More Rare Playing Cards - Colours and Patterns Feature!
Rare Playing Cards
I'm not an artist. I'm not even remotely artistic. In fact, when playing Pictionary, EPYC, or similar drawing games, I'm the person whose pictures everyone laughs at, because they are so miserable!
But I do have a number of family members, relatives, and friends who are artists, both professional and amateur. That doesn't make me an expert on art by any means. But it does mean that over time I've seen a lot of art, and I've also learned to appreciate and enjoy it. Still very much as an observer and admirer, rather than as a creator of course - and I doubt that will ever change!
So it will come as no surprise that I also love artistic playing cards. I love playing traditional card games - and those who scoff at the idea might just be surprised how good and enduring some of the classics like two player Cribbage or how much fun a social partnership game of Scopa can be! I'm happy to play a card game with a standard deck, but for me the experience becomes all the more pleasant when I'm using a beautiful deck of cards, that gives me something to appreciate and enjoy during rare moments of down time. And to be honest, I also don't mind owning some decks of cards as a pure collector, but my standards are quite high - I don't want poor quality cards, and I like a high degree of customization. A deck that is out of the ordinary, something rare, for me that really adds to the experience of a game.
Colourful Playing Cards
All that said, it makes sense that I'm going to be interested in quality and artistic playing cards. Standard playing cards are readily available, but a good quality custom deck is something that the average person often hasn't seen before, simply because they are somewhat scarce or rare, in comparison to your typical Bicycle or department store budget deck. But fortunately these beautiful and rare artistic decks are readily available from online retailers, and my own favourite source is Rare Playing Cards. They sell hundreds of stunning decks of playing cards which are not easily found or purchased elsewhere. Not only are these playing cards of high quality card stock, but they also have many decks that are just the thing I love: vibrant colours and patterns.
And that's what this review is all about. I've picked some of my favourite decks of playing cards that showcase bright colours and engaging patterns. I love rainbows, I love colours, and I love arrangements of colours that are interesting and captivating, especially when colours and patterns are arranged in new or eye-catching ways. So let's show you some rare playing cards that I'm excited about, quality decks with colourful playfulness, colourful art, and colourful magic!
Rare Playing Cards with Colourful Play
Let's begin with some uses of colour that evoke a sense of playfulness and charm, and perhaps even memories of childhood and youth, and the exhuberance and colour that this phase of life often involves. Almost every child will have memories of their first year at school, and getting to play with a set of coloured pencils or crayons. But colouring in isn't just for kids, it's for grown-ups too. The creative decks I've decided to review in this category all show that the energy and mischief that first emerges in our childhood, need not disappear with age. Rather, that mischievous sense of play gets opportunity to be moulded by the layers of time that surrounds it, and finds new way to express itself.
We'll begin our journey through the delightful world of colour and playfulness with the charming Brosmind deck. The artwork for this playful deck was produced by Brosmind, an award-winning and creative design studio based in Barcelona.
The artists behind Brosmind are the Mingarro brothers, Juan and Alejandro, whose style is fresh and optimistic, and typically combines fantasy and humour. You only need to catch a glimpse of the artwork of the Mingarro brothers, and it's evident that these are guys who are both fun-loving and talented, the kind of guys that would be fun to hang around with, given their sense of energy and dynamism.
Here's an example of their work for a Coca Cola ad campaign.
You can see more of their work on Behance here and their Brosmind website.
The charming deck box features an usual colour palette that would be at home in a cheerful and welcoming Grade 1 classroom, and the cartoon-like image of an exaggerated and amusing figure on a tiny bike can't but help put a smile on your face:
The Brosmind deck features 54 unique illustrations that were designed exclusively for this project. If you look carefully, a smiling robot figure (complete with pirate patch) is hidden in disguise within the bright pink card-back design.
The Ace of Spades appears in a playful version of its usual shape, while the other cards all feature fun characters as the artwork, the Spades suit having a food theme.
