Build your own TCG 3 – Handcrafting

Draw, colour, cut and paste your way  a playable TCG. You may, however, not know where to start or require a little inspiration to get the engine roaring. Have no fear. As a lifetime crafter I can tell you it’s a lot less daunting than you may think. Don’t have artistic abilities? No worries. Don’t have any of the “pro crafting goodies” you see tubers and other artists use? No problem. Starting is a breeze and acquiring the materials is even easier. Most times I may not cost you a dime. YA! FREE is good! But if you don’t mind spending a little something, get the materials that matter.

Dollar and discount stores will be your source for inexpensive, useful materials. From scissors, glue, cardstock, paper, colouring and writing tools, tape and stickers. You name it, they got it (for the most part). If you don’t have any drawing abilities you can always print from the web, cut and paste artwork to your cards. Classic crafting 101. Add cool boarders, character art and symbols to make your card ultra custom. Your checklist of the base materials are below.

Common materials

There is no real list of tools per say to use that you don’t already know about. Pencils, pens, markers, scissors, glue, tape, sleeves and come creativity are your standard needs.

Cutting tools
Most of the materials required at this stage will probably be kicking around any common house. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE should have a scissors kicking around. Whether your printing these cards our or drawing them on loose leaf paper, it is a must have. If you happen to have a guillotine or hobby knife, then you’re a little better off. Quick, straight, long cuts can be achieved with a metal ruler and an X-actor blade. When it comes to a few cards, scissors should be enough, but working with a sheet of cards? Get the blades out.

Blank paper
It is what it is. Blank paper for writing and or printing on. Have designs already on the computer and just need to print them off? You’ll need paper. I find myself printing just a template of the cards and penciling in the details so I can tweak them later if need be. Combined with card sleeves, you got yourself a playable, editable deck of cards for prototyping you very own game.

Index cards/Poster board
Either or gives you a card type foundation for your design work. They take marker and pens well, but don’t shuffle as nice as natural playing card. If shuffling isn’t a game breaker then drawing on blank index cards are great. Whether it’s for prototyping or for hand drawn final card, this is a winning approach in my books. For a better shuffling experience, and to provide protection to your precious hand drawn work, card sleeves for the win.

Drawing tools
You have to draw something! And you have to colour it… maybe. If you do, make it cool, make it fun, make it yours. For those that have drafting chops, get to the art my friend. Sketch, ink, paint, colour, accessorize with stickers and glitter or foil or whatever you thing is super cool. Hand-made game cards are collectible and incredible. Don’t be limited by your tools.

Adheasives
Glue. Tape. Two primary uses; 1) binding the front and back of the cards together, and 2) pasting cool add-ons. Now double sided tape is preferred for instant bonding, but glue stick or white glue can work just as well. Heck, even if you had spray adheasive you can go that route – though it can get messy.

Playing Cards
Cheap playing cards from a discount store or ones you may have lying around the house are a great foundation for prototyping. They also make good backing cards to your handcrafted designs. Marking them up with non-smudging pens or inks is a sure fire way to get your details down on card so you can get to play testing early. This is by far my favourite way to get to play testing phase without worrying so much about visual presentation. It’s a good practice to make sure the game works first before investing time to create/curate art.

Blanks
Let’s say you don’t want to fuss with all the cutting and pasting. You just want to get to the point. Well, blank playing cards can be purchased at your nearest education materials or art store, or on your nearest internet enabled device. Places like Amazon or Ebay have tons of blank trading/poker cards. Just Google the term and you will find more options than you can shake your bank book at.

Sleeves
As mentioned a couple times in this list, sleeves are imperative to protecting your work as much as it is for shuffling. Nothing says trading card like sleeves. Simply head down to your local game shop or pop up Google and give your keyboard a little tickle. Or flip open Amazon or Ebay to broaden your sleeve search. Trading card sleeves come in all different sizes and colours. Find the ones that work for you or that are common among the type of games your TCG falls inline with. Different styles and types of sleeves are available. Artwork, opaque or transparent backings are just some of the options.

Now it’s time for the inspiration. DIY tutes are a plenty on the web.Here is a short list of places to help you get started and even polish the greatness you have brewing inside.

DIY and How-To

Instructables – You can always find amazing tutorials here from other creators. This search turned up many but the first 3 (during the time of the search) are valuable tutes for information and process.

YouTube – There are thousands out there. You already know how to use YT to find cat videos and movies, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding tutorials and tips on creating TCGs. Hint – keywords to use are “diy + tcg + trading cards + how to”. Here is a great search list: https://tinyurl.com/yavxrgr4

wikiHowTo – Another DIY / How To site with great users and easy to follow resources. Make use of this place as well as Instructables. Images and step by step walk-throughs may not be for all, but it’s a great place for ideas and construction. Here is a general search list: https://www.wikihow.com/wikiHowTo?search=tcg

And as always any search engine will provide you billions of hits. The purpose of this post is to narrow down some of the more popular (in terms of search results and user feedback) tools and resources to access. That should be it for now, but as always, have fun and stay motivated. The best TCG/CCG/LCGs are produced from patience and the love of gaming. Game on, my friends.


Find all the links to the whole series right here. And for any tools and services that you feel are worthy to mention, please let me know in the comments below.

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