Welcome to the Guardians CCG Page

This is a site dedicated to the Guardians collectible card game released by FPG in the mid '90s. This was a great game featuring beautiful artwork and a complex battle system. The game is now out of print and some cards are extremely difficult to find.

Here you will find alternate rules and game mods (including solo play), homebrew cards, and links to other Guardians sites.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bringing Homebrew Cards to Life, Part 1

Seven Seas. Event Cards. Champion's Odyssey.

All are homebrew creations, in that they do not exist as an official release by FPG, and do not exist in the physical world. They exist only as virtual images.

The purpose of this post is to document my efforts to bring these cards from the virtual world to the physical world.

I started with the Seven Seas cards I downloaded from Phil's site. I downloaded the 3x3 pdf files, and also the jpegs of each card. I was ready to start printing, right?

Well, not quite. If you want them to look and feel like other cards, you need thick paper. A trip to the local Office Max was fruitless - the thickest paper I could find was glossy photo paper. The cards have a sheen to them, but they are not glossy, suggesting they have more of a matte finish.

Luckily, there was a FedEx Kinkos not too much farther away. There I found card stock, made by Neenah Paper. The part# is 04961. It is Ultra Bright White, with a Smooth finish, 28.76 M weight, and one pack has 250 sheets. Total price was somwhere between $20-$40 (I can't find the receipt).

I got home and immediately printed a sheet on my Canon MP210. This is a combination inkjet/scanner that helped me save desk space and up until now had suited my needs. Imagine my disappointment when the black levels printed out poorly, giving the image a washed out look. The black background of the Seven Seas Guardian Kam'ron actually looked dark gray when compared to a Guardian from the game. Poor black levels seem to be a common problem for inkjets from reading around the internet. No amount of changes in Photoshop could make it better

My roommate has a high-end inkjet, an Epson R1800. So I tried that, thinking my printer was too cheap. Same problem - terrible black levels, although the images were not as washed out. Bummer!

The next day I went into work early, and when no one was around, I printed the images on a HP color laserjet. Success! Great black levels, and the finish had the matte look I wanted.

But now a new problem had occurred. The printer gave me a warning that the Acrobat 3x3 sheet would not fit on the page (this seemed to be unique to the HP because my Canon never gave me that message). Changing the margins when printing still gave me the same warning. Cropping the image would cause some of it to be lost, so I had to use the "fit to page" option. The printed images showed that they were noticeably smaller than regular cards, probably due to choosing fit to page.

I decided to make my own template for printing, making the layout 2x2 instead of 3x3 to make sure I had plenty of room to print without the fit to page issue. I have Photoshop installed on my home computer, so I had to bring my old unused copy of Photoshop Elements into work and install it on my PC. Once I had Elements running, I created an 8.5" x 11" new image (use 300 dpi, not the default 72), then I opened up 4 of the jpegs.

Starting with the first jpeg, I used the retangular marquee tool to select the entire jpeg and selected Copy from the Edit Menu. Then I selected my new image (I'll call it my image template) and selected Paste from the Edit menu. I repeated this for the 3 remaining jpegs until all 4 were in my document. Each jpeg was a layer in my template (this is by design - do not merge layers). I turned on the Grid (in the View menu) and Snapped them to the grid (Also in the View menu). At this point it looks something like this:

Printing worked great! For some reason I still got the "some areas are outside the print range and will be lost" message, but I printed anyway and the results were perfect. I saved the template as a photoshop image so that the layers would remain intact. I called it "Seven Seas sheet 1".

Next, I opened 4 more jpegs, and repeated the steps above. I pasted each new image into the template, giving me 8 layers. Using the Move tool, I would drag a new image over the top of a previous image. When I was done I had only the 4 new images visible, as the 4 previous images were hidden underneath. I then deleted the first 4 layers, leaving me with only the new images. I printed and saved as "Seven Seas sheet 2".

I kept creating sheets, but stopped printing them. Once you do the math, printing 4 cards per page will take almost 50 pages for Seven Seas, and then there's Event cards and my homebrew cards...in other words, I'll get in trouble printing that many pages at work (they keep track of that sort of thing). So I have 2 options: take it to Kinkos, or buy my own color laserjet. A friend once told me Kinkos refused to print images he brought in because they were copyrighted. If so, buying a laserjet is my only option. Also, how much does Kinkos charge for a color print? $0.10? $0.50? $1.00? If it's that high, it might be worth it to buy a color laserjet, as they have become pretty affordable.

After a trip to Kinkos, my efforts continue in part 2...

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