Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Make a Baseball Card

1981 Topps #290 Bob Boone

I recently received an e-mail from blog reader Jeff, who asked the very good question, "How do you create a custom card template" using a vintage Topps baseball card design? He's thinking about entering this racket himself, so I thought I'd share a few secrets. Actually, they're not really secrets and I'm not a graphic designer in real life, I just play one on this blog.

I use very, very basic graphic design software - MicroSoft Picture It!, which is close to being about 10 years old and is probably just a few short months away from becoming completely unusable and obsolete. At some point in the near future, my custom card making gig may require a short hiatus while I try to learn a new software package. Using my software, here's how a custom baseball card comes to life:

Step 1: Scan a baseball card from the year for which you want to create a custom card. Jeff's e-mail referred specifically to the 1981 Topps design, so that's what I'll use in my example here.

Step 2: I open the scanned image in my software and I begin the process of wiping it clean. I use a tool called "cut-out" which removes all the extra stuff and just leaves me with a blank template. Before I remove any text, I find a comparable text and copy over the existing text. This way, once I wipe the original card clean, the new text remains in the background, at approximately the same font, size and color of the original text.

2006 Chachi #8 Mike Lieberthal

Step 3: Once I have my clean template, it's easy to drop in a picture of a current Phillies player and update the text to match.

The baseball cards I make are not for sale - they're strictly for recreational use and enjoyment. (So please leave me alone, Topps.) For additional fine examples of other custom baseball cards using existing historic templates, please visit the excellent Goose Joak and White Sox Cards blogs.


Wrigley Wax said...

Just be careful where you get your pictures from. I got an email yesterday demanding that I remove from my blog a card I made. I found the picture from a google image search, but apparently it was a photo he took and he was not happy. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the 100 people who read my blog are no threat to his profit potential with a picture of James Russell (is there a profit potential with James Russell??)

I deleted the card and made one with a different picture.

Matthew Glidden said...

Interesting, wonder if custom card makers can safely stick to non-commercial shots from Flickr. Definitely a smaller resource than GIS, but at least it's a straighter line between author and re-usability.

(Speaking of vintage Phillies looking for a custom card, check this one.)

1911 Tom Madden on the Phillies

Wrigley Wax said...

The picture I got called out on was from Flickr! So I guess you have to be careful there, too

Steve Gierman said...

I've been lucky in that respect (so far). Any images that I've found are usually either old enough or common enough to use without question.

If I see an image that is definitely a personal shot, 99.99% of the time, I will ask the owner of that image if I could use it for one of my projects. I haven't run into anyone that's said no yet, but I haven't found myself in too many of those situations.

Jim said...

I'm in the same boat. There are a lot of great pictures out there I'd like to use, but if it's not a publicly available source, I've backed off. At least I've backed off sharing those creations on here . . .

WW - Your orginal James Russell card is now a super-short print!

Cards That Never Were said...

Did you ever find a replacement for MS Picture It?

Jim said...

I'm slowly learning the ropes with Pixelmator on my iMac, but Picture It! is still chugging along on my old PC.

Anonymous said...

Quick question what kind of printing paper do you use? Thanks in advance.

Jim said...

In the past, I've just used normal HP Photo paper and then adjusted the print settings to print 9 cards to a sheet. I've toyed with the idea of using more professional-grade cardboard stock, but I've never pulled the trigger on that.