Update on Heartbleed

By Patrick Byrne

As most of you have probably heard by now, a security vulnerability (known as Heartbleed) was made public last week which affected a large number of sites and services. In short, this vulnerability had the potential to allow attackers to see otherwise-secure HTTPS traffic, such as users’ passwords.

Upon learning of the vulnerability, we immediately contacted our hosting provider to assess the situation. The good news is that Dribbble was not impacted by this vulnerability, because we are not using a vulnerable version of OpenSSL on our load balancer which handles HTTPS traffic. This means that your secure traffic with us was not visible to potential attackers.

That said, if you use the same password on Dribbble that you use on another site which was affected, we strongly recommend that you change it. If you’re not sure, it’s probably wise to change your password anyway.

Weekly Replay

April 14, 2014

Get in touch to share your own very recent shots. Let us know about other people’s shots that inspired you, taught you something, made you think. E-mail suggestions to susanna@dribbble.com.

Good Work

  • imageThe SXSW Cares Fund, being managed by the nonprofit Austin Community Foundation, will help those affected by the tragic accident at this year’s SXSW, as well as their families. The Fund will also serve as a reserve for future possible events. 100 percent of profits from Michelle Oros's T-shirt go to the fund. Oros is the art director at Mason Zimbler.
  • image Musical artists will gather in Toronto, Canada, on Friday, May 23 to raise funds for the Million Meal Movement. Proceeds benefit two child-focused nonprofits, ONEXONE and the Simple Plan Foundation, with the goal of providing one million meals to North American children. Posted by Warren Keefe of Community Agency, a Pulp&Fiber Company.

In Progress

  • image Something’s brewing over at Typekit; A practice from Typekit Creative Director Elliot Jay Stocks.

In the Game

Launched

  • image SignEasy for iOS 7 from Glykka; design work by Vivek Kumar
  • image Sketch 3 (vector graphics app) from Bohemian Coding; posted by UI/UX designer Emanuel Sá

Illustrated

Infographtastic

User Friendly

Death & Taxes

  • image Life & Death by illustrator/animator/art director Bob Case, part of an in-the-works collaboration
  • image Tax Filing by UI designer Housseynou Fall
  • image Pattern ! $ % € by ILENOLIUKGO; the Italian studio designed the pattern for new folders to hold tax documents.
  • image It’s dead by Christina Lu
  • imageHuman skull and neck by 3D artist David Marchal

We Like BMO!

Badass Lady Creatives

Badass Lady CreativesBadass Lady Creatives added Alexandra Bond, Laura Meseguer, and Doris Yee to its directory.

  • imageCuore Spezzato wine bar logo in progress by Alexandra Bond, a designer for Pinterest.
  • imageD and E from Tipofino, a new brand/project from type and graphic designer Laura Meseguer
  • imageQualities of a Minimalistic Running Shoe by independent UI/UX designer Doris Yee for The Less-is-More Breakdown of Running on Yeedor, where Doris explores the formulas behind design

Where’s Dribbble? Gold Coast, Australia!

Teams

  • image 9elements worked with uformit “to create a new way to discover and customize 3D products. You are looking at the landingpage, where we used an interactive storytelling concept to explain what uformit does and how it works.” Posted by Product Designer Kevin Kalde.
  • image Dropbox released its image gallery, Carousel. Josh Puckett and Yi Wei collaborated on the design with some input from others, including Tim Van Damme. Alice Lee and Ryan Putnam created more than 70 Carousel illustrations.
  • image The Mynewsdesk design team just finished a lovely whitepaper for the marketing department; posted by Joel Helin.
  • image Mike Cummings at Young & Hungry is “having fun working on a very practical and unique iPad application for a local painting company” and “loving Budicon by Budi Tanrim.”

Coaches’ Picks

Since Last Week

  1. Artisans2
  2. Monarch-playing-cards-16
  3. 05_infinity_box

We finished up our two-week Carded series about magic + playing cards + design by talking with three designers: Simon Frouws (Artisans, above left), Curtis Jinkins (Monarchs, above center) and Lee McKenzie (Infinity, above right).

Meetup Wrap-Up

Hosting a meetup? Visit our Meetups Page and click on Here’s How to Make It Happen to request a Meetup Kit. Send susanna@dribbble.com a photo after, and we’ll run it here!

Dublin, Ireland, Tuesday, April 8, Against the Grain

image

Dribbblin’ Dublin gathered to celebrate the return of Tady man of steel. Organizer Donovan Hutchinson sent us a picture of “an amazing set of badges which we were all impressed by,” created by Eleanor McKenna.

