I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this kind of question but here it is.

I'm making a board game where there is a deck of monster cards and I'm interested - is there some tool/script that allows to make images for cards from some text file that contains all the needed information (.txt, .xml or something else)? What i would like is something like:

1) make a .psd with labels for name and defense values (also background and other images that can be anything)

2) have some file that lists all the monsters names and defense values (where i can quicly change them and regenerate images from that)

Also you can add somehing new later both in psd and this file (like I/II/III for monster difficulty). Optionally - not just change text, but also images (that would allow to change icons from the file, ect.) #dreams

Is there some tool that allows for this kind of fast iteration?

  • I did this with a combination of xml, xsl and svg. The only gotcha is you have to convert all your graphics to 64bit strings but that is not so hard with free tools online.
    – Pow-Ian
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 12:11
  • Related: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/12174/…
    – sffc
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 7:09

3 Answers 3


Not quite what you are after, but maybe one of these may help:

Adobe InDesign

InDesign is (as far as I know) the industry standard for card design, and while it is not specifically made for this purpose, it can most certainly do it, and is the only solution I know of that can directly import a PSD file.

The actual card data can be kept in a separate file (spreadsheet, or possibly other formats) and combined with the card template via the data merge feature, including the image source.

The only real downside for InDesign is price.

For a bit more information on what InDesign can and can't do, see this answer to my own question on the Software Recommendations SE.

Magic Set Editor

Magic Set Editor was originally built for one specific game (Magic the Gathering), but now has support for a large number of games through plugins. I've never actually created an original card type with it, but I have used a few mods and looked into their source as well as used it extensively for creating power cards for 4th ed D&D.

The library of cards is handled internally within each file (each file is a "set" of cards, however you choose to separate sets for your own work) and content can't be merged from an external file, but it does still provide the separation of template and content you would need to allow updating the template without updating every single card.

It hasn't had a release since 2011, but I have never found any bugs with it in the 4-5 years I've used it, and best of all it is free (actually open source).

Strange Eons

Initially built for creating custom cards for Arkham Horror, Strange Eons has excellent support for plugins to handle other games and card styles, and while I've never created a plugin for a different game, I did do a bit of development on Arkham Horror-specific plugins a few years ago, and since then its plugin support has only grown better.

Once you have a plugin created for your card type each card you make is saved to a separate file, but cards can then be arranged into decks within the program for printing/organisation.

The documentation also seems to be fairly thorough and helpful, and it is free as well, but is listed here last since it is probably the furthest from what you are actually asking.


I use Inkscape with the Countersheet extension for this. It can do everything you need (if I read your question correctly) even being able to choose icons on a per card basis (not a #dream).

It can also handle custom card backs as well.

Best of all it's completely free

It works with a svg+csv text file type combo. Here's a tutorial if you'd like to check it out


There are print-on-demand companies which give you the ability to create your complete game with quality parts. You can even list that game online in their store or simply buy one copy for yourself.

The Game Crafter is one such company: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/help/getting-started

I really dislike their website UI, but I have two friends who have created games using the service and we are very happy with the results.

I don't have any specific graphic design advice, but on The Game Crafter's Getting Started page you can find links to video tutorials and resources for creating any game component. In addition to their instruction, they provide many templates for use when creating your card decks. I recommend you take a look at the resources they provide. This is where a lot of budding game designers bring their games to life.

[Edit: I think something like the Magic Set Editor (@winterblood) would be a more robust tool for actually designing your cards and then you can upload that file to Game Crafter if you want a high quality print.]

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