Dec 31, 2020
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Hi everyone and happy new year!

I'm designing a custom deck based on the magic theme (it doesn't sound very original yet I haven't found one yet! ...not that I actively looked for one either.). The goal is to prototype them at Shuffled Ink (thank you
@EndersGame for your detailed review!) I would be interested in having your opinion because I have sometimes a few options, and I think it could be a good motivation to show it to you, and share the progress.

(Btw I hope this is right forum category, it's not even a product, but since all the playing cards reviews are here I thought it made sense...).

So here is the general idea:
Each head card would be slightly modified so that they all carry magic gimmicks or accessories.
So, I don't want them to be super obvious, but just enough that attentive people notice the little twist.
Right now only the Spade and Clover cards are started/complete.

Spade:

Jack: a magic wand - yes, as simple as that!
Queen: rings
King: a dove in a cage (that's my favorite!)

Clover:

Jack: A lock and chains
Queen: Fan of playing cards (instead of original fan)
King: a saw. This one is not obvious, but it refers to the trick of the woman cut in half.

Heart:
Jack: a cigarette
Queen: ??? Any suggestion ?
King: a rabbit in a hat

Diamond:
Jack: String and knot
Queen: ??? Any suggestion ?
King: a little flame in his hand (fire magic)

Let me know if you have any suggestion for the two queens!


For the joker, I thought the 'jeu du Bonneteau' (I don't know how to say in English) would be a good fit to highlight his malicious personality as this magic trick has been a famous example of a scam, and existed a few centuries ago already, matching quite well the Joker's outfit. But what about the second Joker? What do you think about the idea of the joker standing up and seen from the back with his hands handcuffed in his back and turning his head to look at us like if he was very confident he could easily escape? That would refer to the fact magicians can escape from from jail/remove handcuffs, and would also link to the other joker as if he got arrested.

And for the Ace of Spades, that was also a long journey... I wanted to use the hat (="Chapeau" in french), the rabbit, and fabric to shape the Spade symbol. It's not 100% finished (the right side of the fabric is folding in a weird way and it's not very clean), but what do you think about this card ? Is it obvious enough that it's a Spades ? Do you think it is a problem that it is not symmetric ?


Ace of Diamond
I know usually only the Ace of Spades is customized, but when I was looking for a way to shape the Spade form of the Ace of Spades, I thought about using the big curtains that you see for spectacle scenes. I ended up using the fabric/tissue instead but I still liked the idea. So I gave it a try for the Ace of Diamond. It is mostly only a Photomontage now, so the "engraved" style is missing. But what do you think ? Is it visible that it is shaped by curtains? Would it be too strange to have two Aces that are customized, and two that aren't ? Or is it that as many customized cards is always a good idea ?

I also have a few ideas for the back of cards, but that might be for later. I realize the post is quite long already!
Ah, and what do you think about the name? I wanted to use my mother tongue, French, but was not sure of the options:
- Le Chapeau (= the "hat")
- Le Tour du Chapeau (= "the hat trick")
- Le Lapin (= "the rabbit")
Any preference or suggestion ?

Thank you for any support/feedback!
 
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Dec 31, 2020
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Thank you very much Magic Orthodoxy, a few words but it so much to me!

I've made some progress on the project that I'm happy to share with you:
I thought having 2 Aces was strange, so I decided to go for all 4!


What is new:
- Ace of Heart (still in a quite draft state, like hands are not the same color, the cards are too detailed etc...) This one was very tricky, because I initially tried two fans, but it was not easy to recognize. So it is definitely a very abstract Heart shape, but at least we see those are hands and cards.
- Ace of Club : This is an hommage to Robert Houdin's Marvelous Orange Tree, that I first discovered in the movie The Illusionist, and was very lucky to see this summer in his Museum (I really recommend anyone to visit his Museum if you visit the city of Blois in France).
- Box design: I initially wanted to give the box an aspect of a book, therefore similar to the Deren Brown deck, and making it the secret book. But after a few leather background attempts, I believe a more classic black and white approach, won't steal the attention from the two main elements: the hat and the vintage font of "Robert Houdin"... which I have to investigate whether it would be fine or not to use his name. Again, this is very early still, I would need to redo all the elements to make those my own.

What has changed:
- Ace of Spades got a bit more spiky, and I removed the some black background that helped to identify it is a Spade shape. Still not sure whether it is better or not though!
 
