Monday, December 19, 2011

OUTSIDE THE BOX - Limited Cuts

If you've ever taken a gander at some of the web pages card companies use to promote their products, then you know that they often like to put the best of the best photos up for all to see.

Makes sense obviously.

And every once in a while, I come across a photo or card design that just makes me stop and do a double take.

It could be from any sport, any time period, any player - anything. Good is good......simple as that.

2011 Donruss Limited Cuts
Elvis Presley/Michael Jackson dual cut autograph 1/1

Well, I saw this on Panini's blog this week and sure enough...the card made my jaw drop. Now that's what I call a cut autograph card. While I'm not huge into 'entertainment' cards, this one would definitely be a welcome addition to my collection (doubtful we'll ever cross paths though).

Clearly, the first thing I'm drawn to with this card is the subject as opposed to the presentation. While the card does look nice, I think it's a difficult task to produce an aesthetically pleasing card that only has a couple of autographs in it.

Take a look at some of the other cards from the product.

Any one of these cards would likely be a pinnacle piece in a person's collection. The history embedded in these pieces of cardboard are quite outstanding.

Obviously, there are only a finite amount of certain autographs (like Cosell and Cobb), and some of the scribes are delicate and difficult to work with. But that said, I am a big believer in using the autograph to build the design of the card (not the other way around).

Take another look at the cards. The cutting off of a person's signature (like the Jackson auto) or the edges of the paper showing (like in the Rose) just leaves me slightly less impressed.

I would have preferred a card where the die-cut made for the signature to go into be customized to the limitations of the autograph.

It's interesting....When I was at the Toronto Expo last month, I had a discussion about just that topic with a person who has a few spectacular cut auto cards - and a lot of them are very aesthetically pleasing.

2010/11 ITG Heroes & Prospects Baseball II
Paper-Cuts Cut Autograph
#HP-HW Honus Wagner 1/1

Plain and simple....this is how a cut autograph should look in my opinion. The autograph is clean, the window it goes in was made for this card (and even vice versa...look at the edging on the autograph paper itself).

Now again, I realize it's tough sometimes when you are limited to the autograph you have in hand (that Cosell one especially), but I feel that there are always options.

From my limited experience at working with cut autos, I've quickly adapted the goal of having the signature that sits within the card look as visually pleasing as possible. That means having most - if not all - of the autograph visible, having no 'paper edges' showing and if they do, then trying to mask it as best as possible.

This Gilles Gilbert I made is a perfect example. Take a look at the upper left corner where the autograph sits. There is a visible paper edge. Now if this signature were written on blue paper, the edge would be way more predominant. What I did (and it would work on the blue as well) is to take a scrap piece of the autograph paper and place it behind the autograph in the window. Yes, you can still see the edge, but the paper used fills the window.

Another technique I've used is to create a window that works with the handwriting of the signature.

This Richard auto was my first attempt at it. It took quite a few tries, but I finally got a shape that I was happy with. And I think the autograph just pops out of the card even more as a result.

But this Jack Nicklaus card is probably the best example of customizing the die-cut. From the time I built the Richard auto to the Nicklaus, I purchased an exacto knife with a swivel head. A must in my opinion if you are doing custom windows like this.

The autograph works with the card design - just like I had intended.

Overall, these cut autos from icons past are a spectacular innovation to the hobby. If you ever get a chance to get one - do it.

But if you ever get a chance to see one - stop and take a moment to look at it, hold it and appreciate what it takes to build one of these spectacular cards.


  1. Those autos just pop with the die cut windows.

    Nice job.

  2. Seriously, card companies should take a look at your customs and take some serious notes.

    Or better yet, they just need to hire you as as consultant/designer.

  3. I said it when you first posted these... they are just kick a$$.

    Remind me to commision some of your work after the xmas $$$ crucnh.

    you coming to trade night wednesday?

  4. Thanks for the comments. I do plan on making it out to trade night. We'll definitely talk about doing some customs in the new year.

  5. i LOVE the Michael Jackson one (im a HUGE fan!) I only dont like how his full signature was not on it! I get that they had to cut alot of it out because it is a huge signature but still theres not even full J.

  6. I totally agree Shauna. I think that's the one thing I like the least about the card.

    But still......The King of Rock & Roll and The King of Pop on the same card.


  7. They should have put the signatures on the front and back that way there is way more space to put the signature!

  8. and can i say the Pete Rose was a fail at fitting into the card!