My "Transformation 2000" Deck

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My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby RSLancastr » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:56 am  

I have posted elsewhere on UC about how I started collecting decks of unusual playing cards quite by accident in 1968, and how that, over time, became an obsession.

By the mid-1990s, I almost lived and breathed the hobby, and often thought of designs for decks I would like to see created. I often wished that I had the artistic skills neccesary to get some of tose designs down on paper.

Unfortunately, I was (and remain) totally devoid of any drawing or painting artistic skills. I can barely draw a stick figure. I tried using graphic editing software (MS Paint, Paint Shop Pro, etc) to draw some of the playing card designs in my head but the results weren't much better than if I had attempted them by hand.

I enlisted the help of a friend who is a professional graphic artist, hoping that he could realize some of the designs I had in mind. Unfortunately, his heart was not in the project, and it quickly ran out of steam.

I worked as a computer programmer/analyst for more than thirty years (1976-2008), much of that time as an independant contractor, other times as an employee.

For several years in the 1990s, I worked a contract writing programs for Buena Vista Home Video (BVHV) - the video division of Disney.

Every December, they held a screening of clips from films that Disney (and its film partners) would be releasing in the following year, and all of the programmers at BVHV were invited.

I attended one such screening in December of 1994. I forget what most of the films we saw clips from (one was While You Were Sleeping), but the one which absolutely floored me was Toy Story.

Before showing us the clip (about the first ten or fifteen minutes of the film), they told us about this radical new way the film was created. It was not drawn by hand, but every frame of it was generated using a computer!

CGI animation is now known to everyone, but in 1994, it was totally unknown to the general public.

As we watched the clip, the "programmer" side of my brain was imagining just how the images I was seeing had been generated. As the clip rolled on I was very excited, thinking "If I can find an affordable program for generating photorealistic images, maybe I could create images like this, even without being able to draw a lick!" By the end of the clip, I was imagining some of my playing card designs, done in photorealistic computer graphics!

That evening at home I scoured the web, looking for programs for creating photorealistic graphics.

I found one which really intrigued me: POV-Ray (http://www.povray.org.). Not only could it be used to create some stunning images, it was free! And, better still, it used an interface much like computer programming - something with which I was VERY comfortable!

Using a "scene description" language, you decscribe a setting, and the objects in that setting, giving them shape, size, color and texture. You then place virtual light sources to illuminate the scene, locate and aim your virtual camera, and then run your scene description through a program which generates an image from that description.

It probably sounds very strange to a layperson, but to a computer programmer, it was very similar to what I had done for a living every day for many years at that point!

I downloaded the program and dove into learning the "scene description" language. In no time at all, I was creating simple (make that EXTREMELY simple) images: a ball sitting on a box, that sort of thing.

As my knowledge of the language grew, I started creating more and more complex images. Finally, I started considering just what sort of a deck of playing cards would I try to design using this tool.

Since all objects in the "scenes" were described starting with basic geometric shapes (such as cubes and spheres), the easiest objects to create were those closest to those shapes (such as the aforementioned ball sitting on a box). creating convincing-looking objects of ireegular shapes (such as a cloud, a stone or an animal) was much more difficult.

Probably the most difficult of all to create convincingly is the human form, and this was waaay beyond my capabilities with the language. So then how was I going to create Jacks, Queens, Kings and Jokers?

I started considering the number cards in a deck, and how I could use photorealistic graphics to create those.

As I thought about it, I got an idea: Why not use this method to create a full-transformation deck?

=====[ TRANSFORMATION DECK? ]=====

For those not familiar with the term, a Transformation deck is one in which the pips (suit signs) on each card are worked into a picture. For example, a Two of Diamonds might become two diamond-shaped kites in the sky. A Nine of Clubs might become nine club-shaped trees, or whatever the artist invisions.

Here are some examples from my collection (not from my deck!):

=====[ "FULL-TRANSFORMATION?" ]=====

The cards in Some transformation decks have the pips worked into a scene, but the pips are not in the same location and orientation (right-side up or upside-down) as the pips on that card are in a standard deck.

This type of transformation is called a "Semi-transformation".

