Tricks of the Trade Week 6 - How to Spoil a Set and Other Forum Know How

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Mon, 2012-04-02 08:25
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Kiku's picture

Tricks of the Trade Week 6 - How to Spoil a Set and Other Forum Know How

Have you ever gotten to the point where you feel a set is ready to be shown to the community, but you weren't sure how to do it Today's column aims to answer the basics of what you need to know. I have also included a lot of useful technical knowledge that every aspiring magic designer and user of these forums should know. If you missed any of my past articles I have archived them here for your convenience...
Week 1 : How to start a set
Week 2 : How to create a design skeleton
Week 3 : How to turn a skeleton into a set
Week 4 : How to create mechanics for your set
Week 5 : How to create and pick between multiple cards in one slot

Getting Ready

The first question is figuring out when you are ready to spoil your set. It's mostly a matter or personal preference, but I recommend that you have completed either half the cards in your set, or finished all the commons before you consider showing it to the community. At this point, you can set up a basic preview, like for Awakening - Kune. In this case, you would announce a date when you believe you can spoil the whole set, and simply whet poeple's appetite until then with a small preview. Once your set is either completely done, or about 90 percent complete, you are ready to begin a full preview.

Crucial Tools

The First part of spoiling your set once the cards are ready is to create an authentic logo. This can be accomplished with some simple word art, microsoft paint, and one of wizards logos...

Great word art site - Enter your text into the box, pick any fonts and colors, with many other great options, instant artwork

Microsoft paint: This comes on most computers, and if you don't have it, any other basic image editing software should do the trick.

Dark Ascension logo

To begin you'll want to enter your set name into interactimage. The majority of the tools you want to use are in the top right of the bar with the textbox, including font size, font style, and color. Note that there is a modifier within font style called "type" that lets you find more fonts. Simply click create to see any changes you make to your image, and use the undo last operation key to get rid of unwanted changes. You can also try out many of the more complex options in the sidebar on the right, though many of these are harder to use. Once you are satisfied, simply copy the image and paste it into your paint file. Make sure you expand your paint
workspace by draggin the bottom right hand corner, as we will be editing two images together. Then drop the dark ascension logo in, and remove everything but the magic the gathering logo. Use your larger canvas to arrange your set name and the magic logo together, and then select just the area incasing them, and hit crop. You know have a pretty authentic looking set logo, and are ready to host it online.

Hosting files online

There are two primary sites for image hosting online that magic designers tend to use, imageshack, and photobucket. I have used both of these sites in my time as a designer, and I can tell you that each has its advantages. Imageshack does not require an account with them, and has a far simpler interface for uploading and sharing photos. On the other hand, photobucket makes it much easier to keep track of your files for later use, and has much better tools for useful organization of those files. Both are excellant sites, but I would recommend imageshack for first time users of this technology and photobucket for people who are more familiar with it. If you do choose to use imageshack, email yourself every link to
your uploaded files, or else you will have a very hard time finding them again for further use
(yes I have made this error myself, and lost an entire color from a set into the abyss of imageshack). Once you have uploaded your file to your preferred site, copy the img code underneath your image and you are ready to embed it into the forums like so...

We can use this same method with cards from our set, using file export card image(s). These files can be uploaded and embedded to create previews for the set. One final file hosting site you will want to know is mediafire which will require a account, though there is a perfectely fine free option. Once your account is set up, you can host larger files here, and this site will be what you use to host your entire set.

Creating the Thread

With all your files hosted on the internet, the last thing you need to do is create the physical thread where you will be previewing your set from. In almost every case, this will be the card showcase (there are a few exceptions, but they are rare). Here is a quick example of what a set preview page when fully done might look like...


Ultimate Unity, at the Ultimate price
MTG logo (C) Wizards of the Coast; Agralnat United logo (C) Kikushadowblades
Set Name: Agralnat United
Block: Set 3 of 3 in the Agralnat Block
Three letter abbreviation: AUD
Number of cards: 155
Previews Begin: Thurdsay 25th August 2011
Release Date: Thursday 1st September 2011
Prerelease Events: TBA 2011
Launch Parties: TBA 2011
Design Team: Kikushadowblades (lead)
Development Team: Kikushadowblades (lead)
Note: There may not be a real release, prerelease event, or launch party, merely the gradual preview of cards. It will really depend on the interest of the public.

Art by bpsola of deviantart

If you want to brush up on your Agralni history, check out Agralnat, and Agralnat Unleashed !

That looks somewhat complex, but I will walk through all the forum coding you need to know to make your very own version.

