Club Hel: Choice is an Illusion (CPC)

Nex

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Choice is an Illusion
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This is something I've been working on since this spring. I have gone through about 80 design iterations since then, and I think I've reached the point where no further polishing can be done. The design is final (only exception being extremely minor changes that might be necessary to keep some things just so legible on the printed inlay).

I wanted to make a set of custom clays. Got an inlaid sample chip set of CPCs back in February and was immediately sold on them. Been brainstorming for design ideas, and I've come up with something I really like.

I've kept much secrecy about the details of the design so far because I firmly believe that the first impression makes or breaks everything about a design. If I had showed you unfinished design mockups, I would have spoiled you and wouldn't be able to receive truly unbiased feedback on the final design from you anymore.

There's no external designer involved here, I've done it all by myself. While graphics design is not my profession – I'm a software developer – I see myself on a slightly-above-medium amateur level. And during my time at university, I had the chance to get a somewhat cheap license for the Adobe Master Collection software suite (CS6 perpetual license, screw this subscription ripoff), so software isn't limiting me too much.

Theme:

My requirements for the set were:
  • The set is supposed to be for cash games, mainly starting at 25¢/50¢ (but occasionally as low as 5¢/10¢ or 10¢/25¢) but it should have enough headroom for bigger games later on. It should be long-lasting, fit for a variety of stakes. A set for life. I want a set of real high-quality chips where even "non-conoisseurs" get the impression that they are holding something valuable in their hands. I already have some crappy cheap metal insert plastics (some ancient set of "official casino weight" dice chips as well) and a set of custom Sun-Fly ceramics for micro- and low-stakes cash games, but even those ceramics just sound and feel somewhat cheap compared to those CPC samples I got.

  • I wanted a theme I have some kind of connection to, but at the same time too obscure for any outsider to notice. You could probably compare this to the very subtle style Musterbrand uses for many (but not all) pieces of their game merchandise. Take for example this hoodie. Could you tell that it's a reference to a game if you didn't know the Half-Life series? Doesn't look like your ordinary, obvious, "in your face" style game/movie merch (that prominently features official, well-known brand logos and the likes) to the uninitiated, but merely like a regular generic-design piece.

  • The edge spots and colors should of course fit the theme I'd decide for, but ultimately I was looking to get somewhat "modern" looking chips in a predominantly dark/muted color scheme with only bright/vivid color spots. Denomination base colors should be the classic ones ($1 white, $5 red, $25 green, $100 black, $500 purple, ...), and for the 25¢/5¢ fracs I have yet to find nicer looking base colors than blue and brown that blend in well with the rest of the set.

  • Altogether, it should be as unconnected to the real world as possible. No references to real names or locations on them. At most, I'd have put a very small monogram of my real name on them, but I haven't found a good spot on the inlay where it won't ruin the relative cleanliness of the design.

The Matrix movies have left a big, lasting impression on me. There are only few other movies, games and books that have managed. And of all those, Matrix was the only instance that provided me with a theme idea that would fit my design constraints.

If you did watch the movies, you'll instantly recognize this scene:


Club Hel.

Owned by the Merovingian, a relic program from older versions of the Matrix, in its current version an exile himself who provides an enclave for fellow exiles at his localities. At first glance, it's a high class fetish night club, but hey – who knows what sorts of things happen in the backrooms there? (apart from the obvious :D)

The Merovingian has a lot of henchmen around him. Take those bald-headed bouncers for example. What do they do when they're not busy getting their butts kicked by a tiny asian? Or Cain and Abel. Or the twins. Just standing or sitting around all the time must be boring as hell. Merv himself, in that fancy Dracula-esque suit, doesn't exactly look like he came to the club to party with the rubber-and-leather crowd down there either. I personally at least could well imagine they'd all occasionally sit down in one of the numerous back rooms this locality sure has to play some high-stakes poker :)

My inlay design features the ornament with that medieval touch you can see all over the club, but most prominently on the balcony railing:
hel-night-club_img_6.png

I've been thinking about also incorporating a drawing of the just-as-iconic entrance to the club:
vlcsnap-2017-02-01-02h24m18s89-entrance.png

But full color didn't look good to me and neither did a B/W line art, so I scrapped the idea.

