Graphic Design for Collectible Card Games | Daniel Solis | Skillshare

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Graphic Design for Collectible Card Games

teacher avatar Daniel Solis, Art Director by Day, Game Designer by Night

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      1 Overview of Collectible Card Games


    • 2.

      2 Preparing Your Prototype


    • 3.

      3 Creating a Dingbat Font


    • 4.

      4 Designing the Card Frame and Variable Height Background


    • 5.

      5 Breaking Out Assets for DataMerge


    • 6.

      6 Rapid Iteration with DataMerge


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About This Class

Collectible card games are really fun, but they can be intimidating as a graphic design project. All those stats and variable elements! This lesson covers some advanced features of InDesign's DataMerge to easily create a deck of cards that you can rapidly iterate during your development process.

This class is a quasi-sequel to my prior SkillShare course Designing Cards for Tabletop Games, but if you have a basic proficiency with InDesign and spreadsheets, you should be all set. If you don't check out that course for the basics of using DataMerge for simple card designs.

At the end of this course, you will know how to

  • Create dynamic card frames for card games
  • Design your "dingbat" icon font
  • Automatically insert icons into lines of text with GREP

Feel free to upload your creations and ask questions!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Daniel Solis

Art Director by Day, Game Designer by Night


An experienced adventurer in the tabletop gaming industry, Daniel Solis' games "Happy Birthday Robot" and "Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple" were among the first successful game projects on Kickstarter. His card games "Belle of the Ball," "Suspense on the Express," and "Koi Pond" to be published this year. He's currently art director for the new Firefly role-playing game, based on Joss Whedon's much-loved TV series. He blogs about his fast-paced, iterative game design process at