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Dec 30, 2020
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I'm liking the nice subtle changes to the court cards rather than something radical given that you want to stick to the theme of magic. As for suggestions, I think it would be incredibly neat on the Ace of Hearts is if the cards the hands are holding match the back design that you end up using for this deck!
 
Dec 31, 2020
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I fully agree with you Bricard!
And talking about the back design, here are a few options. As always, any feedback is very much appreciated!

General:
Ideally I wanted to use a timeless standard back design, and that directs me towards Bicycle cards' back And like you said Bricard, because the Ace of Heart card is red, the back design of all playing cards should be red as well IMO. But I also don't want to risk any copyright infringement, so I need to modify it fully. This is why those are just drafts, and will get further away from Bicycle cards traditional design.

I didn't put much effort into the style yet, but focused on the main elements and their layout.
Among the details to spot:
- Fans of playing cards (the same as I used in the Ace of Heart)
- The automat from Robert Houdin of the Garde-Française et colonne à gant that shoots to a glove. And I've hidden a little detail in one of the glove ;)
- The two vases from Le coffre transparent ou les pièces voyageuses' (="The transparent box or the travelling coins") from Robert Houdin, with one of the two vases, featuring a little difference to the other one.
- A clock that refers to La pendule aérienne (="The aerial clock") from Robert Houdin.

But as the core elements, I have different options, I hope you can help me make a choice!

1) The orange tree from Robert Houdin.
What is nice: Could be a nice visual that is easy to fit to the rest of the design elements.
What is not so good: I've already used the orange tree for the Ace of Club and it doesn't really make use of symmetry (although I could put the revealed oranges in only one of the tree, making use of the symmetry).


2) The teleported man, inspired from the movie "The Prestige".
What is nice: Makes a very strong use of the symmetry! It's like the magician of one side is duplicated in a parallel world.
What is not so nice: If I orient the playing cards more towards Houdin, then this is not much related to him. And I'm afraid that this idea would not look good on the card (a door is very vertical and static...)


3) The Anaconda spread of cards.
What is nice: What I believe is a cool nod to cardistry. Makes very strong use of symmetry!
What is not no nice: Not much related to Houdin, and not sure about the aesthetics of it.


4) The dove in a cage.
What is nice: a bit more related to Houdin. Could look quite nicely. Use of symmetry as one dove would be very slighlty different than the other one, showing that this is not the same that disappeared (very inspired from The Prestige of course).
What is not to nice: I came across the playing cards called "The conjurer" doing my research, which has also magic as a theme, and uses a dove in a cage for the box, and a flying dove for the back of cards... And although I had the idea of the deck a long time before I saw theirs, I don't want to be called a plagiarist...


5) Spread of cards
What is nice: Little nod to cadistry again. Use of symmetry
What is not so nice: I don't know, but it doesn't seem very original to me.

What is your preferred one? Or do you have another idea?
Do you think I should keep a similar design to Bicycle traditional cards or should I get completely away from it?
Thanks for your support!
 
Dec 30, 2020
12
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I love the gloves( I see that the one has a ring), the vases and the clocks! Those elements should definitely be incorporated into your back design.

The two designs I find the most visually appealing are the orange tree and doves in a cage. The only thing I find unappealing with both of those designs are the human-like figure in each corner. I don't think anyone can accuse you of plagiarizing the doves in a bird cage as that is a long time magician act; and the deck of cards you mentioned only has them on jokers (IIRC), not on the card backs.

Couldn't you alter the orange trees on the back so that they are symmetrical if you really want symmetry for the back design? I really love the rabbit peaking out of the hat and it would be a great fit for the feature image on the back of the cards (maybe remove the cloth above his head so that it's not exactly the same design as the ace of spades).
 
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Dec 31, 2020
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I love the gloves( I see that the one has a ring), the vases and the clocks! Those elements should definitely be incorporated into your back design.

The two designs I find the most visually appealing are the orange tree and doves in a cage. The only thing I find unappealing with both of those designs are the human-like figure in each corner.

Thanks for your feedback @Bricard, it helped me making decisions!
I removed the human like figure which, although was part of Houdin's trick looked indeed too agressive/messy. I've replaced it by Houdin's son performing a levitation like shown here:
1206_History_Corner6_t1170.jpeg


And went for the Orange tree that looks quite harmonious with the florals that are giving a very traditional aspect to the cards, but also is a direct reference to Houdin's time: an even clearer reference is that I simply put one of the tables used in Houdin's shows (that you can see on the left in the picture above) and it blends in a very natural way with the rest.