Meetups

  • The DePere, Wisconsin Meetup scheduled for Wednesday has been moved to Tuesday, May 20. RSVP.
  • Washington, DC, USA
    Friday, April 18, 5 p.m., Whitlow’s on Wilson, 2854 Wilson Blvd., Clarendon, VA. RSVP.
  • Dutch Designers Guild Logo Utrecht, The Netherlands
    Dutch Designers Guild Saturday, April 19, 3 p.m., Dutch Game Garden, Neude 5. RSVP.
  • Seattle, Washington, USA
    Saturday, April 19, 1 p.m., Storyville Coffee, 94 Pike Street. RSVP.
  • Singapore
    Tuesday, April 22, 7 p.m., Lorong 24A Geylang. Sponsored by buUuk and 13. RSVP.
  • LA Dribbble Meetup @ General Assembly Santa Monica, California, USA
    General Assembly x Dribbble Friday, April 25, 6 p.m., General Assembly LA, 1520 Second Street, Santa Monica. Sponsored by Shopify. RSVP.
  • Dribbble meet up at YahooSunnyvale, California, USA
    Dribbble Meetup @ Yahoo co-hosted by Dribbble co-founder Dan Cederholm and the Yahoo Design Team, Wednesday, April 30, 6 p.m., 701 First Ave. RSVP.
  • Boston Dribbble MeetupBoston, Massachusetts, USA
    Thursday, May 1, 6:30 p.m., Cantina, 320 Congress Street. RSVP.

Have a shot you’d like considered for Replay? Send the link to susanna@dribbble.com.

Carded: Infinity

Last week we explored magic, design and playing cards in Carded. This week we talk with three designers about three decks the magic world holds in high regard. Last up: Lee McKenzie and his Infinity deck from Ellusionist. After the Q&A, designer Tim Silva provides on-deck commentary.

05_infinity_box

When Ellusionist presented Lee McKenzie’s Infinity tuck box design to the U.S. Playing Card Company, they said they couldn’t do it. Ellusionist sat down with USPC’s pressmen, special effects experts, and R&D and voila! They did it.*

How did the gig come about?

As a passionate student of magic as well as a graphic designer, I dreamed of designing my very own deck one day. In 2007, inspired by Ellusionist, one of the leading online magic companies who had started to step out into custom cards, I finally started work on a concept that I thought would change the game, I was so excited. I had some samples printed and sent them off to the CEO of the magic company to see if he’d like to add them to his product line. I was incredibly nervous awaiting his response, but the day came, I got an email and he loved them! Soon I became their lead playing card designer based off the work I sent him. I was hired to create the company’s first, fully custom deck called Arcane, which was soon followed by Infinity and more.

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Arcane, the first deck Lee created for Ellusionist

What were the parameters you were given when designing the Infinity deck?

The actual concept is something I came up with while developing ideas for the previous deck, Arcane. The idea was to keep developing that theme until we hit something that really sings. As such, the parameters are very loose and they gave me full confidence to run with it and see what I could do. The result was a very old-world, dark and mystical design conveying the theme of timeless magic from the past and into the future. A very fantastical vibe.

Take us through the design process.

The general feeling of the deck was already established from a previous idea I developed. The next step was to really try to concrete what was a very elusive concept to realize. Time. Also, establishing a running style and overall theme in which to do that. When cards are used for tricks, cardistry and flourishing, there are always things you have to consider in the design to really give that audience something that sits well with them and enhances their art. For example, the top left corners of the backs are always going to be visible in an array of fan-based flourishes, so creating a really interesting four corners on the back helps them to stand out when those moves are performed.

With Infinity, there’s a little cherub’s face with wings on each side which creates a very organic and appealing corner style and looks great when fanned. Introducing more flowing, natural borders is something I try to do a lot to help put more character and flair into the edges so when you spread them they look real tasty. For tricks, there’s the classic joker card reveal which is something a magician can use to reveal the identity of a spectators card printed right onto the card. For Infinity, which is actually written in the banner on the joker, it allows the performer to “morph” the word into the name of a selected card. It looks incredible and it’s something that’s put to work at the design stage. It’s not a new concept but trying to create an ever-increasing original way to present it is a great challenge.

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The Joker from the Infinity deck; photo courtesy Ellusionist

Beyond the obvious space limitations, what design challenges and joys does a deck of cards present that sets the job apart from other jobs? Anything that you find ties the job to other, more traditional design jobs?

I liken the design of a deck to an art poster. Obviously the canvas is much smaller, but when you see it from a large poster-like perspective it can really help open up the possibilities of what stories you can tell and what detail can be achieved in such a small space. I love the challenge of designing a deck, especially because it’s something I use as a magician too. So much so, that I’ve moved away from freelance design and have just launched my own playing card company, Kings & Crooks. We’ve just had a successful Kickstarter project for the very first deck of my own called Empire. It was received really well and I’m so excited about the new decks coming next.

Empire_back_large

Lee funded his Empire deck via Kickstarter.

Do you know any magic tricks and/or have any favorite card games?

From a love of magic spanning over 20 years now, the evidence of a “misspent” childhood is clear to see when I get a deck of cards in my hands. I love performing tricks for people and even the solitude of practising sleights and techniques. It’s actually very soothing and meditative. My favorite card game is Texas Hold’em, not that I use any “moves” during play to sway the odds in my favor. Honestly.

*(Note: Only First Edition Infinity decks featured gold foil and embossing.)

Find Lee at Dribbble, on Twitter, and at Kings & Crooks. Find the Infinity Deck at Ellusionist.

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Lee custom-designed a red Ace of Spades for the Infinity deck. Photo courtesy Ellusionist.

