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Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Artscow vs. PrinterStudio -- Head to Head results! rss

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Tom Howard
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Alright, I took the time (and money) to order an identical deck from both Artscow and PrinterStudio. Long story short, I'm never ordering from Artscow again.

I first ordered from Artscow over a year ago when I picked up Ninjadorg's CR Room Event Deck and the Barovia & Longbridge Campaign Event decks. When I got the decks, I was fairly disappointed with their quality. The ink had some banding issues, their card stock felt pretty cheap, the blacks were murky, the cuts were off centered, and most of the cards had some edging issues, as shown below:



All in all, I was extremely underwhelmed with what I had received. So I looked around this site, and found many good reviews of Artscow all over the place - so I figured I must have gotten a bad batch or something. I could have maybe returned it, but seeing as it took like a month for the cards to arrive, I didn't want to deal with the hassle.

Cut to: a few weeks ago. I recently put together decks for WoA & Drizzt Room Events + Drizzt Campaign Event Deck. I had just heard about PrinterStudio, but wasn't able to find too many reviews about them. But I knew I didn't want a repeat of my last Artscow experience. So I figured I should do a head to head experiment.

Artscow turned out.... well, much like it did last time.
Awful edging issues:



Compared to PrinterStudio's clean cuts:



The next two images won't be quite as apparent from these cell phone pics, but Artscows cards were still off-center, had murky blacks, and overall poor color rendition. The greens in particular looked terrible.




PrinterStudio had very deep blacks and richer colors overall. Not to mention the colors were much closer to image file I submitted (compare the front of the At-Will cards, for example):




PrinterStudio also used nicer card stock, with a better finish to their cards. Moreover, I ordered both of these decks on the same day, and PrinterStudio's arrived at least two weeks before Artscow did.

So, what's the catch?
Well, Artscow's interface is a bit easier to use. When making a deck in PrinterStudio, you'll have to drag all the front images on one web page, then click Next to go to a different page to drag in all the backs. This requires a bit of planning on your part since you can't modify the fronts and backs of the cards at the same time. Furthermore, I recommend extending the canvas size of each of your card images to accommodate full bleed cutting, like so:



Fortunately, with Photoshop, it's super easy to create an "Action" which resizes the canvas of an image, then saves it. You can then batch execute this action on a whole folder of card images, which will resize everything in one fell swoop, saving loads of time.

And finally (this is the big one), you can't share a saved deck in PrinterStudio with others. So I can't make a deck, then allow others to order it for themselves. They'll have to re-create the deck from scratch. I hear they're working on a fix for this, but I don't know the ETA.

Well, hopefully that helps you guys make a more informed decision on where to order decks from!

-Tom
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Michael
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Thanks for that! I have to print my LEGO Heroes sooner or later (to justify LEGO Lord of the Rings purchases instead of having expensive dust collectors), so your info is much appreciated!
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Dicky P
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Thats a really helpful post. Thanks.

The one thing that was missing for me was any pricing comparison (i.e are you comparing like with like) but then now having had a look on the website this doesn't seem terribly out of kilter (unless you wait for one of the artscow deals).

What was really interesting is that deck size doesn't seem limited to 54 cards if I am reading this correctly e.g. on the custom cards page it appears that you can go up to decks with 234 cards, and it drives down the average cost per card.

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Tristan Hall
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Yeah, thanks for putting this together, Tom - I hadn't considered an alternative to artscow due to the prices of their deals. I also haven't suffered the same sort of awful artscow quality as you, but neither have I been ecstatic with the results. And those Printer Studio decks seem to look exactly as they were intended...

Great post! thumbsup

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bheat bheat
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You wouldn't happen to have a sharable link to the deck you made in printer studio? I was just about to order the deck somebody else made on here from artscow.
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Josh Morgan
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bheat wrote:
You wouldn't happen to have a sharable link to the deck you made in printer studio? I was just about to order the deck somebody else made on here from artscow.


This feature isn't available with Printer Studio (unfortunately).

