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the_dearth

GUIDE: How to layout your Star Wars fan products in the official look and feel [Updated: 18JUN20]

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Posted (edited)

My favorite thing about FFG's Star Wars books is their great production quality and so early on I started to help more creative content creators putting their material in the 'official' look. My last project was to support @yaccarus to put his 'Complete Species Guide' into the official format. I always wanted to put together a tutorial to help others achieve similar results, this is it!

There are similar tutorials out there (mainly here and here), but they are somewhat outdated and as the product line nears its completion (or end), I wanted to provide a full overview. Before I go into all the details, here is the result and below the direct download link. 

promo-picture_lowerq_4gjxr.png

promo-picture_lowerq_luk8i.png

 

Download here
(last updated: June 18th, 2020)

Included in this download is:

InDesign

  • InDesign files for EotE, AoR, FaD, "Core" (= my name for the style of the neutral books, e.g. Allies and Adversaries)
  • For each book, the file includes
    • Pre-set colors
    • Pre-defined text formats for all kinds of text appearing in the book
    • Ready-to-go pages with page backgrounds, page elements, page numbers

Photoshop

  • Photoshop template for EotE, AoR, FaD, Core to create a cover
     
  • Additionally, the download contains 
  •  … all page elements as separate files, in case you would like to play around with them
  • … all page-backgrounds with side elements as single image file to import into other programs (e.g. Word, Scribus)   

NOT included are all fonts, as all of them are licensed and can therefore not be included. 

 

Below are a few more details on the templates:         
Requirement and tools
Many content is posted on these boards, on Reddit and other websites but few look like typical FFG products, and the main reason for that is the use of tools and the involved amount of work. 
If you were asked to recreate a marble statue but only given a hammer and a single wide chisel, the result might be close but really hard to match perfectly. The same is true for the Star Wars books. They are put together within a typical publishing workflow that is based on the Adobe Suite of products. 

The key product used is InDesign. This is Adobe's solution for all desktop publishing and has become the market standard in many areas. The problem with InDesign is that it is fairly expensive. There are old versions out there that will work just as great. Alternatively, Adobe has a 30 day trial which is usually more than enough to turn one fan product around. There are alternatives (e.g. Scribus), but they are incompatible with the provided templates, however, you can still use the provided assets. 

The other key product is Photoshop, especially to change / adapt pictures to make them fit into the product. GIMP is a great alternative, but also comes with a learning curve. The trickiest part to recreate are the images and their "feathered borders". You can find plenty tutorials how to achieve this effect, so I won't go into too much detail here. 

Elements of a typical SW FFG book

  1.     Overview of the different designs
    Looking at the books, you can easily see that FFG used different designs for different product lines. In this guide, I have put together information for the four most common ones (EotE, AoR, FaD, Core). They all follow the same layout design in regards to font, placement and size, but change up the page elements, the background, and the colors. I will talk about each in a bit more detail in the following sections. 
     
  2. Background, page elements
    Unfortunately, FFG cannot release PDFs of their products due to licensing problems, but they have released a few single files. With Photoshop, it is fairly easy to extract some of those assets out of the PDFs. I put all material together in the download above, so all elements you find there are the original ones from the books, some in almost printing quality. 
     
  3. Fonts
    All books use the same fonts, and I have put together an overview of which fonts here. Unfortunately, all fonts are licensed, so I cannot link them here. If you keep looking on the internet, you might be able to find alternatives or clones that are very close to the real deal. 
    font5qjzk.png
  4. Colors
    Lastly, the biggest differentiator between the books are the colors. I have put together a comprehensive color chart below. Please forgive my laziness not to include all color codes, the easiest way to use them is to utilize the color swatches directly in InDesign. Alternatively, pick any image editor and just "color pick" the colors off of this chart and you should be good. 
    colorswekec.png

I hope this material is helpful, let me know if you have any questions. Thanks to FFG for creating this really outstanding game! 🙂

 

Check out my other material as well: 

Yaccarus' Complete Species Guide

l5mfbjigtrrt1qfzg6zk0u.png

 

NPCs, Vehicles, Planets, Weapons, Armors, Gear and Starships.

template_box_promo2x6ucj.png

 

NPC & Creature cards

nq28Slo.png

 

Edited by the_dearth

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Can't wait to sink my teeth into this. It's too much hassle/work now to convert my current Heroes On Both Sides book from Photoshop to InDesign, but I planned to use the latter for my next project. This is going to be insanely helpful.

