In this Instructable, I'll be showing you how to make a duplicate of basically any ID or other sort of card. I will also outline the methods for modifying this card for any sort of novelty purpose.
Notice I say novelty - this is not intended for fraudulent or otherwise illegal activities. I accept no legal responsibility for any said ventures.
As this is my first instructable, any comments or questions are welcome and appreciated.
Update: It's been a few years since I wrote this. Since I'm not doing this anymore, I guess I'll give away my best secret... The ID Warehouse is a site I used to get going, and contains a ton of free templates and easy guides that helped me figure it out. The sign-up process can be annoying, but it's definitely worthwhile. The guy behind the site is also super helpful if you're stuck.
Best of luck!
Step 1: Supplies Needed
ID/whatever card - Get out your old Joe Schmoe, INC. identification card, library card, or whatever it is you feel you need to have an upgraded duplicate of.
Photoshop - or any other equivalent software - however, I'm gonna be using photoshop so it will be easier to follow along if you are using it as well.
Scanner - Good quality if possible
Printer - Also good quality
Laminator - more detail on which type when I get to it
Teslin paper - available from several websites. I recommend www.poisonid.com as it is the only site I could find selling the 4 x 6 perforated sheets I use here. They run from $4 US for a single ID to $33 for a pack of 20. IMO, go for the big pack because in all likelihood you will screw up a couple of times in the process of making this. Make sure you get the kind for your printer, whether inkjet or laser. Artisyn paper supposedly is just is good or better, but I've never tried it.
Butterfly laminate pouches - Again, many websites to choose from. If you buy from PoisonID, they come with the teslin paper. However, if you want your card to be magnetic stripe-scannable, then you will need to buy from a site selling 10 mil pouches (PoisonID's are 7 mil - close, but probably won't work with a magnetic strip encoder). They will also need a magnetic strip on the back - try here
Scalpel or scissors or both
Hologram overlays - available from PoisonID as well as many other sites. Gives it some extra pizazz. However they are stick-on so they're a royal pain in the ass to apply without mucking up.
Magnetic stripe encoder - Pretty expensive normally. I would look for one on ebay to try and score it for under $150. Good luck.
Curling iron/regular iron/hair straightener - if the ID you are trying to copy has a hologram on it, use one of these to get rid of it.
Step 2: Preparing the Card
To start, get out the card you will be copying. For this demonstration, I am showing the process of duplicating a "Joe Schmoe Inc." corporate identity card.
If the old card is worn out, take a rag to it and try and get rid of any gunk left on the surface. Also, if your card has a hologram, it has to go. To accomplish this, do the following:
Get out your iron/curling iron/hair straightener/portable hot, flat surface.
Let it heat up, then gently start applying it to one of the edges of your card. Make sure not to leave the iron on the card for very long - use quick motions, dragging the iron away from you off the edge of the card, on and off fairly fast. This prevents ruining the card by melting it or making bubbles.
Apply the iron to the card until you can lift up the top laminate layer. Depending on what type of card it is, it may contain much of the text and possibly even the photo. Don't worry if bits of the background pattern come off as it is fairly easy to repair any damage in Photoshop.
Step 3: Scanning the Card
Most likely you will have a fair bit of text left, which we will be replacing in the next step to improve quality.
Step 4: Photoshop Fixing 1
Open your scan in photoshop. In this example we will be changing the "ID type" section of the card to say "full clearance" - that's what you had in mind for a fake ID right?
Select the Clone Stamp tool, and Alt-click in the area surrounding the text you want to replace. You may need to adjust the brush size to fit the area you are working on (this is done from the toolbar across the top). Work piece by piece, making sure the area you alt-click has a similar colour/texture to the background behind the text. Next, click over the adjacent section of the text to replace it.
Once you are done removing all the text (yeah, all of it. Scanned and then reprinted text looks terrible), fill it in using the type tool. You will want to try and match the font to that on your ID. If you can't, Helvetica or Helvetica Condensed is a good bet for an official-looking typeface.
Continue using the Clone Stamp tool to replace any blemishes or holes in the ID, such as in the photo area, where bits of colour may be left over. An alternative to the Clone Stamp is the Marquee select tool (keyboard shortcut M). For areas that are simpler to fix (ie, text or holes over solid background), just select a spot next to it and copy and paste it over.
