How To Design Your Own Magic: The Gathering Card Using Magic Set Editor, by Ryan Smith

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How To Design Your Own MTG Card Using Magic Set Editor by Ryan Smith

How To Design Your Own Magic: The Gathering Cards Using Magic Set Editor

Installing & Using Magic Set Editor by Ryan Smith

I’ve been asked by the lovely people at Manaleak.com to write a “Beginner’s Guide” for Magic Set Editor (MSE), for Magic: The Gathering. MSE is a free tool for designing and making Magic card images. These have a range of uses, including making personalised cards for you and your “friends”. Personally, I use the application for making custom tokens and emblems. I’ve got a rather fetching range of Angel, Zombie and Vampire tokens. If you don’t want to spend £15 a pop on official Squirrel tokens then make your own!

 

mtgUK Design a MTG Card Facebook Group

But first things first…

I would strongly recommend joining the mtgUK Design a MTG Card and mtgUK & Ireland Community & Trading Discussions Facebook Groups. Here you can discuss card design ideas, ask MTG questions and engage with like-minded friends in the Magic community.

 

Downloading Magic Set Editor (MSE)

We’re going to want to download, save and install MSE. To do that the first steps are to

Downloading Magic Set Editor (MSE)
Click on the Magic Set Editor 2 link to download MSE.

Once you’ve done that run the application and install it with the usual procedure for running applications and installing software for your system. If you need help with anything with this step ask a buddy or RTFM. I’m on Windows 7 so any screenshots will reflect that.

The installation process with ask you for the usual details – application location etc. – and then will ask which components you want to install.

Downloading Magic Set Editor (MSE)
Choosing your components during installation.

Choosing your components during installation.

Unless you have a good reason not to, I’d recommend choosing either the full installation or otherwise selecting “only Magic” from the combobox.

Downloading Magic Set Editor (MSE)
Choosing the only Magic option

Choosing the only Magic option

Click “Next” and then “Install”. Or whatever the appropriate alternatives are on your system.

 

Running The Application

When MSE is run you will be offered a screen a bit like this:

Downloading Magic Set Editor (MSE)

MSE’s workflow is set-oriented (you design cards in sets rather than singly). If this is the first time you’ve used MSE then you probably won’t have a set to open so select “New set”.

You’ll be asked to select a game (for our purposes choose “Magic”) and a frame style. Don’t worry too much about this as frame styles can be changed later on for specific cards. For now take a look at the frames that are available and choose the one you want to use (probably “Modern”).

Downloading Magic Set Editor (MSE)
Choose the game (Magic) and frame style for your cards.

Choose the game (Magic) and frame style for your cards.

The main screen looks something like this:

Downloading Magic Set Editor (MSE)
MSE’s main interface.

MSE’s main interface.

The left side shows the currently selected card and the right side shows a list of the cards in the set. The toolbar provides, taa-daa, tools for manipulating your cards.

 

Editing a Card

All elements of your cards can be edited – including the border colour, the rarity, the set symbol, the frame style, the card type, the image, the card name, the rules text and the flavour text. I’m sure I’ve missed something from that list.

Editing a Card

To change any one element simply click on it. Some elements will change automatically as you edit various parts of the card.

To demonstrate the process I’m going to develop a creature card. My daughter, Isobel, is about to become a blue-white legendary creature with some rather interesting abilities – designed to drive your opponent bonkers. In life she’s fiercely bright with an mind for logic that can stop you in your tracks. She has inherited my trait of losing things – especially things belonging to other people. If needed she can also make herself scarce.

First, I’m going to give her a card type and creature type and make her a Mythic.

Editing a Card

Editing a Card

Editing a mtg Card

Editing a mtg Card

Editing a mtg Card

Editing a mtg Card

I did this by hovering the cursor over the various parts of the card, clicking on the “there’s a dropdown menu here” icon, then selecting the various details I want to set. And now my legendary Angel Rogue is on her way to being immortalised.

I’m going to set her casting cost by clicking on the area of the card in the top right where the casting cost is displayed. I’m going to use the letters “U” and “W” to represent blue and white, but obviously you can also use “R” for red, “B” for black and “G” for green.