Here's some examples of the humorous court cards, which feature humanized machinery:
The Bromind deck just oozes charm, both outside and in!
Super cute? You bet! Notice that even the pips on the indices are smiling!
I love these walking bottles, which are the theme of the diamonds suit!
And here are our two friendly Bromind artists themselves, on a promo card that comes along with the charming Joker in the deck, waving us a cheery hello.
While the deck looks cut in these photos, it's even more impressive in real life!
Drawing Scratch deck
Seeing as we're playing around with colours and patterns, how about playing around with some truly kindergarten stuff, with the Drawing Scratch deck?
This colourful deck, produced by JL Magic, brings us back to the days of playful kindergarten art.
We've all done this in our childhood, surely: use coloured chalks on white paper, then cover it with black, and scratch off the black with a sharp object to make a new drawing in bright colours.
The result is a colourful and rough look, that on these cards appears just like the authentic `scratching' of scratch art would.
Each suit also has its own colour, to ensure that they are easily distinguished, and also colourful.
The court cards have a stylish design based around the shape of the pip, while the signature Ace of Spades card includes details about the name of the deck and its origin.
The card backs feature a rainbow pattern of scratched pips, while the Jokers are also very colourful.
The cards look as if they have artwork taken straight from a chalk board, or from a classroom!
This deck was printed by USPCC, maker of the Bicycle brand cards, in a quality finish, and is the perfect example of something colourful and playful.
The end product is a good all-purpose deck, because the colourful card backs look beautiful whether used for cardistry or for a game of cards. This makes the Drawing Scratch suitable for a variety of occasions - even if you're no longer in kindergarten!
Now that we've got ourselves a little pumped, are we ready for explosions of colour with some real fireworks? I love some excitement, and the Firecracker deck looks explosive from the moment you first set eyes on the box, which has been cleverly designed to look exactly like a package of actual fireworks.
This deck was originally created in a Kickstarter campaign by The Futurist Co, timed to be released ahead of the 4th of July. But let's face it, fireworks are fun at any time of the year, especially with the colour they add to the night sky!
The tuck box design was inspired from authentic firecracker artwork made in Macau in the 1950s. It even comes complete with a warning: "CAUTION - EXPLOSIVE. Place on ground. Light fuse and get away. Use outdoors under adult supervision only. Do not hold in hand."
The packaging is intended as a tribute to those hot summer nights, where neighbourhood children would gleefully unwrap a package like this, and get their thrills blowing stuff up!
The card-back has a vintage look, and illustrates a number of firework bombs strung together.
The court cards are decked in gold, to ensure a minimal colour scheme that looks beautiful, and yet where the colours don't detract from the overall effect.
In keeping with the theme and setting, the cards have a deliberate vintage look, with a yellowed and aged touch, where elements of the cards look faded and worn. This is particularly evident on the court cards, but all the card faces employ a beige colour and are designed to appear as if they were printed on wrinkled paper, which heightens the retro feel.
The pips also have a thematic touch - they are exploding into life!
A fading effect has also been implemented to the pips, to enhance this effect even further. Here's a look at all the Aces:
As a final touch, the Jokers feature a 1950s version of Lady Luck herself sits astride a rocket - similar artwork is used on the box cover - while card-backs also have enough colour to enhance the look of a fan or spread.
From the moment I first saw this deck, I knew it would go off like a bang, and be a big hit, and that's exactly the reaction it's had with people who have seen it!
Rare Playing Cards with Colourful Cardistry
For the next stop in our energetic and colourful tour, let's find some colourful decks that we can put in the hands of magicians and card flourishers, who can demonstrate something for us of the art of cardistry. Card flourishing has a long history in the magic industry, but in recent years cardistry is beginning to have an independent existence, and is starting to gain legitimacy as an art-form in its own right. But for best results, cardistry benefits from a deck of cards that is colourful and has striking patterns, which will enhance the visual aesthetics of card flourishing. And that's where these decks come in!
