sym],"center"

--SUIT 2--
font=[char_val],[red]
text="15-28",[val],[pos_val],"center"
font=[char_sym],[red]
text="15-28","\168\",[pos_sym],"center"

--SUIT 3--
font=[char_val],[black]
text="29-42",[val],[pos_val],"center"
font=[char_sym],[black]
text="29-42","\167\",[pos_sym],"center"

--SUIT 4--
font=[char_val],[black]
text="43-56",[val],[pos_val],"center"
font=[char_sym],[black]
text="43-56","\170\",[pos_sym],"center"

--SUIT 5--
font=[char_val],[green]
text="57-70",[val],[pos_val],"center"
font=[char_sym],[green]
text="57-70","\171\",[pos_sym],"center"

--SUIT 6--
font=[char_val],[green]
text="71-84",[val],[pos_val],"center"
font=[char_sym],[green]
text="71-84","\172\",[pos_sym],"center"

--WILD CARDS, RULE CARDS, ETC.--
[other_val]="W|W|W|W|R|R|R|R|E|E|E|E|O|O|O|O"

font=[char_val],[green]
text="85-100",[other_val],[pos_val],"center"
font=[char_sym],[green]
text="85-100","\172\",[pos_sym],"center"

copy="1-100",[pos_tl],[pos_br],180

-----------------------------------------------------------
Just copy the above into nanDECK and you should be almost ready to go.

You would need to get the path to your image folder for the hand drawn images and put that between the quotes in the proper section, and you would need to get the path to the image file you want for the background and put that between the quotes in the proper section. At that point, the script should run properly, though you will want to make a lot of modifications.

Modifying the script should be fairly easy. You can just find the codes for the colors you want to use and put those in. You can adjust the locations of things pretty easily (I put the conversion from cm to pixels at the top, so you can use GIMP to see where you want something pixel-wise, and then multiply to get the number to put into nanDECK). Changing the font is as easy as putting a different font name in place of Arial.

Putting in different suit symbols would take a little more work, but not much, and can be done a few different ways.

If you have any questions, you can message me or post to the nanDECK users guild.

*much of the code was gotten from nanDECK Tutorial E

EDIT 3: Make sure that you name your images in the order you want them to appear on the cards. So card #0 of suit 1 should be named so as to appear first when the images are sorted by name. I recommend just numbering from 001-100.
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Peter McAndrew
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Magic Set Editor would be another possibility for software to use. There are two templates people have already created for poker cards which could be adjusted to have additional suits.
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The neutral evil villain known as
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Just sketch em all out, and have someone redraw them into vector art.
trust me, you'll sleep better.

It's what they did with cartoona!



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Shawn Larson
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I say go for the hand drawn art.

I've drawn and scanned some line art before, and I can make a few practical suggestions:

First, ink any line drawings you scan. Scanning pencil art can be very tricky, because the scanner will not "see" the line art's contrast the way you do -- either many lines will come out too faint (at normal contrast), or a large amount of faint line and erased lines will begin to appear (at high contrast). Inking the image will give the scanner a high contrast image to work with, and save you the work of multiple scans and digital cleanup.

Second, draw the image oversize, about 200%-300%, and reduce it to fit after scanning. You can draw the original in coarse lines, and after shrinking it will look surprisingly detailed. It will also hide most or all mistakes you make. Just remember as you draw that line thickness will shrink proportionately, too, and lines may disappear if drawn too fine.
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Meeple Me
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Thanks for all the great feedback! Lots of good suggestions and tips that I plan to explore further.


@ Meaker VI - If I didn't have my heart set on drawing my own art and creating my own retheme, the Rainbow deck would have been an excellent option. I figured something like that might already exist, so it's good to know it's actually out there. Good point about the for symbol to drawing inconsistency.

@ Dallas - I really appreciate the nanDECK script. If I decide to go this route, I may contact you if I have questions. At least the script is here if someone else wants to try it out.

@ Peter - thanks for the other software suggestion. These are not the kinds of things I would find on my own, so it's a great help.

@ Phil of Mars - As much as I would love to utilize vector art (or have someone else utilize it on my behalf), I think it's a bit to grandiose for my particular situation. It is nice to know that it was the method used for Cartoona - the art in that game looks amazing.

@ Shawn - Yes I was planning to ink over my pencil sketches - ink drawings are my art medium of choice these days. I was also thinking of drawing the image larger and shrinking them, so it's good to know I was on the right track there as well. I had not considered line thickness though - so thanks so much for pointing that out.


I am very glad I posted here. You guys are great!

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Nick Hayes
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cyakobch wrote:
My questions:
Has anyone else attempted a project like this? Should I start with something smaller and more manageable? Would you suggest a different approach? Would you encourage or discourage me from pursuing this DIY endeavor?

This project is very doable and relatively simple. I would encourage you to go for it.

My first bit of advice would be to relax and enjoy creating the artwork. You'll stop having fun as soon as the drawing process becomes a chore. And unless you plan this as a gift for someone's birthday, you have all the time in the world to complete the deck.

Secondly, you'll find plenty of help here on how to assemble your deck and prepare it for Artscow.

As far as compiling the card art and suit/number information, there are two good ways to do it. The first is to use an image editing program like Gimp or Photoshop. If you aren't familiar with using something like that, you'll either have to learn or find a way to use a program you already know to get the results you want.

There is another option for the lest computer savvy. Design the cards on your computer with the suit/number information only and print each card out so large that it takes up one entire piece of paper. They you can draw your artwork right on the card. When you finish, scan each card in and then it's a simple matter of reducing them to the correct size for Artscow. This method has the added benefit of allowing you to see where the suit/number information goes while you draw, so you can be sure to end up with a nice composition.
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P.D. Magnus
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cyakobch wrote:

Has anyone else attempted a project like this? Should I start with something smaller and more manageable? Would you suggest a different approach? Would you encourage or discourage me from pursuing this DIY endeavor?


The question is whether you would enjoy it as an artistic project.

If yes, then go for it. This kind of thing can be fun.

If you'd only be doing it to get a deck of cards at the end or for accolades you might get from other geeks, then it will be a miserable experience. And don't do it if it will be miserable.
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Justus
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Start drawing and see if its fun! If not, there are much better things to do with your time. Any DIY project I do now is almost exclusively handdrawn...DnP I guess.

I will warn you that however long you estimate it will take, multiply it by three or four(!). Even my most simple projects (some of them are very simple!) still took quite some time.

AAArg's DIY sets and crafty game additions (my handdrawn projects towards the end of the first page and on the second page)

Note, some of these games haven't even been played, but I still think of each DnP project experience fondly. If you don't think you'll have fun making it, then you're better off paying the $$ and just buying it -- its just money instead of a whole weekend of frustrating effort.


kudos to PD, this is one of my favorite DIY projects -- a homemade set of the Decktet.
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Derek H
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cyakobch wrote:
@ Phil of Mars - As much as I would love to utilize vector art (or have someone else utilize it on my behalf), I think it's a bit to grandiose for my particular situation. It is nice to know that it was the method used for Cartoona - the art in that game looks amazing.

Well, you can start with scanned hand-drawn material, and then use Inkscape line-tracing functionality (http://inkscape.org/doc/tracing/tutorial-tracing.html) to create your vector art. One advantage is that you can then do really clean and fancy color fills.
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Robert Beachler
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Drawing by hand only these days can be hard especially if you want to get as great a quality as most games have these days. Not saying it can't be done but digital processes have made things a lot easier and quite honestly prettier as well. One thing about doing it all by hand is that it will be unique which is a great thing in and of itself.
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