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Subject: POD printers for a easily making a LARGE a deck of cards rss

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Eric Etkin
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Howdy -

I'm trying to get some prototypes printed... I've used Superior POD in the past and been very happy with the results, but I have a deck pushing 200 cards, and the idea of having to do a front/back layout on a manual template is making me nauseous.

Is there any POD service out there that does decent quality cards that allows some sort of bulk-uploaded auto-template? Something I don't have to tediously futz around in Photoshop with?

Gamecrafter seems to be the same manual deal as Superior POD. Artscow is confusing as hell (and I'm not even sure they allow custom fronts/backs).

Anything else?
 
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Andrew Rowse
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Printerstudio can handle decks of that size (actually either 198 or 216), and you can either have all cards share a common back or use the drag and drop interface to set different backs.
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Eric Etkin
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Thanks!
 
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Eric Etkin
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I'm trying to do some test uploads to printerstudio now...

The damn site keeps cropping my images, and I can't figure out why.

My 2.5 x 3.5 cards are already designed with a bleed (2.625 x 3.625), but no matter how I shrink, crop, whatever, printerstudio keeps zooming in on my card and putting a "safe bleed" window way past my original bleed area.

Arrrrrrgghhhhhh. Why can't I just upload some images? Why is this so complicated?!?!

Original card:


Obnoxious printerstudio zoom in with "bleed"
 
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for printer studio I had to put cards in the center of a larger white canvas to get them to orient correctly. It took some tweeking to get just right, but that was my method.
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Chris Schumann
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2.5x3.5 cards is a little misleading. They really want 2.49x3.49. They also want 1/8" on EACH side of the card for cutting margin and another 1/8" on EACH side for safe area.

Your image has 425.2dpi across and 419.4dpi on the length. (OK, that's 2.5x3.5, but you already have bleed... the point is that they differ.)

If you want 420 dpi, your canvas should be 420 X 2.74 by 420 X 3.74 or 1151x1571 pixels. The cut area will be 420 X 2.49 by 420 X 3.49 or 1046x1466 pixels. The safe area will be 420 X 2.24 by 420 X 3.24 or 941x1361 pixels.

Give that a shot and tell us how it works out!
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Sturv Tafvherd
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MOTHDevil wrote:
Artscow is confusing as hell (and I'm not even sure they allow custom fronts/backs).


They do have a custom front and custom back. Comes in two flavors, actually: you can have 54 custom fronts + 1 custom back; or, 54 custom fronts and 54 custom backs.

Unfortunately, I can't really recommend them for anything but small orders. You can do a lot of work (and guesswork) with their online upload and editing interface ... in the end, someone on their side might put your work through some kind of "artificial intelligence" and it will just adjust it to what they think is right. If I understand it right, the AI was supposedly designed to work with photos of people and places ... so it might even try to change the colors to make it look right.


I'd suggest working with PrinterStudio ... I haven't tried them yet, but the designers who do a lot of DIY around here seem to like their work.
 
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Eric Etkin
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Whizkid wrote:
2.5x3.5 cards is a little misleading. They really want 2.49x3.49. They also want 1/8" on EACH side of the card for cutting margin and another 1/8" on EACH side for safe area.

Your image has 425.2dpi across and 419.4dpi on the length. (OK, that's 2.5x3.5, but you already have bleed... the point is that they differ.)

If you want 420 dpi, your canvas should be 420 X 2.74 by 420 X 3.74 or 1151x1571 pixels. The cut area will be 420 X 2.49 by 420 X 3.49 or 1046x1466 pixels. The safe area will be 420 X 2.24 by 420 X 3.24 or 941x1361 pixels.

Give that a shot and tell us how it works out!


Thanks Chris!

Do you know off hand if there's an easy way in CS3 to do this in a batch? If I have to go in and manually adjust every card... I might as well just do this with Superior POD templates.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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I haven't tried it myself ... but I wonder if NanDeck can perform the resizing+margins for you.

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Eric Etkin
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Stormtower wrote:
I haven't tried it myself ... but I wonder if NanDeck can perform the resizing+margins for you.



Hmm... I'm going to try and do this as an "action" first, but I'll check out Nandeck if I start pulling what's left of my hair out.
 
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James Bass
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I use Irfanview for batch alterations. It can add or remove pixels from individual images.

www.irfanview.com
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Eric Etkin
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Ok... I re-sized my canvas for 2.75 by 3.75

And still.... I'm getting cropped.