Memento Mori deck
The Memento Mori deck is a best seller that was created by noted magician and card flourisher Chris Ramsey. And it's not hard to understand why it is popular, once you've taken a look at this stunning deck that is bursting with visual beauty and colour, from the moment the embossed and colourful tuck box is in your hand. Check out this stunning fan photo:
This deck is truly a card flourisher's dream come true, and is particularly well-suited for cardistry, and for performing visual moves like the one shown here.
The beauty of this deck already begins already with the elegant tuck box. If you look closely you'll see that it has a wrap-around design, which makes up the picture of a skull. I'm not normally a fan of images featuring skulls, but in this case the cover design is more just about the colours and patterns this creates; in fact most people won't even realize that the artwork makes up a human head.
The title of this deck, Memento Mori, is Latin for "remember your mortality". The skull has long been used as a symbol of mortality, representing both the certainty of death as well as the beginning of life, so together the deck's name and its core image convey something about the fleeting nature of life.
The card backs have a similar design to the box cover, and the fact that the coloured design only appears on the opposite corners gives possibilities for interesting visual effects when fanning or springing.
The court cards have geometric patterns with lines and shapes that are a similar style to the artwork on the card backs and tuck box, with coloured shapes being a key feature of the design.
This style corresponds closely to the colours and design of the card-backs.
The number cards match this style as well. The Spades and Clubs have a palette dominated by the colour purple, while the Hearts and Diamonds have a vibrant palette dominated by the colour pink.
For some people, the overlap of colours might make this a deck that isn't the most playable deck - although the indices are still clear enough if you did want to use it for playing games.
But this deck will sparkle best in the hand of a card flourisher. Given Chris Ramsay's involvement in the creation of this deck, it's little wonder that it is a beautiful deck for cardistry!
It sure looks beautiful on a table, and in action, and will especially appeal to the cardistry fan!
Thick Lines deck
Next up is a colourful deck that brings us back to the colourful times of the 1970s, those heady days of orange sofas and brown wall-paper.
The man behind the Thick Lines deck is noted designer Aaron Draplin, creator of the Fields Notes memo book company. He produced this deck in 2014.
The design on the cards has a mirrored and playful design that is based on thick lines and seventies colours. In Aaron's words: "I wanted to make something that felt oddly “off.” Like, big, thick lines that just feel good in your hands."
The effect of the colours on the card backs is amplified when fanned or ribbon spread, or when performing cuts, creating a fabulous visual display of colour and patterns!
As for the court cards, these have been completely redone, in line with the Thick Lines theme of the deck.
Even the pips have been re-designed, as is particularly evident here with the over-sized Aces.
The Jokers give a visual reminder of the entire colour palette used in the deck.
The two main colours are orange and brown, creating a real retro and throw-back feel. That means they might just match beautifully with your basement wallpaper, or the old shirt that resides in the back of your closet after you received it as a birthday gift in the 1980s.
But this deck is at its best when creating blurs of colour - ideal for spreads and flourishes.
It's also worth mentioning that a special box was produced for this deck - the Burgopak packaging system. It has a unique and innovative mechanism that seems to magically slide when opened or closed.
And in case you're lost for ideas about what to do with this or any of the above decks, there's some helpful suggestions on the back of the Thick Lines deck box: "Multiple Uses: Passing Hard Time, Card Houses, Throwing, Cardistry, Loose Magic, Dimwitted Cons, Shuffling Stunts, Solitaire, Poker, War, Euchre, Gin Rummy, Go Fish, Blackjack, Pinochle, Spoke Flickers and Sketchy Sleights of Hand."
Rare Playing Cards with Colourful Astronomy
Colours are beautiful during the day time, but what about at night? It's time to introduce the Starlight series of decks! Colours can look entirely different against the inky black backdrop of a night sky. This series currently consists of four decks, and I'll cover the Starlight Black Hole (#2) and the Starlight Shooting Star (#3).