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1. 1 Overview of Collectible Card Games: blue. Welcome to this course on designing cards for collectible card games. Specifically card games like Magic, the gathering or maybe Hurt Stone If you're playing a game like that. The's cards are unique among tabletop games and that they frequently have card effects that are written in text. Sometimes large amounts of text on relatively standard size cards, usually about 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches, with some variations based on the product. So what I want to do is go a little bit in depth into how to design these cards in bulk using in designs. Date Emerge feature. Now this is sort of an advanced course. Eso if you haven't used in design before or design cards and design, I highly recommend you check out my pre a previous skill share, of course, on descending cards for tabletop games, which goes very much in depth on the basics. How to use data merge how to set up a spreadsheet on someone what I'll cover in this course eyes more particularly the details that you gotta cover when you're working with C's G's, namely variable icons in text, how to use some pretty simple grip, uh, expressions to change the text for keywords, adding features like color and changing phones and that sort of thing without having to do anything fancy in the spreadsheet. This is all stuff that would be inside in design itself. So what I'm going to be using as an example is a sort of a CCG that I'm designing on my own . It's called Ala Cart. It's a racing game on. You could see some of the concept art here. Now, I haven't signed the card yet, so you're gonna be seeing how I do it from from scratch, more or less so let's get started. 2. 2 Preparing Your Prototype: first off, I recommend that you use the following resource is because I'm gonna be using them to for this prototype Kardec. First off, I would recommend you go to the noun project dot com in order to find any general icons that you may need. You can also go to Game icons dot net, which has a wide variety of very card game specific icons. The nice thing about game icons dot net is that they're all very consistent. They're all designed by the same pool of, I think, two or three designers so they'll look, insisting they all look like they could be part of the same game. Whereas a non project. You have a lot more variety, which is great because you can usually find anything that you can't find on game icons dot net. But it's also just a white variance on, and you may not get the exact same time off icon that you're looking for for your entire game. But that said, once you've got your icons, then you're going to eventually need to use this app that I prefer called aiko moon dot io . You can find it online. It's a Web based app that allows you to make your own custom dingbat fonts on set up ligatures. So we're gonna cover all that in late apartment. This course I also have already have of the bulk of a spreadsheet already set up. Now again, check out my previous course to see how how to set up a spreadsheet for designs. Date emerge. In this case, you can see that I've got icons here for rather have a column here for the name of each deck. I have a custom sprite that I have commissioned for for each deck. So far, I only have sprites for two of the decks, but you can see them here. They're tiny, tiny, tiny things, but they're designed to look like 16 bit card, 16 bit Sprite characters from Mario Kart, and you can see a little bit of that here, too. So those sprites are gonna are what I'm calling for here in this column. Each card will also have a number from one through five, and that's noted on this column. They also have a secondary number that's unique to each car to call the RPM, which is going to be used as a tiebreaker I'll talk about that in a second. I ever, if I need to talk about the game mechanics. Each card also has a maneuver type, which he may consider like a suit, for example, on. And so every individual deck is split up into 15 cards rank one through five, each number repeating three times. The next column calls for again unique Sprite icon things that that I have designed these were these were not final assets. I've just put these together in Photoshopped from some old sprites from the old Mario Kart games. Actually, the's air not finalize your only for a prototype. Eso don't expect these in the final game, but I like to have something on the cards when I'm making a prototype on. And when I finally commission the final art, these won't look like like this. So now that we've got the spreadsheet all set up, let's go ahead and drop this all into a playing in design document before we set up any card frames or any custom icons. Because I just want to see how everything is shaking out how much text we have, how small or large the text can be on how much room we have for art once this is all said and done. Okay, so I've opened up a brand new in design document that is 8.5 by 11. Just a standard letter size and I have attached an old actually told us no spreadsheet that I had from a prior prototype. So I'm gonna update this just so you can see how that works. Eso again Back when you first saw this all Hopefully, in my prior course, you just go down to file, uh, Google docks, by the way, because I just like using gold exporting with people online. It's just handy not save that. And I am going to say that in my support folder, along with the rest of my my current assets there aren't that many, but you can see them here. There's those sprites and the course images that got set up already replacing my old version. And you could see when I update the state a source that is gonna add all of these different items. These are all the columns that I had set up eso I'm using unhappy living sheet here because I'm gonna setting up a prototype PdF that has nine cards per page on. And the easiest way to do that is to start with a nap. Ellen Page and then using date emerges, merge multiple documents feature to make those nine cards. But before I get ahead myself, I just want to set up this first card and see how it goes. So I'm going to set up this text block to be 2.5 by 3.5, and I am centering it on the page just so you can see it a little more clearly. I'm gonna add a stroke to this. I don't only recommend doing this in a final and a final version. You should have a much more elegant way toe set up your bleeds, but because this is just a prototype, just because I'm doing this for for a lesson and it's gonna set it up here, and I'm making sure that the strokes are set up so that there is a inside of the of this object rather than the center or in the outside, there are lined to their line to the inside. Eso This middle one is the inside, and this one is the center of this once the outside, as a design helpfully recommends. So just to make that a little more clear when it's aligned to the inside of an object, the that stroke is gonna expand into the object. Whereas if you had set this up to be a line to the outside, expand to the outside of project object, brother, um, the reason I'm setting this up eso that it's a line to the inside is because sometimes state emerges a little wonky, and it'll and it'll register the outer stroke as part of the object, thereby making this object mawr than doing half back there and 1/2 which in turn causes it Teoh cousin design house and problems exporting multiple cards into the same sheet. So we've got this very simple text text block here. I'm gonna go into my spreadsheet and to start manually dropping in the text that I've got set up in my in my spreadsheet. Oh, forget that. I am going to assign the assigned each each little word to a different