I made some cards this week. I don’t mean greeting cards or business cards. I mean baseball style cards but not about baseball. I’ve always had a fascination with cards. Not so much baseball cards but the general idea of trading cards. I like playing cards too. I like regular fifty two card decks plus I like collectable card games like Magic: The Gathering. M:TG is the the one that started it all but most people are probably more familiar with the Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon cards that kids get these days. You buy packs of them, put a deck together, and your deck fights your friend’s deck. Fun stuff.

I like games in general and back in my younger days when I hung around with more gamers we used to buy and play a few different card games. I don’t have a chance to play those games anymore and therefor don’t buy any new cards but occasionally I like to make my own cards. I even made my own set of fortune telling cards a few years ago. I made them not only conceptually but I printed them out and made a physical deck of them. That was quite a project.

Besides the conceptual and artistic work the fortune telling cards were a pain to make because that was before I bought a heat laminator. Instead I was using press-on lamination paper that was prone to not going down correctly or getting air bubbles in it. The paper wasn’t impossible to use but I had to pay attention and sometimes things went wrong even if I did. My success rate with it was probably over 90% but that means I had to redo almost one in every ten cards. That’s a pain in a forty eight card set. Or in an any card set for that matter.

The heat laminator is much easier to use. Turn it on and while it is heating up you place your piece of paper in between two sheet of laminate paper. The sheets are connected at one end so you can’t mess it up. Then feed the paper through the laminator and it heat seals it in a few seconds. No muss, no fuss, no concentrating on getting it right. I should have bought one of those years ago. But I was new to making trading cards then.

The cards I made this week are my “Moment in Time” cards. I developed these some years ago when I was looking for something to do with my street photography. These cards don’t serve any purpose except to sit on my desk an a little easel and make me ponder them. I take one of my street photos of a stranger or strangers on the street and make a baseball type card out of it. On the front is the picture and on the back is the time, date, and place I took the photo plus a couple of sentences giving my speculation about the person. The cards give me something to contemplate when I’m at the drawing table.

I had to streamline my process for making the “Moment in Time” cards this time around. I used to do the image work in Photoshop and the text and layout work in InDesign. That’s how most people would normally do something similar but I found that having to make a separate Photoshop file for each card I wanted to bring into InDesign was too much of a pain. I stopped wanting to make any because of all the drudge work involved. This time around I did the layout and text all in Photoshop and just had to hit print. It was much easier.

I print the cards on double sided matte paper. The printer lines up the backs and the fronts of the cards well. I just have to print the front, flip the paper over, put it into the printer again, and print the back of the card. It’s hardly ever off register. I think I liked my old Epson printer better though. I can’t seem to get the color the way I want it on the Canon I bought last year. I had my last Epson for six years or so, knew it well, and could get good color out of it. The photos I just printed with the Canon came out a little too yellowish for me. Maybe I have to use it more and learn what it can do but that’s a pain.

After I print the cards, front and back, I laminate them. That’s easy enough with the heat laminator but I still have to keep the dust off of them. That’s the main thing to look out for. Specks of dust or whatever landing on the paper. I quickly brush the card sheet with a non-static photo brush just to make sure they’re clean and then it’s off to the laminator.

Cutting them out is the most laborious task. This is where you can go wrong if you’re not careful. These “Moment in Time” cards are the tall size of trading cards. Baseball cards are 2.5×3.5 inches but the tall size card is 2.5×4.5 inches. I prefer the taller size for these cards so I am able to only get four of them onto an letter sized piece of paper. After they’re laminated I cut all four cards out by hand with an X-Acto knife and a metal straight edge. It takes concentration to cut them right along the seams so I have to be patient and careful.

The last thing I do with these cards is round the corners. That makes them look better. Square corners are amateurish somehow. I think because all decks of playing cards have rounded corners. I bought a corner punch to do this with. It’s a little plastic thing that you stick a corner of the card into, press down, and it cuts the corner off leaving it rounded. I press on the corner punch while holding a small piece of wood in the palm of my hand. This gives me more leverage and stops the plastic piece on top of the punch from cutting into my hand because with just ten cards and four corners each that’s a lot of corners to punch.

I’ve made other cards and printed them out, like the cards I made to promote this site, but I’ve also made cards that never got printed out into actual physical objects. Making a physical card is often the hardest part of the task for me. Or maybe it’s the least creative part and that’s why it’s hard for me. So sometimes I come up with ideas for card sets and make them up in Photoshop. Since there is no real reason for them to exist I don’t bother making actual cards. It’s just something I like to do. This week I made some real ones though. And it’s always a little more fun to see an actual physical card but I’ll probably continue to make mostly virtual ones.