Tag Archives: DIY

DIY Trading Cards, Part 3a: Hologram Cards

If you haven't already, please see the preceding articles:
DIY Trading Cards, Part 1
DIY Trading Cards, Part 2: Making it Physical
DIY Trading Cards, Part 3: Specialty Cards

Now that you have mastered the art of making a standard card, you are ready to add some flair. One of my favorite parts of opening a pack of cards is finding a neat chase card like a hologram.
A hologram card is a total of four layers: front, back, hologram and paint.

You might have never thought about this, but your printer doesn't print white. It uses the white of the paper to make any shade that needs it. To make the hologram cards, we are going to use transparency paper, pretty much any kind that works with your printer will do. I used this Laser Transparency Film.

There are lots of choices for hologram. Hobby Lobby seems to have the best (only?) selection of 12 in X 12 in hologram sheets. If you check often they go on sale for 50% off. At $0.99 a page, that is one of the best prices I've found. Also check out Dollar Tree; the one near me has hologram gift bags which are good for two sheets each. This is what I am using in the example. I also purchased a roll of gold wrapping paper that works well.

In order to get the proper colors and to keep the hologram from showing through your image, you will want to paint the back of your image. I use a combination of Acrylic Paint
and a White Marker.

Remember, you want to paint on the back so that it reads correctly when you're done.

I start by taping off along the edges so I can get a crisp line.

It is at this point that I take out my paint and go to town. Two coats here is not a bad idea. The darker your colors, the less you really need to apply the paint. Conversely, the lighter it is, the better job you should do.

After you peel all the tape off, you can fill in with your paint pen.

A couple coats here is good too. You want to make sure that you have enough.

Once you are done, turn it over on any non-white surface. You want to see where you painted outside the lines. You can use an exacto knife or similar to scratch off unwanted paint. Once you are done, line up the front and back sheets as before and staple.

Place your hologram sheet in between and glue it all together. Make sure to press down where it's still transparent. The paint is going to keep the transparency just a little bit away from the hologram paper, and you want the glue to make a good hold. After the glue has set, cut as before. Since this is a little thicker, apply extra pressure to the sheets to keep them from slipping while running the blade.

DIY Trading Cards, Part 3: Specialty Cards

If you haven't already, please see the preceding articles on making trading cards at home:
DIY Trading Cards, Part 1
DIY Trading Cards, Part 2: Making it Physical

Now that you have mastered the art of making a standard card, you are ready to add some flair. I created some specialty cards, and here are my howtos:
DIY Trading Cards, Part 3a: Hologram Cards
DIY Trading Cards, Part 3b: Memorabilia Cards
DIY Trading Cards, Part 3c: Puzzle Cards

Next up: DIY Trading Cards, Part 4: Packs

DIY Trading Cards, Part 2: Making it Physical

If you haven't already, please see DIY Trading Cards, Part 1

Obviously, you could use any of the online card-making services. That is if you want to spend $3 on a single card or have a reason for 50+ of each design. I, however, don't need that, so here is how I do it.

Take the PNG file (or JPG, however you saved it) and place as many copies on the layout sheet as you want to make. I have included the native GIMP file and also saved to Photoshop.
Layout Sheet_9 cards_crop.xcf (130 KB)
Layout Sheet_9 cards_crop.psd (1.63 MB)

You are going to print out one sheet each for the front of the card and one sheet for the back.

Each image should overlap the black line one pixel all the way around. If the borders don't match up from left to right, it will probably show up when you cut. This is your chance to fix it.

Remember, when making the reverse sheet, if you are doing different kinds of cards, the two sheets will be back to back. So, a front of a card on the top left will match up to the top right of the back card. Make sure the correct ones will match up. Save these again as PNG.

To print these out, you want some sturdy high gloss paper. Something in the range of 150-200 g/m2 will do.
If you have access to a color laser printer, this Laser Glossy Brochure Paper will do nicely. If you're using an inkjet, I expect this will do fine Brochure & Flyer Paper. If you don't have a printer to use, any print shop (Kinkos, Office Max, Office Depot, etc) should have this type of paper available to you at reasonable prices.

Print this centered, and at 600 DPI. Check through your color and quality settings. You probably can increase these to make nicer looking cards if you want to.

After they are printed, place the two pages back to back and check one last time that they all match up. Now hold the pages up to a bright light and use the black lines along the edges to line them up. Once you've got it, hold them tightly so you don't lose the lineup and staple along one edge in two places.

Now outside, away from anything you don't want glue on, use some General Purpose Spray Adhesive. Apply a light, even coat across the inside of the paper and smooth together. Leave this to set per instructions, preferably under a stack of books to get nice and flat.

After they have set, you are ready to cut them out. I use this Paper Trimmer. I like it because the ruler is magnetic and it helps hold down the paper while you are cutting. I also use the inch marks to get precise cards. A good straight edge and a rotary blade work fine too.

First thing I do is a rough cut on each side so that the black lines are all the way to the edge. This helps me get exact measurements.

Next, line up the lines on the correct inch mark and slice away. Remember, the cards are 2.5 in X 3.5 in. Whenever possible, measure your cuts from the line, not from another cut.

Next Up: Specialty Cards

DIY Trading Cards, Part 1

I've always loved trading cards. There is something about the combination of the art, collecting, chase cards and the form factor that I really like. The price of cards keeps going up so I haven't been able to keep up like I want to. I still always end up buying a box of something when I go to a comic book convention.

This led me to see if I could make my own trading cards from home. Here is my guide for Do-It-Yourself trading cards. I'm going to write the first couple articles as though you are doing a one-off, single card. This will simplify it a bit. In later articles we will look at some specialty cards, packaging, building a whole set and finishing touches.

First, I will talk about designing the cards. This is probably the most difficult step since there are so many possibilities, and I can't tell you which path to take.

The first thing, obviously, is to have a subject matter. It can be friends, family, coworkers, vacation, anything.

First, you'll need to design the front of the card. Here are some files to get you started. I have included the native GIMP file and also saved to Photoshop.
017_Kevin Harbin.xcf (4.61 MB)
017_Kevin Harbin.psd (6.39 MB)

The dimensions are important, 750 px X 1050 px. This will give you a 2.5 in X 3.5 in card at 300 DPI. I've tried with 600 DPI and I didn't think I gained anything.

I like to keep the front and back of the card on the same file. This is partially because for this type of card I use the same image on the front and back and this allows me to make sure I use the same picture in the same place. The layers that start with 'ft_' are for the front of the card and 'rv_' for the back.

Play around; find a style you like. Maybe you want to look more like baseball cards from the early '90s. Go for it; Google search is your friend. One design note: (which you will see I don't actually follow for my reverse cards) the border on the left side needs to match the border on the right side. This will help hide cutting problems later on. If you actually use the same color all the way around, you can hide even more.

A couple of little things you can do to make it feel like a real card are using a logo and numbering the card. This will help tie the cards together.

The back of each card can either be unique for each or have a standard bit about you and what you're doing. Again, totally up to you.

I always save a copy of my front and back as PNG when I'm finished.

Next Up: Making It Physical