A "Full-transformation deck" would be one in which the pips on each of the cards are in the same location and orientation (right-side up or upside-down) as the pips on that card are in a standard deck.

Although I have seen and liked many semi-transformation decks, they have always struck me as sort of "cheating" - the artists avoiding the challenge of creating a convincing scene wherein the pips are located and oriented in the standard way.

Transformation decks have been around for centuries, and the ways various artists have worked pips into scenes on these cards is sometimes quite clever and unexpected.

I had seen dozens of transformation decks over the years, but none of them using photorealistic computer graphics. If I could come up with one, it would be a first!

I started coming up with ideas for transformation cards, and envisioning ways of realizing those ideas using photorealistic graphics.

Here are some designs from my deck, which I never completed:

=====[ MY THREE OF CLUBS ]=====

One of my first designs was this three of clubs:

Image

=====[ MY TEN OF SPADES ]=====

Image

Using fish to represent spade pips had most likely been done before, but I thought that a photorealistic take on it could be pretty cool.

I had intended to add much more detail to this one (a bed of kelp rising up behind the fish, perhaps some air bubbles in the foreground, etc), but never got around to it.

=====[ MY FIVE (OR SIX?) OF CLUBS ]=====

I had an idea of using room fans as Club pips.

That would be fine for the Ace of Clubs, but for other club cards, where would you find multiple room fans together?

I decided that a shelf in a store where fans are being sold was a good location for such a scene. I modeled the fans after one in my home, and added ribbons blowing in the fans' wind (as I often see in store displays of fans) both to more clearly identify the "scene" as being in a store, and to add, along with blurring the fan blades to simulate their spinning, some "movement" to an otherwise static scene.

At first, I was not sure how I could have some of the fans upside-down (the pips on the lower half of a card are usually upside-down).

I finally got the idea of using the fans' boxes to solve that problem, and this card was the result.

Image

Image

Initially, this was to be my Six of Clubs, but I later modified it to be my Five of clubs in order to fulfill a request I had been given to supply a Five of Clubs to a project where a deck was being published which was to contain images of one card each from 56 different decks (52 + 4 jokers), each supplied by a different collector. I had been assigned the Five of Clubs. Not finding an appropriate one in my collection, I decided to submit the Five of Clubs from my Transformation deck.

Unfortunately, I had not created the deck's Five of Clubs yet, so I took this Six of Clubs, added a fan/pip in the center and removed the fans on the sides of the center shelf, and - voila! - I had a Five of Clubs! The above image with Seven fans was generated halfway through this modification.

When that collaborative deck containing my Five of Clubs was published, the man putting that project together asked me what the name of my Transformation Deck was going to be, so it could be mentioned in the book which was to accompany the collaborative deck. This was in 1999 and, ever the optimist, I hoped that my deck would be published the following year and so told the man that my deck would be published as "Transformation 2000".

Alas, I never finished the deck.

This section of the UC forums has sparked my determination to resuscitate and complete the project, and my posting this topic/thread is the first step towards my doing just that. in hopes of getting a reaction from you guys about my design.

So, what do you think of it so far?

=====[ MY TWO OF SPADES ]=====

Image

I was really happy with the way this one turned out.

Initially, I had the hands of the clock at ten minutes after Ten o'clock - the time which analog clocks are often set to in advertisements (due to its aesthetically-pleasing symmetry), but then changed it to read 10:13, a "wink" to my daughter Genevieve, who loved the TV show X-Files, in which the time 10:13 was often shown for some mysterious reason.

=====[ MY EIGHT OF DIAMONDS ]=====

Image

One of my more complicated designs. Each of the paintings hanging in this ar tgallery is actually a separate scene/image I created, each an homage to a different famous painter and/or painting.

Dali, Escher and othefs are so honored in the scene.

The missing pip at bottom center was going to be a diamond-shaped scuplture or mobile, but I never finished the card.
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby kennyhughes » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:21 pm  

Wow I really like this. It feels like a tour of some virtual town. Have you come up with any ideas for the back? You could spell TRANSFORMATION with actual objects maybe. A transformation of the word transformation...
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby RSLancastr » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:54 pm  

Thanks, Kenny!

