I am not a fan of smoking. I’m happy to say my opinion is shared by more people in Western Australia than before, and laws prevent it from being done in planes, trains, buses, cinemas, restaurants, and bars. Operating theatres and powder magazines have always been smoke-free zones…at least when everything was going well…and no-0ne smokes here at home.
But I do like cigarette cards. They were an uncommon sight in Canada when I was a boy, but some of my friends who had emigrated from the UK had albums of them. I daresay they were collected at the peril of their relatives’ health, but that did not come through to the kids. I loved the series that dealt with ships and aircraft.
Well, noxious chemistry aside, I can still indulge myself with the little cards. Not the originals, mind. They cost big money these days and you are in the hands of the card dealers when you investigate them. The comic shop man on The Simpsons comes readily to mind. No, I intend to make my own. All I’ll need is a suitable series of subjects.
You see, it is all about a set – a number of people, objects, events, or ideas that can be grouped into a dozen or more decorative cards. If you were smoking and buying to amass a collection you might be at the mercy of the manufacturer and the marketplace, but if you are making your own you can get the whole lot in one.
I’ve researched the Players Tobacco cards of he English monarchs and taken them as a pattern. There were smaller cards for smaller cigarette packages but the images are necessarily reduced and simplified – I’ve got good originals that deserve to be seen in better detail – hence the 62mm x 80mm size.
Photoshop Elements 14 makes for easy borders and outline strokes and then with a template you can drop in any picture you like. I can see it would be an advantage to also make some sort of arrangement at the time of shooting to delineate the area of coverage that a 62 x 80 picture would occupy. I would save a lot of cropping errors as the card was being assembled.
The look of the originals varied widely. I am currently slightly softening the outlines and passing the image through a watercolour filter in PE14 to match the look of some portraits. I’ll also experiment with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 although the current OS system of he computer makes this a bit of a work-round. Somewhere there will be the perfect card look.
Currently the images are on-screen only. I have been looking at cardstock that goes through inkjet printers in an effort to find a really stiff, thin one. The originals often have a better substrate than we can get today.