Introduction: 3D/Shadow Box Hearthstone Cards

I've always had fun making 3D cards, they're relatively easy to make and fairly cheap for a hobby/craft project. I made this guide for hearthstone cards because those are the cards I make most often and because people have asked how I make them! So without further ado, here's my basic guide to making 3D/Shadowbox Hearthstone cards!


Here's the list of equipment and materials you're going to need make your cards:

1. Craft board/cutting board

2. Scissors

3. Craft knife/exact-o knife

4. Glues of different types (I like to try different glues and adhesives to see if there are better types out there. But generally you will want a glue that dries quickly, because the last thing you will want is a floppy card..)

5. Glue spreader (the green thing, we used to have them in primary school art class)

6. Round presser (for shaping and curving)

7. Sponge

8. Black felt tip pen

9. Enamel varnish (I use a spray varnish, but there's brush on varnish out there if you'd prefer that)

If you're planning on printing the cards out yourself, you are going to need:

Glossy photo quality printing paper in A4

Black Card in A4 and between 160 - 200 gsm

Step 1: Selecting Your Card of Choice

For this example I am going to go with Shadowcaster, a Rogue class card from the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion. The best place I have found for getting really good high quality renders from the Sunwell card renderer They only have cards from the earlier expansions however, so if you are wanting to get a card from an expansion after WotOG you will have to go to It's the same renderer as far as I'm aware, but they don't render them as large as the Sunwell one and the text isn't always formatted correctly (it does the job though).

Step 2: Editing the Card

Now that you have chosen your card, you will need to open it up in either photoshop or gimp (I use gimp because it is free). There should be an option to start a new project and to set the project size to A4, then add the card image as a new layer and adjust the size of the card to your liking (I usually only make small adjustments to the size as they are usually about the same size as a physical playing card when I add it to gimp). Make five copies of the card (this might be a tad wasteful, but I do it because I like having spares of everything in case I make a mistake), and then use the free select tool to highlight around the different elements of the card to copy and paste as separate layers in the project. In total you should have (including the original image), six full copies of the card, two copies of the portrait in the card, two copies of both the health and attack symbols (I know my example only has one copy of each, but you can definitely fit two and it will mean you will have extra parts to do fancy detailing that I did not do with this card), two copies of the mana cost/crystal, one copy of the epic rarity gem, one copy of the name banner and one copy of the portrait, name banner, card description combined. Once you are happy with the finished project, you will need to export the image to whatever file type you prefer (I use .png, you might be more comfortable with a different type) so you can print it.

Step 3: Printing and Cutting

If you plan on printing yourself, you will need some glossy photo quality A4 paper and I would recommend a laser jet printer (or at the very least a high quality inkjet printer). It is completely understandable if you do not have one or cannot afford one (I get to use the printer at my work for a lot of craft related stuff anyway), I would then recommend finding a decent printing shop which offers high quality single prints in glossy A4 photo paper. Either way, you should end up with a decent looking print that is ready to be cut out and assembled!

Cut 5 of the full images out normally, I like to trim the edges off the mana crystal and the attack & health symbols of these 5 as I think it looks nicer with those elements of the card appearing just on the top layer. Cut one of the full images in half as shown and to the second border that runs round the card. Cut everything else out as normal and glue everything (apart from the separate portrait, mana crystal, rarity gem and health & attack symbols) on to a sheet of black card and leave it so the glue can dry. If I notice the cards starting to buckle while the glue is drying, I usually leave the whole sheet pressed between two large heavy books to keep them flat.

Step 4: Building Up the Layers

Once everything is dry on the sheet of card is dry you can cut them out again and start planning out the layers of the card and portrait. Keep one of the 5 full cards uncut to act as the base layer, then start cutting details of the portraits out from the other 4 layers (and possibly the layer we cut in half). The way I normally do it is to cut the portrait out entirely for one or two of the layers so that the shadowcaster looks like it's floating in mid air, then I cut most of the portraits out for the other layers but leave certain parts attached to the card so that they can layer up to make a 3D effect (I'm not going to show you exactly how I layered the shadowcaster portrait, as I think the appearance of the artwork is up to personal preference, I'd much rather people experiment with how they layer their cards rather than follow my instructions exactly).

Make sure that before you assemble all the layers, that you run round the edges and round the silhouette of each portrait layer with a black felt tip pen. This makes the card look neater and somewhat disguises the card layers unless you were to look really closely. If the your card layers start buckling again when you're assembling and gluing the layers together, once again leave the card pressed between two heavy books to flatten it out and only glue one layer at a time. Only glue the next layer on when you're sure that the previous layer is dry or at least rigid. The more layers you add up, the more sturdy it becomes and more capable of holding it's shape.

Step 5: Adding the Final Details and Fancy Extras

Once you've assembled the main body of the card you can start messing around and adding the final decorative details of the card. The first thing I normally do is press the rarity gem into a spongy surface so that it has a rounded dome appearance, rather than just a flat layer. I didn't do it for this shadowcaster card, but you'll also want to bend the mana crystal along the lines so that it looks like a cut gemstone. You can also use the same technique that you used on the rarity gem on the attack & health symbols to also give them a slightly domed appearance.

At this point, if you've kept the extra mana crystal, attack & health symbols, what you can do is cut the numbers out and layer these on top of the card to add a little extra final detail to your project. Remember to run a black felt tip pen round the edges of all the top layer details to neaten up the appearance of the card. Once everything is layered up and dry, you can apply a layer of varnish to the card card. This will help protect the card from scuffs (to a certain extent, it is still essentially paper after all), and give it a nice shiny look.

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