I have given some thought to the back, but have made no decision as yet.

I will probably hold off on that until I am firmer on the theme of the deck, though. Right now, the "theme" is only the medium used (photorealistic computer graphics). I want there to be a theme beyond that connecting the images in the deck, and have a few ideas in that regard as well.
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby Collector » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:05 pm  

RSLancastr wrote:...A "Full-transformation deck" would be one in which the pips on each of the cards are in the same location and orientation (right-side up or upside-down) as the pips on that card are in a standard deck...


..and pips have their traditional shape (it's about your the six of clubs) and are often delineated. From the other hand there is no official accurate definition of transformation playing card or semi-transformation playing card.

@RSLancastr, what do you think about this card (transformation or semi-transformation) :)?:
Image

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RSLancastr wrote:...Here are some examples from my collection (not from my deck!): <blank>


? :)

@RSLancastr, several pictures from me if you don't mind:

Classic transformation playing cards:
Image
Image

a modern variant
Image


Semi-transformation playing cards (IMHO: there are so many variations that "classic" can be used in this case at all):
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One of UC's members (@Emmanuel) designs semi-transformation decks using his own "papercut method".

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@RSLancastr, IMHO your cards need some improvement but I think you should go on with your idea. It can be a really interesting deck (for collectors not for cardists, magicians).
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby RSLancastr » Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:32 pm  

Collector wrote:..and pips have their traditional shape (it's about your the six of clubs)


Actually, the pips in that card ARE pretty traditional in shape.

The blades of the fan are the three "leaves" of the club, and the upper portion of the base of trhe fan is...the base of the club.

This is harder to make out than I had hoped. I toyed with the color of the blades and a few other things, trying to make the pips more obvious, but nothing worked quite the way I wanted.


@RSLancastr, what do you think about this card (transformation or semi-transformation) :)?:


It's okay, but fails to "grab" me, for reasons I can't explain. As part of an entire deck it might work better in my eyes but,on its own, it's...okay.

Did you design and/or draw it?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[quote@RSLancastr, several pictures from me if you don't mind:[/quote]

I don't mind at all - in fact, thanks for posting them!

I had intended to post some but failed (as you noted), because most of the 2,000+ decks in my collection are in boxes up in places where I cannot currently reach them.

I recognize many of the ones you posted. Some are, I think, from the Joan of Arc Transformation deck.

The one with the pollywog-like spades in a jar is from Key to the Kingdom by artist Tony Wee(something). It is a deck I love, and own two or three copies of.

The one with the teddy bears peeking out is from one of artist Peter Wood's decks, probably his Teddy Bears Playing Cards pack (although he features Teddies in others of his decks.

Peter and I struck up a friendship when he found an image of one of his cards on my now-defunct "The Bob Lancaster Gallery of Unusual Playing Cards" web site, and he and I still occasionally correspond.

The card with the White Rabbit wearing a necktie is from The Colors of the Four Seasons deck, a multi-artist deck put together by Steph somethingorother, who sometimes publ;ishes works under the name NoMonet.

It's a nicely-realized deck (I particularly like the distinctive black&White checkered border).

A great book for anyone inbterested in learning more about the topic is Transformation Playing Cards by Albert Field/Fields. it contains images of hundreds of transformation cards.

Speaking of ways of labelling types of transformation cards, I once met a man at a card-collectors convention who only called a deck a "True Transformation" if it was created by an artist who literally drew his or her design in ink or pencil onto an actual standard playing card. Nothing else was a "True" transformation to this guy.

Sheesh!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


@RSLancastr, IMHO your cards need some improvement but I think you should go on with your idea. It can be a really interesting deck (for collectors not for cardists, magicians).


Thanks, I do hope to go on with the idea (or perhaps redo it from scratch).

I know that many magicians will not use a custom deck, as some people in their audience automatically think that a deck that is unusual in any way is rigged/gaffed, Does the same go for cardists? I was hoping to crfeate a back for my deck which would make fans pop, specifically because I see cardists raving about that here and elsewhere.