I'd just like to second all of the OP's thoughts/recommendations for Printer Studio. I've placed multiple orders with them and the quality is very consistent. Furthermore, I had an order where I didn't add an appropriate bleed area to the cards and Printer Studio contacted me and offered to let me resubmit the cards at no cost. Basically they were eating the cost of a bad print run that was completely my fault. Furthermore this wasn't just a single 54 deck of cards. It was around 500 cards total. I was impressed. I did not take them up on this offer as the cards were just reference cards and wouldn't need to be shuffled. However, that experience earned them a customer for life. Absolutely a step above Artscow in nearly every way (the designer leaves something to be desired, but pricing, shipping, quality and service are second to none).
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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GeckoTH wrote:
Fortunately, with Photoshop, it's super easy to create an "Action" which resizes the canvas of an image, then saves it. You can then batch execute this action on a whole folder of card images, which will resize everything in one fell swoop, saving loads of time.

Being the photoshop noob that I am, how does one actually do this?

-shnar
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Brian Cwikla

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FYI - apparently a feature is in development with them, not sure on a release date. I would have thought it would be out already, actually.

I've used Printer Studio many times and can definitely vouch for the quality over Artscow. Regarding pricing, it's not bad, but they often have sales plus you get a nice deal if you sign up for their newsletter. Also, once a year they have 50% off custom decks and free shipping.

Shnar - actions and batch processing a pretty simple once you've done it the first time. Basically, you "record" yourself opening a file, making adjustments, and then savi and closing the file. You then run a batch process using that recorded action on a whole folder of files. There's a tutorial here : http://www.adobetutorialz.com/articles/861/1/Photoshop-Actio...
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Tom Howard
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Yeah, to elaborate on iguano's post, here's how I created my Action:

1) Open up one of your card images.

2) Open up the Action window (Window -> Actions), and create a New Action. Give it a name and a folder if you want. (such as PrinterStudio Resize)

3) Hit the Record button on your new action.

4) Image -> Canvas Size...
Width: 822 Pixels, Height: 1122 Pixels (This is PrinterStudio's recommended size)
Make sure the background extension color is black. Click OK

5) File -> Save for Web & Devices...
Format: PNG-24
Then click OK and save this test image somewhere. The folder you save it in will be where all your exported images go. Leave the filename as it is.

6) Close the file. Hit "Don't Save". (You've already saved a copy of the image, and don't want to overwrite the original image)

7) Hit Stop on your Action.

Voila! You've created an action. Now to use it. Make sure all the images you want to modify are together in their own folder on your hard drive.

1) Go ahead and close any photoshop files you have open. Then go to File -> Automate -> Batch...

2) Choose the Action you created from the drop down menus.
Source: Folder. Then Choose the folder where your card images are. You can also have it suppress any color profile warnings or whatnot.
Destination: None. You don't need to specify a Destination in this case since the Action itself includes a Saving step.

3) Hit OK. Photoshop will now open all the images in the folder, re-size them, then save 'em out. You should now be left with a folder of properly sized images ready to upload to PrinterStudio.
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J V
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The only downside I can see with Printerstudio is EVERY deck I've ordered from them develops significant curl on the cards. The photo of the PS deck looks like yours does too.

Not the end of the world, considering how much better PS is, but if they could fix that I'd probably be ordering stuff every week.
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Neil Edmonds
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Thumbed and Geek Golded.

Submitting cards to Printer Studio might be a good project to web framework automation. Point the script at a folder with images and let the script go to town.
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Tom Howard
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Btw, I will be sharing my folder of resized card images for the WoA Room Event Deck, LoD Room Event Deck & LoD Campaign Event Deck, so they'll be ready to upload into PrinterStudio. (Once I get some time to put all those decks together for myself!)
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Tom Howard
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PrinterStudio Card Images

Here are files containing all the card images at the proper size, ready to upload right into PrinterStudio!


-Room Event Deck for Wrath of Ashardalon

-Room Event Deck for Legend of Drizzt

-Campaign Event Deck for Legend of Drizzt
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Simon Gingras
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Thanks for all your work, Tom. I'd tip you more but alas I don't have much to give.

Regards.
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Tristan Hall
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Thanks for this Tom, I just received my Printer Studio copy of Fantasy Quest and am utterly blown away! I did a more detailed review here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/9795122#9795122

But basically: awesome, cheaper, faster, better, and like you I won't go back to artscow again any time soon. cool
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Hector Cornejo
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Thanks for the information on this. I used Artscow once on my cards and was very disappointed. One thing I like hearing is the ability to do more than 54 cards.

One thing I'm curious about, I noticed that when you select your choices of which "Bridge Sized" custom card link to choose, the posted blank backings have two different entries for horizontal and vertical. Does this mean you can cant mix the layout?

I really hope not; I'm sure I don't need to tell you that being able to mass print at a lower cost for larger batches is really preferable.
 
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Tristan Hall
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Sebathius wrote:
Thanks for the information on this. I used Artscow once on my cards and was very disappointed. One thing I like hearing is the ability to do more than 54 cards.

One thing I'm curious about, I noticed that when you select your choices of which "Bridge Sized" custom card link to choose, the posted blank backings have two different entries for horizontal and vertical. Does this mean you can cant mix the layout?

I really hope not; I'm sure I don't need to tell you that being able to mass print at a lower cost for larger batches is really preferable.


Ahem. Turn your image sideways?
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Hector Cornejo
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ninjadorg wrote:

Ahem. Turn your image sideways?


That's already been done. That is not my concern, though I can understand why you would assume this conclusion.

Why would they have two different options for Vertical versus Horizontal if they print on the same card size? It almost implies to me that they don't allow a batch mix of both.

I understand I may be over thinking this but I rather know that someone submitted files to print that were both horizontal and vertical in one batch and it was accepted rather then my submission being forced to buy two different sets.

In the end if this were to happen, the cost of my horizontals would be much higher since I don't have as many as I do verticals. 236 cards at a cheaper rate is much preferable to two sets of 191 and 45 on this site.
 
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Sebathius wrote:
ninjadorg wrote:

Ahem. Turn your image sideways?


That's already been done. That is not my concern, though I can understand why you would assume this conclusion.

Why would they have two different options for Vertical versus Horizontal if they print on the same card size? It almost implies to me that they don't allow a batch mix of both.

To get the preview right ... if you are willing to tilt your head, you can mix as you like.
And you can add some text on the cards (in addition to the images), this will be dependent on the orientation, too. Just do it in the images
 
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Hector Cornejo
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Who is talking about the "Preview"? I'm looking to find out if anyone submitted a mixed batch of verts and horizontals and it was accepted.
 
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As was said before, rotate your verts sideways and put them in with the horizontals (or vice versa). They don't have someone to check the cards and say "This picture should be round the other way, make them do a separate order for it"
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Tristan Hall
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Sebathius wrote:
ninjadorg wrote:

Ahem. Turn your image sideways?


That's already been done. That is not my concern, though I can understand why you would assume this conclusion.

Why would they have two different options for Vertical versus Horizontal if they print on the same card size? It almost implies to me that they don't allow a batch mix of both.

I understand I may be over thinking this but I rather know that someone submitted files to print that were both horizontal and vertical in one batch and it was accepted rather then my submission being forced to buy two different sets.

In the end if this were to happen, the cost of my horizontals would be much higher since I don't have as many as I do verticals. 236 cards at a cheaper rate is much preferable to two sets of 191 and 45 on this site.



I rotated my 'landscape' cards and mixed them with my 'portrait' cards with no problems whatsoever - the printing is great.
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I. J. Thompson
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ninjadorg wrote:
I rotated my 'landscape' cards and mixed them with my 'portrait' cards with no problems whatsoever - the printing is great.


As did I. Choose the orientation that matches the majority of your cards, and then just rotate the minority. I think they were just trying to 'simplify' things for people who want, say, a whole deck of landscape-oriented cards, and would be put off by having to lean their heads to one side to look at the cards.

It's important to remember that the site is not necessarily geared toward game designers - more likely, it's geared toward regular folks who want cards with pictures of their family vacation on them.
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Hector Cornejo
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ninjadorg wrote:

I rotated my 'landscape' cards and mixed them with my 'portrait' cards with no problems whatsoever - the printing is great.


Awesome, exactly what I was looking for. thanks
 
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What was the total cost shipped for the deck from PrinterStudio?
 
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