I don't remember now what convinced me to try my hand at creating custom cards. It was probably the fact that a computer I bought three or four generations ago came with a Photoshop Elements program in its software package.
I do know that since a was a childhood collector in the 1950s I had wanted to make my own cards. Like many of you, I suppose, I tried my hand at creating my own cards with crayons, pictures cut out of magazines, etc.
Once I was armed with a computer graphics program and a " . . . for Dummies" book to get me started, I was on my way to a fun new hobby.
My first card was created in the late summer of 2003. It was a Peyton Manning card done in the style of one of my childhood favorite sets, the 1955 Topps All-American college football cards.
To get the photo I needed, I google-searched Peyton Manning and found what at the time I thought was a suitable photo; it's the bare-headed chest-up portrait shown here. After years of creating cards and refining my processes, I now realize that the original Manning photo was too low-resolution.
The background I chose for my first card was that used on the original '55 card of Bowden Wyatt. I had to touch up a few of the black-and-white figures once I had dropped my Manning picture into the frame. If you looked closely at that first custom card, you'd notice that I added a left arm to player #98 at the left end. I doubt you can see the touch-up on this scan, but by my current standards, it was a clumsy attempt. I was more successful in removing some typography from the area of Manning's left shoulder; if I deidn't mention it, I doubt anyone would notice.
After studying more of the original All-American cards over the years as I worked on completing my set of the 1955s, I later realized that I had erred in not extending Manning's left arm and elbow into the green inner border. Regardless, by the time I was done with that first card in my "update" All-American set, I was pretty pleased with myself.
A couple of years after the first Manning card was completed, I saw a college football magazine for sale that had a great cover photo of Manning in a posed action shot. It dawned on me that since I was the creator of my custom card series, I was free to revise my work. The result was the version you see here, with the L.A. Coliseum background. I had to do more touching up on the background photo, but by that time I had gotten better at it and the improvements are seamless.
I'm still not 100% satisfied with my second-edition Manning card because the borders came out a bit more "aged" than I would have liked. On most of my custom cards I avoid using snow white borders, adding a bit of tint to give them a look more befitting what we commonly think of when we think of 40-50 year old cards.
I have also done a second edition of the card I numbered 102 in my "Second Series" of All-Americans.
As a teen-ager I had enjoyed countless times listening to one of Bill Cosby's comedy albums on which he recounted his days of playing college football at Temple.
From early on, I knew a Cos card was going to be part of my set. I had to wait quite awhile to find a photo of Cosby that I could use, and when I did, it was a picture that would take work. The black-and-white photo that I purchased on eBay pictured Cosby is a sweatshirt, but it was a portrait of the actor in his earlier years, so it seemed appropriate for a football card picturing him in his college days.
To put Cosby in uniform, I copied the picture of Johnny Luljack from his 1955 Topps card and substituted Cosby's head. I had colorized the portrait and changed the color of the jersey to the Temple colors.
I never really thought about doing a second version of my Bill Cosby college card until I was perusing the eBay offerings of a New York dealer who regularly has stellar offerings of great vintage sports and celebrity photos. Among his pictures was what was probably a Temple athletic department publicity photo of Cosby in his playing days.
From my perspective as a custom card creator, the right-click, "Copy Photo" function is one of the greatest things about the internet. While I was outbid in my attempt to buy the original black-and-white print, I had taken the precaution of copying the image from the auction, so I had access to the new, more contemporary, photo. A little bit of colorization and I had what I feel is a nice upgrade to my Cosby card.