But I am confident that many collectors will love the deck. I showed printouts of several of the cards at a card-collectors convention in 1999, and the response was EXTREMELY positive.

Thanks again for posting!
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby Strag » Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:31 am  

I personally LOVE transformation decks and it's what first got me into collecting. I have owned many of Peter's Teddy Bear decks, they are always a fantastic gift, and I also have one of his 2000 Pips decks.

I would 100% support you doing a new transformation deck, I've been waiting for a new one to show up.
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby RSLancastr » Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:05 am  

Strag, Thanks for the support!

Stay tuned to this thread for what I hope to be a cool announcement about the project in the next week or so!

Yes, When Peter was working on the Art for his "2000 Pips" deck, I was working on this deck. We occasionally would share with the other an image of a card or two from our projects. It was a lot of fun!

Here are the Peter Wood playing card decks currently in my collection (that I can think of,anyway:

2000 Pips
Busy Bears
Goblins And...
Pips 'n Paws
Teddy Bears Playing Cards
The Chamber of 52 Playing Cards
The Journey
Wild!

Also, six or seven "Museum decks" from Newt's Cards (http://www.newtscards.com.) for which Peter drew/designed the card back and/or tuck box.

I also have a couple of his Tarot decks.

...and probably a few others I don't recall offhand.

Last I heard from him (earlier this year), he had some more projects he was working on.
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby Collector » Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:01 pm  

RSLancastr wrote:
Collector wrote:@RSLancastr, what do you think about this card (transformation or semi-transformation) :)?:


It's okay, but fails to "grab" me, for reasons I can't explain. As part of an entire deck it might work better in my eyes but,on its own, it's...okay.

Did you design and/or draw it?


No, it isn’t my deck/design – http://a.trionfi.eu/WWPCM/decks04/d03763/d03763.htm.
My question actually was about classification of this card. As you can see the whole deck is a such mix of everything with everything that it’s really hard to classify it as a transformation or a semi-transformation deck.

RSLancastr wrote:This is harder to make out than I had hoped. I toyed with the color of the blades and a few other things, trying to make the pips more obvious, but nothing worked quite the way I wanted.


That is why I mentioned that “problems” with classification. Maybe you shouldn’t put your imagination in the hard frameworks of “traditional” transformation deck? Sometimes it can lead to better results. You mentioned that you have a lot of ideas. I hope you are not going to bury some of them in case of non-compliance with “standards” of “traditional” transformation deck. Or maybe you can design two decks (a transformation deck + a semi-transformation one).

RSLancastr wrote:I had intended to post some but failed (as you noted), because most of the 2,000+ decks in my collection are in boxes up in places where I cannot currently reach them.


That is why I decided to add several pictures to clarify some things for very young and inexperienced collectors.

RSLancastr wrote:I recognize many of the ones you posted...


Your knowledge of playing cards is impressive. I respect this.

RSLancastr wrote:Peter and I struck up a friendship when he found an image of one of his cards on my now-defunct "The Bob Lancaster Gallery of Unusual Playing Cards" web site, and he and I still occasionally correspond.


Sorry, I didn’t read your thread of introduction. It’s a pity that your site had those problems. I remember it from my search experience. Nice work. Again – my respect. I am happy to see more collectors on UC who are not USPCC-crazed.

RSLancastr wrote:Speaking of ways of labelling types of transformation cards, I once met a man at a card-collectors convention who only called a deck a "True Transformation" if it was created by an artist who literally drew his or her design in ink or pencil onto an actual standard playing card. Nothing else was a "True" transformation to this guy.


Maybe he is right.

RSLancastr wrote:I know that many magicians will not use a custom deck, as some people in their audience automatically think that a deck that is unusual in any way is rigged/gaffed, Does the same go for cardists? I was hoping to crfeate a back for my deck which would make fans pop, specifically because I see cardists raving about that here and elsewhere.


Do you see any reaction from them? I think you'll use this forum and you'll understand some specifics of USPCC-crazed collectors :)
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby RSLancastr » Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:49 pm  

Collector wrote:No, it isn’t my deck/design – http://a.trionfi.eu/WWPCM/decks04/d03763/d03763.htm.....
My question actually was about classification of this card. As you can see the whole deck is a such mix of everything with everything that it’s really hard to classify it as a transformation or a semi-transformation deck.


