Custom Game Design Considerations

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For the most part, designing your files for custom board games and card games is similar to designing files for books. Bleed and safe area measurements are the same, we use the same offset color printing process with the same recommended proofing options, etc. However, there are a few areas of game printing that have specific details and pitfalls that book printing does not, which means that when designing custom board games, special considerations must be taken.


Color is probably the trickiest part of offset printing, and it goes double for game printing. The main issue that is more prevalent here is color variance. Because the CMYK printing process blends four colors of ink on an offset press, colors will always exhibit very slight variances between runs and even smaller variances within different copies of the same run. These variances are much smaller with offset printing than with digital printing, but there will always be minute differences due to the nature of the four-color process. This means that cards or tokens that are printed on different press sheets will look slightly different, even if they are designed with the same colors. Cards printed in separate orders (for example, an expansion pack of cards for a game you printed with us previously) will have even more color variation.

PrintNinja Custom Card Board Game Pantone Spot Color

Using a Spot Color

The only way to guarantee 100% accuracy for a specific color is to use what is known as a ‘spot color’. In this case, the ink color is mixed separately and applied to the finished document via the offset press using a separate printing plate. The most common way to specify a spot color for use is the Pantone Matching System, which identifies colors through a number, such as ‘PMS 165’, which is a burnt orange color. They are always done via custom quote since their pricing varies based on the type of ink specified and the coverage area.

If you don’t wish to add a spot color to your order, or if your colors are too complex (for example, if they use gradients) for a simple spot color, but you still wish to try and coordinate colors within a print run or between multiple orders, then please reach out to your account manager before you place your order. Sometimes our vendors may be able to specifically try to match these colors for you if they know what to look for. However, remember that this still won’t result in 100% color matching since CMYK printing is too inexact. It will just result in smaller variances than the normal process produces.

Our card game calculator offers Spot Color as a specialty option which includes up to 2 spot colors. If your card game requires more than 2 spot colors, you will need to get a custom quote.

Variance in Sourced Components

PrintNinja Custom Card Board Game Meeples

While we do all of our printing with our partner vendors there are some game components that we need to source from an outside company. Pieces like meeples are bought pre-made so the size and color are dependent on the vendor’s stock at the time. This means that, while we try to keep things consistent, components can vary slightly between orders, and sometimes even within the same order. If you need four different color meeples per game, for example, the colors that the vendor has on hand might all be slightly different sizes. If you’re placing a reorder of a previous game, a color you used might no longer be available.

We can have custom pieces made to achieve greater consistency, but this costs more money than using our existing pieces.

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