variable in the date emerged list here. So sugar here is supposed to be a name it's under. Make that name gonna select that number and gonna make that in just like this number. Makeup RPM. It's like this word. And make that maneuver this text and make that the effect. A soon as you start previewing in design, you can see how it will automatically fill in the variables from the spreadsheet. So, you see, I'm clicking here on this little arrow and you can see that each card is changing now, uh, so that the different effects in different words from the Spectator are, you know, now this text is a bit too close to the edge for my tastes on this again. This is just a prototype. So it's this is not gonna be anything anything to, uh too pretty here. But let's go ahead and start doing something. Doing some basic type on tape, back typography, treatments, apologies. Uh, so you could see whenever you have the data merge panel up on you have text selected in design will automatically select the entire section that that sort of as a variable. Even if you just click on one thing, it looks like that whole thing because you've got names elected or you've got, uh, the RPM selected Kinda handy, so you can see like, Okay, this text is not really in the document. It's actually part of just a part of the spreadsheet. Uh, so I'm gonna take all this effect text, and I wanted to be in the roughly in the bottom of the card so you can set things up like this. And this is pretty traditional, like you would probably expected. Expected. Do this. Just put a text window or text frame and you're in your document. Put it wherever you want. Have the text flow down as as you like. It's not my favorite way to set up ah card, because there are some cards. Just have so much more text than others. Say, for example, this this card here, the first cheese car here has a lot of text on it. And I want to make sure that my cars can accommodate card accommodate and amount of text that that is gonna be fairly loan or even just short and often what I find the best way to do. Uh, that, uh, is to take take a look at how these cards are working out. Make sure you've got hyphenation turned off and then see Oh, hey, look, there's some There were some over set text there, so I need to make this text meant a little bit larger. And I don't care for how this little widow is showing here. This one last little word eyes hanging off there. So I'm gonna set this up to have balance ragged lines. So there's that, uh And now the problem with with this is that no matter what, the text is going to be aligned to the top of this text text frame. So I'm gonna set up that to be in the center. Now, no matter how big the text is or how much text there is always gonna be centered within that individual text frames, you can see how this goes, goes up and down on both ends and kind of keeps the distance equal equal distance between the top and bottom lines of text. Uh, I'm gonna keep that this this sensor or this rather than serif font for now, because it doesn't really matter moment. Uh, this cheese name is is actually a variable and thankfully, in design remembers that. So this variable, I'm actually gonna put it down here because I need to have, uh, the names of each deck visible for sorting cards at the end of the game and beginning of the game, I want people toe get will tell really quickly with the, uh whose deck belongs to Who so from this prototype, I'm just making this, uh, this name, all caps, and there is a sprite that is supposed to go with each of these characters. Presently, Cheese does not have a Sprite set up yet, but I want to still set up, uh, what the sprite made look like, I'm gonna put that over here, has more effect. Let's go ahead and put that name on this side of the card. Give a lot more space to that to the actual car defects. Best select, uh, this image and assign it toothy sprang variable, and you'll see that it's empty right now because in the spreadsheet, I actually don't have a sprint set up for cheese yet because I haven't commissioned one yet , But if I go back to, uh, one of the prior cards, you see that sugar, her sprite is all set up just cool, and I should probably adjust that to be a little bit away from the edge that doesn't get cut off money. Cool. All right, now we've got the rest of these thes bits of text here. I'm going to take them out as a chunk here on. I'm going to make this quite a bit larger. It's called that Gotham Bull would make that basics again, making this Gotham black. And because you have to check these things from across the table, I'm making this number of bravery large. It's not pretty, but it does. It does the job. Same thing here, setting these up to be, uh, see. Call them for and that's just for now. It's not gonna be final or anything, but for a sick of a very plain and simple prototype, this is This is what this will do fairly well. You may recall that there is also a sprite that I'm using for for the maneuver. That's actually just a bit of terrain like this. So let's drop trump that over here on, and this image is going to have the maneuver Sprite variable. I'm gonna click on it right here. Cool. So now you can see that each card is going to have three image of the terrain that it's designed for here. So swerve is gonna have the swerving terrain feature. The jump is gonna have this broken bridge. Dash is gonna have that broken that straight away. I want to show you just really quickly because it was so frequently requested in my last course. Just a reminder of how to set up a document that has multiple cards on the same page. Uh, so you can see I've got in the create Merge Document dialog box here that I set up multiple records I'm setting up to preview multiple records. You can see that in each page. I've got nine cards set up. Now that we've got this prototype set up, let's move on to making variable icons in text using a custom dingbat bond 3. 3 Creating a Dingbat Font: to create a custom dingbat font, you'll need the Eiko Moon Io. There are a number of other applications and programs that will allow you to create a custom dingbat fund, but I don't find them nearly as intuitive as I go. Moon is so using this. It's Web based. Its use it in your browser. It's really, really handy. All you gotta do is go to import icons here and import your own icons. Now, there are a number of sets here that you can use freely. And if you want to just make a big bet fund out of there, ready made free icons that they've got set up. That's fine, too. But I like to use my concept my own. So I know that they're definitely consistent. So I'm just gonna select all of these on one thing that you have to do is make sure your vector assets are in S V G format. Not illustrator or not, GPS. It's very particular about using the SPG format and you can see here that got untitled set here. Um, so now that you have these icons uploaded, you're ready to proceed to the next step. So what I've got set up here is very quickly. Just put a quick little name here under the little hamburger. Information this is actually isn't gonna be necessary for for everything. If you come back to my community, remember your session and give and give you all the sense of icons they've already gusting up. But I'm just going to select each of these icons and go down to generate fund. And I'm gonna make sure I have ligatures activated ligatures our special characters from the world of topography that will automatically take any two or three characters that frequently impaired together Onda make them a single character. So if you ever see, like a 22 F 22 of character where the strokes kind of combined together, that's a ligature. You see examples of this over here, actually, with the F