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.

Gnome Stew is proud to present our Print and Fold Gnome Miniatures!

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.

About  Matthew J. Neagley

First introduced to RPGs through the DnD Red Box Set in 1990, Matt fights on ongoing battle with GMing ADD, leaving his to-do list littered with the broken wrecks of half-formed campaigns, worlds, characters, settings, and home-brewed systems. Luckily, his wife is also a GM, providing him with time on both sides of the screen.



4 Responses to Free Standees from Gnome Stew to You!

  1. Hi all,

    i’ve just started using paper minis and they’re great- cheap and better than using fantasy trolls to stand in for sci-fi bad guys…

    BUT- how do you all store these things? i’ve been using the tri-fold format, which is nice b/c they’ll support blast templates and such (SW)… any ideas?

  2. I always just kept mine loose in a box. They’re light enough that they don’t damage each other that way, but you have to be ginger while poking through for the one you want.

    If you want a “zero chance of damage” solution, try this: Instead of gluing the base together and using a weight on the bottom, get small paperclips and paperclip the bottoms together (this may make them stand a bit crooked, but it’s not a big problem). When it’s time to store them, remove the paper clips, unfold them, and you can store them flat. The 1″ counters unfold to a 1″x4″ strip, the 2″ counters unfold to a 2″x8″ strip. Again, repeated handling and folding and unfolding will tend to weak them out, so if you want to keep a collection around forever, make sure you print them on a heavier stock and/or laminate them.

  3. I’m not a GM but I still love these! I had to actually print, cut, and fold one up to visualize how the finished product looked, so now I have a little gnome on my desk at work :D

    I’m thinking of doing up a bunch that are blanks or just have a number on one side, and then laminating them. Then they can stand in for whatever random things get thrown as us, and we can just wipe them off when they are done.

    Thanks for the great freebie!

  1. Silvervine’s Black Friday Offering – Silvervine Games Paper Miniature Makers – 11-27-2009 - Silvervine Games Newsblog

    [...] Black Friday shopping sprees that are going on, we present you a free gift. I recently made a free paper miniatures PDF for Gnome Stew with one of the other Gnomes Matthew [...]

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