The card you posted was, I thought, pretty much a "traditional" transformation card. I just did not care for the mildly crass drawing.
I looked at a handful of the other cards in the deck (via the above link), and you are correct - it is quite a mixed bag. Although some of the cards are "traditional" transformations, I would say that ANY "semi-transformation" cards in a deck makes the deck a semi-transformation deck (in my eyes, at least).

That is why I mentioned that “problems” with classification. Maybe you shouldn’t put your imagination in the hard frameworks of “traditional” transformation deck? Sometimes it can lead to better results. You mentioned that you have a lot of ideas. I hope you are not going to bury some of them in case of non-compliance with “standards” of “traditional” transformation deck. Or maybe you can design two decks (a transformation deck + a semi-transformation one).


I actually enjoy the challenge of working within the constraints of a "traditional" transformation deck, and currently have no desire nor plans to create any semi-transformation cards. If you fel that my deck's Six of Clubs is semi-transformational, I would have to disagree, but I agree that the pips on it need to be more clearly delineated.

Your knowledge of playing cards is impressive. I respect this.


Thank you. I was out of the hobby for a few years for reasons of health, andam only coming back into it in the past year and a half or so. Some of the knowledge I had acquired is dusty from lack of use, but I hope to dust it off and put it back to use.

Sorry, I didn’t read your thread of introduction. It’s a pity that your site had those problems. I remember it from my search experience. Nice work. Again – my respect. I am happy to see more collectors on UC who are not USPCC-crazed.


I would rather say that some are somewhat USPCC-centric. I think that many of them are open to having their horizons expanded, and perhaps this thread may help to serve that end for some.

Do you see any reaction from them? I think you'll use this forum and you'll understand some specifics of USPCC-crazed collectors :)


Not much reaction as of yet, but I remain hopeful. I know that my taste in cards has changed and broadened over the years from the very limited focus (custom courts) it had at the beginning, and I see no reason to think that anyone else here will not broaden their taste in cards as well.
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby RandyButterfield » Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:35 am  

Hey RSLancastr,

It's been great reading through your knowledgeable posts and your MUM Article! I think your Transformation 2000 Deck is a great idea. I was also greatly influenced by the original Toy Story movie. I remember seeing it in the theater the same month I graduated college with a Graphic Design degree and spent the next couple years teaching myself 3d at night, after my day job. Nowadays I use 3d regularly (Lightwave) to enhance designs and to create conceptual Renders. Toy Story has been a huge inspiration and will always hold an important memory in my life.

I thought you might get a kick out of a couple 2d/3d designs I did for a defunct Discourse Group Deck early this year. I was in charge of the Sixes. For the Hearts I went with a Blackjack table feel and a Roulette Wheel design for the Spades. The corner elements were left blank as they were to be added later by 1 person so all of the corner indices and PIPs were consistent.

I was planning on doing the Diamonds with a couple Dice and having the foreground dice on a Craps table with the Six side having 6 dimpled Diamonds in place of dimpled cirlcles. The Clubs was going to be pretty elaborate with a Casino marquee with 6 Clubs along with some copy and above it a neon Casino sign similar to the Jerry's Nuggets logo. I never got to those designs as work got a little crazy and it was obvious the Deck itself wasn't going anywhere.

I look forward to seeing more of your threads and posts!

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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby RSLancastr » Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:58 am  

Thanks for the kind words, Randy!

Thanks also for posting the cards!

They look very crisp, and an interesting hybrid of/compromise between 2D and 3D design.

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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby kennyhughes » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:43 am  

Haha, I love the "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!" card backs on the blackjack table.
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Re: My "Transformation 2000" Deck

Unread postby ecNate » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:05 am  

Yeah, I'm digging back up a 2+ year old thread, but I just found it. I think it's interesting how you used the modeling software to help create your images and also appreciate the transformation decks.

Any more progress on this? Obviously it's not done, but where are you at with it, any plans to revive it?
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