Football Cards: Design Characteristics Since 1985 Part 3

Nowadays some companies even go as far as to put a kind of glitter on their sports cards to help the focal point (usually the player) stand out more. Another common feature that seems to have been added much more frequently is the way in which shapes are being used. The basic shapes of a flat twodimensional circle or square have now been transformed to appear almost threedimensional in depiction. Personally, I like the look of the shapes themselves, but at the same time, it is in my opinion that these shapes take away from what is supposed to be the focal point of the card, which is the player himself.

While these shapes look nice, yet busy, some companies keep on using them. But one change that I have noticed for the better, lies again with the border and the way in which the card is formatted. Sometime in the early 90’s, card companies went away from using the border in a rectangular fashion where it surrounded the entire photograph of the player. Now a large amount of card companies have taken away the full border, but have still employed a form of framing the subject. Some have developed a sort of seethru frame, where the picture of the player has a frame around him, but then the rest of the photograph still exudes outsides the frame to the very edges of the card.

Another method that is commonly used these days by card companies to help the player stand out even more than he normally would, occurs when the normal background is taken away from the photograph. In other words, sometimes the player is merelycutoutof the photograph and placed on top of a background of choice. Sometimes the player will just lie on top of a colored background or pattern, but other times he will be covering various shapes orlines that seem to create a sense of motion as if they are moving behind him.

Another spin-off of the above idea that has evolved more recently. involves the use of computer graphics. The same idea of cutting out the player is used, but instead of inserting a colored backdrop or shapes, the designer has replaced the normal background of the photograph with that of another. With this idea, you could use your imagination to the fullest of it’s extent. Designers could appear to have players running on the moon, or lumping over the sea. This is probably one method that is just as fun for the designer to create, as it is for the spectator to view.

These methods of design that I have brought up don’t just apply to sports cards obviously. but I felt that they were a good example to look at. Every year they are changing and coming up with something new for the viewer, hoping to draw them in by catching their attention with a brilliant design. This is the same objective for anyone who creates a design. You want to capture the viewer’s interest be developing a design that is visually appealing. If you succeed and reach this goal. then the results can only be positive.

Football Cards: Design Characteristics Since 1985 Part 2

While the outer edge of this card was green and white in color, within this trim was another trim, about half the size of the outer border. This trim was simple with only one color being portrayed. The color was used just as it was in the previous years model, matching a color to that of the player’s uniform. Below the photograph of the player, but still within the surrounding border, is a blue box. Inside the box is the player’s name in white.

This is the same technique that is used in the previous year, where one soft color is displayed in contrast with a bold color to help the name stand out for the viewer. In the corner, still within the border. but vet overlapping the inner trim, the name of the player’s team is shown inside a yellow diagonal rectangle. This idea of portraying this rectangle in a diagonal sense helped to create a symmetrical design as this rectangle was parallel to the white lines surrounding them. I think that Topps did an excellent job with the directional forces that helped to move your eyes back and forth from the bottom to upper comer of the card.

I’ve probably described these examples in a way that makes them sound very busy in form, when in fact they are not at all busy when compared to some of the designs that I’ve noticed in today’s cards. I haven’t collected cards for some time now, but every so often I’ve run across some cards at the store or in an advertisement, and the change from now to then is huge.

Before 1990 there weren’t designs that had any organic or abstract ways to them. They were always geometric in design, displaying shapes such as squares, circles, or rectangles within them Now, I have seen a large amount of designs that are asymmetrical in design where there are many unequal elements. and visual weight is forced to try and grab and hold the attention of the viewer.

The idea of the white trim border seems to be the rarest form of border found in sports cards these days. Colors are the way to make a border stand out now. White is almost a thing of the past. My personal favorite type of border is simple in it’s idea. For example. one year a football card company placed the main color of the team, at its full intensity, on the top of the card and gradually softened this color towards the middle while intensifying it again at the bottom. I like this because of it’s a very simple, yet positive effect.

In some instances, there is not even a border present. This is actually my own personal preference as well. The card design is much more simplistic, which in my mind is also much more effective. If anything, the viewer is appreciating the photograph of the player more than the design itself. Usually when there is no border surrounding the photo. the card company usually creates a box or circle of some size that is filled the player’s name and team. Although this might not count as much of a design, I think the idea of keeping things simple is the way to go.

Football Cards: Design Characteristics Since 1985 Part 1

Attracting collectors of sports cards has involved various design changes in their history. This article reflects on some of the major changes over the past 20 years.

I started collecting cards back in 1985. I mainly bought football cards. Now the trick with sports cards is to somehow frame a picture of the player who is being represented. Though the year of 1985 may not seem like a breakout year in design to some people, but I think it was.

Before 1985, I cannot recall seeing a border surrounding a picture in any color other than white. But that all changed with the Topps brand of football cards in 1985.

The border surrounding the picture of the player was suddenly painted in black. This created a level of intensity that helped to bring out the photograph of the player depicted on the card.

Another noticeable change appeared in the printing of the player’s name, The player’s last name was printed in bold white letters, while the player’s first name was printed in small black letters. The scale of the last name is almost gigantic when compared to the first. But even though the first name of the player was printed much smaller than the last, it still stood out because of the contrast between the black and the white.

The other two characteristics that a card company usually tend to display on their card are the player’s position, and team that he plays for. In this particular example, Topps did not choose to identify the player’s position, which is a very rare find. But they did identify the team that the player was associated with.

The team name was listed underneath the player’s name in black surrounded by the main color of the player’s uniform. Besides the black and white design of the card, this was the only color that shown, thus helping it to stand out a bit.

Lastly, there was one more major element that made this year of football card a unique one. To this day I have noticed that almost all card designs are produced where the picture of the player is depicted in a vertical, or up and down kind of fashion. But with this model the layout of the border required the card holder to turn their card, holding it vertically in order to see the photo of the player correctly. I think there is a reason as to why this type of format has not been used too commonly. Just like with books, it Just seems easier for people to view the objects with the longer side stretching vertically rather than horizontally. The company took a risk coming out with these cards, but it seemed to have open the door for many other intriguing ideas and designs.

In the following year of 1986, Topps came out with one of its most popular designs ever Topps once again stayed away from the traditional idea of the white trim border. This year they introduced a green trim around the photo with diagonal white lines. These lines tend to draw in the viewer more than one would think, because they actually represent more than just some green and white lines.

The content or meaning behind the work of art is simple to football fans. The game of football is played on a green field, with white lines being spaced out over every five yards. So, the card company just tilted the lines a bit by making them appear diagonal in order to help catch the viewer’s attention.