Starlight Black Hole deck
Colours are beautiful during the day time, but what about at night? That's what the Starlight series is all about.
The very first Starlight deck featured a colourful pattern of glowing stars. Following its success, Collectable Playing Cards released a sequel called the Starlight Black Hole deck. Both decks were designed by Juniardi Satyanagara, but the Black Hole deck takes the original stellar concept in a new direction, as a swirl of glowing stars fades into the dark unknown of a black hole, while a stellar pattern also decorates the entire tuck box.
The back design has a swirling shape that amplifies a sense of motion when used for twirling, and even for fans and spreads, and the colourful artwork here has a full-bleed style. The use of a black canvas as the background of both the card faces and backs gives possibilities for an unusual yet beautiful palette of colours to shine.
The court cards feature a burst of light emanating from a straight forward and classical design that is set within a starry night sky; as well as adding aesthetic beauty, this also ensures they can easily be distinguished in dim light.
The colours work together beautifully, ensuring that the indices have visual clarity, while employing a colour scheme not commonly seen.
Much like the Memento Mori deck above, the traditionally black suits of Spades and Clubs feature purple pips, while the traditionally red suits of Diamonds and Hearts have pink pips on the indices.
The Joker looks as if he is a magnificent vision who has stepped straight out of the night sky!
The design of the border-less and colourful card backs means that card flourishers can capitalize on the colours that go to the very edge of the cards, and maximize the effect of these glowing colours in fans and spreads.
This deck of playing cards was produced by USPCC, in their standard air cushion finish. It also comes with a double-backer and ad card.
Starlight Shooting Star deck
The third deck in the Starlight series (of which I am just featuring two) is the Starlight Shooting Star deck.
In some ways the stellary concept is the reverse of a black hole, because it represents the birth rather than the death of a star. Now the card backs show a star-burst effect, emerging from a black hole surrounded by vibrant and colourful swirls of twilight.
In the Shooting Star deck the court cards don't feature the stellar white we're used to seeing in a starry sky, but are aglow with an even more lively neon pink.
Like the previous deck, the style of these court cards retains a classic feel, but instead of a silent stellar background unmoving white stars, now the jet-black background is producing shooting stars.
In many ways the overall feel of the Shooting Star deck is similar in style style to the Black Hole deck, but vibrant pinks and purples are even more dominant. So if the previous deck wasn't quite psychedelic enough for you, perhaps this one will be! Once again, fans and spreads do a good job of displaying this energy and vibrance.
The numbered cards have the same combination of colours as the court cards, although the pink glow is even more emphatic and evident against the inky black darkness. Notice again how in contrast to the pink pips used for the traditionally red suits, the traditionally black suits feature purple pips for the indices.
Unlike the previous deck, this time there are two different coloured Jokers, one in purple, the other in pink.
Once again, this vibrant and colourful design really makes the most of fans and spreads.
It even looks beautiful when fanned with the card faces! It's a beautiful deck all round!
Those who can't get enough of the colours of the night sky will be pleased to know that the Shooting Star deck doesn't mark the end of the Starlight series. Following the first three decks came a fourth deck, Starlight Lunar, and a Solar deck is currently in the works as well.
Rare Playing Cards with Colourful Art
But eventually every kid needs to grow up, and we need to graduate from the kindergarten school of crayons and colouring pencils. Perhaps some of us might even become real artists! And if not, at the very least we can enjoy some of the contributions to the world of art made by famous artists, and a deck of playing cards is the perfect canvas for showcasing some colourful artist designs. Some are by famous artists, others are artists who have just used playing cards as their chosen medium to create something colourful and beautiful.
To start our journey to the colourful world of art, let's begin with a famous name, and so our first stop is to check out the Mondrian deck, which pays tribute to Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872–1944).
