How to Make Your Own Fun Cards

Lately, people have been asking me how to create their own Ani-Mayhem fun cards. Since I'm getting tired of repeating myself, I've put this guide together.

What You'll Need

First, you need to have watched an entire anime series or movie, all the way through. I can't stress this enough - watch as much of the series or movie as you can before you start to design cards based on it. The last thing you want is for your card ideas to be proven wrong by something you haven't seen yet. (That happened to me more than once ...)

Second, you need some ideas for cards based on that series. This can be the hardest part of the process! I can't help you with this; I use all my good ideas on my own cards. « grin »

Third, you need some pictures from that series. (I'll call these pictures "illustrations" from now on.) If you have a "frame grabber" on your computer and a good freeze-frame function on your VHS or DVD player, then you can get all the illustrations you could possibly use. Otherwise, you'll have to find your illustrations on the Web somewhere. (If you need to find an illustration, you can look in the "Image Gallery" links on the Anime Web Turnpike for any websites with pictures from the appropriate series. However, if a website's owner asks that the pictures on the site not be copied, then don't use them! It's not worth losing the goodwill of a hard-working anime fan just for the use of a couple of pictures.)

Fourth, you need a set of card templates. You can get copies of the templates I use from this page.

Fifth, you need a font that's easy to read, but still stands out against the card background. You don't want something too fancy (most cards should be able to be read in less than ten seconds), but not too plain either (it shouldn't look like it was created on a typewriter). Scriptorium makes dozens of good, inexpensive fonts.

Finally, you need a graphics manipulation program. If you run Linux, try the freeware program GIMP. If you use Windows or Macintosh, you're probably going to have to buy software. (The "Paint" or "Paintbrush" program that comes with Windows isn't powerful enough for the job. You can try GIMP for Windows for free if you're a particularly-courageous Windows user, but this version of GIMP isn't really ready for end-users.) If you run Windows, Adobe will sell you a copy of Photoshop for less than $1000, or a copy of Image Ready for around $150. Then there's Corel, who will sell you a copy of CorelDraw for less than $500. If that's out of your price range, Macromedia Fireworks sells for less than $200, and JASC will sell you a copy of Paint Shop Pro for less than $100. Versions of Photoshop and CorelDraw also exist for the Macintosh. Do you know of another program? Please let me know about it ...

Step by Step Guidelines

Occasionally, I'll tell you to use your graphics manipulation program to do something. I'm not about to explain how to do these things; instructions should be in the manual or the on-line help.

  1. Turn your computer on and make yourself comfortable. (You're going to be there a while...)
  2. Make a copy of the appropriate card template (you probably don't want to use your original template just for one card!), and use your graphics manipulation program to edit that copy.
  3. Use the program's text tool to put all the writing onto the card. Most of the text should be black, although there are a few times when the card title looks better in white. If you're including copyright text on the bottom of the card (perhaps so people will know what show the illustration came from), that should also be in white.
    A note about unusual characters: Some of the more unusual characters you'll need are included in the ANSI extended character set. On a computer running any version of Windows, you can get these characters by holding down the "Alt" key, typing in the character's four-digit number on the numeric keypad, then letting go of the "Alt" key. The copyright symbol ("©") is character 0169, the left angle quotation mark ("«") is character 0171, and the right angle quotation mark ("»") is character 0187.
  4. Save what you've done so far, but don't close the image you're working on. (Now, if you make a mistake positioning the illustration, you won't have to re-start from the very beginning.)
  5. Use your graphic program's "magic wand" tool to select the blank space in the template where the illustration will go. (If the template is a JPEG image, you'll probably have to set the wand's tolerance higher than usual, so that it selects all of the "image artifacts" introduced by JPEG compression. But don't set the tolerance too high, or you'll be selecting part of the template, too!) Find out how big the selected area is.
  6. Open a copy of the illustration you want on the card. If you're using a program that lets you specify the colour mode, make sure the illustration and the template are using the same colour mode. (But don't use "indexed color" or "fixed palette" mode, since you can't be sure the two sets of colours are the same.) If you don't want part of the illustration on your card, crop the illustration so that only the part you want remains. Find out how big the illustration is.
  7. This step varies depending on the size of the illustration. Do only one of these three alternatives!
  8. Put the illustration into the correct place in the template. If you're using Photoshop, you can simply copy the illustration to the clipboard, go back to the template, then use the "Paste Into" command to put the illustration into the template. Otherwise, you'll have to go back to the template, make the selected area transparent, create a new layer, copy the illustration to the new layer at the same place as the transparent area on the earlier layer, put the layer with the illustration behind the layer with the transparent section, and flatten the image down to only one layer.
  9. Close the illustration without saving your changes. (You don't need it any more.)
  10. Optional: If the template is significantly larger than 375×525 pixels, you can re-size it down to 375×525. (Two or three pixels either way doesn't matter.) This will make the card load faster for people with slower internet connections. Also, a 375×525 image printed at 150 dpi will fit nicely onto a real Ani-Mayhem card. (Yes, 150 dpi isn't very good nowadays, but you don't want these to be mistaken for real cards anyway...)
  11. Save your card - you've finished it!

Last update: 28 January 2002

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