Apart from that, during my research for inspiration, I came across this engraving:
jean-eugene-robert-houdin-1805-1871-french-magician-wood-engraving-c1880-from-an-american-edition-of-houdins-autobiography-depicting-his-first-childhood-encounter-with-a-street-magician-granger.jpg

Which is depicting Houdin as a kid, seeing for the first time a magic trick. And it was the "jeu du Bonneteau", which is exactly what I decided to illustrate for the Joker! I'm so happy the Joker is now even more related to the magician!
I've removed the skull from the joker and replaced it by a human face. Although I really liked that skull, I can't justify why the Joker would be dead...

Still a lot to do: cleaning/vectoring the Back design. Same for the tuck design. And then the court cards.

 
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Dec 31, 2020
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Update:


Attempt of a modern back design, still inspired by Houdin's spectacles.
It might look good, but I actually believe it would not fit the other cards, especially the Aces. So the former traditional style might be better. Would you agree?
 
Dec 30, 2020
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That is really a tough choice. I do agree that the more traditional look of the orange tree back designs fit the style of the cards better, but only ever so slightly, and on the other hand, those modern design backs are fantastically gorgeous (especially the black deck)! I like how you still managed to incorporate some of the design elements you wanted into those modern style back designs!
 
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Dec 22, 2019
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I agree with Bricard, it's a very tough choice. Of all the back designs my favorite is probably the blue modern one. I really like how you managed to integrate the orange accents and the different elements like the bird cage.
On the other hand, the traditional card back suits more the faces.
I also really like the aces. They're very elegant and I love the resemblance to antique stamps (I'm a sucker for botanical ones), but I think that adding some color, like the oranges In the ace of clubs, would benefit their look. (of course, this is my opinion and, being you the designer and the creator of the deck, you have the right to ignore it;)).
I will definitely not miss on their release!
 
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Dec 6, 2018
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Attempt of a modern back design, still inspired by Houdin's spectacles.
It might look good, but I actually believe it would not fit the other cards, especially the Aces. So the former traditional style might be better. Would you agree?

I actually disagree with the latter part of this statment. I think your Aces use a more modern style than the custom face cards, and thus this modern back design (which I really like) suits the Aces in particular more than the traditionalist back design. That being said, if you choose this design it might be better to somehow attempt to modernize the face cards ever so slightly (maybe change the color tone, or the lie thickness).

If you still want to go traditional, I think that the dove cage back design should also still be in the running along with the tree design.
 
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Dec 30, 2020
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I agree with Bricard, it's a very tough choice. Of all the back designs my favorite is probably the blue modern one. I really like how you managed to integrate the orange accents and the different elements like the bird cage.
On the other hand, the traditional card back suits more the faces.
I also really like the aces. They're very elegant and I love the resemblance to antique stamps (I'm a sucker for botanical ones), but I think that adding some color, like the oranges In the ace of clubs, would benefit their look. (of course, this is my opinion and, being you the designer and the creator of the deck, you have the right to ignore it;)).
I will definitely not miss on their release!

I 100% agree with @ForceProof101 , this your deck, and at the end of the day, you need to make the deck you want! That being said, if you don't use that modern back design on this deck, I demand that you do another deck using that modern back design:D It 's far to wonderful to not attempt to release a deck that uses it.
 
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Dec 31, 2020
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Thank you very much for taking the time to help me!
Unfortunately, I think my decision will go against your recommendation, but after I've put a bit more effort on the tuck design, it makes me a bit more confident to go for the traditional style. I believe indeed that they not only match better, but also that this traditional style would be the most "invisible" to spectators. And I like to think of this deck as a compilation of hidden nods to the magic Art. It's almost like I regret having done the modern one haha! Choice would have been easier.

They're very elegant and I love the resemblance to antique stamps (I'm a sucker for botanical ones), but I think that adding some color, like the oranges In the ace of clubs,
Yes that's a good idea, I will give it a try.

And @Bricard , regarding the release of a second deck, let's first hope I can print the first one properly!

[Update]
- Tuck box with subtle gear pattern background (another nod to Robert-Houdin who was also a watchmaker, and used a lot of mechanisms to create his tricks). Still a draft though...
- Ace of Heart




Thanks again for the good feedback, it keeps me motivated. I'll keep you posted on the progress!
 
