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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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Creating Guardians Cards, Part 1: Tools & Design

This topic comes from a suggestion by Mr. Yves-Arnaud Jouret, who wanted to make his own cards but had no idea how to go about it. I agreed that some kind of tutorial might be helpful to the Guardians community. Now, I'm no expert on Photoshop, and there may be easier or better ways to do things...but my cards seemed to have impressed a lot of you, so I must be doing something right. The methods I use I basically figured out on my own. Those with more expertise are encouraged to step in with suggestions.

Ok, on to the tutorial. You'll need a few things to get started. These are as follows:

    The card templates from Phil's site. Without these templates everything I've done would not have been possible. You can find the templates here. The templates include borders for Mortal, Elemental, External, Event, Magic Item, Spell, Shield Terrain, Standard Bearer, Stronghold Upgrade and Downgrade, and Terrain. Also included are icons for all three type of bribery, red and green channeling bars, and the command card symbol. The template shows the use of the Weidemann font, but I did not receive that with my version of Photoshop and I didn't want to pay for it, so I used the Times New Roman font instead. This required slightly different sizing methods than are listed on the template, but we'll cover those during design.

    Photoshop. There are several other paint programs, but Photoshop is the industry standard. It's a little expensive, the only Windows copy I found on eBay is $400, if you use a Mac there are a few cheaper copies.. I bought mine just for Guardians work but I use it for so many other things now, it has been worth it. There are several versions of Photoshop; I'm using version CS2. If you're using a different version you'll have to figure out the equivalent commands. I have used Photoshop Elements in the past, it's good for digital photography but not as powerful for art. I can't say whether or not it will work for this.

    Although you can use a mouse to paint, I decided to buy a Wacom graphics tablet. The precision of the tablet is crucial to making your image look good. The techniques I discuss will involve using the tablet. I bought a midrange model that cost me about $250 (with a student discount) from a school supply internet store; here is the same model at Amazon.

    Finally you'll need some artwork. Always remember that artwork belongs to the artists and is their means of income. If an artist states the artwork is not to be used without permission, it is best not to use it. I try to support the artists whenever I can; I have bought several art books or calenders from Brom, Parkinson, Maitz, Hildebrandt, etc.
      Once you've got Photoshop and graphics tablet installed, it's time to create the card. Sometimes you have the idea for a card and have to go find the artwork, like CJ's .sig cards. Sometimes you have a piece of artwork and you have to design the card around the artwork (like most of the Champion's Odyssey cards). I started with a book by Brom that had lots of great artwork, and I had to think of all the stats and text that support that art. At first I was just making cards that could destroy something. That is too easy and often makes cards overpowered. A better card design is to try to think of something that hasn't been done yet, like Zeenah, who blanked out Standard Bearers, or my Standard Bearer that negated immunities. But always keep in mind not to make cards TOO powerful. They unbalance the game and can make it less fun.

      Determining whether or not a card is too powerful depends on the context. For instance, a couple of people complained that Destroying Angel was too powerful. After reading their arguement I agreed and changed the text. A whole shield of Destroying Angels couldn't be beat. Wraith Lord, on the other hand, was changed slightly after some complaints but was still very powerful. My reason for doing this was simple: every set includes at least one creature capable of taking down a Guardian. I wanted my set to do the same, so Wraith Lord was unchanged. But Wraith Lord is really the ONLY card in the set powerful enough to defeat a Guardian, so in the context of the entire set I felt the ability was fine. I also felt a Wraith Lord should have been more powerful than a Wraith. So that's what I mean by context.

      A helpful guideline for card design was provided by Luke Peterschimdt, on Phil's site. He said the following:

      "The basic "formula" for the average card is this.... Vitality = X, Off-Color Bonus = 1/2X, one Bribery icon, no channeling, red CMP bar, no ability. So if you create a card with Vitality 12 and only give it an off color bonus of 2, it should have a good ability."

       I've run up against a time limit and I'll have to continue in the next post. I'm sorry I didn't get into the actual Photoshop design but that will be next. Until then, get your materials and designs ready to go!

      1 comment:

      Anonymous said...

      Hey Brian !
      I can see that you are a man of your word. I wouldn't have expected anything less from you. I'll be reading your futur posts with profound interest.
      Best regards.