Updated – Nov 1 2020
I’ve updated the post with a download link for the alternate Skyrim cover. I’ve also updated some info in the guide. I’ve highlighted all changes that have been made in blue text. Please leave any feedback you have in the comments. I’m open to adding any info that will make this a more comprehensive and helpful guide.
There’s just something about being about to walk into a room and see your entire collection of videogames lined up neatly on a shelf. The color-coded spines shining like a rainbow across the room… It’s downright beautiful to some people. Collecting games is a HUGE part of the hobby for some gamers. There are even now “boutique” publishers that specialize in selling limited runs of physical games. (And shitty games at that, nearly across the board. Please debate me on that!!)
To each their own, I say. There was a time when I felt the need and compulsion to grab every game I could, for my console of choice, too. Now, after a recent incident, I’m all-in on digital downloads.
But what happens when you miss seeing your games laid out in front you, Chris? What happens when you want that hot Instagram shot of your latest purchases? What are you going to do without physical goods you can actually pick up, touch, and relish?!?Every physical collector reading this
Relax. Put down the knife and pick up the paper bag before you pass out. Let me explain something… I could still have that gorgeous wall of color, if I wanted it. In fact, anyone with access to a computer and a printer can make one of their own. With some amazing, custom art, to boot.
The Exciting (and intimidating) World of Printing Your Own Covers
Thanks to websites like VGBoxart, and The Cover Project, and community-driven resources like the Nintendo Switch Box Art and Custom Covers Subreddits, anyone can find what they need and print out professional-quality covers for their favorite titles. The possibilities range from whatever the original cover art for a particular game is, to something custom that you designed yourself. You can even print cases for all of those digital-only games you love so much!
I’ve taken the time to organize the information you’ll need to start printing your own game case cover art. Follow these steps and you’ll have shelves full of beautiful art that’ll have your friends begging to know where you got them.
Finding & Creating Insert Art
Finding good images is the most difficult and time-consuming part of this process. The aforementioned sites, such as VGBoxart and The Cover Project, are both excellent places to look for cover art for nearly any console. Current Gen or relics of the past.
For Nintendo Switch games, we’re fortunate to have the Switch Box Art subreddit. I have amassed a nice collection of cover art thanks to the generous and supportive community there. If you can’t find art for a particular game, drop a request in the SBA subreddit and, more than likely, someone will see it and respond. The best part is that, even if you can’t find any quality files, you can simply create your own. A quick Google image search will result in some beautiful images you can modify and use.
I’m sure there are other sources out there and I’ve probably missed more than a couple. I have found a few others, but they offer files for systems outside the scope of this blog. (Feel free to hit me up here, or on social media, and I’ll be happy to share whatever links I have bookmarked.)
Printing Perfect Covers
If you can, try to get whichever cover you want to print in the best possible quality. A PNG or PDF is preferable. JPEGs tend to add noise and screw with colors. It’s best if you can obtain or create an image with bleed, meaning the art extends beyond where you’re going to want to cut. Doing this will make sure you aren’t left with any ugly white edges, and you won’t wind up cropping off part of the image.
An example is this PDF of an alternate Skyrim cover from Bethesda’s website. You can clearly see that the art extends beyond where the cut lines are.
Any image you’re going to print should be in CMYK colors, whenever possible. Art created in RGB may look different when printed, so it’s something worth checking when you can.
Pro Tip: If you find something online you want to print, you may want to try asking the creator if they can provide a high-quality version of the image. Even better, ask if they might be able to provide a print-ready PDF.
How I Print Without a Printer
I don’t own a printer, so what I do is go to the OfficeMax website and submit the PDF for printing. The process is straightforward and simple to set up. The double-sided covers I print barely cost me a dollar. I use their 32 lb, glossy paper and it works very well for Switch covers. (I am going to experiment with different types of paper, eventually.)
UPDATED INFO: I’ve tried working with other types of paper and any SemiGloss or Glossy paper, that’s 28 or 32lb, will produce covers that will impress.
If you want to do a print that’s double-sided, with a front/back cover and interior art, you can upload two files, and combine them for printing.
The print resolution I use is 300ppi. After I’m done creating my covers, what I do is save them as a PNG, and then copy them into a Switch cover template in GIMP.
(Shown in the Lost Sphear Interior art above, a grey border with cut lines on an image sized for US 11 x 8.5 paper (3300 x 2550 pixels), landscape orientation.)
I save that as a PDF, and that’s what I use to print my covers.
Important !! So long as the image you have, is the correct dimensions for the Switch insert, and that it’s placed into a field the size of the paper you’re using, it will print at the proper size.
After submitting the images to print, I just head over to their closest store to pick them up. OfficeMax even has a paper trimmer available for customers to use.
With that, a ruler, and a pencil to make subtle marks (the cut lines on the printed sheet get cut off), I can trim them down to the proper size, using a Switch cover template for size comparison. For greater accuracy on the cuts, you can use an X-Acto knife.
Where to buy Empty Game Cases.
Talking specifically about Nintendo Switch Game Cases, I’ve had great success ordering them through Amazon, surprisingly enough. They’re available in packs of 5 cases or 10 cases. It’s an easy way to stock up so you have some handy for that hot, new digital-only indie title.
Final Tips & Thoughts
Printing your own game case art may seem intimidating at first thought. I’ve tried to outline the steps necessary to successfully print case art in an easy to understand manner. And I hope I’ve succeeded. Google search is, as always, a great resource for finding images and custom cover art that’s been shared by others. If you need any further help or have any questions, please leave me a message in the comments below. I’m also looking for feedback on this little guide. I’d love to add more info so it can be as accurate, comprehensive, and helpful as possible. I’ll gladly give credit to anyone who contributes to the guide.