This page is about creating game and scoring cards based on existing cards you may have for your Pinball game. This isn't about creating custom game cards, but rather, how to replace your beat up, dirty, torn, etc., existing cards and print them on card stock and then laminate them to protect them for years to come.
Computer - use your computer to edit/create your cards. The computer doesn't have to be all that fast, just a decent enough speed with some photo editing software. As of late 2007, I am using a dual core system with tons of disk space but a 1 GHz system can work fine.
Scanner - I use a Microtek scanner with a Firewire cable for faster transfer speeds, but a USB scanner should work just as well. The scanner will be used to scan your existing game and scoring cards.
Photo Editing Software - I use Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements for editing my images.
Laminate Sheet - I use 8.5 by 11 inch 3M or GBC laminate "pouches" to place the card in for hot laminating. The size is actually larger than 8.5 by 11 because the pouch needs to be larger than an 8.5 by 11 card. This will give you a laminate on both sides that is clear and easy to use. The pouches come with a piece of "cardboard" with a flap that holds the pouch in place as it is fed in to the laminator. Without the protective cardboard, the laminate would probably get wrinkles or would be jammed when trying to feed it in to the laminator since the pouch laminate is very thin and flexible until it is heated by the laminator which makes it stiff.
Laminator - I use an electric cold-press and heated laminator that I bought at Office Depot to laminate the pouches with a printed thick card stock. I paid about 75 bucks for a GBC Document Laminator that is a cold/hot laminator and use it on the laminate (hot) setting for laminating the game and scoring cards. I use the cold-press setting (the heated element is turned off) to laminate drop target and spinner decals as shown here.
Scissors - I use regular scissors to cut out each card by hand. I've used paper cutters but they seem to cut at an angle sometimes so I just use the scissors.
So those are the tools, now it's time to go through making your new game cards step by step.
Scan An Existing Game and Score Card
Since I often buy Pinball games that need to be shopped, I usually replace the game and scoring cards with new ones that I make which are colored cards, or like the originals, white. The cards are often dirty, torn, liquid spots on it, or faded, so I make new ones to freshen up at least that part of the game. I scan a card at 300dpi using black and white unless the card has some color in it in which case I scan at 300dpi with 32 bit color. To make things easier, I lay the card I'm copying face down on the scanner and place a light pink copy paper over it. This gives a pinkish background which helps show the edges of the card. Using a black and white scan, the background color comes out grayish. You could use any color of copy paper you want, I just happen to use pink as a background because it was laying around and I keep it near the scanner for future scans. The point is to use a colored paper as a background color so you can discern the edges of the card for later when you use the photo editing software. Using a white piece of paper for the background doesn't always allow the edges of the card to be easily viewed when editing. Note that the background colored copy paper can also be used behind targets, spinners, or anything else where the edges need to be shown.
I use the software to first rotate the image so it's horizontal (use the guides to make sure). This is because the card probably scanned at an angle and you want it to be straight so you can easily line up the text you will create with the existing text. Then I use the crop tool to remove everything just past the edges of the card. This is easily done because we scanned with a colored sheet as a background which will reveal the edges of the card.
Next, I use the text tool and insert text above the existing text on the scan. I then try and match the font and point size the best I can to try and line up the text I typed right over the existing text of the scan. I find that Arial, Futura, or Tw Cen MT fonts work well for cards. Just experiment with the fonts, point size, bold vs. regular emphasis, and text spacing, and you can find one that is close enough for your new card. You can drag the text box around on its layer so that it overlays the underlying text in order to position it correctly. I insert text (which creates a new layer each time you insert text) over each line of text on the scan rather than using carriage returns and trying to get that to match up. So it's one text layer for each line of text on the game or instruction card. Line each layer the best you can over the underlying scanned image.
Once I have all the text created over the underlying scan's text, I measure the existing card with a ruler, select white as the color that the photo editing software box tool will use, and draw a box using the measured dimensions. For some cards this may be a 6 inch wide card by 2.25 inches high (this is the size for a Gottlieb card for example). A Black Knight card is 6 inches wide by 3.25 inches high. Card sizes vary, so measure your existing card and create the "box" using Photoshop that matches the width and height you need.
Once I have the white colored box (send the layer to the back) and the text overlaying the card, I delete the original scan layer. It won't be used anymore and was only used to determine a matching font, point size, and placement for each line of text so you no longer need it. Then I draw another box slightly larger than the card size using a gray color for the box tool. I send this layer to the back and its purpose is to provide a background so you will know where to cut out the card after it's printed and laminated. Once finished with this step I "flatten" the image so it's a single image rather than all the layers of text, the white box that is the size of the card, and the gray box that is behind the white one to show where to cut the cards later after laminating.
Since I probably edited 3-ball and 5-ball instruction cards, I create a new canvas that is 300dpi and 8 by 11 inches in size, and then drag the newly created 3-ball and 5-ball cards on to it. I do this because I don't like to waste card stock and laminate which would happen if creating a single card. I also create several scoring cards that will be dragged on to another 300dpi 8.5 by 11 canvas. Once again, this is to get as many cards as possible on to a single sheet of 8.5 by 11 card stock. That's about it for creating the new card which is a duplicate of the original. This is much easier than using various Photoshop tools to clean up a scan (which is what I used to do and can be very time consuming).
I look at the game the new cards will go in and pick a color or two or three that matches the colors of the game's theme. I use mauve, yellow, bright green, orange, and blue colored 8.5 inch by 11 inch card stock that you can buy at any Office Depot or other stationary store. I don't use regular weight colored copy paper because it's thin and they turn out pretty flimsy even when laminated. I also print the cards on a white colored card stock since some folks prefer leaving the cards similar to the original white color. I print the cardstock typically by using a separate feeder in the printer that handles thick card stock. I use either a laser printer (better results) or an inkjet works fine as well. I have both types of printers but like the results I get on a laser printer. Once all the various colors of card stock are printed, I'm ready for laminating.
Begin by placing your card stock in a "pouch" of rather thin laminate that is soft until it's heated when it will become stiff and clear (originally the pouch looks somewhat opaque but will turn clear when heated). The only trick to a laminator is feeding the protective cardboard with the pouch (pouch has the new 8.5 by 11 inch card stock inside it) in to the pinch rollers of the laminator. Once it grabs on to the protective cardboard, it will pull the cardboard/pouch in to the laminator, so you better have it lined up correctly, or it will pull through at an angle which will ruin the card. In the beginning I'd do this wrong now and then (didn't have it lined up correctly when the pinch rollers grabbed it and started feeding it in to the laminator crooked) and I ended up having to disassemble the laminator to remove the cardboard/pouch. Not fun.
Note that when you cut away the excess laminate from the edges of the card that you can save the extra material to use for bookmarks for you or your friends. Since I often use different colored card stock that matches the game, the "bookmarks" are rather colorful and are waterproof due to the laminate on them.
(click any picture to enlarge)
Well, this about wraps up the whole process. The time-consuming part of this effort is using Photoshop to adjust the image.
Remember that the card sheets I create are used by me in my games. I don't sell them to others as some may be tempted to do. Sometimes I get tired of a particular colored card set that I created and I swap them out for another color. I also may swap one color for another when I place another game next to a game with colored cards that may have the same colored game cards in it and I want to have some variety. The process is so easy (but still time consuming) that making the extra colored game cards can come in handy when this situation arises. I put the spare cards in an envelope and store it in the game box of the Pinball game.
Hope you found this useful. Any questions or constructive criticism is welcome. I'll make changes to these instructions to make them more clear if I receive some good tips.