Six Gun cards

I’ve spent the last couple of days off and on working up a play card for this game that I’d been fiddling with, Six Gun. It’s based on a strange little children’s clapping game called High Noon, which grabbed me for some reason, but felt a little flat, so I took it upon myself to spruce it up a little bit. After some tweaks to the rules and a bit of playtesting, I think I’ve got it the playing quick and fun! The game design discussion probably belongs over on Flywheel, so I’ll just talk about the graphic design of the card here.

When I started, I really had no idea what I was going to do. It’s a simple game, but a little tricky to describe simply, so naturally, the most important thing to do was to draw the chambers of a revolver, and drop it in the middle of the page. I decided to fit the design to a three by five card size, since that felt good to me, and it would be a fun challenge to get everything in there. I popped open Illustrator and drew my six-gun chambers pretty quickly. I considered dropping some icons or something into the holes, but as I played with the title text, I realized that “Six Gun” had six letters, and did the obvious thing, choosing a nice western-style font (which I later discovered was the same font that Showdown is using on their postcards…), and positioning the letters into the bullet chambers.

Okay, now what? Well, I’m still avoiding paring down the rules enough to fit on the card, so let’s find some kind of background or border image. After doing a few searches on “western borders” (which is less useful than you’d expect), I finally stumbled upon this nice grungy texture that looked like it would work just fine. It’s huge! Which is great for detail, so I initially just scaled it down to 3×5″ and added a clipping mask to fit it to the card borders, but the huge file size was a strain on the resources of my MacBook. So, I pulled it into Photoshop and scaled the image down to 900 by 1500 pixels – that’d work for anything up to 300dpi on the card, so I figured it’d be fine. (It wasn’t, it turns out – see below…) Oookay. Bring that image back into Illustrator, drop it into the background, and it’s back to work.

One of the things that I wanted to hit on was creating an icon for each one of the steps of the game: clapping, ducking, reloading, and shooting. Still not an artist! Especially not great at illustration right now, and good icon design is a special art that I’m still not really good at. However, I think that I pulled off a few things pretty well with these – not spectacular by any stretch, but not totally sucky. I’ll take that as a win!

All right, on to the actual rules, finally. You’d think that this would be the simplest part, but it’s really not! I didn’t leave myself a lot of space to wiggle around in, so I had to cut the rules down to the barest steps to get them to fit. I was originally considering using the icons that I’d created in some kind of cyclical diagram in the rules, but I wound up just using them as a decoration and quick reference around the image of the cylinder of the revolver. So, after breaking the rules into just a few simple steps and clearly laying out the winning and losing conditions, I actually had a bit of room to throw in a tag line up top and a signature exclamation at the bottom of the card. I styled all of that lightly, plopped it down, and we’re good to go. A touch of polish here and there, and the card is done!


Nope. Okay, so I like 3×5 kind of instinctively, I guess. Must be the index card thing. Anyway, it turns out that it’s kind of hard to find a printer that will do postcards at that size. I found one that will, but they charge a bit more than I was hoping to pay for a test run, so I figured it’d be worth the time to resize the cards to 4×6″ and go with, which I had a coupon for!

So, first off, there’s a 1/8″ bleed area that I need to account for – which I would have needed to add in the 3×5″ version, anyway, durrr – so I took the original background image back into Photoshop, sized that back out to 4.25″x6.25″ at 300dpi, and cut it up the way I needed it. It’s a little stretched from the 3×5″ version, but not noticeably so. After bringing that back into Illustrator and setting the artboard up for the correct size, it wasn’t a big deal to scale and reposition all of the elements that I needed to make things fit. Scootch things around a bit to make them all pretty at the new size, and done!

I rendered out PNG and PDF files for both sizes, and decided to drop the twenty bucks or so that it would take to print up a hundred of these postcards at overnightprints. I quickly threw together a back for the card, and sent them off. I used the cheapest shipping, of course, so it’ll be a couple of weeks, but it’ll be a nice surprise for me when they do show up, right? If anybody wants one, find me, and we’ll draw for it!

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