This project was a self-initiated one that sprung from another hobby of mine; playing cards.
As an avid lover of cards and all sorts of card games, I always wanted to create my own deck, but felt it too daunting. Having a bit of spare time on my hands, I decided to create a custom deck of cards for a very specific game known as Big 2.
This game is very popular in Asia and one of my absolute favorites, so I felt it would be a great opportunity to design a deck that could allow beginners/newcomers to understand the game better.
54 custom designs for each card
Custom tuck box design
As I only wanted to manufacture one set as a test, I really wanted to make sure it would last and be fun to use. Some concepts that I wanted to highlight were
-Easy to use and store
-Flexible and nice to hold
-Usable by all
In order to prevent numerous iterations of each design, I first began the search for a company that could manufacture the cards to the way I wanted and ship them to my address. This would make designing easier as I would have a template and guideline that was familiar to the manfacturer.
After having settled on a manufacturer, it was time to start designing.
I very much wanted to incorporate medieval folklore into the design of the cards. Big 2 is played with a normal deck of cards and I felt this would be boring and confusing to beginner players.
I wanted to make the game both attractive and easier to understand as I had heard from numerous people that it was quite a difficult concept to grasp at first.
Big 2 has a hierarchy ranking of suits that goes (from low to high) Diamond, Clubs, Hearts, and then Spades. One of the most common complaints I had heard from newer players was that it was difficult to constantly have to remember this ranking as there was no designation on the cards or in the game.
I decided to brainstorm a bit on the potential ways to address this issue in my design and settled on using a very universally known hierarchy; Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
Early on, I felt that platinum looked a little too similar to silver and so I decided to replace it with blue diamond.
By searching for some patterns and textures online, I was able to find very beautiful ones for the 4 suits and began to apply them to each card number design using a clipping mask.
Now that I had a very easy to understand hierarchy, it changed the way players understood the suits and the game.
This was the most challenging part of the whole project as I would have to layout a different design for each number, therefore needing a different clipping mask for each number of every suit. This means that 52 cards (not including Jokers) would require a completely unique clipping mask to account for the different designs.
This is an image of what each transformation would look like.
Now it was time to do the background design and back design.After a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I completed 52 cards.
Card Background and Back
As I was going for a medieval theme, I wanted to incorporate a lot of characters written about in history or mythology such as mythical beasts, kings and queens, and so on. I researched online for art on these characters and found 17 different designs that I would use.
I then set out to apply the designs to every card. As the cards 2 of Diamonds, 2 of Clubs, 2 of Hearts, 2 of Spades, and 3 of Diamonds were quite unique/special, I decided to give them a more stand-out design and make them a bit more vibrant and easier to notice. I then found a number of medieval and arcane patterns online and combined them to make the design on the back of the card.
Below is the final card art for all the cards I designed.
Tuck Box Design
Now that the cards were complete, I needed to design the tuck box that the cards would be stored in. This was the template given to me by the manufacturing company and how it would look when it was folded.
Below is my design.
The Final Product
Overall, this has been my favorite project to date. It's something that I did recently, which means it demonstrates the best of my abilities currently. It's something I am so passionate about and did only out of enjoyment. I never expected it to get to a production stage as I felt it wasn't worth paying for, but I was so pleasantly surprised when it was delivered in such immaculate condition.
Looking back at it now after having played with it for a number of games with friends and family, there are a lot of things I would change.
I definitely would make the patterns a bit more readable from distance as the textures can seem a bit dazzling and hard to read when there are a lot of cards in your hand. I would also want to increase the opacity on some of the background designs to make them more noticeable, but I'm not sure if it would compromise the readibility.
Having said all that, I'm still extremely pleased with how it turned out. I can't wait to show it when someone mentions the game and I am still filled with pride when I see it sitting on my shelf.
I don't think I'll ever stop using it.