Mondrian was renowned for his influential grid-based style of work, which consisted of abstract compositions with straight lines and coloured rectangles. Produced in Paris in the 1920s, this style had a big influence on European painting, even founding an artistic movement known as De Stijl. And now it's also inspired a deck of playing cards! These playing cards were designed by Estonian card magician Toomas Pintson and Got Magic's founder Nicholas Earl, and this deck is directly based on Mondrian's unique and instantly recognizable style.
To add to the luxurious feel and authenticity, the tuck box has Mondrian's signature in silver foil, and the interior also has silver lining.
The playing cards themselves have artwork on the card-backs to match the tuck box, and which capture Mondrian's distinct and instantly recognizable style of employing simple colours, straight lines, and rectangles.
The geometric forms, lines, and colours, have also determined the shape and style of the elegant and artistic Ace of Spades.
The court cards retain the classic look, but the colour scheme has been altered to match the rest of the deck, using the primary colours that were a common feature of Mondrian's work.
I'm confident that even Mondrian would appreciate the look of a deck like this in the hand of an expert!
The number cards are standard, while the two Jokers feature a stylish lady, one in colour, the other in black and white.
This deck is particularly well suited for card flourishing, and creating beautiful fans and spreads. Fortunately for the non-cardists, it is also practical enough to work well for playing games with, while remaining a colourful and faithful tribute to a true legend in the world of art.
Produced by USPCC on their crushed Bee stock, this deck is also a quality product that has good handling and durability to match its colourful good looks.
Red Stripe deck
From Piet Mondrian, we now take a journey to the Cubist style of Pablo Picasso. Introducing the new Red Stripe deck, which unsurprisingly has as its chief notable feature: a red stripe!
Our tour guide and creator of this deck is magician Omar Renfro, whose creative process began by hand-drawing all the cards, and then digitizing them.
He describes the influences behind this vibrant and colourful deck as being stained glass, cardistry, modern art, and architecture.
The striking design of the card backs was actually the last stage of his design, to ensure that it would resemble the court cards in some way.
The court cards have been described as having humorous Picasso-style faces. To create these, Omar began with freestyling abstract lines, filling the resulting shapes with colour, and then styling them into faces based on the elements typical of classical court cards.
The result is a radically unique interpretation that reflects a Cubist inspired style. The court cards are also borderless, with every line going to the very edge of the card.
How did Omar end up here? Well the starting point of this concept was his desire to have a bold red stripe in the middle of the deck. In his words: "The design comes from the concept of wanting a solid stripe in the middle to accent the bright color palette I had in mind. I wanted to play with the idea of having a deck that was both borderless and bordered." This vivid red stripe is very eye-catching, and has a powerful impact on all card flourishes and moves, especially spreads and fans.
This was a challenging goal to accomplish, and even Omar Renfro realized it. " I didn’t know how I wanted to execute the idea but I knew I wanted to apply the same concept to the face of the cards, so I started there." Omar wanted to change the orientation of a typical pip configuration, as well as use custom pips, and this is where his project began coming to life.
From there he developed the card faces, including the court cards, and last of all the all-important card backs.
Not surprisingly, these cards are excellent for spectacular card flourishes, like the one Omar himself is demonstrating here!
The Cubist style, continuous line work, and vibrant colours dominates all the cards, and it makes for a very energetic and "loud" deck that won't ever go unnoticed.
For the production, Omar partnered with the Hanson Chien Playing Card Company (the name might be familiar as the designer of the famous Chicken Nugget deck), and these decks are printed in Taiwan, with their magic finish and the traditional cut preferred by most card flourishers.
Sticking with bold patterns and bright colours brings us to the stunning Prime deck, which was designed by the UK's Ben Newman.
Like the Mondrian deck, designer Ben Newman wanted to only use primary colours and simple shapes, to create a deck that is both striking and playful.
The card faces all have custom illustrations, with the court cards created as composites from simple shapes, with minimal colours just like the card-backs.
