Since you've already seen Dennis Lamp in my header photo, I thought I'd use him to help explain my process. The other 3 will get their own posts eventually.
Since I could desaturate color photos to turn them black and white a whole lot easier than I could colorize black and white ones, I decided to go with an old-timey look. As you can see, I started with a yellowish parchment papery background. The border is a simple set of interlocking rectangles. I added the classic C logo in Cubs red and gave it an aged appearance. From there I added a photo of the player cutout from the original background with a few Photoshop tweaks. The players name is in Cubs blue with the same aged effect as the red C.
I had started with some of the more popular/famous Cubs players so the inclusion of Dennis Lamp may seem a bit out of place. But actually, there was a private signing Lamp was doing and since he is a semi-tough autograph to get, I put the card together and sent it off. Plus, that's a pretty sweet mustache in the photo!
The backs are a little bit more complex than the fronts, even with a template. They pack a lot of information into a very small area, hopefully without looking too cluttered. The names are the same font that the Cubs use for the names on the backs of their jerseys. Next to that is their primary position and years spent with the team, followed by the Cubs logo from that player's era.
Underneath is the player's DOB, throwing hand and batting side. Below that is a chart featuring common statistics only from the player's time with the team. Up the left side of the card, in blue, is the date of the player's Cubs debut. And finally, there is a space left for a little blurb about the player and his Cubs tenure. Obviously, some players have more highlights than others so the area is big enough and small enough that I can play with font sizes to accommodate any difference. You'll notice I tend to start the blurb with how the player was acquired. If there are significant career achievements, I'll talk about those. If not, I'll scour box scores on Baseball-reference.com to find a particularly good game to recount.
If it sounds like a lot of work, you're right, it is.
I started the design process in late 2011 and have made about 100 fronts and 75 backs so far. I did not get my first one signed until January 2012 and my short term goal is to have 100 autographed by the end of the year. Once I start chronicling them here on the blog, I'll keep a running tally somewhere in the sidebar if I can figure that out.