Mockups:

set_main.png

New – Renders by @Ray-Col!

main_stacks_004.jpg


01_club_hel_5c_tray.jpg 02_club_hel_25c_tray.jpg 03_club_hel_$1_tray.jpg 04_club_hel_$5_tray.jpg 05_club_hel_$25_tray.jpg 06_club_hel_$100_tray.jpg 07_club_hel_$500_tray.jpg

full_breakdown.jpg


08_club_hel_pill_tray.jpg 09_club_hel_ornament_tray.jpg 10_club_hel_whiterabbit_tray.jpg 11_club_hel_monogram_tray.jpg

extras_stacks_003.jpg


H Mold is of course the obvious choice for this name I'd say, also looks the cleanest to me. I was unsure about the broad ring around the pattern that's just plain, but it has this fine grid pattern you can feel, so I'm satisfied with it.

I got myself a full color sample set from CPC way in advance to make 100% sure my chosen colors work well. Photos and renders are nice but can only ever give a rough idea; to really be able to judge, I need to see the colors directly in person, not on a screen. Also have all mold and inlay shape samples.

I've tried to use at least one dayglo color for the spots of as many chips as I could without compromising on the daylight visible design. I figured using black light fluorescents would make very much sense in a night club themed set, and also help with telling apart denominations easier during play.

In very early drafts, I had a $1000 chip in butterscotch, just a single barrel, to add a bit to the overall set color balance. Scrapped it though and went with double the amount in extra $500s instead in my chip breakdown plan. Later, I realized my original plan to use the "pill" chip (see further down) as an undenominated 5¢/10¢ will do me no good as it re-uses two colors prominent on other chips (25¢ and $5) that will definitely be in play at the same time, so I ended up making a butterscotch chip again - a dedicated, denominated 5¢ chip - while I moved the pill chip off to the side to be used as maybe card guards or something like that only.

I am fully aware that the circular text and the sub-logo text are too small to be easily legible during play, but that's not a requirement for me. Even if you need to take a magnifying glass to read it, as long as it's still legible in the first place I'm fine with it. The circular text on the denominated chips only contains the denomination value spelled out in words anyway, so it adds no additional info. The only thing that really needs to be legible without aid during play is the denomination, and I believe its font size is just so big enough to still satisfy that criterion.

I really wanted to have a different back side and had multiple drafts, but none of them looked good, so I've sticked to identical front/back inlays.

Every chip in the set has a tie to the theme:

5¢ – Cookie

mWot2lk.png

This was actually the very last chip I designed, and I almost painted myself into a corner with this one because I had already used so many colors on my other chips and I was running out of theme ties. Luckily, I remembered that the Oracle doesn't only like candy, but also chocolate chip cookies! You can see her making the dough for some in a scene in Matrix Revolutions.

312 or 318 spots would probably have made more sense from an inlay progression view, but the only thing that will make the chip really look like a chocolate chip cookie to me are x14 spots (and 318 spots were too expensive for a 5¢ chip in my eyes anyway). But well, I've only used xD14 spots for the higher denoms, so it still kind of works out.

In case you don't like brown chips - hey man, cookies need love, too.

25¢ – Reality

dr5VQfw.png

Color grading in the Matrix movies follows a basic principle: Scenes taking place in the "real world" are tinted blue, while scenes taking place inside the Matrix are tinted green. It's also fitting that this is on one of the lowest-denomination chips – in the real world, living standards appear to be a lot lower than what the freed people had while they were still connected to the Matrix. A slight hint of green to make the chip look a bit more interesting, and for the fact that you can't ever fully escape the dream world.

I've had this one's base color in Dark Blue for a long time in earlier drafts, which is hard to tell apart from black at a quick glance in less than stellar lighting conditions. Retro Blue was considered, but the color just was a bit too saturated for my taste to look good, plus it would have introduced an unweighted chip to the denominated set.

Ultimately I've settled with the regular Blue, which is still quite dark but by far not as dark as Dark Blue, plus it still has low saturation. I'm positive that the bright edge spots will make these stand out enough from the $20 and $100 even though their base colors are all close together.