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10 minutes ago, Kualan said:

Can't wait to sink my teeth into this. It's too much hassle/work now to convert my current Heroes On Both Sides book from Photoshop to InDesign, but I planned to use the latter for my next project. This is going to be insanely helpful.

I was so impressed when I found out that you created your Heroes on Both Sides in Photoshop! I would not have had the patience to do it there without so many of the nice features InDesign offers. Let me know what you think of the templates!

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If I could make a small request...Specialization pages. It's easy enough to pull the trees themselves from OggDude's, but I've had a rough time finding clean copies of both left and right pages.

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10 hours ago, Nytwyng said:

If I could make a small request...Specialization pages. It's easy enough to pull the trees themselves from OggDude's, but I've had a rough time finding clean copies of both left and right pages.

Are you aware of any time where FFG posted a Specialization page PDF or is that only in the printed books?

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3 hours ago, the_dearth said:

Are you aware of any time where FFG posted a Specialization page PDF or is that only in the printed books?

Fair point. Hadn’t considered that. The source where I’ve found some partial ones must have scanned in their books to create what they have.

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2 hours ago, Inquisitor Tremayne said:

Wow!  Great work!

Side question, anyone know of any alternatives to InDesign?  I'm not a fan of subscription/cloud-based services.

I do just fine with Word.

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1 hour ago, Nytwyng said:

I do just fine with Word.

As someone that's not all that familiar with Word (beyond the basics), that feels super cumbersome - are there any examples of your work in Word?

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4 hours ago, Inquisitor Tremayne said:

Wow!  Great work!

Side question, anyone know of any alternatives to InDesign?  I'm not a fan of subscription/cloud-based services.

I'm personally a fan of the Affinity suite of products - they have a competitor to InDesign, Photoshop & Illustrator, and are $50 each, no subscription, perpetual updates. I'm not exactly a "power user" so others may have found gaps with them, but I love these pieces of software.

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1 hour ago, MonkeyInSpace said:

As someone that's not all that familiar with Word (beyond the basics), that feels super cumbersome - are there any examples of your work in Word?

I’ve got a (few) longer form work(s) in progress that I can upload samples of after I clock out from work and can shift over to my personal computer, but for now, here’s a single page sample that I’ve posted here before.

CfpYb65.jpg?w=720&ssl=1

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20 hours ago, Inquisitor Tremayne said:

Wow!  Great work!

Side question, anyone know of any alternatives to InDesign?  I'm not a fan of subscription/cloud-based services.

Scribus is free and I was told that it can even read InDesign exchange files.

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On 6/30/2020 at 5:16 PM, DangerShine Designs said:

I'm personally a fan of the Affinity suite of products - they have a competitor to InDesign, Photoshop & Illustrator, and are $50 each, no subscription, perpetual updates. I'm not exactly a "power user" so others may have found gaps with them, but I love these pieces of software.

I'm pretty familiar with Adobe CS and have a passing proficiency with GIMP, but I'll take a look at Affinity.  Thanks!

On 6/30/2020 at 6:36 PM, Nytwyng said:

I’ve got a (few) longer form work(s) in progress that I can upload samples of after I clock out from work and can shift over to my personal computer, but for now, here’s a single page sample that I’ve posted here before.

CfpYb65.jpg?w=720&ssl=1

WHOA!  Great work!  Got a template to share?  My word docs never look this good!

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