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How to make cards?
« on: July 07, 2015, 10:39:50 AM »
 

Snowy

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So, i was thinking to myself the other day, how to people make cards? I understand it's a long process, but how would i go about starting? What software etc. I have some amazing ideas and would love to bring out a new deck, thanks in advance :)
 

Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2015, 09:48:24 PM »
 

Don Boyer

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So, i was thinking to myself the other day, how to people make cards? I understand it's a long process, but how would i go about starting? What software etc. I have some amazing ideas and would love to bring out a new deck, thanks in advance :)

I recommend that you look in "Card Collecting 101" on the topics relating to card making as well as older topics here on the subject.

You can also join 52 Plus Joker - I'm kicking off a series of articles on how cards are made with an article about the manufacturing of cards at EPCC and the stocks/finishes offered.

Lastly, search at YouTube - the U.S. Playing Card Company posted a video there about making playing cards.  They were featured in an episode of "How Things Are Made" or something like that on one of the Discovery Network channels on TV.
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Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2015, 11:30:05 PM »
 

ecNate

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If you mean the pre-production design side, it depends.  Most will use photoshop, illustrator or other professional level software for creating and editing images.  Use of a pen/tablet and layers in the software as well.  They will also use a template from the printer to make sure images are the proper size and placement to work with the printer's equipment.  Although, you can get away with something like Gimp or other free programs and just a mouse and single layer, but the results likely won't be there.  Many others will draw by hand and simply scan in, often converting to vector image and cleaning up the lines.  Some will sketch and then trace using a pen/tablet.

Some sites that focus on games, other printable material and apparently MPC allow for a web based designer that is more forgiving, but less precise.  That way you just upload an image and place it or even design fully online.

Look here for the options and play around with the designer and download the files.  http://www.makeplayingcards.com/design/custom-blank-card.html

Best option if you want to create a deck and don't have the knowledge or skills is to find an artist to work with you.  Good luck.
 

Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2015, 12:13:57 PM »
 

variantventures

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You can also go old school and use block-printing and stencil or hand-painting techniques to make your cards.  Simon Wintle's article on World of Playing Cards is a good place to start for that.

Personally I think getting the design elements right is the hardest part.  Some of that can be taught, some of it can be learned, and some of it just seems to be luck or innate artistic talent.
 

Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2015, 01:32:40 PM »
 

WoPC

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variantventures, thanks for mentioning our woodblock pack, the hand-made deck was a labour of love from over 30 years ago, however, the technique still applies today, but I'd not recommend it unless you're a playing card expert, to begin with I'd suggest exploring designs and graphics in Photoshop or Illustrator, or just with pen and paper. The woodblock pack he's referring to can be found here.

We have a couple of articles related to this subject (however, they were written a few years ago and really need to be updated!). The Making of Playing Cards and Playing Card Design and also Producing Small Editions. These articles go more into the history of the craft, but could still be of interest to your project.

I hope this helps :)
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Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2015, 10:21:13 AM »
 

Don Boyer

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Those articles are pure gold!  I'm moving this topic into "The Source - Card Collecting 101."  It's the board where the most pertinent, vital topics are kept.
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Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2015, 01:30:26 PM »
 

Paul Carpenter

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"Making" playing cards encompasses a LOT of things, from concepts and design to marketing to fulfillment to customer service. It's neither easy nor quick and certainly not a way to make a quick buck, which I gather is the impression held by many these days. Now if you want to just make one deck for yourself, that's another story.

This is not to discourage you, but to give you pause. Making a deck is great and rewarding, but it will take up many months of your life to do right, cost a large amount of money and comes with the expectations of your customers that you will deliver and support your work. I've been doing this for a number of years now, and if you'd told me at the start that I'd spend $40,000 in postage in a few years time I would have laughed. The deck itself is but a small part, so spend the time to research all the other aspects so that you neither you or your potential customers end up frustrated.
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Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2015, 11:05:02 PM »
 

Rob Wright

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I have to back up what Paul said about postage. I think that is one of the biggest things people underestimate. My pen KS project did $4,800. My shipping was about $500. I'll call it the 20% rule. Figure 20% postage, and 20% international backers. It's not just the postage, but you have to add packaging as well. I was about a $1 short per backer on what I thought shipping would be. Luckily I only had 90 packages to send. 1,000 or 2,000 wouldn't have been disastrous, but that's a lot of profit.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2015, 11:07:47 PM by Rob Wright »
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The production of playing cards
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2015, 06:51:25 AM »
 

The London magician

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I was looking through some old topics and I found one on how to make playing cards. However this was talking more about the design stage, I was wondering how to get your playing cards printed.

