I’m calling it. I have completed it. Honestly, I thought I had it completed two years ago, but Topps has this lovely habit of extending parallels into infinity and not really mentioning it anywhere. If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about and why am I not just posting pictures of cards, let me catch you up.
It’s been one of those summers. One crazy thing after another, big projects at work, big projects at home, lots of money spent on things other than small rectangles of cardboard. At one point we had a vacation or, as it’s more commonly referred to by fathers, “that time when I drove 12 hours and had to listen to kids music the whole way”. I joke. We did have a vacation, and I did do a lot of driving, but it was a good trip.
I was fortunate to get my hands on a free box of 2016 Stadium Club thanks to the awesome folks over at the MLBPA and their twitter contests. I hadn’t busted any hobby boxes this year, that sort of thing just isn’t in my budget, so when I was notified that I won I was pretty excited. Stadium Club has always been about the amazing photography and, as a photographer, I’m deeply envious of every photographer who gets to do this sort of thing as a day job. It’s, literally, my dream job. I couldn’t imagine anything more awesome than combining two of my favorite things on the planet.
Now that we’re finally deep enough into card season that releases are coming out every few weeks, I can catch up on my team sets. I know it’s not glamorous, a little boring, whatever you want to call it, but team sets are still my primary collecting goal. Not hits, not rookies, not individual players, but team sets themselves make up the bulk of my collecting. I also cheat and buy them rather than bust packs for them. A) I’ve never, in the history of ever, pulled all the cards I need for a set. Not once. I’m always chasing loose ends. B) It’s significantly cheaper. Buying a $12 team set and getting the exact 10, 15, 20 cards I need is considerably more economical than buying a $20 blaster and getting 2, or an $80 box and getting all but 3 (and then paying $3 each for those missing ones).
I’m sure most folks in the card blogging community have read that Sam, aka The Daily Dimwit, is taking a break from collecting. While many have left kind regards and well wishes to him on his blog (as well you should), I actually know Sam in real life, and can do that in person. Our wives have known each other since grade school and I met Sam, through that connection, after moving to Texas years ago. I credit him with my eventual return to the hobby. We try and meet up when we can, catch up, and usually exchange cardboard. He was in town a little while ago and, although we weren’t able to meet up this time, he left me quite the card package on my door-step. We’ll have to work out schedules and properly plan a time to hang out soon. So until I can thank him in person, a blog post in gratitude will have to suffice.
So, per usual, this weekend we made a shopping trip to Target and per usual I’m standing in the card isle trying to find something worth buying. My Target’s card isle is usually pathetic, but this weekend they had two lonely blasters of Diamond Kings. I love Diamond Kings, I think they’re a brilliant merger of art and baseball, but $20 is a lot (for us) and I already have most of the Sox team set. I buy it anyways, because I’m weak, but we have other errands to run and I set it aside to open later. When I finally do open it, I’m suddenly glad I bought it. This was waiting for me in the first pack…
I should start this off by saying the easier way to do this is to take a scan of a card and simply cut out the “corner” design elements and paste them onto a photo. If you’re more inclined to do that, I’d recommend reading the first part of the tutorial and ignoring the later 2/3rds. However, if you’d like to know how to recreate the 2016 Topps design, vaguely accurately, read on.
Prerequisites: In order to complete this tutorial you’re going to need a few things…
- Basic to moderate Photoshop knowledge.
- Photoshop CS6 or CC (for the lens blur effects and stacking layer styles)
- Several “grunge” and/or “water color” Photoshop brushes. Some free examples here, here and here.
- Various metal textures and patterns, examples here.
- A “metal hole” texture or pattern, good example here.
- Team logo of your choice (good resolution)
- A high-res photo of your favorite baseball player. Try Google, image search, “more options”, “larger than 4mb”.
Let’s do this!
It had been a while since I did a custom card tutorial, so I thought I’d break down 2016 Topps flagship and try and recreate it. I think this is a fairly accurate representation. I’m still writing up the tutorial, I’ll probably post it on Monday, but here’s what to look forward to…
I had purchased one of those oddball 5×7 cards in the past, a 1/10 Mookie Betts to be specific, but I guess I didn’t realize Topps was just going to run with the idea for pretty much every set and/or variation. They’re selling them online, usually in sets, and dealers are buying them and breaking the set into singles. Usually I avoid oddball stuff, but when a saved search comes up with something like “Mookie Betts, 10/10, 0 bids, $0.99, 10 minutes remaining” it’s kind of hard to ignore.
There it is, 10/10 (lower left corner of the back – blue side), in all it’s “I’m never going to find a box for this” glory. Luckily the seller shipped it already in a 5×7 top-loader and inside a rigid photo mailer. Also luckily, he combined shipping…
This one is from a “team set”, again an online exclusive. Numbered 21/49. I can actually appreciated that they didn’t go nuts printing this stuff. Let’s be honest, this isn’t a “baseball card” in the traditional sense, this is a “collectable”.
I couldn’t help myself. I’m not even sure what set it’s from, I’m assuming it’s an “insert” from Heritage. It’s featuring Nolan Ryan, George Springer and Mike Foltynewicz. This one is #/99. All three of these were $0.99 with combined $3 shipping. Not a bad score. I figure with Nolan Ryan (and his museum where he signs things) being about a 10 minute drive, this might be a fun “card” to get signed. I wonder if I can get all three at some point. We’ll see.
Like I said, I usually don’t go crazy with things like this, but they seemed like solid pickups and the price was definitely right.
To be honest, I had the remaining stack of cards from the card show (back in freakin’ February) sitting on my desk to be scanned until I moved them in an ill-fated attempt to “clean”. Never again. Organized chaos is my go-to from now on. Not that anyone was waiting with baited breath to see what pitiful collection of Red Sox and Astros cards I picked up two months ago, but I scanned them anyway. Organized, no. Completionist, yes.