Step 5: Photoshop Fixing 2
What we're going to do now is replace the header texture, as well as any other sort of divider or background bars that didn't survive scanning. Notice on the image in step 3 how the blue bars on the image look kinda crappy? We will now rectify that so when you print it, it does not look antique.
First off, locate the spots you need to fix. If there is text over top of it which you replaced, make it invisible by going to the Layers tab on the right hand corner, and clicking the eyeball next to the specific text layer. What you're about to do will make the previous task of cloning the background over the old text in these spots redundant. This is the reason step 4 mostly should have come first. But that's ok, practice is good.
Next, find a way of selecting the box. This should be easy if it doesn't have rounded corners. Just pick your Marquee Select tool, and highlight the area. If your area is of an odd shape, such as the header with rounded corners on the example card, refer to steps 1 - 4 of the image below.
The method I've described in the picture below will somewhat replicate the pattern on the card I have copied. For different patterns, feel free to ask, otherwise figure it out yourself. Set your foreground colour to the one of the dark colours of blue on the header (use the eyedropper tool and click over the spot where the colour is). Set the background colour to white.
Get the gradient tool. For those not familiar with Photoshop, it's hiding behind the paint bucket tool. Go to the gradient options on the top toolbar, and select radial gradient. Then, on the same panel set the gradient type to "foreground to background". Making sure you still have the box selected, drag a straight line down from above the centre of the box to below the bottom of it. Aim for a nice spherical gradient throughout the middle of the box without too much harsh white.
Next, you will want to add a pattern overlay. What I did was create a new image about 10 x 10 pixels, draw a squiggly black line across it, then go Edit->Define Pattern. Next, I separated the header box into a separate layer, by selecting it, copying it, deleting it, then pasting it. It will paste into a new layer - just line it back up to where it was. Now, right click on your new layer and go to Blending Options. Select Pattern Overlay, and select the pattern you just created. Lower the opacity down to a good level (10% seems pretty good), and voila. Feel free to mess with it to achieve the desired effect. Keep in mind the details are not very noticeable once the card is printed and laminated.
Repeat the steps on this page for any other boxes which need fixing. After that, un-hide any text layers you had previously hidden, copy and paste your picture into the white box, and make any needed finishing touches to your template.
Step 6: Printing
Before you print the template on Teslin, you may want to do a few test runs on regular 4 x 6 paper to get the alignment right so that it fits right within the perforated area. Get the size to the right dimensions and centre your image.
Once you've got it aligned correctly, go to Photoshop, and hit Print Preview->Page Setup. Under Paper Size, select 4x6 and hit OK. Click Print, then on the next screen go to Properties. Set it to Photo Printing - Borderless, then print.
When it's done, don't pop the card out of the perforation. We still have to print the rest of it. Oh yeah, did I mention there's a back side?.
For the back side of the card, just repeat the steps used to create the template of the front side. Once that's done, flip your Teslin paper over and stick it back in the printer. Print again.
You can now pop the card out of the perforation. If the tempate did not fit perfectly into the perforated area, use your scalpel and ruler or scissors to trim it to shape. It is ok if you have a few areas to be cut down, just as long as you can make it look good when finished.
Step 7: Laminating
When it comes to using a laminator, you will want one that can handle the thickness of laminate pouch you are using. Try and use one that accepts at least 7 mil, preferably 10. It must also do hot laminate, not cold. Good quality laminators will produce better results.
Turn on your laminator and let it heat up.
While it's heating, put your freshly-printed template into the laminate pouch, with the top of your card against the seam. This will save you from cutting important parts of the ID off in case the laminate pouch slips in the laminator. It is also possible to use a tiny amount of super glue on the back of the card to secure it in place.
Once the laminator is ready, put the card in seam-first. Give it a bit of time to cool when it comes out before handling it or bending it. If the card comes out floppy or it seems the laminate has not adhered, run it through the laminator again.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
Once you are satisfied with your product, you can add a hologram overlay (as seen below). Simply peel and stick, making sure you line it up square. To prevent getting bubbles under the overlay, perform this step in a vacuum. If you don't have a vacuum chamber at your disposal, or have no way of getting into space, then just work your way edge to edge with your finger while sticking it on, getting rid of the air underneath. This can be tricky. Also a good reason why you should buy several hologram overlays.
If you still have bubbles under the hologram, use the back side of a knife or a rolling pin to force them out.
Finally, if you want to make your card swipeable, get out your magnetic stripe encoder. What comes next you will have to figure out, as I have never operated one.
Congratulations, you're finished.