Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How to Make Magic the Gathering Proxy Cards

A friend of mine and I have been doing Old School Magic for a few years on and off now. There was a point where we decided it'd be fun if we could rock the all power cards that were legendary when we were young fellas that played MtG. This post is the result of that desire.

Making MtG Proxies:

Be sure to read all the way through before trying this. The troubleshooting section at the bottom has
some hints that will make your life easier to know up front.


1. Strip Card

Supplies: Acetone, papertowel.
Strip card on a hard surface; such as glass or something acetone won't wreck.
Also, a surface that if you get excess acetone on it you can blow air on it to dry it immediately.
If you do this on a pourous surface you'll have parts of the back of the card inadvertantly
stripped as well during the stripping process.
8th or 9th Edition cards strip easier than any others.
This is where most of the work in this process is; the card stripping.

2. Prepare the card.
Supplies: Golden Digital Ground Clear Gloss, cheap 2" foam brush, hair dryer.


Wipe the back of the card quickly with a damp paper towel to remove acetone residue.
Put a squiggle of digital ground on the front of the card, spread longways on the card with brush,
be sure to cover evenly and completely.
Turn hair dryer on high, blow card dry. It's best to hold it flat side up for this, so there's no drips.
The hair dryer will not only dry things up faster, but it will also keep the card from curling as bad.
Put another squiggle of digital ground on the card, this time brush it evenly on shortways.
Turn hair dryer on high, blow card dry.
The goal is to have 2 coats of digital ground, both having been brushed on perpendicular to one
another.
The foam brush reduces brush strokes significantly, and the hair dryer will also pop the tiny bubbles that the foam brush sometimes makes.
Wash your brush, and set it out to dry for next time.
Once completely dry, the card is ready for printing.

3. Find card picture.
Go to: magiccards.info
That's the only site you need.
Search for the card name.

Select the card set you want it from, and save the picture off.

4. Prepare the image.
Download free: GIMP2, or use whatever image editing software you want.
Open card pic.
Set canvas size to 300 x 433.
Move image to recenter it.
You need to move it 6 pixels left, and 6 pixels up to get it centered right.
Do not resize image.
Save image off as a new JPEG with the highest quality possible.

You essentially just removed the border.

5. Make card carrier to go through printer.
Printer, exacto, normal piece of paper, scotch tape, masking tape, pen, rules with millimeters on it.
A printer with a back load feature is a must. Else the page will have to curl around inside the
printer, and you'll get jams and all kinds of loading inconsistencies.
My printer is a Brother MFC-J885DW, it works great.
Open the new, altered image from step 4.
Open the page set up under File in the Gimp 2 software.
Set the left to 3" and the top to 4".
Print a copy on a normal sheet of paper.
Take your pen and draw an arrow on the piece of paper, really big, indicating which end goes into
the printer. You'll save yourself some confusion later by doing this.
Measure 3 mm on each side of the printed image, and the top and bottom.
Do 2 measurements on each side (near top and near bottom), and one on the top and bottom.
Mark those measurements with a pen.
Take an exacto knife and cut out the center of the printed image from the piece of paper. Leave
about 1/4 of the printed image on all 4 sides.
Flip the paper over. Put two pieces of masking tape down the length of the page, so that they
overhang the the sides of the cut out opening you made, so that you can stick a card to the front
of the paper.
Put a piece of scotch tape over the top of your cutout, on the paper, but not overhanging it, and over
the 2 pieces of masking tape. This will prevent rips in this spot later.
Flip the paper back to the front, and put a piece of scotch tape across the top of your cutout, not
overhanging it, that goes most of the way across the piece of paper.
Make sure none of your pieces of tape have any bumps, wrinkles, or bulges. You will have issues
printing straight if this is the case due to paper load issues.
Lay a stripped magic card down inside the marks you made on the page earlier. The masking tape on the back should hold the card in place. Make sure the card is lined up precisely!

Trace around the card with a pen, so the card outline is on the paper.
Peel the card up, and make sure everything is straight.
The card image you printed earlier should be centered on the card outline you just drew.
The carrier is done.

6. Print card.
Cleaned card, carrier, printer, masking tape.
Open GIMP 2.
Make sure your page settings under file are still at left: 3", top: 4".
Click print.
Select image settings tab at top of print window, set the height to 83 mm.
Let it default the width.
Go into print properties, select the best possible color printing quality you can get.
Stick your cleaned magic card onto your carrier sheet, blank side up; lined up perfectly inside
the traced outline of the card you made in step 5.
Make sure the top of your card is on the right end. You can tell by the remaining portions of the
printed sample image on the piece of paper.
Tape a piece of masking tape and cover the top 1/16" of the card. This will help prevent jams and
printer load issues.
The masking tape need only be slightly wider than the magic card.
The bottom edges of the masking tape should be on the scotch tape that you put across the
sheet of paper in the previous step, on the top edge of the cut out that you made in the carrier.
Load the paper in your printer, making sure the arrow you drew on the paper in step 4 is going in
first.
Click print.

7. Check card.
If everything went well, you have a nice playable proxy.
The ink will be wet, it works best to wait a few minutes before removing it from the carrier.
When you remove the card from the carrier, start by peeling up one of the bottom corners of the
masking tape that goes across the top 1/16" of the card. Don't peel the tape all the way off the
carrier, you'll be able to use it on the next card if you don't hose it up. The carrier will last longer if
you leave the tape on. The scotch tape across the top of your cutout should make it peel up easier.
This carrier can be reused until you get a crease, bend, fold, or rip anywhere on it.
I'll use the same carrier to print 30 plus cards.
Make sure you check the tape on the back to be sure it's still cleanly attached.
I usually have 2 carriers going at any one time, thus speeding up the process.

Here's a few near screw ups:


Troubleshooting.

  • You'll likely mess up a few cleaned cards while getting this just right.
  • If things didn't line up: Either your printer didn't load properly, your carrier markings were slightly off, or you loaded the wrong end of the paper into the printer.
  • If the ink is really wet and pooled on the card: It's because you didn't use enough digital ground. The digital ground is there to make the card surface porous enough for a good inking, make sure you do two good coats of it! Be generous with it!

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