$1 – Bullet

M4eUfKY.png

Pretty much a no-brainer. Don't think though that I'll ever have as many $1 chips as you can see bullets flying in the Matrix movies :p

I'm absolutely done on this one. Simple and elegant while still carrying just enough detail with the edge spots to make the chip look interesting.

Regular White was too muddy and too bright to look good for a base color, so I went with Gray. Which also fits better because well, bullets are made of metal, and metal isn't white.

$5 – Woman in Red

jgLZPtO.png

A very remarkable scene as well, the woman in red acting as the distraction in a training program for new redpills:

There is nothing left to think about here. I love this one! My favorite chip in the set, closely followed by the $1.

She is an eye-catcher, and being valued at just $5, she's guaranteed to be seen in pretty much any game I'll play.

$20 – Simulation

hMRRdsv.png

As already explained in the notes for the 25¢ chip, color grading in the Matrix movies consistently tints scenes set inside the Matrix in green.

Originally this was a $25 chip, but after reading up on arguments pro/contra $20/$25, I think for my intended use (or most common use) I'd fare much better with $20 chips. I can't stand yellow for a $20 at all though for this set, so my compromise was to change the denom but keep it green.

I really prefer the Dark Green body color. I've tried swapping the Dark Green base and regular Green spot, but it just didn't look as good and fitting. Retro Green as base color was considered too, but is just not the right hue for this setting; it reminds me a bit of 70s and earlier but certainly has no connection to the retro computer screen green I have in mind. I think the very different and bright spots make the 25¢, $20, $100 and $500 distinguishable enough.

$100 – Drill Head

Sez1y3d.png

The first line in the machines' attack forces in the final battle for Zion - huge drills digging tunnels straight into the docks to bypass the main external defense systems.

This chip's design I was long unsure about. I needed an edge spot that would fit into the progression, which meant 6 of something, but I also originally tried to not have duplicate shaped inlays. 6xx spots only go well with Tri-Moon though (I can't stand Hub and Clover), Scallop and Cog were already in use, and I couldn't find a good spot for the $500 that would allow me to move away from the Tri-Moon shape on that one instead.

Ultimately I bit the bullet and went with Tri-Moon for both $100 and $500. Since the $100 is black anyway, it won't be visible as prominently anyway, but it'd have been more awkward to leave one chip in the middle of the progression without a shaped inlay.

$500 – Hovercraft

Dkyhnry.png

Ships roughly resembling submarines that allow the human resistance to navigate the dangerous destroyed world's sewage tunnel systems. They are equipped with large electrical hover pads that allow them to fly at a moderate height.

The resistance only has very few, and they're huge. Nice denomination match. :p

Lavender and even Purple were just too bright to really fit into the lineup, so I sticked to Blurple. The sheer amount of bright thin edge spots should make this one easily recognizable though despite the dark body color.

Extras:

VpqGMgJ.png

These all are no-denomination, multi-purpose chips – maybe a complimentary card guard or beverage token or something like that.

The design of #1 obviously draws on the "blue pill, red pill" theme. The inlay features circular text labels that read two short quotes from the movies on each side:

  • Choice is an illusion / Cause and effect (tied to Merv, and so to the club theme)
  • Ignorance is bliss / Desert of the real (Cypher/Morpheus quotes tied to simulation and reality)

Would have preferred to have this one 100% UV reactive, but unfortunately there is no DG Red :(

The design on #3 is a stylized white rabbit in ASCII art, a hommage to the more comic-like white rabbit tattoo on Dujour's shoulder from a scene in the first movie:

Personal:

YttDkol.png

Those bear my monogram; I'll be using them for all kinds of things.

Set breakdown:

2200 chips, plus replacements and non-denom chips for various purposes. Set should be able to cover two tables just fine, or one table extremely good.

Took me a while to get the required money together, but I was thinking, the longer I work on the design, the more refined it'll be when the deadline actually comes. After all, I've paid about double the amount my first car cost (used, but hey, still!) for this, so I wanted to make damn sure I'll be satisfied with it for a long, long time.

  • 5¢ x 200
  • 25¢ x 320
  • $1 x 400
  • $5 x 800
  • $20 x 300
  • $100 x 140
  • $500 x 40

Total bank: $44490
(I used the Lady Luck Club set breakdown as base)

On top of that come, as said, replacement chips split across all denoms, the special design chips shown (plus a few more personal ones) as well as a bunch of extra sample sets for personal use.

