Let's Design some Game Card Frames!

10:25 AM Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Hard Rules

In order to design a card suitable for printing, one must first understand a little about the printing process and what printers expect from images they will print. Each card (from inside out) has a:

  1. Safe Zone - This is the area where all important text, images, and design elements must be within
  2. Cut Area Line - Where the card will be cut to create the correct card size. Space between the safe zone and cut line is often one, solid color.
  3. Bleed Area - Area where the design continues to prevent any empty space or white lines appearing around the edges.
A great resource for taking a look at some templates for different card formats can be found at MakePlayingCards

For our cards, we will be using a Traditional Poker Card size to maximize horizontal real estate. This card format (2.5" x 3.5") is the most commonly used for card games.


Card frames house all the art and information necessary for game play. For our card game, we want our frames to meet all the following criteria:

  1. Be Logical
  2. Be Consistent
  3. Look Good
  4. Follow the necessary printing parameters
1. Be Logical
Being logical means that each piece of text serves a purpose, that the size of each component is relative to its importance, that space is used well.

Here is a simple template I made for our mob cards. What do you think, anything standing out? There is also one component missing to this card: faction. Where would you put the faction icon?

One thing that struck our team was how the Title position was a bit low, not taking advantage of all the available space. Regarding the faction icon, its position will be top left. Think about how a person holds a hand of cards, with the upper left exposed and faction is an important piece of information as you play.

We placed cost information in the top left because once the card is purchased and put into one's deck, it no longer matters.

2. Be Consistent
Consistency lends to overall cohesiveness of the game. This means that if you are going to change your formats, only do it with purpose and clear reasoning behind it.

3. Look Good
This is a little extra. Of course there are so many games that have very simply card frames that are amazing, fun games. A card game can be made with tables alone. But a well-designed card frame with well-done embellishment can further immerse you into the game world itself. Just be sure the design elements don't interfere with the clarity of your card information.

Here is the first round of mock ups for the physical card game.

This rough sketch shows the same template come to life. We'll be making a number of changes here but you can see the process taking shape.

Hope this article was informative and helpful! We are very excited to continue sharing our process.