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"The Renaissance Deck" - Feedback highly appreciated

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"The Renaissance Deck" - Feedback highly appreciated
« on: March 08, 2017, 06:41:30 AM »
 

Medicus

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Hi,

my name is Chris and I plan to create a custom playing card deck for kickstarter (please excuse my bad english, I am from Germany). My vision is to bring a historical deck to live that represents interesting figures from the renaissance time period in Europe. Each facecard represents a figure and will give hints about his accomplishments. For exmaple the card in the attachement shows Galileo Galilei. His contribution to history could be seen in the use of this telescope to advance our understanding of the solar system which also could be seen as a key element of the renaissance where reason and observation were emerging. So the card contains the figure, the telescope and some of his discoveries.

I plan to lay out most if not all of the cards in this way. Please note that this card is a first version. I am no artist at all but I was lucky enough to find an amazing artist for this project. She has a professional background in drawing and learnt even at the university level about drawing in the renaissance style. In my non artist opinion she quite well used newly developed painting techniques from the renaissance with her own style. For example we can see in the card the clever use of light to create an impression of distance (just imagen the head of Galileo without light and shadow effects, he would look more 2d than 3d and therefore not realistic). An expert could propably explain it much better than me and find a lot more here to point out. But for me everything that makes a painting more realistic, through light, use of proportions or any other means, represents the art style of the renaissance.
That being said, I believe the card needs a bit change since I would like the figure in the focus at all time. Right now the eye wanders first and most of the time to the middle 2 objects. But this was only a first draft to get some ideas.

One or two words more about the card style. I decided that I want the card have an aging effect, when you zoom in you can see imperfections on the pips and corner of the card. I feel that this gives a historical deck a fitting touch. Another thing to point out is that I read a lot here about what card fans expect from a deck. And one thing I see very often is that all the cards must be functional meaning the pips and facecards must be recognizable on a glance so one can easily play poker with it. So my artist stayed as close as possible to the originial pips but added her personal touch to it. I espacially would like to point out that the spades symbol is even incorporated in the background if you check on the right top corner. But I think we might have to do some minor changes here since that spades there and the other 2 corners look different (in shape and 2d/3d effect). But I like the general idea of this to make cards easier to recognize.

So but now I need your help. I would like to make this project a success so that I can not only realize this deck but also start a historical deck series. So your feedback would be invaluable to me. Be as critical as you like. I rather have my feelings hurt now than not selling any decks later.

One more thing, I am not sure yet where to produce the deck and what materials to use. Right now I hear and see a lot about the bicycle card company. I talked to them and they offer 1000 deck production runs in typical bicycle deck quality. But this quality seems...and now I need to be careful....not too special. They use 300gsm card stock which basically is fine. But you could put a lighter under it and see the light shine through. While when you do this with a 330gsm card stock it is light tight. (check out the videos about it by MPC http://www.makeplayingcards.com/pops/card-types.html). As I see it right now, for a deck that focuses on the look of its art work 330gsm seems the way to go since it would give better contrast on each card.

Another point to consider is that the more a card weighs the easier it is to handle (at least that is what some card magicians tell me). But this is maybe not an important point at all in a collectors deck. 

My last consideration is the delivery process. I have seen many kickstarter campaigns that fail to deliver on time or all the stuff the promised. And very often it seems this is because the have a too complicated delivering process (for example they use a producer for their deck and another one for a certain reward and then use a third guy to do the logistic). Not only does this normally add cost to the project and the deck itself it also is way too prone to problems. But now, when using USPCC I actually have no way to avoid this since they don´t offer fulfillment services.

The problem now is that USPCC produced decks seem to have an advantage in terms of card fans trust them. But other companies such as MPC offer, at least as I see it from their website, higher card quality and combine the production and fulfillment process under one roof so it would cost less and is less likely to have problems in the delivery. So I am now a bit torn here. Do you guys have any advice?