On-Deck Commentary from Tim Silva

"This deck simply has a cool factor. I remember the first time I saw the trailer, I was not prepared for it at all. It is definitely worth watching. The styling has these beautiful little clocks, and a hint of [H.R. Giger] visuals to result in what a time machine might look like. There is so much depth in the back design that you might experience vertigo when holding these in mechanics grip and looking down. While a more popular aesthetic is to use flat, elegant illustrations against bold colors, this deck attempted more of a dark and mysterious approach and its a nice option to have when headed out to a party or an event. The glowing red Ace of Spades is outstanding and there’s even a magical reveal hidden into one of the jokers for those who know how to take advantage of it.”

Carded: The Monarchs

Last week we explored magic, design and playing cards in Carded. This week we talk with three designers about three decks the magic world holds in high regard. Today: Curtis Jinkins and his Monarch deck from theory11. After the Q&A, designer Tim Silva provides on-deck commentary.

Monarch-playing-cards-16

Austin-based designer Curtis Jinkins designed the striking Monarchs, which co-starred in the 2013 heist caper Now You See Me alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman.

How did the gig come about?

Jonathan [Bayme] from theory11 saw my work on Dribbble and contacted me. It has turned into a great working relationship.

What were the parameters you were given when designing the deck?

There really weren’t any. We started with a size for the deck — everything else needed to be discovered. Printing techniques, paper, color palette - we had three different names before we ended up with Monarchs. At that point the graphics had to be restructured to accommodate a more “regal” theme.

Take us through the design process.

We started with the card backs. That’s a challenge because it has to be a mirrored image - no defined top or bottom. That design then influenced the rest of the package. There were probably ten different iterations of the box front before the final design was chiseled out.

Initial plans were to redesign each face card but as these are a “casino quality” product, you can’t interfere with the standard graphics. Magicians and dealers rely on instant recognition of the royal suite.

What design challenges and joys does a deck of cards present that sets the job apart from other jobs? Anything that you find ties the job to other, more traditional design jobs?

People have an intimate relationship with cards, even if they don’t know it. There is a familiarity with them, a tactility and a relatively assumed aesthetic. When we started this deck there weren’t many projects that had taken those assumptions and redefined them. You have to honor the traditions and compliment them. Elegance and detail are key but you can start weaving your own story and adding unique iconography to help create something unexpected.

Do you know any magic tricks and/or have any favorite card games?

I can make a bag of donuts disappear.

Find Curtis at Dribbble, on Twitter, and at The Neighborhood Studio. Find Monarchs at theory11.

Last year, theory11 introduced a Monarchs variant deck in red.

On-Deck Commentary with Tim Silva

"An instant classic for daily use. This is my favorite deck of cards. I have over 750 decks in my collection that I started back in 2006. I like to mix up which cards I use every day, and these are undoubtedly with me the most. My past favorites were Bicycle 808’s, Tally-Hos, and Guardians. Monarchs are great for daily use because the back design of the playing cards relies on no special effects, gradients, or special inks for their beauty. It is entirely built upon fine artistry and illustration like the traditional, classic back designs. For me, the modern element of this deck is that it breathes more than past decks that sold this well in the marketplace. The white space in between the snakes, leaves, and the border is filled with the beautiful blue (or now red) color that is tiptoeing towards blackness. Unlike many other custom decks, people don’t often ask me if these are "special" or gimmicked. The visual styling is much closer to what laypeople have seen, so magicians can use these cards with confidence that their spectators aren’t assuming that it’s a trick deck. At the time of me writing this, there are rumors of an emerald green in the works; I would be thrilled to have another color of this design in my collection and daily arsenal."

Carded: The Artisans

Last week we explored magic, design and playing cards in Carded. This week we talk with three designers about three decks the magic world holds in high regard. First up: Simon Frouws and his Artisan deck from theory11. After the Q&A, designer Tim Silva provides on-deck commentary.

Artisans2

Hand-illustrated by Simon Frouws in his South African studio, Artisans are made of paper from trees grown in sustainable forests. David Copperfield called them “the best playing cards ever produced.”

How did the gig come about?

Jonathan Bayme of theory11 discovered my packaging work through Dribbble. He particularly liked my Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee box, and was interested in a deck of cards with a similar aesthetic.

Jamaica

Frouws’ Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee box

What were the parameters you were given when designing the deck?

As with any packaging job, there are multiple technical parameters to consider. At the outset the client provided a full set of card artwork and tuck case templates to work with. This really helped set the stage for working to the right proportions from the get-go.

Creatively I was given free reign. I presented three broad directions in the form of mood boards. We then brainstormed names and specific illustration styles via Skype. Ultimately the name Artisan won out as the perfect expression of craft.

Briefly take us through the design process.

I generally work digitally, so only the most rudimentary sketches were done to establish the basic framework of the design. My starting point was the decorative Ace, first drawn as lines. Once I was happy with the overall structure and had smoothed out the curves to the point of insanity, I embellished it by adding leaves, shading and other details. From there I worked on creating custom lettering for the word “Artisan,” inspired by vintage engraved styles. More custom script followed for the words “Black Edition”.

Artisans3

What design challenges and joys does a deck of cards present that sets the job apart from other jobs? Anything that you find ties the job to other, more traditional design jobs?

As a specialist in wine label design, I’m pretty used to space limitations. Although it wasn’t a fully custom deck (or ever intended to be), it was nevertheless an exciting opportunity for expression. From a print perspective, I’m used to working with multiple Pantone colors, different types of varnish and other finishes, but my biggest joy was being able to achieve a good, deep embossing, thanks in part to the heavyweight paper stock we chose.

