Creating Funny Money

is not as easy (of funny) as it might sound.

Last weekend we a dinner celebrating the 12.5 years of marriage of my sister-in-law. Our gift was a gazillion envelops filled with;

  1. useless paper
  2. 10 euro bill
  3. .....

This way they had something to do when they came home from the dinner. The fourth option was supposed to be funny money; scanned and severely altered euro billet.

The initial idea was to create a euro bill for 12.5 euro's, but that would take too much work, so I opted for a 55 euro bill (just clone the existing 5 on the 5 euro bill).

So I placed my 5 euro bill on my scanner and the both sides (not sure which side I was gonna use) to a high resolution TIFF file. This resulted in two crisp images seen below (I added the specimen part myself on these)

After the scan I tried to open the files in Photoshop to alter them further, and to my surprise I got the following error:

Adobe Counterfeit Error

Adobe Counterfeit Error

Oke, I didn't expect this, but I can see why they would do that (insert a Counterfeit Deterrence System (CDS)).
Fortunately, I found a way around this by opening the TIFF files in Adobe Illustrator and save them as a PDF. The resulting PDF can be opened by Photoshop and modified.

As you think of it, this is not that a weird workaround, since Adobe Illustrator is a tool that can be used to design things (like currency), so it would be counter-productive to build in the counterfeiting blackbox.

You can download low-res images from the European Central Bank website. If you want an higher resolution image, you need to produce several legal documents blablabla...

  • require the banknote images for professional purposes
  • have a personal computer or digital imaging software which includes the CDS
  • sign a Confidentiality Declaration

To avoid further problems I changed several other things on the bill as well, like;

  • Added the extra five to create a 55 euro bill
  • Adding a picture of the happy couple
  • Change the coloring of the bill

When I was done I printed the result on a size larger than the actual note, but small enough to fit in a 10x15cm envelope.

The result was..... well... not what I had hoped for. The printer didn't want to print the image. No matter what I tried, the image printed only to a third (or two-thirds, depending on the side of the 'euro' bill). The print-queue showed errors that 'Reading pixels' failed.


At first I thought the the printer was having issues, but other photos printer just fine. So it was another trick to deter one from creating funny money. So I changed even more features on the original bill, but no matter what I changed, there was no way that the image would print. Not through Photoshop, as a PDF through Apple Preview app, or Adobe Reader. Even a reasonably blurred image didn't print properly.
So I suspect the printer (same device as the scanner I used to produce the original image) to have some sort of CDS as well. And that system is less picky on what it refuses to print, since Photoshop had no problems with my last version of the funny money.

Crap!. So the third envelope option became an empty envelope.

Posted on December 4, 2013 and filed under Annoying, Personal, Security, Software.