Thank you all for your help
Chris
 

Re: "The Renaissance Deck" - Feedback highly appreciated
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2017, 12:39:43 PM »
 

bhong

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Hi Chris,

So to answer your question in terms of card quality, the weight though is important isn't exactly the same between MPC and USPCC or EPCC (Expert Playing Card Company). MPC, I believe, uses a large scale digital printer to print off their artwork which is then cut up into playing card size. USPCC and EPCC use sheet or roll feed offset printing. I've had my own work printed on a digital printer similar to what I believe MPC uses. It's good, but the art quality is nothing compare to the offset printing you'll get with USPCC or EPCC.

As much as paper weight matters, what else does matter is the coating (aka the finish) that goes onto the card as part of the process for it. Again, however it is done, there is quite a noticeable difference between what you can get from MPC and USPCC/EPCC. You honestly can't say they're similar as they're quite noticeably different. I believe due to the printing process and how everything is, when you hold and use a deck fromp MPC and USPCC/EPCC, it is a very big difference and I do believe this is due to the printing methods.

If you have all the artwork set up, you can easily just order a sample prototype test deck from MPC so you, yourself, will be able to feel the cards and come to your own conclusion.
 

Re: "The Renaissance Deck" - Feedback highly appreciated
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2017, 05:21:56 AM »
 

Don Boyer

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As much as paper weight matters, what else does matter is the coating (aka the finish) that goes onto the card as part of the process for it.

This is a common misconception.  The COATING is not the same as the FINISH.

Finish is a card's texture.  That texture can be imparted by a variety of methods.  USPC and many others today typically use a pair of metal rollers that will impress a finish into the surface of the cards as the two layers of paper are glued together to create the pasteboard on which quality modern playing cards are usually made.  Sometimes that texture can be created by adding a gloss layer of some kind at varying depths - the MPC Impressions series of playing cards is a prime example, creating a three-dimensional feel to the surface of the card through the application of layers of "UV ink."  In the old days (1970s and earlier), playing cards used to get their texture by having a coating applied to the paper with a fabric roller, which creates a textured surface in a similar way to how a paint roller applies paint to a wall.  But whereas the paint is supposed to dry flat, the coating retained the texture of the cloth - and it's why many finishes to this day are named after various types of fabric, such as cambric and linen.

It's because of this old-school method of applying texture that people are often confused about what is a card's finish - it's the texture, not the coating.  USPC doesn't help matters by naming their newest high-end coating "Magic Finish," though it was originally called "Performance Coating" while it was still in development, a name which the Ellusionist Playing Card Company still uses to this day when producing decks through USPC.  As a magician, I hate the idea of whipping out a deck of cards and someone spotting the word "Magic" anywhere on the box, even if it is "Magic Finish!"

Medicus -

I like the basic idea, but I'd suggest not getting too esoteric with the design concept and stick with making the art as GORGEOUS as humanly possible.  It's what will sell your deck.

Faux aging was and still is popular, but as a design concept it's pretty played out.  I think that for beautifully artistic decks, it can actually be a detriment, distracting and muddying the artwork.  Perhaps consider instead using a look of faux parchment, maybe with an ivory color - something more likely to accentuate the artwork and really show it off instead of making it appear as if it's been sitting in a trunk getting dusty for decades.

It's a design concept I like to compare a lot to Western movies made in the modern day.  When you think of a Western, you think of dust and grit and dirt and things looking weathered and aged a hundred years or more.  But when the Old West was just the West, in the post-Civil War years, was everything really all old and worn-out in appearance?  Dusty, perhaps, and maybe even dirty - there were a lot of desert towns back then and Windex and Fantastik hadn't been invented yet!  But ancient and worn-looking?  Not really - they didn't use hundred-year-old lumber that had been sitting in the rain when they built their towns, did they?  They used new lumber, maybe some paint or stain - things had a new, raw look to them, perhaps, not all ancient and weathered.  We think of them as old as weathered because that's what the Old West looks like TODAY, and that's what Hollywood has stylized the Old West to look like in so many movies that if you really made the Old West look they way it did when it was new, many audiences might not even recognize it.

So instead of making your cards look ancient and weathered, go for a look that would be authentic to the materials upon which artists worked in that era - perhaps a parchment, perhaps even an animal's hide!  But make it appear new, as if the art was magically transported from the Renaissance and -POOF- turned into playing cards in the 21st century.  Use great detail - but not excessive, because remember that your "canvas" is a mere 2.5 inches wide and 3.5 inches high!  Use "pigments" authentic to the period, but bright and new, as if they were applied just yesterday and haven't yet fully dried.

Manufacturers - Expert Playing Card Company and Legends Playing Card Company have some of the best work around and at reasonable prices.  MakePlayingCards.com is good if you have to go make cards on a budget, but their work isn't as good because of the use of digital printing rather than offset printing - it doesn't reproduce as sharp and colors tend to reproduce a little dark.  I will say, though, that because of their low pricing, not only are they good for a budget deck design, they're a frequent choice for artists looking to print with another company but wanting some relatively inexpensive demo decks - proof-of-concept copies of the deck that allow you to get some idea of what the finished product will look like without having to spend a small fortune on demo decks from printers.  (I've heard that USPC is now charging upwards of $500 for a test printing of a finished, cut deck, and it's printed digitally, not much different from how an MPC deck would appear.  The same deck from MPC is something under $20, depending on the deck's features.)

USPC does do decent work - and you can't go by "gsm" weights when dealing with them, because they no longer use grams per square meter for their stock, instead using a range of caliper thickness.  Their stocks are good - perhaps not as bad as being able to see light through them, since they are layered with graphite in the glue between the paper layers to increase opacity.  Maybe the deck you saw was a counterfeit copy of a USPC/Bicycle deck?  They are frequently forged by low-end Chinese printers looking to make a quick buck and sell cheap decks to inexpensive discount retailers and "dollar stores."  As far as preference on thickness, that can really vary depending on the application.  Some people prefer a heavier card, some a lighter card, some want stiff and some want more flexible.  Consider who your audience is first, and determine what kind of card they prefer.  You might even find that the target for your deck is more interested in the quality of the printing over the paper's properties - they might not want the cheapest paper out there, but they'll be happy with a mid-range paper as long as the artwork looks great.  This is important to know - high-grade papers cost more money but might not necessarily sell more decks for you in the end or might push the cost of the deck too high for the audience you wish to target.

Best of luck to you!
Card Illusionist, NYC Area — Playing Card Design & Development Consultant
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Re: "The Renaissance Deck" - Feedback highly appreciated
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2017, 08:15:36 AM »
 

Medicus

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Thank you both for your feedback. Seems when it comes to card production I still have a lot to learn.

And thank you Don for your discussion on the aging effects. You have some very good points. I will discuss those with my artist.

Thanks
Chris
 

Re: "The Renaissance Deck" - Feedback highly appreciated
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2017, 06:09:10 AM »
 

Medicus

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Here is a almost finished Queen Of Spades for my deck:
http://cardsenthusiast.deviantart.com/art/Queen-of-Spades-of-Elena-Cornaro-Piscopia-686386493
Not sure how to post a image here but the link should work too.
 

Re: "The Renaissance Deck" - Feedback highly appreciated
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2017, 06:26:35 AM »
 

Don Boyer

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I've attached the image of your Queen.  You just have to watch the file size - nothing bigger than 1,000 Kb.

I think you're on the right track.  I'd lighten up the background just a little bit more, so as to really show off the art.  I like that the art is so colorful instead of aged/weathered/dingy-looking.

Be careful of using a full-bleed background such as what appears here.  If you decide to go this route, you'll want the background to be IDENTICAL from card to card.  Why, you ask?  Well, uniformity in a deck's design is important not only for the card backs, but also for the edges of the cards as well.  Believe it or not, a sharp eye can actually see the edge of the face and back of a card at the die line when the deck is stacked in a pile.  If there are differences at the edge of either the cards' faces or the cards' backs (or both), a sharp AND skilled eye can spot those differences and use them to identify the cards from the edge while they're sitting in a stack.

I've done this before and even demonstrated it with a specific deck of cards on YouTube.  I was able to take advantage of some design choices made by the designer as well as cutting defects by the manufacturer to manipulate this particular deck in order to identify all the court cards and aces, separate the red cards from the black and even remove a random card from the deck, place it in the middle, shuffle, then cut immediately to the selected card.
Card Illusionist, NYC Area — Playing Card Design & Development Consultant
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Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. — Mark Twain