The bank is big enough to accomodate games much bigger than I could ever see me playing in the foreseeable future, but that's exactly how I want it. Shelling out that amount of money, I want to make sure I don't ever have to order add-ons because I "outgrow" the set in terms of stakes. (Adding more $1s later to make the set fit for limit games would be a different thing for me.)

Think there's enough low-denom chips per player to cover low-stakes use perfectly as well: 10x5¢ = $0.50 / 16x25¢ = $4 / 20x$1 = $20 / total $24.50, in very small denominations only, for everyone. And that's considering 20 people concurrently playing. Even more available if I just have one full table.

Some of you will probably say I've included too many 25¢ chips in that breakdown, but I prefer having the option to throw more on the table in case my players prefer to place very finely tuned bets instead of just rounding up/down to the next dollar.

Samples:

I've been torn here.

On the one hand I fully get there's a lot of chip collectors around here which is also why samples are frequently requested and offered, and I don't want to spoil the fun for them. On the other hand, this is supposed to be used as a real cash set, and while of course the danger is very low, it's still a fact that as soon as you give chips away for less than their nominal value, you make room for potential trouble should one of the samples ever find their way back and into your game. Regardless of how low the chance for that is, it is still greater than zero.

What I've decided on was to make slightly modified inlays for sample chips - namely adding a tiny icon in a place where you can't simply paint over it. It barely changes the overall appearance but will help me tell live chips and samples apart. This allows me to offer samples for all denominations with confidence. The undenominated chips will not have a sample marking.

Orders:

  1. @Psypher1000: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras + 1 DB
  2. @Jeff: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras + 1 DB
  3. @Forty4: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras
  4. @Sparty: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras
  5. @Ronoh: 1 DB
  6. @PAZ: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras
  7. @tommythecat: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras + 1 DB

ETA:

David has already told me that my main set alone is big enough to immediately trigger a production run, so you shouldn't have to wait too long until you'll have the samples in hand. David's estimate was chips arriving at my doorstep roughly around new year worst-case if production started now; so add the 1 1/2 week sample order time window and the time it'll take for the chips to travel from me to you on top of that.

First add-on - September 2018

Bumped up the number of all denominations, especially $1 and $5 to 1000 each for limit, and ordered a small quantity of snappers. No samples were offered, and I only ordered a minimal number of extras (unmarked) for myself. However, I received a good bunch of bonus snappers.
  • 25¢ x 80 (total 400)
  • $1 x 600 (total 1000)
  • $2.50 x 60
  • $5 x 200 (total 1000)
  • $20 x 100 (total 400)
  • $100 x 60 (total 200)

ch250.png


Second add-on - October 2020

Changed my mind on the $20 vs. $25 considerations over time. I still see the value for a $20 in limit together with $1 chips, but I ended up preferring $25s like I have in my Paradise set for everything else. Plus, this adds a bit more base color contrast to the old $100. Should also look sick under UV light.

The $100 I wanted to brighten up just a little. Charcoal is a better match for the steel of which the gigantic drill heads are made anyway, and this brings out the shaped inlay better. In the original design I wanted to stick to the traditional chip colors so I made it black.
  • $25 x 200
  • $100 V2 x 100, partial replacement only

chAO2.png
 
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Ronoh

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Very nice! I'm a big fan of having a reason and a name for each chip as well as having random chips made up just because :D

$1 is my favorite.

Bit of advice... being the order is not yet closed and you've already had the idea of doing it, come up with another design and get a barrel of the $1000 done. The order is big enough that you're unlikely to ever add on to it and the additional expense is extremely insignificant. Eventually you'll regret not getting it made.
 

Nex

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I've already dropped some extra dough to have small amounts of more extra chips not shown here made. I'm fairly sure adding yet another denom with only 20 chips will incur more of that, especially as I'd be using an entirely new shaped inlay for a $1000. Could get fairly costly just for a barrel.

With regret, are you referring to not having more colors in the chip racks, or is it about the number of high-denom chips I have? If I am ever ordering a limit set add-on, I'd bump up the $100s and $500s to the next 100 anyway alongside, but I might rather order some more $500s than designing a $1000 if it's because you think there is a slight shortage of high-denoms in relation to the other chips.
 
