4 Graphic Design Tips for Card Game Designers

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Card games may be fun to play, but designing them can be a real headache. When you've spent months coming up with the mechanics and play testing and balancing, the graphic design may seem like the most simple part of the process. However, though it's one thing to find a decent artist that shares your vision, using artwork to clearly convey the rules poses a whole new set of challenges. Here are some tips to follow:

Say It with Symbols

Every square centimetre on a trading card is highly valuable real estate. If there are certain phrases or elements that crop up frequently, say them with symbols instead of words. When players have to spend time reading lengthy passages of text, they'll quickly lose interest. They should be able to look at the card and know exactly what's happening at a glance. For example, instead of writing "Dragons deal two damage to any creature. Warriors block one damage," you could have two fire symbols versus a sword symbol to represent the damage and blocking value of each creature.

Select a Themed Typeface

Players will most likely play your card game from across a table. If your font is too small or difficult to read, they will strain their eyes with every turn. Pick an easy-to-read font that's clear from arm's length away. In addition, think about the theme of your game. For example, the typeface Times New Roman won't reflect the vibe of a fantasy world or Gothic horror, but a medieval-inspired typeface will.

Don't Overdo the Background

Most card games will have a consistent block colour for a background. This not only makes production more efficient, it also brands the cards. When you've designed your symbols and found a decent font, choose a contrasting background colour with very little texture, because adding a fancy design may interfere with the text.

Choose Relevant Artwork

The majority of each card should be taken up by individual artwork. Players will eventually use these images to identify each card. Make sure the art style is uniform across the entire set—including borders, typefaces, colour schemes and backgrounds—and effectively communicates the message of the card. For example, if you have a creature that deals fire damage, don't use an image of it biting something.

The quality of your graphic design will literally make or break your card game. Unfortunately, many designers come up with great mechanics and concepts, only to fail in this final stage of the process. Following these tips will not only make your game more playable, but it will boost your chance of success in this extremely competitive marketplace. Look for a graphic design artist in your local area to get started, and keep these suggestions in mind.

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