Do you know any magic tricks and/or have any favorite card games?

My uncle taught me one trick. A simple “pick a card, any card” type trick, but being young it was tremendously exciting to get a small behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of illusion. I have a deep appreciation for the art of magic, and the huge amount of effort that goes into perfecting illusions.

My favorite card game would have to be Black Jack, having spent time (and money) on the tables in Vegas.

Find Simon at Dribbble and at Simon Frouws Design. Find Artisans at theory11.

Artisans

Artisans laser-engraved cigar box

On-Deck Commentary with Tim Silva

“These cards make you feel like a million bucks when you handle them. Everything from the AG monogram to the box seal makes me desperate to know all of the history that this offering is rooted in. The sunburst rays feel pleasant to run your fingers over and the vignette around the spade logo is breathtaking yet understated. My absolute favorite part of this design is the card box’s backside. From the right angle, the gold bounces and multiplies off of light sources as if you are John Travolta looking into the mysterious briefcase from Pulp Fiction.”

Weekly Replay

April 7, 2014

Good Work

  • image April is Autism Awareness Month; Autism Walk imprint by Epic Design & Media.
  • image Purchase an item bearing Nathan Yoder's Live Loud design from Sevenly, and $14 goes towards locating devices to keep children with autism safe.

Collaborative

  • image Life in Hi-Fi (Ponte Vedra, Florida) is a new social network built around hashtags. Motion Authors (Atlanta, Georgia) produced a video for the network. Dominic Flask (Wichita, Kansas) provided graphic styling and illustration and Fede Cook (Montevideo, Uruguay) handled the super-slick motion.

Process

Printed

Illustrated

  • image Night rider by Tommy Doyle from a children’s book in the works

Launched

  • image Doggins, an adventure game from Brain&Brain, AKA David and Brooke Condolora, “about a dreaming terrier’s battle of wits with a villainous monocled squirrel”
  • image SpruceMail “allows you to create ads on Facebook in seconds from your existing email campaigns.” Philip Lester/Dreamen Studios handled design and front-end dev on the website and helped with branding and design work on the app

Listen Up

  • image From Patrick Johnson and Nick Rovisa: The Start, “a podcast focused on creative individuals and their growth in the industry, from the very beginning”

User Friendly

Get Schooled

  • image ustwo (the team behind our current addiction, Monument Valley) has released v. 3 of its Pixel Perfect Precision Handbook, “a comprehensive handbook on digital design covering much of our collective knowledge and process.”

Published

  • image Kate Anthony’s debut novel Beautiful Day, with cover by Jacqui Oakley

We Like Time Travel.

Badass Lady Creatives

  1. Zapfino Arabic
  2. Dashboard User Table

Badass Lady CreativesLebanese type designer Nadine Chahine (Zapfino Arabic, above left) and web and mobile UI designer Janna Hagan (Dashboard User Table, above right) of Myplanet joined the roster over at Badass Lady Creatives.

Where’s Dribbble? Florianópolis, Brazil!

Teams

Coaches’ Picks

Since Last Week

  1. image
  2. Gameplan Sketchbooks
  3. Empire_faces

Patrick, Dribbble developer and rapscallion, presented to Ruby Users of Minnesota AND shared some great news. Can’t top that. We released our Gameplan Sketchbooks, a collaboration with Dotgrid.co, and published Carded, a piece exploring the intersection of magic and design on playing cards. (Lee McKenzie's Empire deck above.)

Meetup Wrap-Up

Hosting a meetup? Visit our Meetups Page and click on Here’s How to Make It Happen to request a Meetup Kit. Send susanna@dribbble.com a photo after, and we’ll run it here!

Dribbblereit, Oslo, Norway, March 27, MESH

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A raucous crew gathered at MESH to kickstart Dribbblereit. Thanks to organizers Elvis Nunez and Thuy Gia Nguyen.

Meetups

  • Dublin, Ireland
    Celebrate the triumphant return of Tady, man of steel. TOMORROW! Tuesday, April 8, 6:30 p.m., Against the Grain, 11 Wexford Street. RSVP.
  • Shopify + Dribbbble MeetupPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    Philly Tech Week Meetup sponsored by Happy Cog, Thursday, April 10, 7 p.m., Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave. RSVP.
  • De Pere, Wisconsin, USA
    Wednesday, April 16, 7 p.m., location TBD. RSVP.
  • Washington, DC, USA
    Friday, April 18, 5 p.m., Whitlow’s on Wilson, 2854 Wilson Blvd., Clarendon, VA. RSVP.
  • Dutch Designers Guild Logo Utrecht, The Netherlands
    Dutch Designers Guild Saturday, April 19, 3 p.m., Dutch Game Garden, Neude 5. RSVP.
  • Seattle, Washington, USA
    Saturday, April 19, 1 p.m., Storyville Coffee, 94 Pike Street. RSVP.
  • Singapore
    Tuesday, April 22, 7 p.m., Lorong 24A Geylang. Sponsored by buUuk and 13. RSVP.
  • Dribbble Meetup @ General Assembly LASanta Monica, California, USA
    General Assembly x Dribbble Friday, April 25, 6 p.m., General Assembly LA, 1520 Second Street, Santa Monica. Sponsored by Shopify. RSVP.
  • Dribbble meet up at YahooSunnyvale, California, USA
    Dribbble Meetup @ Yahoo co-hosted by Dribbble co-founder Dan Cederholm and the Yahoo Design Team, Wednesday, April 30, 6 p.m., 701 First Ave. RSVP.