Besides the completely custom court cards, the Joker has also been customized with a similar style.
The Hearts and Diamonds employ regular pips, whereas the Spades and Clubs use triangular and circular geometric shapes, which is particularly noticeable on the number cards.
The borderless back design will especially be appreciated by fans of card flourishing, because it is ideal for fanning and for elaborate cuts, which do a good job of showcasing the colours, while the patterns will help accentuate the moves themselves.
The Prime deck was produced by Dan and Dave, and printed in Taiwan by the Expert Playing Card Company, respected for their high quality cards.
So are these colourful decks from Rare Playing Cards something for you? This isn't the first time I've sourced cards from Rare Playing Cards, and I continue to be impressed with the playing cards they offer, and the spectrum of colourful playing cards featured in this article has only confirms my conclusions:
Colour: I'll start with the obvious: there's a whole lot of colour on display here! There's something about colour that can produce a vibrant sense of energy, enthusiasm, excitement, and life. There's no doubt that the kinds of decks like the ones featured here produce similar results, as a result of the diverse and bright colours they use.
Patterns: Colour on its own is merely one element of design - it needs to be accompanied with an overall and pleasing aesthetic design, which makes good use of the canvas of a playing card. Designers need to consider carefully the effect of lines and patterns not only in terms of how a single card will look on its own, but also the cumulative effect of a series of cards when displayed in concert as part of a fan or spread, or when in motion. The striking and brightly coloured patterns on some of the card backs featured above are especially at their best when causing a cumulative effect in ribbon spreads and other moves, producing a stunning overall result.
Cardistry: Many of these decks were created for the explicit purpose of being used for card flourishers. Certainly card flourishers tend to be fussy about the decks that they use, and for good reason, since the visual aesthetics of their art-form will be magnified when combined with colours and patterns that accentuate the movement of cardistry. Decks like these are perfectly suited to this purpose, and these and many others make excellent choices for this art-form, especially because of their excellent use of colour and patterns.
Eye-catching: Many a deck of beautiful playing cards will catch the eye, but this will especially be the case when there is an eye-catching and colourful design. There's no doubt that playing cards like the ones here will be quickly noticed, and become an instant conversation piece when arriving on the game table.
Creative: I just love the creativity that has produced designs like these. The firecracker styled tuck box of the Firecracker deck; the amusing and cheeky charm of the Bosmind deck; the colourful geometrics of the Momento Mori deck; the explosive pinks and purples of the stellar Starlight decks; all these are the kinds of creativity that I love to see in a deck of playing cards, and really appreciate and enjoy.
Quality: The quality of these decks is consistently wonderful. These are not cheap quality playing cards like the ones you'd find in a corner store, but have been produced and printed by reputable printing companies like US Playing Card Company and Expert Playing Cards. There are all industry leaders, and respected for their consistently good card-stock and finishing, which proves to handle well and will be long-lasting.
If you're looking for an eye-catching and colourful deck of playing cards that is a looker on the table, and a quality product, the selection you'll find at Rare Playing Cards is hard to beat. It's great to discover stylish and stunning decks of playing cards that showcase the colour spectrum, and given that there's an extensive range of fun decks to choose from, almost everyone is going to find something that they'll love. I'm very pleased to recommend the decks I've featured in this review!
What to learn more? Check out Rare Playing Cards
Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Colourful Play: Brosmind deck, Drawing Scratch deck, Firecracker deck
- Colourful Cardistry: Memento Mori deck, Thick Lines deck
- Colourful Astronomy: Starlight Black Hole deck, Starlight Shooting Star deck
- Colourful Art: Mondrian deck, Red Stripe deck, Prime deck
For more of my reviews on custom playing cards, subscribe to this list: Pictorial Reviews of Playing Cards by EndersGame
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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- Last edited Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:17 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:26 am
Thanks Ender, for making me aware of this.
I just ended up ordering 6 decks for myself.