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Ronoh

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With regret, are you referring to not having more colors in the chip racks, or is it about the number of high-denom chips I have?
I'm referring to nothing other than "just because"... specifically in your case I brought it up just because it's an idea you'd already had. In my case my set will rarely if ever see even a single $100 chip in play but I've had primary and secondary $500 and $1000 made simply because part of the fun for me is coming up with new chips.

My rule of thumb when ordering is, you are allowed one chip design for every 100 chips ordered so if my current order still has room for an additional chip I'll come up with a barrel of something to add on :)
 

Nex

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I'm referring to nothing other than "just because"... specifically in your case I brought it up just because it's an idea you'd already had. In my case my set will rarely if ever see even a single $100 chip in play but I've had primary and secondary $500 and $1000 made simply because part of the fun for me is coming up with new chips.

My rule of thumb when ordering is, you are allowed one chip design for every 100 chips ordered so if my current order still has room for an additional chip I'll come up with a barrel of something to add on :)

Heh, @David Spragg might have something different to say about that 1 denom per 100 chips rule if you have fancier wishes :D

I might consider making one just for fun, albeit I'm not sure if I can even find any more good color combinations that fit in well with the rest of the line.
I'll probably not include it in this order though, prefer to have more time for something like that. Will likely drop an order again sometime next year, on a different mold, but since I will already receive 6 custom HHR chips along with my HCE set here, I can probably somehow get that in as well.
 

Ronoh

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David is well aware of how I roll... currently have an 850 chip order with eight different chips in production and hate myself for not making it 9/900 :D
 

Nex

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Your specifically talking about the first two movies right? Matrix is one of my favorite movies. I liked the sequel. The third one, well, I can't even talk about it.

I love the theme. Excellent execution.

I'm talking about the whole trilogy simply because all three form a story arc.

This however has nothing to do with how I feel about the quality of each movie in relation to the other two.
The third movie might not be as well-made or well-received as the first two, but nonetheless it belongs to the others for me.
 

detroitdad

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I'm talking about the whole trilogy simply because all three form a story arc.

This however has nothing to do with how I feel about the quality of each movie in relation to the other two.
The third movie might not be as well-made or well-received as the first two, but nonetheless it belongs to the others for me.

fair enough.

I couldn't tell you how many times I've seen the first one. Absolutely fantastic!!! Love the set, the colors, and the progression. The Drill Head chip rocks!!!
 

Nex

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Re-worded thread title mentioning availability of samples to lure more people in.
Sneakily bumping this thread with a post that pretends to add new information.
Hopefully nobody will notice.

Oops, did I just post that?
 

Nex

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Update: I've substantially tightened up the price calculations for samples and also added more background info for transparency.

I would also like to point at this section in my OP:
US/Canada chippers:

In order to maybe make sample sets a little cheaper for you, I am open to using an escrow/reshipper if I can stay out of the handling there, i.e. I'll only have the reshipper send the funds for production and shipping of their share of sample sets directly to CPC and I make sure they get sent their share of chips. Reshipper will take care of all the other stuff - calculating total cost including shipping that they'd need to ask in order to break even, collecting sample set orders and receiving payments from those sample set orderers, and actually reshipping the chips. Basically, if anything bad happens there, I don't want to be held responsible for it.

If any reputable US member is interested in doing this, please post here or send me a PM!
This bears no monetary risk for the reshipper if they do their pricing calculations adequately; trust chain should have no gaps either as all transactions go sample set orderers <-> reshipper (trusted PCF'er) <-> CPC (David). I'd pretty much only authorize the purchase of sample chips by the reshipper at CPC.

I am aware I'm still somewhat new and unknown around here, so there might not be enough trust in me directly, and I fully understand that. Apart from abovementioned two things, I'm unsure what else I could do about it, if there is anything.
 

Jeff

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I'm good for a sample set...all things (and a dealer button if you do one).
 

liftapint

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I'd like a sample set too, with the full set of extras.