Have a shot you’d like considered for Replay? Send the link to susanna@dribbble.com.

Carded

Design and magic intersect on 52 small canvases.

By Susanna Baird

Empire_faces

Lee McKenzie’s Empire deck, funded via Kickstarter

Tim Silva owns more than 750 decks of cards. The designer and amateur magician carries a deck everywhere, spending three to four hours a day with cards in his hands. “I sleep with cards under my pillow,” he jokes.

Silva’s fascination with cards and card tricks began when he saw David Blaine's 1996 Street Magic TV special, and exploded into a hard-core hobby after high school. A proponent of straight living — no alcohol, no smokes — Silva wanted a social lubricant. Magic worked! And then, he says, “I just fell in love with magic and cards.”

Search Dribbble: Silva is not alone. March saw 20 shots tagged “playing cards.” Dribbblers including Simon Frouws, Curtis Jinkins and Lee McKenzie have created high-profile decks for online magic communities Ellusionist and theory11. Ellusionist’s Creative Director Mike Clarke uses Dribbble, as does theory11 Founder Jonathan Bayme. Looking beyond the magical, Dribbble designers have created cards featuring everything from creative riffs on the traditional (Roni Lagin's Density deck) to the metal fantastic (Mechanical 3D Metal Playing Cards by Dale Mathis).

Joker

Roni Lagin’s Density deck, funded via Kickstarter

Spurred by sensational designs, magicians have become collectors, purveyors and patrons. TV and movie producer JJ Abrams recently teamed with theory11 to create the Mystery Box, a handcrafted lockbox containing 12 mystery decks, including a pack from Luke Bott. Illusionists Dave and Dan Buck of online magic hub Dan & Dave launched Art of Play, “a collection of the finest playing cards in the world, featuring hand-painted works of art, award-winning design and illustration, and luxury packaging.” Popular card designs have become franchises, available not only on decks but also on T-shirts and iPhone cases.

While Silva doesn’t design cards, his appreciation of them stems from the connections he finds between his profession and his hobby. “Magic, like design, is about discovering a balance between problem solving and aesthetics in order to arrive at a presentable solution,” he said. Silva finds that “presentable solution” in a well-designed deck of cards.

With cards, designers face several constraints, including a small canvas and necessary features that must remain legible and in fixed locations. Factor in a magician’s additional considerations — audience, venue, trick — and the design parameters tighten.

Card Design: A Brief History

File:15thCenturySpanishCardDeck.jpg

15th century French deck

Playing cards date back to 9th century China, and arrived in Europe 500 years later, possibly via Africa or the Venetian trade.

For a time suits varied widely. Decks from Islamic countries featured cups, swords, coins and polo sticks. “Latin” decks, used in Spain and Italy, bore chalices, swords, money and batons. Hearts, acorns, hawk bells, and leaves covered Germanic decks. A 15th century French illuminated set, one of the world’s oldest surviving decks, is marked with hunting horns, dog collars, leashes and nooses.

Today, much of the world plays with cards bearing the 15th century French-born club-diamond-heart-spade combination. Over time, card makers simplified the suits so they could stamp the cards, an easier and cheaper alternative to woodcutting.

The Diamonds

The Diamonds from Rick Davidson's Origins, funded via Kickstarter and inspired by 15th century French decks

King James I of England (17th c.) brought branding to the deck, demanding an insignia on the Ace of Spades as evidence of taxes paid. The joker showed up in the 19th century, and symmetry became the norm. For many centuries, cards had a “right side up.” With symmetry, upside-down cards became a thing of the past.

Also in the 19th century, card makers added numbers and suits to card corners. These indices allowed players to hold cards fanned close together in the now-familiar fashion; the first decks were called “squeezers.”

Illusionists have been performing card tricks nearly as long as card makers have been making cards. Leonardo Da Vinci’s friend Luca Pacioli wrote the oldest trick in a book, introducing card tricks in his late 15th century treatise De virus quantitates (On the Power of Numbers).

Despite the long partnership between cards and magic, card makers didn’t give much thought to the design desires of illusionists until the last decade.

Magic and Card Design: Function

According to illusionist Marco Tempest, an estimated 70 percent of magic tricks involve playing cards. A magician bases deck choices on a variety of factors, including trick and audience. Many magicians will tell you the most important thing about a deck isn’t seen, but felt. “Above else, I want a deck that handles well,” said Tim Silva.

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Tim Silva flourishing with a deck of Tally-Ho Circle Backs.

A playing card is typically made of a few layers of paper sealed together and treated. (Tricksters sometimes take advantage of this fact by card splitting, stripping the cards apart and refashioning in ways that help this trick or that.)

To the uninitiated pair of hands, one deck of cards feels fairly similar to the next, but card manipulators such as quick-handed illusionist Jason England can easily differentiate such tactile characteristics as paper thickness and cutting style.

