Cards (New Suits) 3

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Additional Resource Links:

Hierarchy and Priority Grouping are the main design focus of this assignment. Above all else, make the hierarchy clear and ordered through your visual system.

The primary focus of this assignment is your ability to create implied priority (hierarchy) and visual grouping of similar objects. Your assignment is not to create a game, but instead a deck of cards where multiple games might be played. Therefore, certain cards should appear to be worth more than others regardless of the game. This relative importance should be evident by the “look” of the cards themselves, it should not require an explanation nor an understanding of the theme to make this relationship understood. Reinforce any form of hierarchy by indicating that order through at least three ways. For example, if you use relative size as one way to indicate hierarchy, you might also reinforce this by also applying value (lightness to darkness) and amount of detail across the group as two more ways.

Use this as a checklist to determine if you are meeting the Grouping and Hierarchy requirements with your design. You must turn this grouping and hierarchy checklist in with your final design.

Thematic unity is a secondary focus of this assignment. Base your set of cards around a theme which can be extended through various levels of implied importance and similarity grouping. Look for similarities as well as differences among characters/roles, objects or events to draw inspiration from. Are there any “good guys” and “bad guys”? Your theme is simply to provide you with inspiration and be a source of imagery. This theme may or may not have a strong sense of hierarchy already built in to it. If there is, you can use this to your advantage. It should not be necessary for someone else to know your theme to be able to distinguish the grouping and hierarchy, however. Instead, grouping and hierarchy must be indicated visually, by how you render the images and symbols. What those images and symbols are come from your theme, and it is natural that you would utilize the hierarchy and grouping that is already built into that theme. The difference here is that this thematic grouping and hierarchy is secondary to what you do visually.

Assignment Requirements:
design a deck of playing cards based upon either one of the following criteria:

  1. an existing set of cards (ex.—torot cards)
  2. a story or myth (ex.—Aesop’s Fables, nursery rhymns)
  • Create a “box” or container for your cards
  • Use symbolic color
  • Use figure/ground relationships
  • Your solution must visually communicate the concepts of: heirarchy/priority order order/grouping symbolism
  • The total number of cards is up to you
  • Size, and shape of the cards are up to you.
  • Remember you are not creating a game, but instead, a system with which any number of games could be played.
  • Research: color theory gestalt theory of grouping symbols and icons, dingbats and historical typographic symbols and punction marks various cultural imagery and symbolic communication


  • Read thoroughly all information found on the Resource Links provided to you.
  • Pick a theme to base the look of your cards on
  • Use the following references to guide your process.
  1. Typographic Variables
  2. Grouping and Hierarchy
  3. Color Theory
  4. Symbols


  • Refer to this layout as an example of ganging together multiple cards for printing.
  • in Illustrator, create crop marks for individual cards by first selecting the main rectangle and then under Effect, select Crop Marks.
  • Be sure to exactly center the total group of cards on the paper to allow registration (alignment) of the design on the back side (be sure to exactly center the backside design as well). Use rulers and guides to do this.
  • After ganging together the front sides, save the file and call it “Cards Front Print”. Then, immediately do a second “save as” command and call that one “Cards Back Print”.
  • On the new “Cards Back Print” layout place your backside design in a new layer exactly on top of the card fronts. When the backs are in position you can delete the front side designs from this file. This will leave the back design perfectly in position.
  • Double-sided Printing
  • Cutting with Crops do not use the paper cutter
  • Cut only from crop mark to crop mark, NOT all the way across the sheet of paper or you will loose the crop marks for the other cuts.

Some examples from the past;

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