Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Newest Custom Card : 1968 Brian Piccolo

As mentioned in my profile, one of my interests is making custom cards. I started more than five years ago when I got a Photoshop Elements program with a new scanner. So far I have made about 150 different baseball and football cards, mostly in the styles of classic cards of the 1950s and 1960s.

You can find images of many of my custom card creations at http://www.tinyurl.com/customcards cards. That link will take you to my album of 1955 Topps All-American style football cards. On the left of that page you should find links to my baseball and "Misc. Football" cards.

I'm going to begin posting all of my new card creations on this blog, so visit often or sign up on my "followers" list to keep up with the collection.

So, to kick things off, here is my latest: a 1968-style Brian Piccolo card.
I'm exceptionally pleased with how this one turned out, because it was not a simple cut and paste job. I'm not going to go into great detail about the process, but I though you might like to see some of the steps that og into a card like this.

I started, as always by visualizing what I wanted the finished product to look like. I hadn't even had Piccolo cards on my to-do list, but when I found a couple of very nice color pictures on another site, I knew this (these) would be my next project. The pictures are, I believe, from the same photo session that resulted in Piccolo's only mainstream football card, in 1969 Topps.

Younger readers or those who weren't into the NFL in the late 1960s might not know why Piccolo is virtually a cult figure, especially among Bears fans. If you need the backstory, just Google him. That's what I did to get the biographic and career details and stats that appear on the back of my card. The cartoon on the back was lifted from Piccolo's 1968 Topps card.

Piccolo was signed by the Bears in 1965, but never appeared on a card until 1969. So, I decided that with two really good, slightly different, photos, to work with, I would do two Piccolo cards "that never were." My first choice was a 1968-style card. Vintage FB collectors know that the Topps set that year had two formats. The Super Bowl II participants of the previous year (Packers and Raiders) appear in a horizontal format that features really neat background football cartoons by period artist Jack Davis (who is best known as the in-house artist of Cracked magazine).

The other players in the set appear in a much more mundane vertical format that looks like many of the other Topps and Philadelphia sets of the era. So, despite the fact that 1968 Topps Bears were not in the cooler horizontal design, I decided that my Piccolo card would be.

One problem that cropped up immediately is that most (if not all) of the Packers and Raiders cards in that set have the player picture at the right end of the card. My picture of choice, however, has Piccolo cut off at his right shoulder, so unless I was willing to undertake a drastic reworking of the photo that would be, frankly, beyond my Photoshop skills, I decided to move the portrait to the left end.

To accomplish this I had to "flop" the background cartoon, which is suprisingly easy to do with Photoshop. You might also notice that in the original photo, the edge of the Bears helmet was also cut off. I surprised myself by being able to do a quick succession of copy and paste moves to "round out" the helmet as shown on the finished card.

So here are the elements that went into making this card.

And to answer one of the most frequently posed questions about my custom card creations: yes, I actually print my cards, usually in editions of six to eight depending on the size. My next project is another Piccolo card, done in the style of a 1966 Philadelpiha Gum card, the Topps competitior that had the license for NFL players at that time.

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