Dribbble talked to England at his home in Las Vegas, where he consults with casinos on card cheats. He also contributes to theory11 and is well-versed in magic history. When we spoke, he was preparing for a trip to Los Angeles to perform for Bill Clinton.

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Jason England, magic historian, illusionist, casino consultant, theory11 contributor

"You could give me a set of [golf] clubs that Tiger Woods uses and a set from Walmart and I couldn’t tell them apart, but Tiger Woods could," he said. "If I gave you 10 decks, you couldn’t tell them apart, but I can."

In addition to thickness and cut, card handlers pay close attention to a deck’s finish. Cardistry is the art of non-magic card handling, or flourishing. Think extreme shuffling: fans, one-handed shuffles, cascades of cards flying through the air. (Our favorite flourish is the dribble, featuring a card waterfall.) Flourishers who need cards to slide across one another, finish is especially important. Ideally, cards will glide as if each is a mini hovercraft, with a minute cushion of air in between each.

"If you go to Walgreen’s and buy a novelty deck of GI Joe cards, they are cheap and they feel like plastic," Silva said. "With cardistry … if the cards clunk up, if it’s a bad deck, some of the cards are going to be stuck to each other, some of the cards are going to slide apart."

Many maneuvers benefit from specific card features. Second dealing involves a magician dealing the second card in a deck, while appearing to deal the top. Borderless cards such as the traditional Bees and Mike Clarke’s Republics, with their pattern stretching all the way to card’s edge, make a second deal easier to conceal.

Republic Playing Cards

Mike Clarke’s Republics, from Ellusionist, feature a borderless back.

Magic card makers produce gimmick decks for various brands of trickery. The one-way force deck holds 52 of the same card, sometimes with a different top and bottom card for decoy. Magicians use the deck for simple “pick a card, any card” tricks.

A stripper deck features cards that are subtly tapered at one end. The reduction is so slight as to go unnoticed by the audience, though a practiced magician can feel the difference and can flip cards he’d like to find later.

Invisible decks include top-secret alterations, the details of which this unmagical reporter couldn’t conjure. Magicians employ invisible decks in a variety of “I can guess what card you’re thinking of” tricks. Pioneering 20th century magician Joe Berg, whose Hollywood shop served as a salon for mid-century magic’s in-crowd, invented the deck. His name for it — the Ultra Mental Deck — didn’t stick, but his deck and related tricks are still considered industry staples.

Magic + Card Design: Aesthetics

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USPCC’s Bicycle Rider Backs; photo courtesy theory11

Traditionally, American magicians have shown a strong preference for the United States Playing Card Company's Bicycle Rider Backs, on the scene since the end of the 19th century. The familiar card backs feature pedaling cupids atop tall and slender bikes; the same red-and-white or blue-and-white cards that sit in your junk drawer, on your grandmother's card table, in a spinning rack near the magazines at the corner store.

It’s this total lack of special that Jason England wants. He plays with all manner of decks in the home office, but when he performs he needs a deck that people trust.

"I want to put in front of my audiences a deck of cards that they’ve seen before, that looks like maybe I bought them at the drugstore," he said. "What I’m after are those iconic and historic designs." Bicycle Rider Backs and Tally Ho’s Circle Backs fit the bill.

All three decks feature designs that are the same coming and going. This characteristic is another visible means of breeding trust with an audience, says Mike Clarke of Ellusionist. “No matter what way the card is inserted into the deck, it will blend in and not have a visible design difference that may catch the eye of a spectator and lead them to believe you are using a trick deck,” he explained.

While England and Clarke seek normalcy in a deck, England said the next wave of magicians craves a little more excitement, buying $30 premium decks and holding on to them for as long as they last.

Monarch-playing-cards-16

Curtis Jinkins’ Monarchs, from theory11

Enter Silva, who holds on to his decks for up to two months or, in his estimation, 100 tricks. When discussing his own preferences, he talks like the designer he is. “I’m obsessed with minimalistic cards, decks that have a flat aesthetic to them,” he said. “Too many details, like the overuse of shadows, I find distracting when printed.” Silva also appreciates classic card design elements such as curls and flares, citing Curtis Jinkins' Monarchs. “Those cards are brilliant,” he raves. “I love how pure the back design is. It’s just so rich in monochromatic illustrations.”

To a great extent, card preference boils down to what a magician wants to say. England asks his decks to whisper “trust me,” while another magician may want his cards to express his onstage persona or serve as well-designed cover for the workings of an illusion. Many magicians employ multiple decks throughout their acts, choosing the best deck to meet each trick’s challenges.

The Black Tigers and Beyond

Interested designers have been able to custom-make cards for more than a century, though both effort and cost were prohibitive. “At any point throughout U.S. Playing Cards' history, if you went to them and said, 'Here's some artwork, I want you to make these cards for me,' they would say, 'No problem,' said Jason England. “They may say, 'Well you have to buy 5,000 decks.'”

Despite the obstacles, magicians have been creating custom decks for years, often gimmick cards or decks imprinted with their logo. Occasionally a unique magic-universe deck or two would leak out, but “no one ever thought to make cool, new playing cards,” said England.

