How-to Design and print your own labels for NEXGEN chips
Article Title: How-to Design and print your own labels for NEXGEN chips (or other chips with 1" recessed area)
Member Article by: Matthew
I started this effort because I wanted a unique chip that was customized to me. Sticking labels on the NEXGENs is the most economical way to achieve a custom chip. Custom Chipcos would be my first choice but the chips are expensive and price is increased per chip after the artwork fees. Some pros and cons:
NEXGENS with labels: more economical, labels will wear, easy to change, easy to expand, can mix and match colors and quantity, personal satisfaction of doing it yourself.
Custom Chip - more expensive, chips last forever, have the selected design forever, can expand but new artwork fees if you want different colors, minimum number of chips in orders, paying someone for their expertise.
A label design (as simple or complicated as you can come up with) Summary:
1” Circular labels sheets (63 labels per 8.5” x 11” page – available for laser and inkjet printers)
Graphics art program (Photoshop etc.)
Label printing program (free Worldlabel.com Label Designer 4, Microsoft Word)
Laser or Inkjet printer (Kinko’s has both color and black and white laser printers)
It all started for me as an economic decision. I wanted unique chips, but did not want to pay $500-$600+ for 400 custom Chipcos. I wanted a simple design with denominations that had my location on it. These would be our cash game chips where we play 50˘/$1 no-limit hold-em. The weekly game buy-in starts with $20 per person and we usually have 5-8 players. By the end of the night we have $300-$400 in play. I figured 100 - 50˘, 200 - $1, 80 - $5 and 20 - $20 or $1050 value would do it for us. This would also be even quantities of chips in the racks for storage.Design:
Thinking about the process, I researched labels on the forums and on-line. I had a limited edition of Photoshop and played with it in the past. I had 100 red NEXGENs from a previous e-bay auction, so expanding the NEXGENs was the logical and again more economical choice. I did the design process first to help decide on chip colors and the artwork and denominations I wanted. Next I purchased both laser and inkjet labels, and experimented with the printing process with some trial and error. Once the printing was done, I applied the labels and we used the chips later that week. They got rave reviews, not necessarily for the quality of the chip, but for the design on them and the fact that I did them myself. As a side note, at another host’s game, we use his casino Paulson’s and although the chips are much better quality, my design is favored.
This is the phase where I spent most of my time. I wanted four chip colors but common design elements in the chips. I knew I wanted a blue $1 chip, a red $5 chip a 50˘ chip and a $20 chip. I chose a white $20 over a green $25 to be different, to be consistent with our buy-in and because I really liked the white NEXGEN 10-8002 series chip. The only other color I needed to decide on was for the 50˘ chip. I did this after I came up with the artwork. Acquiring Materials:
Initially, I wanted a hot chick superheroes theme and searched the web for artwork of Batgirl, Supergirl and Womderwoman. Google them sometime, there are some pretty cool pictures out there. I changed my mind on this theme, mainly because I wanted a white background and didn’t have the patience or skills to manipulate the pictures in Photoshop to remove the background and just have the figure. This led me to the black and white simple design.
My design has 4 elements to it, but you can get as creative and colorful as you want. All 4 chips have a name on top. I came up with 91 Card Room since my house number is 91. This is one aspect of my design I am not completely satisfied with. I should have tried to get a little more creative. I wanted something to reflect New Hampshire for the logo portion. I chose native wildlife images including a wild turkey, whitetail deer, a moose and a lobster. I wanted a black bear, but couldn’t find a figure I liked, that’s how the lobster got added. I put denominations of 50˘, $1, $5 and $20 on the chips. The final aspect, which was the 1st component I created, was the location, New Boston, NH on the bottom of the chip. Every item in design was entered in Photoshop as text. The animals are from wildlife fonts I downloaded from the web.
I used a 200 pixel/inch resolution with a 560x560 pixel canvas in Photoshop. I came to these specifications through trial and error; it wound up being the best size image for me to be imported as the background for the worldlabel.com software. The font sizes of the text varied. I was careful to not get too small and fancy; I made sure to remember this would be a 1” circle and should be easy to read. I used layers in Photoshop to change the wildlife images and denominations, which allowed the text on the top and bottom to remain fixed for the four different designs for some uniformity.
I also imported pictures of the chips from vendor site and added my design as a mockup. This allowed me to put the 4 denominations in a row and see how they would look together. I had previously decided on the $1 blue, $5 red and $20 white, so I needed the 4th color for the 50˘. There was a measure of logic to my choice for the NEXGEN 10-8000 series yellow chip for the 50˘. I was tied to red 10-8000 with 3 edge spots since I already had them. I also knew I was going to use the blue and white 10-8002 series chips with 4 edge spots. I wanted a 10-8000 chip to tie in with the red 10-8000 and balance everything out. I could have used the green, black purple or yellow. I chose the yellow based on the mockup of the color combinations.
I spent about 16 hours total over three weeks to finish the design.
Now I had 4 designs saved as JPG files and needed the materials. I purchased 100 glossy laser labels and 20 inkjet labels from data-labels.com for $39.95 and $9.95 plus $7.79 shipping. I downloaded and used a 15-day free trial printing software from worldlabel.com to finalize the page I would print. The 15-day trial was an actual 15 days of use, not a running clock that expired 15 days from the first use. Since I do not have a laser printer I researched where I could use one. I looked for a local Kinko’s and found they have both black and white and color laser printers. Kinko’s charges $0.50 per black and white print and $0.99 per color print. I bought the chips I needed online from 5stardeal for $0.20 or $0.22 each plus shipping.Printing:
Now with a 4 final designs and labels and chips in hand, it was time to print the actual labels. I went through quite a few pages of plain paper to get the confidence to print on the actual label sheets. This followed the adage of the measure twice – cut once.Application:
In the Worldlabel.com printing software, there is a 1” circular template with a non-printing circular guide to get your image centered. I found the best way to get the final design ready for printing was import the design as a background in the printing software. For reference, the printing software does allow layers and “arc” text to curve around the outside edge of the label, but I found it very difficult to get it to look and print accurately. The single import as a background worked the best for me. There are also Microsoft Word templates available for the 1” labels 63 per sheet. However, the graphic was difficult to center and it was more difficult to play with the borders to get the design to line up with the actual labels.
Overlaying the plain sheets on the label sheet and holing them up to a light I saw that I needed to adjust the borders of the template in the worldlabel.com free printing software. I increased the printing area from 1” square to 1.1” square and took away 0.05” on the left and top margins to compensate for the increased label area. This helped center the image in the label on the page and would be necessary if the design had a full color background.
With the standard 1” area, the bottom few rows of the sheet had a sliver of unprinted area on the bottom of the actual label that is peeled off the sheet. By increasing the borders to the 1.1” square the unprinted area was eliminated. Unfortunately, the image seems to creep up the page and impacts the bottom few rows of the prints as the images becomes off center, making it necessary to run extra sheets. It also matters what way the label sheet is fed into the printer. The measurements to the upper left label are slightly different depending on how the paper is oriented. There is a lot of trial and error in this process. The pitfalls are:
1. The design creeps up the page relative to the center of the label towards the bottom of the sheet. This makes it necessary to print extra sheets to have your design centered in the individual labels.
2. The print area of the template needs to be expanded if your design has a full color background. Otherwise the creep causes a small sliver of unprinted area on the bottom rows of labels.
3. The margins are different to the first label depending on which corner you have as the upper left.
I also cut out some labels from the plain paper and taped them to the chip just to confirm my mockups. This would be a good way to match the colors to the chips if doing a color design, but I advise using the same printer that will be printing the labels.
I also bought twenty inkjet labels as a trial (100 sheets was the minimum for the laser labels). The inkjet labels were more “papery” and not nearly as nice as the glossy laser. The colors seemed to bleed together more on the inkjet paper cutting down on the sharpness of the image.
With my experimenting done on plain paper and inkjet labels, it was off the Kinko’s to print my laser sheets. The attendant at Kinko’s politely informed me that they weren’t supposed to allow labels to run through their laser printers but she let me do it anyway. I brought my laptop and installed their printer driver right at the store. I spent 30-40 minutes at Kinko’s installing the driver and manually feeding the laser labels through the printer.
I used 7 of the 15 days of the free trial experimenting with the printing to get it right and 1 day of the trial on the final printing.
Now that I had 24 sheets of labels, it was time to get them on the chips. I started trying to line up the top of the label to an edge spot but quickly grew tired of that effort because it was taking me way too long to finish the task and I discovered the occasional misaligned edge spot on my NEXGEN chips. It was fairly easy to get the label centered on the chip. There were a few mistakes, but the labels peeled off easily when necessary. Pulling it off, once applied to the chip, destroyed the label, which is another reason to make extra prints. I spent 2-3 hours over a few days applying 800 labels to 400 chips. Finished product:
With the glossy laser labels, I feel it is unnecessary to do any type of spray-on protection such as a Krylon sealer. I had to scratch pretty hard with my fingernail to damage the glossy laser image. The more “papery” inkjet labels were more easily scratched and damaged. The glossy labels are sharper and brighter than the inkjet labels. With the 1” recessed center on the NEXGEN chips, the labels do not affect the racking or stacking of the chips.
The effort took approximately 30 hours of my time and I purchased labels, chips, plastic racks and had some printing costs. For 400 NEXGEN chips in racks with my custom designed labels, my cost was 31.7 cents per chip. Please see my other review of the NEXGEN chips.
Last edited by X-Files; 01-25-2006 at 03:38 PM.