I now, in our case, what we're using ligatures for something a little more advanced, we're taking special keywords that we know for sure will never appear as part of normal text on making them are ligatures for for fun. So in this case, I'm gonna make the literature event for Banana Exponent X gonna make trophy X X X, and originally what I was trying to do was use brackets as ligatures. But the thing is, what we're gonna be doing after this point is using grip styles in designed to automatically change any instance of these This string of characters this is particularly teacher change into a character style that we've got set up that will use this fun they're making right now. The problem is, brackets are actually a a symbol that grab uses for particular expressions. So we want to avoid them. I'm just using normal characters here. So again, x x, no, those air That's never gonna Here's a part of another word that's you. That's okay. All that's set up, everything's cool there. I'm gonna go my preferences. Make sure I've got a funny name for this. I'm not gonna mess with any of these other things because that's mainly really Teoh using a front like this on the Web and not it's been a download. Save that, sending it in the theme support folder along with the rest of my icons, and you see that here unzip that file and you can't dig into that zip file and find the true type. That's the TTF that is the font file on in Mac. Whenever you open up, a true type file like this will show you a preview of the letters that are in there because we don't have any other alphabet set up for this fund. It's go look blank here. But don't worry, just go ahead, install it. You see the characters air here in the preview. These are the only characters that are in this fought. So when we go two in design, for example, let's go ahead and set up a just a random text field. Make sure there's no other styles or anything. Okay, so now what happens if you type the word kicks? Six. Well, right now, nothing is changing because this fall into is just many pro. But if we change that, want to the ala cart on? I could see that everything else has disappeared, except for the one ligature exponent X has been replaced with this icon, and you could tell that actually, Exponent X, those letters and that phrase are still here. It's just they're invisible, and they've been visibly replaced with this one letter. The nice thing about setting things up this way is that you can use your standard text field editor Teoh. Change the font size. You use character styles to change the change. The swatch. That's colors. Now, before I get into all that, what I want to do is make sure that I don't have to set up a separate text. Variable four icons from my main flow of text. So say, for example, I wanted to have banana the banana. I can appear in the middle of a sentence. I don't have to split up this sentence into two or three separate different variable cells in the spreadsheet. I want this all to be integrated. I want to be able to just type ex Banana X into the into anywhere in spreadsheet, and it'll automatically replace that keyword with the icon. So here's how to do that. I first have to update my spreadsheet to remove any instance of a open bracket or close bracket from the text. I don't want any of those to appear because they will activate grabbing time causing problems. So I'm just finding and replacing every open bracket and every close bracket on replacing it with an X. This will result in any bracket trophy bracket becoming X Trophy X right now. Re exporting that spreadsheet. Go back to my date, emerge and updating the data source turning on preview again. You can see that anywhere that I had the bracket banana I'm using Exponent. Okay, so now that I have updated the spreadsheet and I replaced those keywords with the proper combination characters Exponent X, that is what I'm gonna be looking for when I make my grip style in my paragraphs, though. But first, I have to make a character style that will have a fund attributed to it. Specifically, the icon found that I said you can use with Web dings or what have you, but because we have set up a custom fun, This is what I'm using. I haven't applied any other attributes to this character style. No colors, no size changes. Nothing like that because I really just want to make sure this is gonna work the first time to do it. So this is the character style I got set up. And the paragraph style I've got set up is called card effect on again. Haven't done really any edits to in this paragraph style. I just kept the same. It's just still Minion Pro. It still 12? Still 12 point font. Still 14. Really? What I'm focused on is the grip style here, and what I want to do is make sure that I got the carcass style icons chosen here and apply it to the string. That gonna put here now grip is bizarre, weird, And it's beyond my my personal skills skill set. And mainly because so often it just seems like it crushes a programming. But I have friends who are very knowledgeable. And also you can go to and designed to design secrets dot com and find lots of tutorials for how to use grabbing your own stuff. But it's from these resources that I found very simple string that is back slash b exponent X back Be that basically chooses specifically this word exponent X And look at that now automatically, whenever whenever right type of the the keyword exponent X into any string that has this paragraphs out the card effect carousel, it will be automatically replaced with this icon So cool, right? Yeah. Now that is only applying to the banana ligature here. I don't have any other key words chosen. So when we go to another page, you see X Well, X is not chosen here. Now I'm gonna expand this to include all the other custom icons that we've set up. I have to go back to my paragraph style and start adding some things to the grip style session. And I'm going to insert this character things vertical slash basically represents and for a statement. So what I'm saying here is look for the words exponent X or in this case, real X. Let's see how that goes. Hey, look at that sweet. I'm gonna go ahead and start adding the rest of my keywords. Okay, so that's all of minor key words here that will have the icons style capture style applied to any instances of these of these particular string of characters. So let's go through the rest of the book. Hey, look at that. So this actually is Thedc trophy character style. Rather, the the key word that I had in the very first card over here, you see extra Feet X in the spreadsheet at the end of the game earned three for each block your bank and Hey, look at that. I got to set up here. Changes. So that is how you said variable icons. No, you take us even a step further. Now, this is kind of getting crazy here. I'm gonna go with me on this one. But say you wanted to have different colors for each of these icons Whenever they appeared . What you would do is make new swatches say, for example, so you want Teoh Trophy to have a gold gold look like this, that you make a new character style, and I'm just gonna duplicate this one. See, now go back to my paragraph style and like my grips. And I'm going to actually remove trophy from that list of words and you see that it automatically updates and shows that extra Vieques is no longer a part of part of this group style Do Instead is go to icon trophy ins like that Carter style and going to choose backslash. Or is that four slash? I was forget extrude. Thanks. The other sporks. Okay, so I think our style has has been updated. So that theme the instance of extra Vieques is using the icon trophy carcass style which means that I can go my character style palette and choose all sorts of different colors and things white, black, whatever, in this case, gold. And when I go to other cards, it's not going to affect that that icon in any other card on Lee, the specific case where extra ex shows up will the color be, in effect, cynical, Cool. And that is how you can get some really interesting and useful things out of your variable icons. Now let's go ahead and actually make some cool frames for this thing and actually make it start looking good. 4. 