David Hunter
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This is based on a comment I left on this geeklist: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/39565/page/3

I thought people might find it useful to have a basic how to guide for using ArtsCows services to make a deck of cards for a game.

For those of you who don't know ArtsCow is a Hong Kong based company that seems to frequently run insane specials on personalised playing cards - for example 54 cards with a back of your choice and 54 different designs on the front for $5.77 (US) delivered to anywhere in the world. See these threads for details:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/386262/page/1
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/395364/page/1

Several enterprising geeks have used this to create print & play games as well as some rethemes of classics. This how to guide won't tell you how to create & upload art for a game, but it will show you how to piggyback onto someone else's hard work!

1. Firstly go and sign up at ArtsCow: www.artscow.com if you do it using this link here: http://www.artscow.com/?Ref=582804 then I get free photo print credits that I probably won't use!

2. Pick a game that someone has shared an album of Artscow for. You can find many of these on this geeklist here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/40596/page/1

For the sake of this example we are going to use Kilgores new artwork version of No Thanks! which Jason Spears has kindly shared and you can find on the geeklist here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/40596/item/890496#item...

3.
click on the share link (the circled red link) this will take you to artscow and add the album to your albums.

4.
Go to the top of the screen at Artscow and click the create your own stuff tab.

5. Scroll down the page through the various options until you reach "fun stuff" click on the playing cards


6. Click on the Custom Playing Cards 54 Designs


7.
Click the create it! button this will load the designer which will give you basic instructions. Note the warning you need to have Sliverlight installed, follow the instructions at the website if this isn't the case.

8. You will want to click down at the bottom left of the screen to untick the show poker text box.
Before:

After:


9. Here you can select the album you want to load cards from, these are on the left. You can load cards in two ways, firstly by auto-filling, secondly by doing it manually. The warning with auto-filling is that if the album isn't set up right (and most of them aren't) it will end up muddling the cards up. To do it manually click on the album you want to use. This loads each individual card in the side bar. Now drag and drop each card from the deck on to each individual card on the screen. (The hide used images box is very handy!) making sure to drag the card back onto the card back space.


As you can see I autoloaded them and it mucked it up, the back is placed as the second card rather than as the back. To fix this I have to drag and drop the back card onto the side bar, then scroll down and drag and drop it onto the card back slot.

Automagically Mucked up!


Drag the offender across


Drop on the side bar


Scroll down then drag to the back card slot


10. Now you need to click on each individual card and make sure that the edges aren't going to be cut off in the printing. To do this select the card and at the top right click zoom out until you are happy (most people recommend 2-4 times). Repeat this for every card (yep very dull).


You'll notice this deck leaves plenty of empty cards.. Not to worry I'm sure you will find something else to fill them with: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/40596/page/1

11. When you are happy click add to cart at the top of the screen. Save the project as something memorable so you can run off a few more copies at a later date, and progress to the checkout. If you want to do more decks then repeat the above instructions.

12. When you are finished enter the relevant coupon card in the slot provided, then pay via credit card or paypal.

Hope that was helpful.

Cheers
David
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Andrew Finke
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Well done!!

A quick note on payment. If you use PayPal instead of CreditCard you won't get charged a currency exchange fee.
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Anthony DuLac
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Cool article, thanks for posting this.
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BT Carpenter
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finke67 wrote:
Well done!!

A quick note on payment. If you use PayPal instead of CreditCard you won't get charged a currency exchange fee.


Not from your credit card company, true, but your bank may impose a fee.
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Bernd Altmann
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byronczimmer wrote:
finke67 wrote:
Well done!!

A quick note on payment. If you use PayPal instead of CreditCard you won't get charged a currency exchange fee.


Not from your credit card company, true, but your bank may impose a fee.


Both of you are wrong. The transfer from your bank to paypal is in your home currency, without an exchange fee obviously. Paypal is charging an exchange fee, which is 2.5% and included (hidden) in the exchange rate.
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Kris Verbeeck
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Well I got to ask this.

I am thinking of making simple text cards for Hotel Life

Is it easy to make them on artscow. Or do you need to have files to upload?
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David Hunter
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Hi Kris
It is pretty easy to make just text cards on Artscow without have files to upload. I did this myself for a prototype for a game that I printed on Artscow, I had four left over card slots so wrote the rules up on them, which came out fine. The alternative, especially if you are doing multiple copies of the same cards or slight variations on the same card is nandeck, which is a bit frightening at first, but very rewarding if you persevere. (Its what I used for my prototype, and it saved a lot of hassle).

Cheers
David

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Hanno Girke
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You forgot one thing:

13) In case you use copyrighted material, better ask for permission, otherwise the copyright holder might get you into severe trouble.
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Will
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Very Cool!
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David Hunter
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Hanno wrote:
You forgot one thing:

13) In case you use copyrighted material, better ask for permission, otherwise the copyright holder might get you into severe trouble.


Good point Hanno. Furthermore, it would break ArtCows terms & conditions.so they would be in their rights to not fulfill your order. Personally I think this is best used for rethemes, print & play games, and prototyping. Using it to make an exact copy of an in-print game is definitely a no-go. A grey area would be a copy of an out of print game, though I would tend to go for a retheme myself.

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S. P. Harris
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idmonfish wrote:


10. Now you need to click on each individual card and make sure that the edges aren't going to be cut off in the printing. To do this select the card and at the top right click zoom out until you are happy (most people recommend 2-4 times). Repeat this for every card (yep very dull).


I hope to order the English Auf Achse deck but am trying to get this all straight. So, is the only adjustment I need to make the adjustment in step 10 above? TIA!