For those interested, the topic I was referring to can be found here: http://www.playingcardforum.com/index.php?topic=8424.0

Also, does the process differ depending on what printer you use (as is LPCC or USPCC)?

Thanks,
 

Re: The production of playing cards
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2015, 12:55:58 AM »
 

Don Boyer

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I was looking through some old topics and I found one on how to make playing cards. However this was talking more about the design stage, I was wondering how to get your playing cards printed.

For those interested, the topic I was referring to can be found here: http://www.playingcardforum.com/index.php?topic=8424.0

Also, does the process differ depending on what printer you use (as is LPCC or USPCC)?

Thanks,

I've merged the two topics together, as they are closely related to each other. 

Here's the basic framework for how to make playing cards.

1) Get an idea for a deck.
2) Create a design that reflects the idea (or hire someone with the talent to do it for you).
3) Approach a printer that makes playing cards to get a quote.
4) Pay for the cards - this can be out of pocket, or you can try raising funds by finding either angel investors (small number of people contributing large amounts of cash) or crowdfunders (large number of people contributing small amounts of cash).
5) Printer ships you the cards, you ship them to the people that bought them from you.  This step can be tweaked if you're using a fulfillment service - many of the boutique, small-run printers that do high-quality work are now offering fulfillment services to appeal to their customers.

The experience is very different when comparing a big company (USPC is owned by the massive consumer products conglomerate Jarden) to a smaller company (EPCC, LPCC, MPC, etc.).  Getting anything done in a big company usually involves a lot of people, a lot of time, a fair amount of inefficiency and a big price tag.  Smaller companies tend to be more attentive to the needs of the customer and more willing to accommodate where possible.  Even the basics are different sometimes - for example, USPC uncut sheets for playing cards and tuck boxes aren't always the same configuration as those used by Legends, Expert and MPC.

Bigger companies do volume work best - they often have a much-higher minimum for a print run's size.  USPC won't touch your project unless you're making at least 2,500 decks, whereas Expert will go down to 1,000 (sometimes less, if it's part of a larger order), Legends goes to 900 according to their website, and MPC is willing to make a print run of one if that's all you need.  However, with MPC, you're getting a digitally-printed deck - made from a really large printer not entirely different from the one you use at home to print pages from your computer.  The quality isn't the same as using an offset press.  They've improved, sure, but they still have issues of colors printing darker than they look onscreen.

If you're looking for more specifics, you should check out this post, where you can download Special Issue 1 of CARD CULTURE Magazine for free.  I wrote an eight-page article about the stocks, finishes and other features available from Expert PCC, complete with photos of the stocks up close - it originally appeared in issue #08 (July 2015) of CARD CULTURE, so the information is about as current as it gets.  Best to view it in Adobe Reader rather than in your browser - the links will be live and you can zoom in closer without losing resolution.  The issue is a promotional offer to entice people to subscribe to it by joining the 52 Plus Joker Club.
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Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2015, 03:44:06 AM »
 

The London magician

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Thanks for all the info Don! 

I'm not sure if this should be a part of this topic, but I'll put it here anyway:

What is a private reserve?

You always hear about Madison's private reserve or D and D's private reserve, but what does it mean? Is it something everyone should do as part of their project?

Thanks again!
 

Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2015, 06:39:29 AM »
 

Don Boyer

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Thanks for all the info Don! 

I'm not sure if this should be a part of this topic, but I'll put it here anyway:

What is a private reserve?

You always hear about Madison's private reserve or D and D's private reserve, but what does it mean? Is it something everyone should do as part of their project?

Thanks again!

"Private reserve" has sort of a nebulous meaning.  It doesn't always mean the same thing to all people.  For example, when Danial Madison is talking about his private reserve, he's simply talking about a portion of a print run that was set aside for his own personal use.  Often the rare decks of the series he's released are "private reserve" in that most of the decks from that color in that run went to him and only a small amount were released for public distribution.

David Blaine does the same thing with his decks, but only for the gaff cards and usually only in the color black - he rarely releases gaffs in the first place, and even then only in small amounts, but he never releases blacks for public distribution.  I managed to get some (White Lions black gaff cards) that he gave to someone else as an apology for an order snafu - the publicly-available gaffs were only in red and blue.  The difference with Blaine is that he doesn't call it a private reserve.  He does the same thing with uncut sheets - only a few of his most recent decks had releases of uncut sheets.  Prior to that, the only way to get one was if he personally gave you one - I was lucky enough to meet him a few years ago and he gave me an uncut of the blue Split Spades Lions deck, which was very cool because the cards appear on the sheet in Mnemonica stack order with the Ace of Spades first, just as the cards appear in the deck when you first open the box.  It's rare that you find an uncut sheet that isn't in standard deck order.  My point is that he never called them his "private reserve," but they served the same function for him as Madison's "private reserve" decks did for Madison.

For Dan and Dave, referring to that gold deck of theirs, they call it their "private reserve" but it's really just another way of saying "short-run deck that's not for sale so you have to get it by other means."  I've only seen it in their Variety Boxes and as a premium, never actually sold on their site.  It's much like how they referred to DeckStarter as "crowdfunding" when in fact the cards were already paid for and printed - the rest of the world calls that "retail..."  :))

So, when you see "Private Reserve," think of it more as a marketing term - because beyond that, it rarely means the same thing twice!  It's probably intentionally rare (printed in a short run, much if not most of which will likely never be released to the public), it's probably not easily obtained (either expensive or only available as a promotion/premium) and rest is up for grabs.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 06:48:53 AM by Don Boyer »
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Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2015, 10:35:22 AM »
 

ecNate

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Given the turns this is taking I think this really should be in design and development???


Keep in mind different goals and motivations people may have if anybody looks to move forward because yours may be different than others giving you advice and knowing and sharing that is critical.  Some just want to see their vision realized and have a deck created, making money or even losing some is acceptable.  Others may want to raise a little side cash and others may want to actually run it as a business.  Decisions about costs, time/effort put into a proper business plan and budget analysis will vary (CRITICAL step for all though), printer choice, method of fulfillment/shipping and related pricing, printer choice etc are all related.

Hopefully everybody knows about USPCC, Expert and Legend for larger quantities and excellent quality.  MPC was always a popular choice for shorter runs and especially for a prototype creation.  However, there are tons of other printers if you don't care about quality or even just want them to print on demand and sell the deck for you. 
http://www.usplayingcard.com/customcards/
http://legendsplayingcards.com/pages/custom/
http://expertplayingcard.com/#custom/
http://www.cartamundi.com/en/print/product/playing-cards-tailor-made/
http://www.makeplayingcards.com/promotional/custom-poker-cards.html/
https://www.admagic.com/full-color-and-photo-custom-playing-cards.html/
http://libertyplayingcards.com/playingcards/index.html/
http://www.tmcards.com/custom-playing-cards.php/
http://www.artscow.com/photo-gifts/playing-cards/playing-cards-54-designs-313/
http://www.printerstudio.com/unique-ideas/custom-poker-cards.html/
https://www.thegamecrafter.com/custom-playing-cards/
http://www.drivethrucards.com/joincards.php/
http://www.zazzle.com/playingcards?dp=252660197916733907

You can also work with HOPC, Gambers Warehouse, etc who are producers that create decks and can assist in the process for a fee.

Lastly, you can submit your art to companies who typically will give you a a few bricks of the printed deck and/or a small cut from proceeds as they do all the work after.  The PCF contest with EPCC, Gamblers and a few others come to mind who do this.  Also as mentioned before, Drive Thru Cards and Game Crafter will also allow you to upload your designs and then print your deck for yourself, but will let you leave your design out there with a price and others can then buy and print on demand as well.