4 Designing the Card Frame and Variable Height Background: All right, So let's start designing an actual really polished card frame and background for our card game here. What you see here is actually a sale street that I put together a while back. Teoh help promote the game. And I just kind of designed this piecemeal from various stock elements that I have from past research and just in my library put together just a bunch of these, like racing graphics and things, all these air hostess or vector and kind of piece everything together. So, like these, uh, these checker flags and various, uh, ST imagery like clouds and all that stuff. Uh, put all that together to make this sale sheet and you can see some concept art that was done. Ah, a little while ago that I commissioned to can show off what the game may look like. This is partly just for promotion, but also for my own benefit. So that without the constraints of an actual like game that I need to make, I just couldn't want to put some of the other just what would this look like? Is one to see what the brand, so to speak, would be what Fonds what I use and that kind of thing. So once that all that was done, I would I'm now a little bit more ready to actually go ahead and do something polished. So based on the assets that I have here, I'm gonna start making a pretty basic CCG frame first. And then I'm gonna add some elaborate elements into it, some textures and things on and hopefully show you how you can do it, too. Some of this is going to be kind of tedious to watch, so I'll fast forward through a couple of bits. But But hopefully I'll show you something that's really useful. So first, I'm just starting a new document here that I set up a preset. It's 2.5 by 3.5 inches, with a point to five margin, which is generally a safe zone for a card printed in most men structures and also a 25 bleed. That's best forward through a lot of this. I'm grabbing some of the assets from my original promo sheets here and copying and pasting them into a new car document on. As I paced the men, I'm putting them on separate layers so that I can manipulate each one individually without interacting with the other. This is basically just a mock up that I'm doing to get the rough sense of where certain things I want to be. You know how big they ought to be. And there's a love. It's Lord dressed up here. As you can see, I have this ground layer that I'm actually going to just abandoned in a few minutes. And but really, what I want to do is once I've got the gruff, rough areas laid out, I want to bring in some text from my original prototype bringing in here see how those those bits of text interact with the background, see where I need to edit and go from there, some copying some text over and re sizing this text block. And now that I realized that the text is very low contrast in the background, I'm removing it, and what I want to do is make a background that is inspired by some racing imagery that actually rises with the amount of text that is on each card. It's not aesthetic height. It's gonna rise and fall with the text part of that background is going to be a title bar, which I'm creating here just out of some simple rectangles. I'm adjusting some of the corner bubbles s so I can make this kind of simple looking racing shape that has these kind of doctor corners. Once that's established, I want to kind of create a chrome border around around this again. Inspired by some racing imagery. Eso here is how to do that. So I'm adding a chrome border around this title bar based on the chrome assets that I have in my stock photo library, using the grating palette to create some high contrast areas of dark and light just around that stroke. So this is essentially just a radiant swatch that I've made. I'm only applying it to the stroke, not to the fill for this object. And next I will be adding some checkerboard patterns to the inside of this title bar on, and I just want just a little more texture. Just so it's not just the flat orange now, the trick with adding texture or any kind of pattern into a title bars that you don't want to be super high contrast. You just want of the very subtle suggestion of a texture, so that just doesn't look flat. But you really don't want it to interfere with the text that is going to be over laid on top of that graphic. So I'm making a new layer here for for all the text. And I'm gonna test out some topography using some weird fonts that I've got from other sources. Let's see how that works. Whenever I when I was learning design, I would never, ever put a stroke anything, because it was just always taboo. But once you work in retail little bit, Once he worked in advertising, you kind of see the value and and doing some things that break the rules of design. But you just have to know what you're doing and why you're doing in this case. I'm adding a stroke here so that the, uh, that the text is is sort of its own object and doesn't doesn't get impeded by the checkerboard background. I'm adding a stroke that is gonna be the darker of the two shades that are behind it. Note that I'm not making this a black stroke, for example, is that just when you zoom out. It's just kind of a little too busy. Instead, I'm just gonna make this a little bit more natural so that it still stands out from the background. A little bit of back to go ahead with this simple strip still stands out from the background. Doesn't create a lot of high contrast dizziness that distracts from the actual text of the of the rule of the card. And I will even go so far as you make a drop shadow for this, we're gonna make that straight on not using that girl that black. What I'm gonna do is use that darker shade of orange that I've got because 100% visibility removing any of the blending effects because I want what would actually want is for this drop shadow to be solid. So if you can check this out making that nine degrees of that straight on and as I a distance to just drop shadow, you can see that it's really just because I've set the size to be zero and I have set the angle to be united agrees. All this does is create a solid version of the text just behind the text or wherever I want to want to put it. In this case, I don't want to be too far down. I really only want this to be maybe 1/2 point difference. So it will just add a slight little bit of texture in the background. Not really shadow so much as just a next ra shade. Now, looking at this, I am. I'm thinking maybe I can go black on that. Would that be now? Uh, no. Uh, maybe now maybe I'll just keep this orange on. Maybe Do you multiply? See, that looks like one thing. Teoh do whenever you whenever you're using funky multiplier effects and all that stuff is of to check your separations preview, which I often do because some printers have issues with multiple layers of ink overlapping each other on. And if there was multiple layers of ink and go over a certain what's called ink threshold, then you'll have problems where the doesn't drive fast enough so that it'll cause smears or cards to stick together even and cause terrors. It's It's not pretty. The pressure that I use has a fairly conservative in threshold. I usually just due to 38% threshold here. And if this was a problem over here in this