I have read a lot of the ArtsCow threads & they seem confusing (decks not turning out quite right) but I assume it is because they are "older" posts of people's initial trials - it looks to me like you have clarified everything in your instructions above, yes?

ETA: also, the other day I clicked on the shared Auf Achse album & it appeared in "My Album". Today. "My Album" is empty. I cannot see how to save albums into "My Album". Any advice?

Thank you so much for posting this, David and also thanks to everyone for posting the card files on the ArtsCow site and here.
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David Hunter
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I can't promise perfection - the card stock is better than I expected but still not best quality. More importantly the trimming technique that Artscow use is clearly not an exact science, the worst cards I had done had a border that is noticeably different on different cards. Likewise the colors printed out may not be exactly the same as colors on the screen (some have also mentioned some variation between the same color on different cards - I haven't noticed this myself) and it apparently handles different colors better and worse, several people have recommended avoiding gray due to quality and also white due to picking up dust/marks easily. And of course some people have had cards mixed up and had to deal with customer services.

All that said I've made 11 decks thus far following the above instructions and I am very happy with them - they exceeded my expectations really.

So good luck & enjoy

Cheers
David
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Mark McEvoy
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Hmm. I was giving thought to scanning and reprinting a deck from a game I own but with errata or reminder text on cards that need it (for instance, Betrayal at House on the Hill - there are enough cards that could use a text addendum that I'm thinking of just reprinting the lot of 'em. It's not a retheme (retheming Betrayal would be a monumental challenge), and it would reuse a lot of the game publisher's original text.



I'm giving a good long look at a new take on Black Vienna - with agents named for their NATO Phonetic Alphabet equivalent:
Agent Alpha
Agent Bravo
Agent Charlie
Agent Delta
Agent Echo

Just trying to figure out what to do for #27. My first choices would be Zero, One, or Niner, but their single-character representations would be to close to "O", "I", and "g". Maybe "Agent ?" ?



What would be typical image format (GIF, JPG, etc), resolution, and aspect ratio for card designers?
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thatmarkguy wrote:
What would be typical image format (GIF, JPG, etc), resolution, and aspect ratio for card designers?
I would recommend using a loss-less format, like gif or png. Jpg might work, if you're careful to change settings to have the lowest compression, best quality.

For size, I use their recommended size of 780x1081. I've printed several decks using this size and been very happy with them.
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Peter Marchlewitz
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Awesome info!

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thatmarkguy wrote:

I'm giving a good long look at a new take on Black Vienna - with agents named for their NATO Phonetic Alphabet equivalent:
Agent Alpha
Agent Bravo
Agent Charlie
Agent Delta
Agent Echo

Just trying to figure out what to do for #27. My first choices would be Zero, One, or Niner, but their single-character representations would be to close to "O", "I", and "g". Maybe "Agent ?" ?


What about Agent Dash Dot after morse code. The symbol could be a dash and a dot, clearly different from the rest of the letters.
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idmonfish wrote:

You'll notice this deck leaves plenty of empty cards.. Not to worry I'm sure you will find something else to fill them with: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/40596/page/1


Thanks for all your guidance, David!

When I tack on other cards to the end of the deck, can I specify to print them with other backs?

edited to add: I'd even just like to have my cards come up with the correct backs. Let me explain:

In the Designer, I chose an image I wanted on the back of every card in the deck, and I dropped it into the "Back" slot. I then dropped all the card fronts into the correct slots. Then I saved the project, and clicked "Preview."

In the preview window, every single card I created had the same image showing on the back as I'd selected for the front. None of my card backs were showing up at all. When I clicked "Edit" to go back to the Designer, the card back designs I'd selected were in the right slot.

Has this happened to anyone else?
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David Hunter
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Hi Tommy
Firstly in regards to your question the answer is no, they will have the same back as the other cards. I put up with this with fillers, since the alternative seems wasteful. One clever trick I've seen people do is to leave a spot on the card back that can be filled in with a marker pen to indicate that the card belongs to a different deck. They do also have another product (not on special as far as I can tell) called learning cards where each card has a unique back and front that might be worth it for a complicated deck.

In regards to preview the universal consensus is that this is broken and you should ignore preview entirely, basically the designer is a what you see is what you get editor - preview is a buggy perverse mess which is more worrying than helpful.

Hope that helps
Cheers
David
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KAS
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Has anyone used size 6 font on any cards? If so, is it too small to be helpful or is it still legible? Thanks
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David Hunter
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I used size 8 on mine it is perfectly readable, and could be smaller I think.

Cheers
David
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KAS
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idmonfish wrote:
I used size 8 on mine it is perfectly readable, and could be smaller I think.

Cheers
David


Thanks. I will give it a shot.
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KAS
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One more question. If I make a deck for a game with just text, is there a way to share the design with others? It is not a gallery so I was not sure if I can do this. Thanks
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David Hunter
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Good question. I'd guess the answer is no, but I haven't tried it.
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kneumann wrote:
One more question. If I make a deck for a game with just text, is there a way to share the design with others? It is not a gallery so I was not sure if I can do this. Thanks
Ken, what you've described would be a deck design made in artscow's designer. There is not a way to share this. It was tried by many folks when people were first printing Free Trader, nothing seemed to work. It was even possible to see another's design, but to save it to your designs, or to purchase it wouldn't work.
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Joe Kundlak
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One crucial question (for me) which I have not seen anywhere (or overlooked cool :

Does the Free Shipping (with elligible coupons etc.) also apply for Europe? And/or what are the shipping costs to Europe?


Any Czech/German/Austrian/Hungarian/Polish/Slovak orderers with succesful deliveries out there who can tell what the shipping would be to here?
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