Dec 22, 2019
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Thank you very much for taking the time to help me!
Unfortunately, I think my decision will go against your recommendation, but after I've put a bit more effort on the tuck design, it makes me a bit more confident to go for the traditional style. I believe indeed that they not only match better, but also that this traditional style would be the most "invisible" to spectators. And I like to think of this deck as a compilation of hidden nods to the magic Art. It's almost like I regret having done the modern one haha! Choice would have been easier.




Thanks again for the good feedback, it keeps me motivated. I'll keep you posted on the progress!
Oh, now I understand more the feeling you want to transmit with these cards and I really like it!
 
Dec 31, 2020
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Update:
Here is the latest progress of the tuck box! Black and white versions, I still don't know which one I prefer.
For the back, I've simply embossed the back design of the cards. I'm note sure it would actually be technically feasible (to emboss so thin), but I think it looks very classy.

And below is the special card (if I've got the chance to add it), with one of Houdin's quote.

 
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Dec 22, 2019
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Wow! These renderings look amazing!
You did a great job with the design on the front of the tuck, now it feels much nicer and open.
Regarding the color of the tuck I’m leaning a bit more towards the black one. While the white tuck makes the design stand out more, the black one feels more low-key elegant to me.
 
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Dec 6, 2018
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I also like the black one better. The only thing I would add is that often times a good tuck case alludes to the color of the deck back design. Your current tuck case makes me thing the entire deck would be a black tone. Perhaps you could add some red accent somewhere? This isn’t a huge deal if you decide not to, just something that initially came to mind.
 
Dec 31, 2020
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Wow! These renderings look amazing!
You did a great job with the design on the front of the tuck, now it feels much nicer and open.
Thank you ForceProof!
Yes I put some effort for the rendering (and especially the modelling of the tuck box), but it was worth it because I can now visualize embossing / gold foil effects much better. For the front of the tuck box, I struggled quite a bit to be honest: I worked with a font artist but was quite disappointed with the result, so I ended up doing it myself and bought a license for an existing font. It was hard to integrate the hat to the text, until I found this Club symbol, which is then linked with the Ace of Club (orange tree). At first I thought it was weird to have the Club instead of the Spades on the tuck box but haven't found a better idea yet!
Regarding the color of the tuck I’m leaning a bit more towards the black one. While the white tuck makes the design stand out more, the black one feels more low-key elegant to me.
Then it will be the black one! "low-key elegant" is what I'm looking for! :D

I also like the black one better. The only thing I would add is that often times a good tuck case alludes to the color of the deck back design. Your current tuck case makes me thing the entire deck would be a black tone. Perhaps you could add some red accent somewhere? This isn’t a huge deal if you decide not to, just something that initially came to mind.
Hm good point, thanks for the feedback! I didn't even think about that... My struggle here is that if I go for a black cardboard for the tuck box, I expect it to be very hard to print white, and therefore any color would be achieved through a foil. But I might be wrong on that one. I'm not even sure I could achieve gold AND white on the front already. Hopefully I'll learn more soon. But talking about adding red, I might try to add a red seal! But embossing, gold foil, custom seal... I might be dreaming too much!
 
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Mar 15, 2018
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boardgamegeek.com
I've always had an interest in decks that are customized with magic-themed artwork. Your court cards are really well done, because at first glance they look completely standard, but when you look closely you see the routines/tricks that they refer to.

If you're still looking for ideas about ways of customizing some of the court cards, the Illusionist deck from Lux Playing Cards may also give you some other ideas for this, although I think the way you have implemented this with a classic style is nicer.

I also like your ideas for the Joker and the Aces. With a custom deck having fully custom aces always makes a deck more attractive, and the way you've incorporated the theme looks terrific. These are really well done!

I have a tough time picking which back design is best, but I agree that a classic look works well. Although I don't know that the card spread image (#5) you have would print well. The modern designs you've made look a bit more amateurish, and especially because you've gone with traditionally styled courts, I think the more classic look suits the rest of your deck better. And for a deck intended to be used for card magic, it won't distract your spectators as much as a fully custom back would.

The tree design reminds me a little of the Impressions deck from MPC, although their thinking behind this was quite different: " Our signature back consists of a symmetrical illustration of a fully grown tree as the focal point since playing cards are essentially paper which originates from trees, hence the inspiration for the design."

The tuck cases look very classy. I prefer the black one, since the white one seems to have too much white space, and this cheapens the overall looks.

Glad you're going with Shuffled Ink for your prototypes - I'm sure they'll look after you.

Overall: great work, and all the best as you keep fine-tuning things!
 
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