I made a thing!

2016-06-12 10.25.09 My friend Dorene’s mother just turned 100 this week, and there was a big celebration yesterday. After much hesitation I decided not to go and expose myself to so many people’s germs while undergoing chemo, but I did manage to contribute. When preparing the party Dorene wanted to give away mementos or party favours; I came up with the idea of a card deck using some of the many photos of Primetta, the centenarian, for the face cards. Primetta happens to be a fierce card player.

In addition to the family photos I used the Open-source software Scribus for the layout, card graphics from Openclipart for the pip cards, the ornate border snagged from one of the vintage photos to create a frame, and DriveThruCards for the card printing. DriveThruCards was fantastic; not only do they offer tutorials and templates for Scribus and InDesign, but their support is is helpful and friendly. (Shout-out to Brian!)

I had help from Dorene for photo selection, and most importantly from my husband Edmund for photo correction and resizing so I could just drop them in the layout without having to do all the contrast and colour adjustments. As usual with cards printed via DriveThruCards, the cards are pleasant to use and the deck shuffles well. Dorene ended up ordering 90 copies of the deck so she would have enough for the guests and for Primetta to give away to her friends at card games. [Edit: Primetta loved it! Big success. 🙂 ]

Here is what the cards look like. As mentioned in the image that shows Primetta’s mini-biography, she had quite an adventurous youth — she was in Italy when it entered World War II!

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Tutorial: Creating a Convention Program

Covers 2008-2012For several years now I’ve been volunteering for several tabletop game conventions.  One of the tasks I’ve assumed was the creation of the print programs and other documents for some of them, particularly Emerald City Gamefest and Dragonflight.

I’ve prepared the program for Dragonflight since 2008, and it occurred to me that although I have no plans to stop volunteering, stuff happens and eventually someone will have to take over for me.  I decided to prepare a tutorial on the complete process, from negotiating with printing companies to using desktop publishing to create the document.

Although this tutorial is targeted at one specific convention, I think it can be useful to other convention organizers elsewhere.  Local and regional tabletop game conventions usually work with shoestring budgets, so I use as many free, platform-independent and open source tools as I can (such as GIMP for image editing, Scribus for desktop publishing, Calibre for e-book creation) but the workflow I describe works with equivalent commercial tools.

The tutorial can be downloaded here.  (It looks scarily long because I tried to make my explanations detailed enough to be understood by newcomers without any other help.)  I hope it can be of use to other people.