Designing a Card Deck

In my previous post I shared about the workshop activity card deck I created as a supplement to my book, Story Secrets from Scripture. In this post I’ll share my process to create the cards, starting with finding a printer.

Finding a Company

In my search for a company I decided that I wanted a print-on-demand solution. Amazon’s publishing arm, Kindle Direct Publishing, is based on this model. When someone orders a copy of Story Secrets from Scripture, it is printed and then shipped. Amazingly, Amazon is still able to ship quickly, with only a one-day delay for printing. I wanted to print the workshop cards in the same way.

Although a search for “playing cards printed” or “create your own card deck” returns several companies, I only found two that print small quantities at a reasonable price: MakePlayingCards.com and TheGameCrafter.com. Both companies offer the ability to create cards of various sizes and feature marketplaces to sell card decks.

TheGameCrafter permits designers to create full games including packaging, game pieces, boards and dice. Ultimately, for me, the second factor in finding a company was the cost per deck, so I decided to use TheGameCrafter to print and sell my workshop activity card deck. The marketplace design and operation is also easy to use.

Card Size

Standard playing cards – the poker deck – are 2.5 by 3.5 inches. I felt this was a little small to include what I needed on each card and still be readable. Another popular size is the tarot card, with dimensions of 2.75 by 4.75 inches. Most of the non-occult/tarot card decks at the bookstore are larger, so I decided to go with the jumbo card size, 3.5 by 5.5 inches.

Card Design and Prototyping

Since I already had the content of my workshop developed, I used small index cards (3 by 2.5 inches) to plan the contents of each card. I setup the cards using a customized Apple Keynote presentation, which will be the next post in this series. I looked at several self help card decks at Amazon, TheGameCrafter and the bookstore. Commonalities appeared to be …

  • Effective use of whitespace
  • Header for each card
  • Colors for thematic sections

This image shows my initial index card, a mini version I printed at home from Keynote and the final version printed by TheGameCrafter.

All of the cards have a variation of the book cover design on the reverse side. TheGameCrafter setup provides the option to have different back sides (to have multiple small decks for a board game), but I just needed the same back side for all of my cards.

If you have ever wanted to create a card deck for some purpose, I encourage you to start thinking about it now.

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