Not nearly as bad as before, but it's still happening. Does anyone with printerstudio experience know how rigid that bleed area is? Right now, the bleed is cutting off the left edge of my icons... Is it a sure bet the cutting tolerances are so low that will actually happen, or am I safe uploading these?
 
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Chris Schumann
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I found the tolerance to be pretty tight. That is, in my opinion, that card looks great. The cut will happen at the outline you see. The actual cards I got were all accurate to less than 1/32" off center.
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Andrea Nini
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MOTHDevil wrote:
Stormtower wrote:
I haven't tried it myself ... but I wonder if NanDeck can perform the resizing+margins for you.



Hmm... I'm going to try and do this as an "action" first, but I'll check out Nandeck if I start pulling what's left of my hair out.

Note: nanDECK has a module for uploading images directly to TheGameCrafter.

You can find some info here:
http://www.nand.it/nandeck/tut_i.html
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Eric Etkin
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Whizkid wrote:
I found the tolerance to be pretty tight. That is, in my opinion, that card looks great. The cut will happen at the outline you see. The actual cards I got were all accurate to less than 1/32" off center.


Awesome. Ok - I'll upload these at that canvas size then. Thanks!
 
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Nick Hayes
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MOTHDevil wrote:
Ok... I re-sized my canvas for 2.75 by 3.75

Yes, those cards should turn out just fine.

Once you're done, make sure to save your working file as a template for future designs. That way you won't have to go through all that trouble again.
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Eric Etkin
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Anyone have experience with PS's "linen" finish? Good? Bad? Ugly? I'll be demoing these cards at PAX, so I want them to look as nice as possible.
 
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SnipedintheHead
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MOTHDevil wrote:

Anyone have experience with PS's "linen" finish? Good? Bad? Ugly? I'll be demoing these cards at PAX, so I want them to look as nice as possible.


I just placed an order with them for these and I should be getting them any day now. I'll hopefully be posting pics and my impressions of them when they arrive.
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Eric Etkin
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Cards arrived yesterday from printer studio, exactly when specified in the initial order (so... about 4 days to make and another 3-4 for shipping).

I'll try to post pictures when I have access to decent lighting (which is hard to do when it's overcast all the time....).

Anyhow - I ordered 198 cards with the linen finish. Some quick thoughts as follows:

- Quality of stock is excellent. Corners look great. Linen looks great... I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between these cards and those of a mass-printed game.

- Registration is tight. Cards were cut consistently. My only gripe here (further info if you scroll up in the thread) is the futtzing required to get a standard 2.3 x 3.5 card with 1/8 inch bleed to fit their template. It took some trial and error, and I had to create a script in CS3 to format the cards. At the end of the day, the "safe area" PS requires is much, much too generous and was misleading.

- Color saturation and depth is not up to par with Superior POD. This may have to do with the linen finish or CMYK to RGB jpg conversion (when working with Spod I send CMYK PSD files), but since I have no other type of printer studio cards to compare, I can't say for sure.

All told, the cards in general look great, the detail is fine, though not quite on par with Spod. The main point of contention is the color depth - the colors in general just look washed out and not nearly as vibrant as Spod's print job. Still good looking cards, especially with the finish, but the beautiful color palette my graphic designer provided is somewhat lost in translation.

So, Printerstudio advantages:

- Generally easy to use and update interface. Once you have the bleed area figured out, it's painless, but there's a learning curve. Just be aware that the red box PS suggests for the "safe area" is very, very conservative.

- Super quick turn around with good, pro packaging.

- Linen finish option is near-pro looking.

- Registration and card cuts are consistent and clean.


Printerstudio disadvantages:

- Color depth is somewhat washed out, giving your cards a flat look. If you design for personal or private use and ue RGB instead of CMYK, this might not be an issue. It may also not be an issue with non-linen finish.

- No (obvious) way to share a project so others can access your cards for personal ordering (I'm testing a workaround for the TactDecks: Reign of Heroes PNP).

- Detail level and "chrome" not quite as good as SuperiorPOD. SPod is still the best-looking POD out there.

- Price level a little bit higher than others (though coupon codes and discounts are abundant). For three decks of 198 cards with linen finish, I paid just under $60 USD. Shipping was free (for orders over $30).







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