I'd also be willing to be the US re-shipper. Except it sounds like you are wanting the "reshipper" to do more than just distribute the chips. Is that right? You want them to take the orders, collect payment, place the order with Spragg, receive the shipment, and re-ship? I'm not sure I want to do all that.
 
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Nex

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I'd also be willing to be the US re-shipper. Except it sounds like you are wanting the "reshipper" to do more than just distribute the chips. Is that right? You want them to take the orders, collect payment, place the order with Spragg, receive the shipment, and re-ship? I'm not sure I want to do all that.

That is correct.
And well, it would certainly have advantages doing it this way - and that's not only taking work off my shoulders :p

- I'm fairly new and unknown, you are more established, so folks might be less hesitant to send money around when they know it'll only go to people they know
- My PayPal account is in EUR, so when payments run over it they will be force-converted USD->EUR and later back to USD when I send the money to CPC. Each time it's converted, they add in a fee that manifests in a much worse exchange rate (something around 4% I believe). Keeping the transaction chain in all USD would get rid of that exchange rate fee at least.

We can of course also shift this around so I'll take orders and money for all sample set orders and you really only deal with the re-shipping part, I'm just unsure if that's what people want.
 
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GIANTDustySquid

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I'll take a full sample set with the extras. These are beautiful chips. Great job! makes me want to get a set of my own
 
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Nex

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OP updated with new orders!

@Jeff regarding a dealer button, I haven't yet decided if I want to do one, but I might.

To everyone else, regardless if you already ordered a sample set or not, would you be interested in a dealer button if there was one?
In any case if I make one I'd go with Empire Studio, and since these would get shipped from France it would make the most sense to have orders and shipping run through me. I think one of those acrylic ones will probably fit in a bubblewrap together with a sample set - for more, I'd have to check.
 

PAZ

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Great movies, great chips! I'll take one of everything please and should a dealer button become available, that too.
 
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mipevi

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The H-mold is absolutely wonderful, too few chips have been made on it in recent years. I am concerned how well all the small text will be legible though, because while the H-mold won't have a rough surface texture, any texture at all will reduce the perceived sharpness of the inlay. I'm sure you're on top of things though, looking forward to seeing the finished product! (y) :thumbsup:
 
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Nex

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The H-mold is absolutely wonderful, too few chips have been made on it in recent years. I am concerned how well all the small text will be legible though, because while the H-mold won't have a rough surface texture, any texture at all will reduce the perceived sharpness of the inlay. I'm sure you're on top of things though, looking forward to seeing the finished product! (y) :thumbsup:

I am indeed on top of it. My goal is to keep the font as small as possible while still ensuring legibility (even if you need a magnifying glass).
I'll get test prints ahead of production so I can adjust size/line thickness adequately, and David will comment on whether the texture after pressing the chip will still have the text legible or not.
 

upNdown

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I am indeed on top of it. My goal is to keep the font as small as possible while still ensuring legibility (even if you need a magnifying glass).
I'll get test prints ahead of production so I can adjust size/line thickness adequately, and David will comment on whether the texture after pressing the chip will still have the text legible or not.
I don't know how old you are Nex, but that text is so small that it's nothing but an annoyance for anybody over 40. I just put on some reading glasses and I still have no idea what any of it says, and that's on my computer screen, where the inlay is probably twice the size. I know you've put a lot of thought into the design but my opinion is that you're the only person who will ever know what any of the text (aside from "club hel") actually says.
 

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I don't know how old you are Nex, but that text is so small that it's nothing but an annoyance for anybody over 40. I just put on some reading glasses and I still have no idea what any of it says, and that's on my computer screen, where the inlay is probably twice the size. I know you've put a lot of thought into the design but my opinion is that you're the only person who will ever know what any of the text (aside from "club hel") actually says.

24 here, but as said in my OP -- the circular text on the denominated chips does not contain any additional info. It's merely the nominal value spelled out in words, and mostly there for decoration (to achieve better visual balance of all the elements on the inlay). The line below "Club Hel" reads "private cardroom". Putting on reading glasses will help you nothing when looking at the mockup because the resolution of the raster graphic is just too low. When printed, the resolution will be much higher than that.

As for the undenominated pill chip with the quotes, I have more leeway here and will probably increase the font size a bit more than on the denominated chips to make sure the quotes are readable.
 
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