The first thing is spoiler tags, we create these using the code [ spoiler] and [ /spoiler], but without the space in front. Whatever lies between those two lines of code will be hidden inside a spoiler tag like the example was. This is crucial for set previews, because showcasing multiple cards (or in some cases an entire pack), can take up a lot of room. We use spoiler tags to shorten posts and create more drama for the preview. You can get fancy with them too, by writing inside the first spoiler [ spoiler=example] the word example will appear on the spoiler tag. Note that [ /spoiler] does not change when using this technique. You can also create spoilers withing spoilers to do things like make viewers experience the process of "opening" a pack of your set, going through each common before reaching the rare.

That is the majority of the technical work, but if you want to find more ways to make your preview look cool, check out this page for some more cool codes. I particularly like bold [ b], italic [ i], center [ center], and change font size [ size=] [ /size]. You can also create links to previous
threads like i did if this is a set later in the block, using [ url=whateverthepageurlis] and [ /url]. Note that anything between the two tags will be hyperlinked to that page.

The final touches will be the set info, a snazzy image from one of your cards.

Sisters of Life and Death
Make sure you credit the artist of that particular image. You should also credit wizards of the coast for using their logo. The last decision is how much of your set you want to show.

The preview itself

Often, the most effective card previews showcase the flavor of a set, as well as the key mechanics of that set. I would presonally recommend that you start off by showing the community what your set is all about both flavorfully and mechanically using around 6-10 cards. You will definitely want to have renders of these cards if at all possible, using the hosting sites we discussed earlier. I have often tried using packs of my sets in the past as previews, and I have found that method to be an ineffective way of previewing sets, largely because it forces people to look at too many commons (we like to see flashier cards to hook us into your set). I would
also recommend that as you get deeper into your previews, you focus on one specific element of your mechanics and flavor and showcase several fo the coolest or most representative cards from that section. Really though, it's entirely up to you what you want to show us, but it is crucial that everything in the presentation looks correct for the community to respond to your set. I must also stress that if you do use renders (and I recommend that you do, they help the cards look more realistic), you absolutely must include artist credit for every image, and if you cannot find who created the image, then you cannot use it. If you use deviantart to find your images(and i recommend you do because many of the images are outstanding quality, and okay to use), please respect the wishes of artists who explicitly asks that their images not be used by the general public.


I know that today's article was very technical in nature, but hopefully, the information was useful, even if the article itself wasn't a great read. I would love some feedback in the comments section about how you felt about today's column style, so that I can see if you would like to see more technical articles. Ultimately, there are a lot of unexpected jobs that come with being a magic set designer (at least when you are working solo as opposed to for wizards), and many of us need help with them. You don't have to be a website designer to spoil your set, you just need to know a few useful sites, and some forum coding, adn I hope you come out of this article feeling like it's not that difficult to prepare a set preview.

Until next week, may you take comfort in knowing that some of the unexpected jobs lone set designers have aren't as tough as they seem.

P.S. You probably noticed this is the first article in a very long while. There are no excuses, but basically, I just wanted to relax after the stress of finals week, and decided not to write this column for a while. I want you all to know that I am fully dedicated to finishing this project, and that I really want to create a quality column for you guys to read on a weekly basis. On that note, I need you guys to send me some article ideas! I have tons of possible article ideas, but I would love to do a whole article based on a question or problem that someone has run into while designing. Please PM any articles you really want to see, I would be glad to do the necessary research and write them for you!

P.S.S On the topic of improving our articles section, I am looking into setting up another weekly article series (may or may not be written by me), and have set up this poll to see what kind of column you guys would like. It will close in roughly 4 days, and I would love to know what you think!

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Mon, 2012-04-02 08:47

Really good post! Although I still thinks it is better to design a title hand to hand. It is really a great post!

Tue, 2012-04-03 13:20
Anuttymous's picture

Really nice, I like this article. Thanks for linking to my preview for Awakening there - YAY publicity!
Posting a set in a thread can be a bit frustrating when no one answers. I would suggest putting something to tell people not to get disheartened when nobody responds, and that once people know them as a regular contributing member, they'll be able to get people's attention easier.

Anuttymous the Gathering
Anonymous + nutty = A-nutty-mous (no mice involved)
Ask me if you need any help

Tue, 2012-04-03 13:25
Friendly MSE Designer
Guitarweeps's picture

Also, remember that some people view your work and don't reply right away or even at all. Doesn't mean they are uninterested. I am guilty of this myself at times.

Great article kiku! Very applicable to the site. Nice.

Check out my updated set hub.

Wed, 2012-04-04 02:08
eomund's picture

Thanks for the awesome articles, kiku! I'm hoping to finally finish a set this summer, and these articles are a huge help.

Tue, 2013-07-30 17:21
PeAcEzOmBi's picture

Your articles helped alot! Thanks!

Check out my first set, Kahundra, Plane at War here: