|November 18, 2009||Posted by Matthew J. Neagley|
If you’ve been carefully combing over our website every hour or so like a loyal gnome, and for shame if you haven’t, you noticed that yesterday we had a new download available.
We received an e-mail late September from one of our servicemen. One of the things we discussed with him was good sources for inexpensive minis. Never ones to ignore people who have demonstrated excellent taste in GMing advice websites, we immediately started the ball rolling on a project to bring low cost minis to all of our readers.
Being too cheap savvy to buy miniatures myself, I had been using homemade standees for my game for some time, but their format was software specific and they required several steps to import, rotate, resize, and otherwise tweak custom images. They worked, but they weren’t easy to use. Enter fellow gnome John Arcadian, who used his extensive Adobe skills to create a final, fully automated version. All you need to use them properly is the newest version of the free Adobe Reader software.
How do I use these things?
Using the standees is incredibly easy. Just open them up in the newest version of Adobe Reader, then click on any pictures you would like to replace. Clicking will open a file selection box. Choose the image you want to import, and the PDF automatically resizes, and rotates as necessary. Print them out, cut on the solid lines, and fold on the dotted lines. That’s all there is to it! You’ll need to import both sides of each standee separately, but there’s a good reason for that.
How do I get the longest use out of these?
First, no matter what you do, they’re always going to be paper, so treat them accordingly. They don’t do well when you drop books on them or step on them. You can get more durability out of them by printing on a heavier stock and you might want to laminate ones you want to be especially durable. A drop of glue or some tape to keep the bases together is helpful, as is a penny or other small weight on the bottom if your play area gets shaken frequently, or is breezy.
What if I need to tweak my picture?
If you need to make alterations to your picture, you’ll have to do that before you import it. You can do that with any picture editing resources you like, but here are some suggestions:
- Pixenate – a free web-based picture editor that links with Facebook
- Picasa – a free picture organizing, editing, and uploading utility from Google
Picture editing is useful to crop images, reduce color images to black and white, mirror image pictures (so that the silhouettes match) and other functions.
Why can’t I save this?
Adobe Reader doesn’t have a save functionality. To get save functionality you need to upgrade to the much more powerful (and expensive) Adobe Acrobat. However, Reader does have printing functionality. If you want to save a sheet of standees, download a PDF printer (My favorite is PDF Creator) and print to a new PDF. The new PDF won’t have any of the functionality of the original, but you’ll be able to pull it up and re-print it whenever you like.
Alright Smartass, why do I have to import each picture twice?
There are two reasons it’s necessary to import each picture twice. First, we knew that some people would want to mirror image one of their images so the silhouettes match, and some images wouldn’t look correct mirror imaged (for example, any image with text, or images where right and left is important). Second, we knew that some people would want different images on each side of their standee, which wouldn’t be possible if importing one side auto-imported the other.
You’re so full of it. Why would I want to mirror image one side?
In addition to it matching, for all our readers with OCD, mirror images means matching silhouettes. Matching silhouettes means that you can trim off excess “white space” from the sides of your standee (just be sure to leave connections at the top and bottom) and get an end result closer to a mini. This process will weaken them, so standees like this are good candidates for stronger stock or lamination.
OK, but why use different pictures?
Imagine this scenario: You’ve placed half your players on one side of your table, and the other half on the other side. The room the PCs are in has a silence effect, so you’ve banned table talk (and you’ve dropped a roll of duct tape on the table to show you mean it). What the players don’t know, is that the room is also under a powerful illusion. Several of the standees you’ve placed in the room have two very different images, a different one facing each side of the table. Which image is real? Only you know, but it’s certain to cause confusion and havoc amongst the players.
Now imagine this one: You’ve placed your players on one side of the table, and you’re on the other. You’ve placed your standees so you can see one side, and the players can see the other. Several of your standees have different pictures on each side. When the PCs meet predetermined conditions, you turn the standees around, “Morphing” the monsters.
If I can come up with these two uses for multi-picture standees, I guarantee Gnome Stew readers, creative bunch they are, will come up with dozens more.