Until 2007, when Ellusionist released its Black Tigers.

image

Ellusionist’s Black Tigers

Along with Tim Silva and “9 million other people,” Ellusionist CD Clarke discovered magic via David Blaine’s 1996 special. To learn more, he turned to Ellusionist. Clarke’s plan? Blow some minds. “I spent the next four years of high school doing card tricks for anybody who would watch.”

Back then, Clarke never imagined the role design would come to play on the magic scene. “I never, nor did a lot of people, expect customized playing cards to be such a large part of the magic industry,” he said. “It all started with the Black Tigers … . That was the very first customized Bicycle deck for magicians.”

Designed by the team at Ellusionist, Black Tigers feature the familiar Rider Back with a startling change: The cards are black, with features in white or red depending on suit. Upon first viewing, the cards deliver the same disconcerting jolt one receives when looking at a photo negative of a good friend. The deck is at once familiar and alien, hinting at a mysterious upturning of the regular order.

“Performing magic back in the mid 2000s, the Black Tigers probably evoked more attention and comments than any deck before,” Tim Silva said. “This was the first mainstream deck in magic that didn’t communicate ‘trust me’ to spectators.”

The Tigers startled audiences and won magicians by simultaneously inverting and respecting tradition. But it wasn’t this deck that marked a shift, argues Clarke. It was all the decks that came next.

"I think the moment the magic community started ‘coveting great design’ would be when not only Ellusionist was designing cards, but when the industry followed," he said. "The Buck Twins [Dan & Dave] have made a massive impact in design and contribution to this world with collaborations with iconic artists and have certainly pushed the envelope in card design from the cards themselves to the packaging they come in."

Card makers awoke to design and came knocking, holding out 52 tiny canvasses and inviting input. Card makers such as Jonathan Bayme.

Rise of the Guardians

Like Silva and Clarke, Jonathan Bayme found magic via one of its top practitioners: David Copperfield. Known for his grand-scale illusions, dramatic showmanship and hip persona, Copperfield epitomizes late 20th century magic, wherein the illusionist plays not only the trickster but also the rock star. When five-year-old Bayme saw him perform live, he was hooked.

"I was blown away," Bayme, now 26, remembers. "I was immediately and totally obsessed with magic." Charleston, South Carolina offered little in the way of a magic community but between the library and trips to a magic store in Myrtle Beach, Bayme cobbled together an education. By the time he was in middle school he was performing to full houses around the southeastern United States.

Bayme worked for Ellusionist in the early years of this century, then joined with several other magicians to found theory11 in 2007. Soon after, they launched their own attention-grabbing deck, the Bicycle Guardians.

image

Justin Kamerer’s Bicycle Guardians, from theory11

"Everything about theory11 is intended to advance the art of magic. Part of that is style," Bayme says. "As a magician, it’s a little hard to look badass if you’re using standard Bicycle cards that have baby angels on the backs. So that got us thinking - what if we designed a totally custom deck of playing cards? Back design and all."

For the Guardians, Justin Kamerer riffed dark and bold on Cupid, creating a powerful card-back angel clutching a spear, staring down at the demon he’s crushed. Magicians, amateur and professional alike, were wowed.

Theory11 now views the design process as integral to card making as the manufacturing process. Finding new designers on Dribbble and Kickstarter, Bayme and theory11 always have new decks in the works. Ellusionist keeps pace, aiming for a new deck a month.

In 2014, a motivated designer can create a deck in an afternoon and, relatively cheaply, order a run or throw the design up on a crowd-funding site such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Taking the trend a step further, Dan & Dave are currently working on DeckStarter, a crowd-funding site for cards, card and nothing but cards.

Clarke the designer and Clarke the magician both celebrate a crowded card-design market. “With the enormous amount of competition, you really have to think outside of the box when it comes to design,” he said. “There’s so many possibilities and themes that haven’t been touched yet. I’m excited to see how designers push the envelope of a 500+ year old pastime.”

Inspired Community

At the same time as they advance the dual causes of design and magic, online communities gather not only professional illusionists, but also the weekend magicians: lawyers wanting a few party tricks, soldiers stationed far from home, shy kids who want to impress their friends.

"Magic has a rare power to it unlike any other artform. With just a few great tricks and practice, you can literally go from being the introverted kid to the life of the party," Bayme said. "Our goal at theory11 is to share that feeling, that ability, with as many people as possible - it’s like a superpower. We sell superpowers."

Superpowers are super, and so is magic, but Tim Silva argues that what makes theory11, Ellusionist and other online magic hubs successful is what makes Dribbble successful: involved, inspired communities. “Before Dribbble started, there was no credible design community that excited me,” he said. “That was, for designers, a cultural revolution. It takes a long time for something like that to come along.” The same holds true for the world of magic.

"It takes a long time for people to orient themselves [magically]," Silva said. "When they started these websites, it was monumental. I think magicians are lucky to have access to these free, invaluable hangouts."

Want more? Next week we will feature Q&As with card designers Simon Frouws, Curtis Jinkins and Lee McKenzie, plus on-deck commentary from Tim Silva.

Tim Silva A giant thank you to Tim Silva. His magic tricks at the 2013 Dropbox + Dribbble meetup led to this story. He’s been an invaluable source of information, perspective, and cheerleading since minute one. His thoughtful reading also led to a healthy thickening of a few previously skinny portions of the article. Thanks also to Mike Clarke, Jason England and Jonathan Bayme for their input and time.