drop shadow, this would be bright red on his fact. Let's check it out. Okay, so no bright red elements here, and I only check this whenever I do something funky like like that. And, uh and I'm nervous about it. So in this case, this is actually working out. Okay, Okay. So now that that's established here is what you do. If you want to make this header bar rise and fall with the base with the body text. Um, what I do is group this this text block with this stroke and this background. So they're all one unit have been a group them here by pressing apple G. They're all one object. You know, They actually collapsed into the uppermost layer here, and you see any object that you select in in design? We'll have, uh, this little doohickey here, this little this little square. It's so hard. It's hard to see if if you don't know what I don't know what you're looking for, but almost any object has it. You can see you see this over here. If I were to just make a a basic rectangle, even that when you have the black hair selected there, that little squares over there is always there. What that is, it's a little handle that you can use, and you can see that little T that's underneath the cursor right now. It's kind of following the cursor. If you drag that to any point in a text block, then that will create what's called a text anchor. Now a text anchor is kind of what it sounds like. It's this. It's a special character that is tied to some graphic or object or or even in the text block and the as the text flows, the text anchor will flow with it, which can be problematic, sometimes unpredictable. So, for example, let's see what happens when I put this text anchor into the in the middle of a sentence here. Now let's move this word So so far, it's cool. Um, but say our to you see, because I just hit delete there and if you want to, you can even show hidden characters. You see this little yet simple. That's the the the text anger that I just I just dropped in So if you ever want actually, just see the technique is that you've got that's that's the one way to do it. And so I don't want a text anchor to be right in the middle of a sentence. Obviously, what I want to do is be read the very beginning so that no matter how tall or short that sentence becomes, I can I can be sure that that the header is gonna be following it. And so I'm gonna take this little text anchor thing again, which, as you can see, has an anchor symbol on it now to indicate that it's actually being used as a text anchor gonna drag it over to the very beginning of this paragraph. Now, as I start leading, you see six blocks How big gets right and this can go as far as you've got the, uh, the original text window going. So in this case, this would go up pretty pretty far up. Yeah, cool. So there you have the basic idea of how you could drop in some some some backgrounds, Uh, or rather, some headers. No, no, backgrounds are another issue entirely because when you drop a text a text anchor into a book like this theme main issues that the object will always if it overlaps the text that's anchor to it will usually overlap. So as you can see as I nudge things down over here, it's actually overlapping the text, which is not something I want. If I was going to make a background that was a text anchor, uh, start fast forwarding again a little bit to make the background layer the background of this text anger to the text so that it raises or lowers. Based on the height of the text, I will have to also make it a text anchor. But the problem is that when you make an object a text anchor, it will actually overlap the text to which it is hankered on dso. If I just leave it as aesthetic image here, it will just keep that same hype regardless of how much text there is on the card, which I don't want. So here's the trick that I'm gonna be doing that fast boarding through here. I am actually taking this entire text frame, copying it, pasting it in the exact same spot. I'm going to get a different color, so I can tell which text object that I am actually working with, uh and I'm moving it to the to the back of the layer. So it's behind the actual text that I intend to read, and I am going to use this very simple rectangle as a placeholder for my background, and I'm anchoring it to this new text frame on a maker in that background. So that's at the very front of the of that of that paragraph. Essentially, what I'm doing is making two exactly identical text frames with the exact same content. The one in front is going to have the title bar. That is anger to the to the very beginning of that paragraph, where, as the text friend that is behind in the back, that will have the text background now because the background it is just like any other text anchored object, it will be it will be visible in front of the text to which it is anchored. We're just fine because I don't intend to see that text in the first place. What I really want is just the height of that text to correspond to the text that I have that is visible eso When I bring this into a data merge document on I used the text variables for this card effect through the variable will appear in both Those text frames are gonna insert both of them into that text into the each text frame so that the text will run a raise and lower. And it will manipulate both of those text anchored optics both the title bar and the background so that they correspond to the height of the text. Regardless of which cards in the remainder of this process was just a matter of design, I was trying to find some patterns and textures and things that I could bring in Thio Thio add some a little bit of interest and depth to the text background. I started sourcing some of the some of the more chrome elements that that I liked from the from my original ah stock library and used those as some inspiration for background for the rank that I'm going to put on every card on, eh? So I started doing some some simple layer effects that you can see here directional grade dance, that sort of thing creates kind of this object, but in the end, it actually decided to instead use a candy, uh, shape this kind of a spiral swirl pattern as the background for for my ranks on DSO. I decided to use that that's sent same basic shape and do some some site weeks to make sure that the text was readable, started grabbing some of the heavier elements that I had from my original from original promo sheet. Used that as the header for the entire card and start bringing some text again, taking some some of the original assets that I had in my prototype and some from my original sale sheet and seeing what I could, I could repurpose and reuse that they everything in the card would kind of stay consistent with the preexisting brand. Once that is all established, I'm ready to start actually breaking out these elements on and start doing some actual date emerge 5. 5 Breaking Out Assets for DataMerge: All right, so let's start breaking out these individual elements into the graphics that you'll be using to comprise your card, background and frame. So let's start with a six year turn off all these other layers except for the background layer. Uh, and no, to export this into my support folder is where all my support is on. I'm going to save it as an E. P s and they called it. Call whatever you want, but I like to be very thorough. My final names with the options have the up. I'm gonna have the bleeds enabled. So that is everything else is cool. All right? What that will do? Go back to the support folder. You can see this GPS that was built. It is actually saving on Lee. What's within the boundaries of the bleed? A Z GPS? Guess, by the way, you know, is sort of a generic file format for vector stuff. So the next thing here is that it doesn't exported. It didn't pick up any of these elements that we're outside of the boundaries of this bleed . They could see the line of over here tracing. So that's one part of the card background. The next part would be the text background header, that kind of stuff which have all kind of collapsed into this one layer eso Let's just take this one at a time here. I'm gonna move all of this text out of the way. See here I like to save individual elements of my car frames and graphics at a separate files, mainly just in the off chance that I ever need. Teoh show one graphic without having to show another kind of thing. So thats hole dialled gauge looking thing here that I think a new and I'm going to resize resize this talking to be the same size as the dial itself. All right, you can see it's a little bit smaller, actually, so they increase the size of that, Just okay, Maybe a little more. Okay, So first I'm going to say that as a just regular file, so called and say that has a GPS. In this case, I'm not going to use the bleeds because I've already got plenty of margin there. So what that does is save a new PS there. Now, if I wanted to have different colored backgrounds of depending on, like, a different type of card. Say three suits have swerved, jump and dash. It would have different colors for this. Then I would just duplicate this page. And I'm gonna fast forward to a bit of this process because it it is a little bit to use to watch. I'm making a new page for each iteration of this dial in the same little document that I've created for all the dial graphics in the generation of changing the color scheme, there's gonna be the original orange one. There's going to be a new a green one and a new blue one. I'm doing some slight tweaks to each one toe hopefully make them each distinct. But once I've got them all set up, I'm going to take this document and exporting E. P s. And what innocent will do is make a new E. P s file for each page. So I've got three different dials here, so I'm gonna export again as a GPS on save those each as separate files, again removing the bleeds. It's gonna happen as each page is gonna be exported into a separate s and you can see them here this was the original. One minute that I saved this was the original on the rest have been labeled dia one. Dial two, Dial three. Let's best forward again because I'm going to be repeating the same process for every element of the car design that it just made. Some taking out the's sidebars and taking out the header bars. I'm breaking out all that stuff on, saving each one of those into separate in design documents that are size to the scale of those objects. A Z you can see here on but I'm gonna do is now that I have those individual elements broken into their files. I can do the same thing I did to the dialogue. If I need to make different versions of the title bar with different colors or different shapes, I can do that and still keep the same general proportions of the title parts that I've created prior to this. This may not come up, but it's sometimes useful if you're planning expansions or new versions or promo cards. What's that broken out all of these elements into their individual AP s files. I can start putting together a brand new car document that is, that is where we'll actually build our Kardec from. Basically, this is the same process as building our prototype. We'll just drag all of the PS is mean to basically get a placeholder mock up of Blair Carter look like just bring in one of the headers one of the dial's one of the title barters with text graphics enough so that you can get a general sense of placement on. Then you can start revising your spreadsheet and reconnecting all of those variables to those individual image place holders, which will do right now. Okay, so we've got this spreadsheet here on day. I am going to insert a column to the right and cold, and I'm going to correspond theme colors of dials to a particular type of card read. Seems like it's fast. So I'm gonna call that a dash for with Green via Dash for sure. I'm gonna call Blue Jump. Since it goes into the has been, in fact, just gonna copy this entire column, bring it into my text editor, make sure it's set the plain text, and I'm gonna do a fine replace. Any instance there is faced with a cart Niall underscore. Three Place all and see Swerve maybe seems like a dangerous thing, so I'll make that the red one. And that's that's one So two replacing the instance of and that leaves green to be dash Go that I think this entire text on Bring it back here. And as you can see, this is kind of a quick way. Teoh. Make sure your key terms match up with the corresponding images. I'm continuing this process kind of in a best forward, basically is adding new columns wherever there's new content that needs to be added to the card based on my new car design. Andi. I'm also going to use the same process Teoh Any art that is going to be going into each of these cards. You can repeat this process for any visual elements on your card, including the art, which I'm doing here. So I'm making a new art column, labeling it at heart, dropping in the final name for the Earth that I want to appear on each card. In this case, the same portrait's going to appear on each player's deck. But if you want to make different art for each car you could do that too. Once all that is done, then you can start connecting the spreadsheet to your document. So with all that done, I think this spreadsheet is pretty ready to go. So I'm gonna save this back into the support for replacing the spreadsheet. Already got going to select out of the data merge panel. That spreadsheet You can see all the variables you can't even see. Actually, that because I copy pasted the text blocks from from my original prototype that the effect variable has already been a son into the to text blocks that don't mess with them too much . What you need to fill in our this title, which I will call effect title. You see that variable name inserted there? I'm going to make this rpm, which is too big to of to fit into that space. So that's why it looks like it disappeared. But it will be there. Trust me. Uh huh. I remember what I call this see category. So that would be category. This It's over. This is no is in. This is the sprite. This is the bar. This is the sub. Are it? Looks like things are disappearing here. But it's only because I'm signing each of these in image place holders, Teoh. Certain variables. And when I turn on the preview, then you can You can actually see what those variables are on each card. So a title bar. Now that we're kind of wrapping up Theis Day, emerge into this document, we're getting pretty close to the end here. What do we do now is take a look at how you can do some some spot checks in some trouble. Shooting, once you've asked, actually previewed and exported your date emerged. Document those Those kind of rapid changes are really what make using date emergence spreadsheets so valuable whenever you're designing any kind of card deck in particular complex one like a CCG. 6. 6 Rapid Iteration with DataMerge: eso had a bit of an error here. The a Z. Even as you can see, I didn't have a paragraph style set up for this thing. So it turned ex trophy X into just plain text. I didn't have the It wasn't assigned to that particular character style that would turn that would turn this into the custom from that we just made. So I am going to make a new paragraph style just duplicate artifact. But call this the story just like it is my specialty. And I am going to change that from Gotham too. Picture of island. It's a funny name for a metallic and character color. I'm gonna make that paper. Okay. Uh, I suppose actually, don't need that I That those Coghlan's there, So probably easiest way to remove them since they're taking up some precious horizontal space in my a little part there, I'm gonna just copy, paste, find, calling and replace. Also, there's nothing left there. Replace the text, my spreadsheet down with spreadsheet again. Okay. And then I go back to design update. So the preview again, who also? Yeah. Okay, again, this is this is kind of the thing that you want to test pretty pretty frequently and make sure that you're doing some pretty thorough spot shacks and proofs and stuff. Uh, so we've got some issue here not sure why engine is not showing. That's because I didn't put engine in there. Okay, all right. Saving that spreadsheet again. You'll be doing this pretty frequently as you start making your card card decks, making small tweaks in your spreadsheet as you as you find little things you to fix. But because you've got this date emerged, it's so much easier to do. Do their fixed. And you can see that even with five lines of text, everything just just flows. It looks it looks nice. It looks like it's ready to go. OK, cool and fast boarding to rest this process. As you assemble your car design, you may see some elements that don't quite fit what you had in mind on thanks to each of these elements, being separate GPS is you can edit them individually without interfering with any other elements of your car design. This makes rapid iterations so much easier, thanks to designs date emerge. So I wanted to jump ahead here and show you what world This ended up. So this is the current prototype that I have right now. As of the recording of this skill share class on and a bunch of the assets have been linked into a date. Emerge here. You can still see the brother. The same structure that I had in my in the last spread She they just saw on. And I want to just jump back Teoh Page one here and show you all the different variables. I've got Sprite here. I've got the name of the deck here. I've got the category type. I've got the r p m I've got the number Got the little dial, think and in particular what I want to show you was how I have reformatted the card but still kept the same principles that in the lessons that that I that I just showed you in the class Whereas originally I had the text kind of flowing in from from below and rising up in play tests I found that the text really needed to be a top the card so that when played on the table, the cards can be stack and sort of staggered. So that you can see all of the information that's relevant on the card at once without having to, like, move cards over to see what's underneath and all that stuff. So what I ended up doing was, for one thing, went to a this layout where the text is up to the top. But I still kept the whole idea of having a text background that raised or lowered based on the length of the text. But in this case, it's actually the bottom of the background that that is actually going up and down based on the length of the text. I also took a step further and made a variable background. A. So you can see here this background it's green because I have correspondent that with the the trophy type of of card and you can see I've actually removed the word trophy from anywhere on this card and also removed that title bar that originally had. It was just too much stuff when I started adding things to the top here. So what I have instead done is done sort of a a color coding for the type of type of effect that the the card is showing. So in this case, a trophy gets this green background that has this very subtle laurel wreath in the background. Let me go ahead and do a high quality display so you can see the details here. Nothing too fancy or anything. But, um, there you could see a little more that read background with little bit trophy and all that stuff. So going to the next card, you see that the if there is an immediate effect in this yellow background, this is actually the original text background that I had created for the last prototype. Let's go to a different card here, and you see, this is a different character. So I put a difference right here on. And this is a market card spread, so that will not be in the final version. So don't lawyers. Please don't don't get me, um and you say I have a different background here for the four engine types and types of cards. So if it's an engine, it comes on this blue background and let's go back a little bit. You can see what hazards ended up looking like a swell Oh, and you can see how far this this text block can go actually, with six lines of text, it all goes down but it automatically the text back on automatic goes down. You can see with the general height of that of that background, I could probably even add three or four more lines of text into this without without reaching the the very, very top of that, uh, text background being visible holder. I won't go that far. That's that's That's an extreme case. And typically I would want to design a game that wouldn't have that much text. So here is what the hazard background looks like. It's this kind of reddish tint and all of this. All these text backgrounds were basically made the same way that I did the dial in the earlier this lesson where I just took, took the original text background, made a new in design file and then duplicated that page and made motile pages in each page changed the color scheme, changed the texture background. So in this case that this kind of like flame looking pattern, um and then exported that in design document into E. P s, which saved several different gases, and you can see how how those GPS has change here in the links palette. So over here, keep an eye on that. That item you can see how, when it goes to another page clicks, you can see that that is now injured. GPS. So once you've got all that set up and you and you've created all these cards, I want to show you just how to really simply make your deck. Um, you can see that all around here beyond the bleed I've set up, I'm set up all these E p s files and move moving everything around and you can see with the dotted line every single image variable that has been set up and its color coded by the layer that put it on. But just like any other data merge document, you could just go down to create merge document. And I'm gonna create a single layer and that'll take a set. Teoh spool up. Um, once you've got everything set up, it's really, really handy. Teoh, don't do a spot. Check in and make sure that your ink thresholds air set up correctly. Seen my prior lesson on skill share about how to do that. Also make sure your you've got no typos on your cards. This is a good time. Once you once you have exported everything to send off your deck to a fresh set of eyes and make sure that everything is as clear as possible. So in this newly data merge document, you can see that, uh, I've exported it. This is actually a new in design document. This is the original which has all the data merge elements. And this is the emerged document with which doesn't have a date emerged element here, um, and so has all those layers. But now every card is its own page. Whereas if you compare that to the original data merge document, there's only one page that a page that has all of the berry blast sets. Um, so now you can go page by page in see how everything is overall. I hope this course has been helpful for you to figure out how you can design your own collectible card game very easily. Using in designs did emerge. Please share your thoughts on this skill share. Of course. Ask questions of poster projects. Leave review. Definitely on. Really. Just have fun designing your own collectible card game deck