I sometimes like to print out customs even though I don’t have a color printer. It stems from getting tired of certain players in my “Current Rosters” binders being constantly represented by a hand-written placeholder… Backup catchers, utility guys, relief pitchers, all the guys who get a rookie card and then fall off of Topps’ radar… or don’t even get a rookie card to start with.
I’ve been doing these customs for a couple of years, and I call them “Cheap Seats”, which is kinda sorta a play on “Upper Deck”
Because toner ain’t cheap and because these customs are never going to look great no matter what I do, I try to minimize the amount of black and greyscale used. That means removing the background from the photo used and not “coloring between the lines” on the design. This also means that I shy away from designs which would ideally have large color areas (like 1975 Topps).
This year I decided to use the 1968 Topps / 2017 Heritage design with some adaptations for my purposes.
Obviously, I removed the color, the “burlap” and the filled-in circle. Because the players I do these for are usually a bit more… shall we say ‘nomadic’… than average, I swapped the text in the circle to emphasize the position over the team.
So with card design template in hand (so to speak), here’s how I proceed from there. First off, I look for photos a) where you can see the players face, b) which can be cropped fairly tightly, c) which features a home uniform (or at least not a dark one) and c) has relatively little background. “Photo Day” images work very well in this respect.
Next, I take the image, get rid of the background and crank up the brightness and contrast. Then — and if you don’t have Paint Shop Pro like I do, you’d have to find your own equivalent — I use a macro which comes with the software, one called “Black And White Pencil”. That converts the image to something like you see here.
“Black And White Pencil” leaves a lot of light gray in the background, so I clean that up with the eraser set to a hardness of 50% or so, which allows me to clean up while maintaining the halo effect around the image.
When I’m ready to print, I take the individual images and paste them on a “printing sheet” document which has dotted lines drawn on it in standard size, so I can easily cut them out with scissors. Here’s an example with the neighboring dotted lines and customs included.
Side note: I have no idea why the Giants didn’t give Hwang more of a chance rather than bring back the washed-up Kung Fu Panda. It’s not like the Giants have anything to play for, other than a top draft pick. (or is that why they brought back the Panda?)
Late one night I had an idea that if I looked at the pitchers who fall into the Top 10 in appearances in 2017, at least one of them would have no cardboard to speak of… And I was right! …at that time, anyway. Ladies and Gentleman, the pitcher who, when I originally researched this, had the 8th most appearances in the Major Leagues and yet has no Major League cardboard at all… The Milwaukee Brewers’ Jacob Barnes! (Insert a Kermit The Frog “Yaaaaaaaaay!” here).
Barnes’ 67 appearances is currently good for 11th in the Majors, BTW.
As I mentioned, I make these for my “current roster” binders. The real test is in how these look in a 9-pocket page….
Not too shabby… about as good as anything is going to look when printed by an ordinary printer on copy paper, anyway.