Magnum Force Playing Cards // Kickstarter Campaign
I was approached by Rare Playing Cards to create a deck of 80s inspired playing cards, and I decided to go with the theme of Saturday Morning cartoons. Taking inspiration from all my favorite shows such as He-man, Thundercats, GI-Joe and others, I set out to create 14 unique characters for the face and joker cards, as well as 4 unique factions these characters would belong to for each suit. I ended up developing detailed backstories for each of them. The result is a lore deep enough to form the basis of a narrative which could possibly take the form of a short film or animated series should I so choose to pursue things further. I also decided to animate the Kickstarter pitch video in the style of an 80s cartoon intro, this turning out to be the lengthiest portion of the project, and of course the most challenging.
One of the first steps taken was to design the logo. I wanted it to feel like the logo of a cartoon show, such as being very colorful, having a stylized chrome finish, and a bold 'in-your-face' vibe. I started off with the typeface, which was done by hand in Photoshop (This later became the basis of the typeface I'd use throughout the project for which I made a font).
As the project moved along I added more design elements harkening back to the Hearts and Diamonds suit, to further reinforce that this is a deck of playing cards. Here is the logo in its final form.
Each face card in the Magnum Force deck features a hero, heroine, villain or beast, rendered in all of his/her/its garish full-color glory. Finely detailed and possessed of 12 distinct personalities, they make up an inimitable rogues gallery of virtue and vice. The back of each card sports a stylized double cobra in shades of magenta and blood red writhing menacingly on an electrifying purple background. The Ace cards feature each faction's logo dominantly in the center, and the number cards feature miniature version of the logo arranged as per the assigned number. The Joker cards are even more distinct so as to add more color and interest within the deck, and to make them easier to pick out of the deck to facilitate game play.
Here's the very first sketch of the characters, there are some here that didn't make the final cut. Absent also are the Jokers, which were designed much later in the process.
And here's an example of rough sketch to final with the King of Spades.
The tuck-box design was done last since it needed to incorporate some of the most important design elements of the deck, such as the logo, faction symbols and card-back illustration.
Once most of the design work was done, I started to think about how I was going to animate the pitch video. The first thing i did was draw up a rough storyboard of the sequence. You'll note that the frames tinted in red; I did that because I knew I could definitely pull those off with my (then) current skillset. Everything in between those were at the time overly ambitious, but I was determined to at least give it a try.
I went with a combination of hand-drawn, frame by frame techniques, rotoscoping, and 3D-for-2D (using shaders that mimicked the look of traditional cel-shaded animation). To further add to that hand-drawn look, I capped the frame rate at 12fps, as 24fps would look a bit too smooth and give away any 3D used. The anime-style dynamic backgrounds were all done entirely with procedural textures, and elements such as the bursts of light and fireworks were done using particle effects. Blender was the software used for all the 3D.
In between work on the animation, I fleshed out the backstories and decided to present them similar to how character bios were done on the back of toys, complete with a dashed guide for where to cut. The world of Magnum Force was coming together nicely. Huge thanks to my buddy Nick for helping me edit these and make them sound legit.
This was the most challenging project to date, but through it I've learned a great deal. I hope you like what you see, if you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the link to the Kickstarter campaign if you'd like to show support for this project: