In this brief tutorial, I show you how to use Powerpoint and Gimp to create quick renders of your cards that you can use for campaign pages and your rule books. This tutorial assumes you’re using something like The Game Crafter’s templates and that the cards you’re looking to render are in individual image files.
So you’ve seen those rendered images showing cards splayed out or with reflections? You don’t need any specialized software if you’re already have Microsoft Powerpoint and a copy of Gimp.
Rounded Card image in Gimp
The first thing to do is snag the proper-sized card with a rounded border. The Game Crafter template show you the trim line (denoted in red on the template). The trim line is the theoretical location that the cards will be cut and for our purposes exactly where we’ll cut. It turns out that for Poker cards, that line is exactly 35 pixels from the edge of the image.
Use the template for a sanity check.
For our own sanity, let’s enable the template as the top layer with an opacity of like ~10%. You should just barely make out the template over the card. Make sure the template layer is visible by checking that the eyeball is lit up.
Now let’s set the “selection” to the entire image. Press Control-A. You should get a line around the entire card shown by a moving dashed line.
Shrink the selection.
You can now “shrink” the selection to get just the cut card by click “Select->Shrink…”
You’ll now get a small popup window. Enter the value “35” and make sure the units is set to “px” (for pixels) and make sure “Shrink from image border” is marked.
The moving, dotted line should now encircle the card image at approximately the trim line.
Make the selection “rounded.”
It stop here, we’ll get a perfectly rectangular card. Most cards have a curve along the corners. To get this effect, click “Select->Rounded Rectangle” from the menu bar.
Now enter a Radius (%) value. You can play with the following value, but I’ve found that 10 works pretty well. The larger the number the more round the entire rectangle becomes.
Save for Future Use? (Optional)
All of the preceding steps only need to be done once per card. You can save your selection as a “Channel” so that you can always redo it with just a single click. To save it, simple click “Select -> Save to Channel.”
This will add it to the “Channel” menu. You can then always re-select it by right-clicking on the “Selection Mask” and clicking “Channel to Selection”.
You can also now just drag and drop the Selection Mask to other images rather than recreate the same selection mask.
At this point, turn off the template by clicking the eyeball. You don’t want this in your final images.
Copy the Image
With the appropriate part of the image selected, and the template hidden, press Control-Shift-C. This copies the selected area of all layers. IF you just press Control-C, you’ll copy only the selected layer.
Making the Rounded Image Pretty with Powerpoint!
Open Powerpoint, create a blank presentation.
Paste the image
The image is still in your Clipboard. You can paste the image by pressing Control-V. The image will be huge because it was created at 300dpi, roughly three times what Powerpoint is expecting.
Resize the image to make it manageable.
In the Ribbon go to “Picture Tools” -> “Format” and look for the little Height/Width fields. You’re going to want to scale these by changing the “Height” to be the actual size of the card. For Poker cards, they’re 3.5 inches. You don’t need to change the other value, it will keep it proportional for you.
Add a Reflection
At this point, you can do whatever you want. However, we’re going to add a common request: a reflection. To do that, select “Picture Tools” / “Format”. The select “Picture Effects” from the ribbon. Under Picture Effects, select “Reflection” and click “Half Reflection, touching” in the top middle under “Reflection Variations.” Hovering over this option will give you preview. You can use any of the options though, including the ones with a bit of separation.
Add 3-D Rotation
You can also “rotate” the images so that they appear slightly turned. This is a nice way to cram a bunch of different cards into a much smaller space. To do this, select “Picture Tools” / “Format”. The select “Picture Effects” from the ribbon. Under Picture Effects, select “3-D Rotation”. I pick the middle-right option under “Parallel” called “Off Axis 2 Left”.
Copy the Image
You can then select your image, click Control-C to copy and you can use it wherever you want, including pasting it into your rule book or into an image you’re creating for a Kickstarter campaign page.
Multiple Images at once
Another useful feature: you can bring lots of card images into Powerpoint and then apply the Picture Effects to all of them all at the same time. To do that, just select all the images (holding ctrol and click each individually or ctrl-A). You can then apply the steps above to all of the images at the same time. This results in a consistent presentation.