I like to make cards. Baseball or trading type of cards. I mention this because I made some recently. I use them as giveaways to get people to go to my website. I don’t give that many of them away but if I run into someone who is interested I can hand one out. Like a business card. I like trading cards in general and find it fun to make my own.

Back in the 1990s I used to buy trading cards but only get them every now and again these days. Maybe once every year or two I buy some cheap cards on eBay. This past winter I pulled the trigger on a “Woman of James Bond” lenticular card set. Those are the kinds of cards that have a few images on them and when you move the card from side to side it appears like the people on the card are moving. It’s a little animation. What’s weird about these lenticular cards is that they’re printed on clear plastic. That made them hard to see. It was only when I put a white piece of paper behind them that I was able to see them clearly. I found that odd. Probably why it was only a ten dollar set. And they were chase cards. So obviously no one was chasing them anymore.

My cards are printed on my home printer. It’s easy to do once I set up a template for it but it’s the template that’s the tricky part. Not calculating rocket trajectories tricky but feeding lots of paper through the printer tricky. My cards have backs and fronts and I have to get them to line up. So I print out an outline of the front of the cards for placement, flip the paper over, and then print out an outline of the backs. This never works the first time. I have to go back and nudge the outlines on the back a little bit. They print it again. It usually take half a dozen tries to get the cards to line up correctly and often things go mysteriously wrong but I can get it eventually. And once I get it done I’ve got a template that works for all cards the same size.

After the template is finished (for 2.5×3.5 inch cards by the way) it’s just a matter of picking out artwork. Well, you have to have a design for the back of the cards too. I guess I skipped that part since I’ve been using the same back design for a while now. It takes some time to come up with something but that’s not hard. It’s just one design. It’s easier than making all the art for the fronts. Not that I make all the art at once. I’m picking art from all the art I’ve done over the years so I don’t do any specifically for my giveaway cards. That makes things easier.

It does take a little doing to pick art though. I have a lot of choices but it always the cropping that’s a problem. Not all my art has the same proportions as the cards I’m making so I have to cut the sides or top and bottom of of some art. It’s all done digitally so there is no fear of ruining the physical art but often a crop in the wrong place can weaken a piece of art.

There is also the tedium of filling up the template. I have to pick a piece, go find the right digital file of it, paste it into the template, resize it, crop it, and then repeat that until I have nine cards on the page. It’s not dragging rocks up a hill but it’s not exactly exciting either. I try to mix things up and get a variety of stuff on one page. Plus I rarely make only one sheet of cards. Usually I like four or five sheets for the variety. That’s gives me a much bigger job to do but I like the results.

One good piece of advice I can give you is to print out one page of card backs and then one page of card fronts. Both on the same page. There have been times that I’ve printed out five pages of card backs all at once and then started to print five pages of card fronts after that. I thought everything would be fine since it wasn’t a new template but everything wasn’t fine. I didn’t even look at the prints until the second one was out of the printer. It was somehow misaligned. One of those things that mysteriously goes wrong. I had to start from scratch and make my template line up again. It was a lot of paper and ink wasted. Now I always check the first printout even if the template has worked fine in the past.

Now it’s time for the laminator. If you don’t have a laminating machine they only cost about $20 plus another $10 thrown in for some laminating pouches. That’s the plastic. You put the printout into the plastic sleeve/pouch and run it through the laminator. This part is pretty darn easy but make sure there is no dust or grit on the paper before you laminate it. Just a precaution.

The last step is to cut out the cards. This is most work and my least favorite part. I use an X-Acto knife and a metal ruler to cut against. It takes some practice to line the ruler up in just the right spot to cut against. Take it slow and concentrate. My template has the cards butting up against one and other so I only need to make one cut between the cards. That would take two cuts if they weren’t butting. But I have to be extra careful to get the cut right or I ruin two cards.

One last step that I’ve been skipping lately is to use a corner punch on the cards. I used to like my card to have round corners like a playing card but lately I’d preferred them with sharp rectangular corners like a baseball card. I think the art looks better that way. A corner punch is a little hand held thing that you put paper in, press down on, and it cuts the corner round. It’s convenient but it’s tough going through the lamination. It takes a lot more pressure. I used to press down on it with a small piece of scrap wood rather than the palm of my hand because I had to do it so many times in a row that my hand hurt. The corner punches also get dull fairly quickly cutting through laminated paper. Another reason I stopped rounding my corners. But I’m still making cards. They’re kind of fun.