Today’s Best Thing: Transformation Decks

09 February 2011 | 1 comment

A “transformation deck” is a pack of cards where the front of each card has been transformed: where an illustrator has taken the standard front – four diamonds, or three spades, or whatever else – and drawn a picture around it: turning hearts into tulips, say, or clubs into faces.

It sounds like a nice but slightly eccentric thing to do; but it turns out, people have done it a lot, starting in 1803 and never stopping since.

For more information, try:

  • This page showing 24 different transformations of the 4 of Diamonds
  • This history of transformation decks
  • The Wikipedia page (source of two of the cards above)
  • A full deck on Peter Endebrock’s playing-card pages (source of the fish above)

Transformations range from straightforward to oblique, staid to mildly pornographic; but the primary design rule seems to be “when in doubt, turn the pips into hats”.

1 comment on this post.

    Trackback: Transformation Decks « Tales From An Open Book on 16 Feb 2011

    [...] The standard rule is that the symbols (or Pips, as they are known), should remain in their original form and the artwork designed around them.  Originality and humour play a big part in this type of artwork, and the challenge is to create something that has never been seen before. You can see more about this type of artform and read its history here. [...]

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