Editing a mtg Card
Isobel with casting cost and templating

Isobel with casting cost and templating

MSE automatically formats your card according to Wizard’s card templates. The blue and white mana symbols appear in the correct order, the card has a gold frame, the textbox is correctly shaded and the coloured border is white-blue.

Now I’m going to give the card a name and some art. I’ll click where the card name goes and name the card. Then I’ll double-click where MSE tells me to to select the image.

Editing a mtg Card
Setting Isobel’s Art

Setting Isobel’s Art

Once you’ve selected your image you will be given a dialogue where you can format it for the card. The left part of the dialogue box allows you to crop the image and the right part previews the final image for you. There are other options available, but I’ve always found than simply cropping my image works well enough. I’m going to click “OK” and…

Editing a mtg Card
Isobel, Who Will Drive You Bonkers

Isobel, Who Will Drive You Bonkers

Now she needs power and toughness and some rules text.

Editing a mtg Card
Isobel, Who Will Drive You Bonkers

Isobel, Who Will Drive You Bonkers

 

For the Guild Card Competition

A couple more things for the design competition. As this card is for a Return to Ravnica guild, we’re going to want to add a guild watermark to the textbox and also possibly use guild mana symbols.

Whereas to use blue, white, green, red and black man symbols on the card you’d use the letters U, W, G, R and B respectively, guild mana symbols are split and can be paid with either of the guild’s colours. To achieve this for Azorius, which is white and blue, simply type W/U wherever you need the mana symbol to appear.

MSE-guildmana

This will work for the other combinations too: R/G, U/B and so on.

 

Adding the Watermark

If you look carefully at your card’s textbox you’ll see a square marked out by a broken line. This square is where your guild logo will go. Click on the border inside this square – on Isobel’s card the border is the blue-white area. You should see a context menu like this:

Adding the Watermark

And the finished product:

Adding the Watermark

 

Save Your Work

I’ve saved my card in a set called “Family”. Remember I said that MSE’s workflow is set-based? Every card you design will need to be part of a set, which might be a set of tokens, or a set of emblems – in this case my card is the first of a set of cards representing my family. I know, I know, it’s just too cute.

To do this the blue disk “Save” icon. Give your set a name and you’re away.

 

Exporting Your Cards

Once you’ve got your card or cards designed you’re going to want to export them so that you can use the images. To Do this you need to use the File > Export menu.

Exporting Your CardsExport your cards so you can use them.

There are various options for exporting your cards but the most useful ones here are “Card Image” to export one image or “All Card Images” to export the whole set. “Card Image” exports the card you are currently working on. Both options take you to a dialogue that lets you choose the location for your card images. I recommend creating a separate folder for each of your sets, to keep things tidy.

Once saved, your images can be imported into other applications or printed out or even shared on websites or social media.

 

Printing Your Card

To print my images for tokens and proxies I import them into a word processor and resize them – Magic cards are 63mm by 88mm – before printing them off. That way I can create a page for each type of card image I need, with 6 of the same image on each page. Then I simply print off as many copies of whichever page I need.

 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you’ve now got enough information to start making your own card designs. One day, when I have the time, I would love to design an entire new set and use it to print draft sets. Until then, I’m going to keep making my own Angel, Zombie and Spirit tokens, and I try to finish rendering my family in Magic cards.

Before I go, I would again highly recommend joining the mtgUK Design a MTG Card and mtgUK & Ireland Community & Trading Discussions Facebook Groups. Here you can discuss card design ideas, ask MTG questions and engage with like-minded friends in the Magic community.

As always, please leave your questions and comments below.

Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing.

Ryan Smith

How To Design Your Own Magic: The Gathering Card Using Magic Set Editor, by Ryan Smith
How To Design Your Own Magic: The Gathering Card Using Magic Set Editor, by Ryan Smith
MSE is a free tool for designing and making Magic card images. These have a range of uses, including making personalised cards for you and your “friends”.

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Ryan has been playing Magic regularly since M10 and prefers control archetypes. He is a trained teacher and currently works as a web developer, specialising in consultancy and quality assurance services. He enjoys playing the guitar and the mandolin and taking down weekly Magic tournaments. Sometimes. When his deck likes him. Ryan lives in Devon with his wife, his three children and his border collie. In his spare time he enjoys writing about himself in the third person.