Finally, some dose of reality and analysis of cost links for KickStarter related projects:
http://albinodragon.com/blog/dragon-crate-kickstarter-analysis/
http://albinodragon.com/blog/book-1-the-pain-of-the-wind-a-lesson-in-scale/
http://albinodragon.com/blog/why-you-should-set-realistic-pledge-levels-a-pledge-breakdown-46f7d3/
http://albinodragon.com/blog/shipping-or-as-i-like-to-call-it-the-fastest-way-to-go-bankrupt-on-kickstarter-30fb07/
http://albinodragon.com/blog/running-a-minimalist-campaign/
http://www.deadlyfredly.com/2013/11/core-ks-breakdown/
http://www.danshapiro.com/blog/2013/09/robot-turtles-midmortem-at-250k/
http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter-lesson-7-the-funding-goal/
http://www.polygon.com/2015/2/25/8102751/exploding-kittens-kickstarter-rich
 

Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2015, 10:50:09 AM »
 

Don Boyer

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Given the turns this is taking I think this really should be in design and development???

Actually, this board is the crθme de la crθme board - its where the best posts from ALL the boards go, the posts that are of critical importance to the hobby.
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Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2015, 08:49:02 PM »
 

HankMan

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I just realise collecting card is addictive
 

Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2015, 05:19:20 AM »
 

The London magician

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WOW, so much information!  :mindf-ck: :mindf-ck: :mindf-ck: :-[ :-[

I have learned so much from joining this forum!
 

Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2015, 10:04:49 AM »
 

Don Boyer

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WOW, so much information!  :mindf-ck: :mindf-ck: :mindf-ck: :-[ :-[

I have learned so much from joining this forum!

I'm very glad to hear it.  Like I said - this particular board is for the best of the best information we have.  You can't create a topic here - you can make one elsewhere and an administrator has to move it here, but will only do so if the quality of information is worthy of the placement.
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Re: How to make cards?
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2015, 05:52:24 PM »
 

ecNate

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I added a few more links in my post above about finances/business side that are specific to KickStarter. 

In addition, Don (who is also available for hire to help with deck design/projects) had a SUPERB write up in this thread that I'm copying here for easier reference


Asking what collectors look for in a deck is like asking a thousand different people from different parts of the world what their favorite meal is and why.  You're very unlikely to get the same answer twice.

That deck type your talking about <minimalist> has been popular for a reason - people like it.  It's originally a design that was used in casinos (still is, for some) and arguably the deck that kicked off the current trend is the Wynn Casino's brown deck that Theory11 was selling for a while - something about how that deck (and not the other colors, interestingly enough) handled made it popular with cardists (people who separate card flourishing from magic and make it a new art form of its own).  As the deck became desirable, people started equating the deck with desirable design, even though when you really think hard about it, the design's about as dull as dishwater - it's a simple logo shown twice on a field of color.

Also interesting is that the original deck didn't have standard faces like all the "Wynn clones" do today - it used Jumbo Tech Art II faces, of the type typically used at a casino's blackjack table.  Combined with a mirror in the table, it allows the dealer to not know his or her exact hand, but to know whether they're holding a blackjack or not - it reveals the presence of Aces and all cards of a value of ten.  Tech Art faces, however, are not well suited for ordinary card play because of the varying placement of the indices from value to value.

Collectors look for things that are interesting and unique, but also attractive and professional in appearance.  They should look like they were designed by a professional and not your eight-year-old niece with the glitter-and-unicorns addiction on her first attempt at designing anything.  That doesn't mean it can't contain hand-drawn cartoon art, but it should look like a professional did the work - it should look like the kind of thing people would read in newspapers or pay money for at a bookstore.

On the subject of design themes, there are trends that should be watched.  You watch them not only to know what's popular, but what's overdone and fully saturated in the marketplace.  Everyone remembers the first team that reached the peak at Mount Everest - almost no one knows the 12th team, the 432nd team, the 16,543rd team, etc.  If you're team #43,864, you'd better do something truly unique if you want to be noticed, like have the fastest time to the top, jump off the peak in a wing suit or hold Burning Man Nepal up there.  For those same reasons, if you're making the tenth "minimalist" deck of the year or the fifteenth steampunk deck or even the third clown/circus deck, you need to find some way to make your project unique.  Either add something to it that no one else has, or do it better than all those that came before you (not just most, ALL).

There are certain rules of design that hold true for playing cards, especially standard decks, and there are certain needs for different audiences.  For example, a poker player that's hardcore into tournaments will never use anything other than a matched pair of plastic, bridge-sized cards with 100% bog-standard faces and a fairly simple back design that's two-way (exactly the same when rotated 180 degrees).

Magicians will get a little more adventurous - they'll use poker-sized decks (unless they have smaller hands; then they'd use use a bridge-sized deck) with enough standard features that the audience will recognize them as being like the cards they have back home.  If the back is one-way, it will be subtly one-way rather than obviously, with barely perceptible markings to indicate orientation.  Back designs can vary widely - some will go for something whacky and custom, others will stick to the standards.  People occasionally think that if a magician breaks out a custom deck, it must be a trick deck - nothing could be further from the truth.  If anything, it's the magician using the standard Bicycle Rider Back deck that you should be wary of - there are arguably more trick decks and gaff cards in that design than in any other design in the entire world!  But when performing for a general audience, a magician will often stick to a design that people will recognize.

There are other types of people, other features they look for in a deck, etc.  The design rules of playing cards, much like any design rules, can be bent or even broken - but again, like in any other field of design, if you're going to break a rule, you generally should have a reason for doing so that's integral to the design and isn't "because I didn't know any better."  When breaking such rules, you may reduce the playability of a deck's design - however, you might be doing something else to that design that makes it more appealing in a different way; you might be making it more artistic, you might be appealing to a specific audience and their unique needs, etc.  For example, I think the Bicycle E-Z See Lo-Vision deck is ugly as sin, especially when factoring in that the cards have suits in four colors.  However, that deck wasn't designed for me or for a general audience - it was designed for people with failing vision, so it has exceptionally large markings.  The use of four colors instead of two for the suits means that you don't have to rely on seeing the suit clearly to identify the card's suit - the color will do that for you, and make it more difficult for you to mistake one red suit for the other or one black suit for the other.  It makes certain types of solitaire a pain in the ass to play, but the deck serves a specific purpose and does so very well.

I think I've rambled on long enough here!  But I hope you're getting some sense of what I'm trying to convey here.

If you want to take a new design over to Kickstarter, ask yourself a few questions before you launch.

  • Is my design unique?  If my design is not unique, is it special in some way?  Is my design borrowing in any way another person or company's intellectual property, and if so, do I have either permission/licensing to use it or the legal right to use it (and do I have the resources to defend that legal right, should the IP owner become litigious)?
  • Does my design have a theme?  Is it a common theme shared by other designs, and if so, am I doing it better or in a unique way when compared to what came before?
  • What is my target audience?  What design features appeal to that audience?  Have I incorporated most if not all of those features in my design?
  • Am I breaking any rules of design?  If so, do I have an adequate reason for doing so that will increase rather than decrease my design's appeal to my audience?
  • Who will manufacture this deck?  What services, features, etc. do they offer?  What level of quality do they provide, and is it enough for my needs?  Are they trustworthy and reliable, with a proven track record?  Are they experienced at making playing cards, and more specifically, the kind of work I need done for this design?
  • Have I accounted for every single penny I need in order to make this project a reality?  Have I adequately accounted for shipping and handling costs, both domestic and international?  Did I remember in include a modest-to-robust profit margin while at the same time not pricing the deck too high for my target audience?  Will potential backers think they're getting good value for what they're spending or will they feel it's overpriced (or underpriced)?
  • What arrangements have I made for the logistics of getting those decks from the printer into the hands of my backers?  Do I have contingency plans for when things go sideways and pear-shaped?
  • What do I need to legally sell playing cards in my state/province/country at wholesale and at retail?  Do I need to register or obtain licensing as a commercial entity?  Will I be selling remaining stock after the project is fulfilled at retail or will someone else do all the retail selling for me - and if so, at what cost to them and at what price to their customers?  (In the US and probably elsewhere, you're legally prohibited from setting retail prices for the retailers that buy at wholesale from you, but you can ask retailers to voluntarily sell your cards at a specific price, what's commonly called the "manufacturer's suggested retail price," or MSRP.)
  • How will I account for this income when filing my income taxes at the start of the new year?  Have I discussed this with an accountant or a tax attorney?  How do I go about paying taxes correctly?  (Failure to collect taxes or report the income can create a world of problems that most people simply don't want to live in!  The greater the income, the greater those problems can be.  Kickstarter is legally obligated to withhold income taxes from projects exceeding a certain financial threshold, and it's not a high one, but you still have to properly account for the income and insure the correct taxes are paid in the right amounts - and if you overpaid, that you get your excess money back!)