Introduction: Comic Con Bingo

About: I'm an animation director by day and Queen of the monsters by night. I picked up most of my costume and prop building skills through hands on experimentation with materials. Experimentation led to addiction,…

As a veteran Comic Con attendee, lover of nerd culture, and frequent drag queen bingo player (yep), I decided that the world needed Comic Con Bingo.

Full disclosure: I was inspired when I saw user mikeasaurus's "Hipster Bingo a few days ago. Genius! While this is for a different audience and is more venue specific, obviously play and game construction are going to be similar because it's still bingo. I realize the similarities might kick me out of the running for the "How to Play" contest, but so be it. This is purely for fun, and I hope some of you will make your own Con Bingo (or use mine) to enjoy while stuck in your vendor booths, looking out on the crowd from your hotel rooms, or dining in the gas lamp district with friends after the daily rush.

Step 1: Gather Ideas

I spent a little time brainstorming my game spaces on paper. I thought back on cons I've attended, reviewed my photos, and surveyed friends about their favorite (and least favorite) things to expect at the Con. Write down anything that comes to mind --you can sift out the comedy gems later. I tried to create a good mix of things you're guaranteed to see and things you might consider special/ funny finds.

For a traditional Bingo board, you will need to fill 24 spaces --25 counting the "FREE" space.

Be Funny, but don't be a jerk:

Avoid creating Bingo spaces that make fun of someone.You never know who might see your card. Personally, I LOVE big hairy guys who come dressed as Sailor Moon or Slave Leia. That takes balls! If you see that on my board, it's because I celebrate it, not look down on it. Keep that mantra in mind if you include "characters of the con" on your board.

There are enough mean spirited people in the world and on the internet. You'd think a con would be a nerd safe-haven, free of judgement, but unfortunately that's not always the reality. I have friends who have been discouraged from pursuing cosplay because people have made nasty comments about their weight, race, gender, etc. In 2010, someone told me that my "thighs were too big to dress as Poison Ivy", and I was maybe a size 6 back then. Sometimes even self-proclaimed nerds have unreasonable standards and can be hurtful. Let's not be those people!

Step 2: Build the Card

1)There are numerous free downloads of Bingo card templates available online to get you started. All you need is the 5 x 5 grid with the B-I-N-G-O letters above.

2) Pull your blank card template in Photoshop. Check the size. My downloaded template was approximately 8x10, which was a comfortable size to work with.

3) Referencing your idea list from earlier, use the Type tool to create text for each box.Keep phrases short, but clear. You may need to adjust font size to accommodate longer phrases. My smallest font used was 13pt, and my largest was 18pt. Everything in that range will be nice and legible for print.

4) A simple free space can be made by inserting clip art from online, or layering text over a bold shape from your Shapes tool menu.

5) Create a new layer for your art. Working on a separate layer allows you doodle, erase, scale, etc. without messing up anything you've already done.

6) Since I'm on a Cintiq, I was able to freehand draw my symbols right into the computer.I like doing my rough sketches in blue (I think this is a call back to the old blue animation pencils), to remind me that they don't have to be masterpieces just yet. If you prefer to draw on paper, you can scan in your art and place accordingly. If you're just not the drawing type, you can certainly have text only spaces.

I don't recommend using photos for two reasons: One reason is that photos scaled down to Bingo grid size will likely become muddy and unclear. You'll spend more time trying to play with the contrast and levels to get it to look good than it is really worth. The other reason is that unless you're using your own photos, you run the risk of upsetting someone. Respect the work of paid photographers and private con-goers Flickr streams. Be inspired by their photos, but don't use them directly without expressed permission.

7) Make another new layer for clean art. Using a 2pt black paintbrush, I went over my sketches to make everything clear and clean. When this is done you can either turn off your sketch layer or discard it entirely.

Congrats! You just made your first Bingo card!

Step 3: Mix It Up

Any game is more fun with friends, and Bingo is a game of chance. You'll want to make several iterations of your cards so that there are different ways to win.

To Re-Mix a Card:

Flatten your image. This marries the text pieces to their companion symbols.

Use the rectangle Selection tool to select a space.


Paste (space will automatically become a new layer).

Scoot it to a new location within the grid.

Look in your Layers panel and select the base layer. Now use the rectangle Selection tool again, to select whatever is underneath your re-located piece.

Now cut, paste, and move that piece.

Repeat. Continue shifting and swapping until every piece has been moved.

Since each new piece you create and move will result in a new layer, you may wish to flatten the document again when you're all done remixing.

Step 4: Print and Cut

You're essentially ready to print and play, but you might find a large bingo card to be a bit cumbersome on the go. I decided to re-size mine so that I could print 2 to a page and a smaller card in the end.

Go to Image size and change the height to 5 inches. Do this for each version of your bingo card.

Create a new document that is the size of a printable sheet of paper. I went with 8x 10 to make certain I'd be within print bounds.

Paste 2 of your single cards into this new document, arranged side by side.

If you like, you can create trim guides using your Line tool.


Now you can use a paper cutter or craft blade to trim the cards down to size.


Step 5: Go Where No Man Has Gone Before....

To the Comic Convention, with Bingo in hand!

Use a real bingo dauber, a keychain sharpie, or even a makeup crayon to mark the things you see. A winning Bingo line is 1 horizontal,vertical, or diagonal line of 5 spaces.

I think this will be best played when you're taking a break from the floor and need to laugh at all the chaos around you. While this was designed with SDCC Int'l in mind, I'd imagine it would be just as relevant at DragonCon, WonderCon, Emerald City Comic Con, or whatever your nearest convention might be.

See Dropbox link below for a printable 2 card sheet. Enjoy playing them as is or use them as a springboard for creating your own custom Con Bingo experience. If you make your own, I'd love to see them!

How to Play ____

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How to Play ____