Aquarius is a great card game by Andy Looney, published by Looney Labs. It plays much like dominoes, with the players trying to build regions of color that match the color on their "Goal" card. I've been a fan of this game since it came out. It's a nice relaxing game, and really does take some thinking to play well.
There's been a bit of activity lately regarding custom Aquarius decks, starting with Zarf's Martian Landscape Art Aquarius and Denis Moskowitz's Xu Xiu, as well as the Mormon rip-off. Andy Looney is even thinking of creating Aquarius variants called "Sporticus" and "Festivus", according to the February 2005 edition of What's On The Stove.
"I can do this," I thought to myself, "but I have two obstacles. The first is a lack of drawing ability necessary to create as Andy did. The second is a lack of programming ability to create as Zarf and Denis did. "
"Aha," thought I, "but I have an arcane knowledge of desktop publishing software, and that has to be good for something. I've also been taking and collecting digital photographs for a few years, they have to be useful somehow. I also have large stock of PlainCards, so I can actually make a physical manifestation of this! Excellent."
Anyway, internal monologues aside, once I put all the pieces together, this project was a piece of cake. I created the card layouts in my favorite DTP software, then imported my digital photographs "by reference". This means that in order to create a new version of the deck, all I'll have to do is change which five photographs are in the same directory as the layout file. For obvious reasons, I can't sell these decks or distribute them, but I can see myself producing new custom Aquarius decks every year or so after I collect enough relevant photos.
The layout file doesn't do any fancy transforms on the pictures, it just crops the relevant shape from the middle of the bitmap. I also went with a white border on the cards instead of a black one, as this would use less ink. The only card that took and real effort was the wild card, which had to be specially swirled from my five elemental graphics.
Besides the aforementioned Plaincards, all I really needed were some pictures and my printer. My printer is a Canon i350, and here are the pictures:
This is some sandstone from the beach at Bean Hollow, North of Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast of the US. We were on vacation there just after I got my first video camera.
Earlier that same vacation, we'd driven through the Sierra mountains. On our way through one pass, there were some gorgeous views of stone outcroppings.
The pass was on the way out to Lake Tahoe, where we were going to spend the weekend with a bunch of friends. The lake water there is this wonderfully weird shade of blue-green.
Not all swamps are dismal. This one's more like a wet field, and it's surrounded trees. I took this picture from a great observation blind they've built out into the middle of the swamp, where you can watch the birds and frogs from comfort.
The sky over this beach on Point Reyes was a deep shade of blue, which was enhanced by the wacky cheap digital camera I was using at the time.