Weekly Replay

March 31, 2014

Good Work

  • image Mauricio Estrella is volunteering his time and talent to redesign and help maintain the Baobei Foundation's website. The foundation “works with Shanghai medical professionals to provide life saving neurological or gastrointestinal surgeries to Chinese orphans.”

Don’t Be an April Fool!

  • image Today is World Backup Day! Identity, design and web development by Sam Mularczyk. Be prepared. Back up your files!

Process

Printed

For the Birds

  • image Pippin, the mascot for an app for “people who fly” by Prekesh Chavda

Launched

  • Office for iPad, featuring …
  • image … icons by Philipp Antoni and …
  • image … OneNote design work by Henri Liriani.
  • image Velositey Photoshop extension from Kieran Black and Dan Ross; “prototype the design of your website in seconds”
  • image Dribbbox, your Dribbble portfolio in a box, from Benjamin De Cock
  • image Sum, a crossword game with numbers from James Finley
  • image Schnapps for Mac (beta) by Robin Raszka with help from Charles Riccardi. “You just drop your PSD or .Sketch file on the menu bar icon and since then Schnapps will automatically create Snapshots for you and store them for later use.”

We Like to Hate …

Badass Lady Creatives

  1. Crop from a Lady Thing
  2. Petit - Natural Juice
  3. D

Badass Lady CreativesMelanie Richards started Badass Lady Creatives to celebrate women working in the creative industries. Today marks the launch of our Badass-Replay partnership. When they highlights a badass lady Dribbbler over there, we’ll highlight her over here. Last week at Badass: Isabela Rodrigues (Petit - Natural Juice, above center) and Shawna X (D, above right) joined the BLC directory.

Where’s Dribbble? Enschede, Netherlands!

Teams

  • image Aerolab received an awesome gift from a client. “Since we’re such in a good mood, we want to extend our happiness with a free giveaway of the Ae file used to animate this & the Ai file with the illustration.” Posted by Alejandro Vizio.
  • image iSavelev shared the statistics dashboard of an upcoming app.
  • image Prismatic has bright business cards to match its T-shirts; posted by Mikael Keussen.

Coaches’ Picks

Sale!

Celebrate 200,000,000,000 pixels dribbbled with 20% off all Dribbble Equipment purchases through end-of-day Tuesday. Code: 200BILLION.

Since Last Week

Rich talked with Ben at Thoughtbot for the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast and Moran Goldstein talked with us for Timeout. Happy Cog posted a fantastic wrap-up of our March ATX SXSW meetup.

Meetup Wrap-Up

Hosting a meetup? Visit our Meetups Page and click on Here’s How to Make It Happen to request a Meetup Kit. Send susanna@dribbble.com a photo after, and we’ll run it here!

Cochin, India, Sunday, March 16

image

What started out as a four-person meetup turned into 15 when the Dribbble group was joined by attendees of a Mozilla meetup. The group talked design and planned for an upcoming HTML5 Conference. Thanks to organizer Anush for the great wrap-up and photo!

Meetups

  • London, UK
    Share Design Tricks, TONIGHT! Monday, March 31, 7 p.m., The Railway Tavern, 15 Liverpool Street. RSVP.
  • Rotterdamn, The Netherlands
    Thursday, April 3, 8 p.m., Brooklyn, Havermarkt 21 4811 WG Breda Centrum. RSVP.
  • Madrid, Spain
    Saturday, April 5, 6 p.m., Location TBD. RSVP.
  • Dublin, Ireland
    Celebrate the triumphant return of Tady, man of steel. Tuesday, April 8, 6:30 p.m., Against the Grain, 11 Wexford Street. RSVP.
  • Shopify + Dribbbble MeetupPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    Philly Tech Week Meetup sponsored by Happy Cog, Thursday, April 10, 7 p.m., Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave. RSVP.
  • De Pere, Wisconsin, USA
    Wednesday, April 16, 7 p.m., location TBD. RSVP.
  • Seattle, Washington, USA
    Saturday, April 19, 1 p.m., Storyville Coffee, 94 Pike Street. RSVP.

Have a shot you’d like considered for Replay? Send the link to susanna@dribbble.com.

Timeout with Moran Goldstein

Timeouts are lightning-quick interviews, five questions to help you get to know the players holding court at Dribbble. Thank you to Moran for being today’s interviewee.

Who are you? Let us know where you hail from and what you do.

Moran Goldstein My name is Moran Goldstein, I’m a designer/developer from Israel. Over the past 15 years I’ve worked on physical product design, product/process visualizations, digital art, and pretty much anything that relates to 3D. These days I mostly work as a freelancer.

What are you working on?

Lately I’ve been fortunate to work on projects which combine design and development, like engineering animations and data-driven visualizations.

I have an ongoing “project” (loosely speaking) to develop methodologies and tools which allow taking engineering content (from software like SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and Inventor) and easily port it into 3D graphics software for animated visualizations and infographics. I find that many seemingly-complex processes and mechanisms can be easily understood if they are just presented correctly.

Recently I’ve also had the chance to work on sci-fi-related game content, which is enormously creative and freeing (since I’m designing gadgets that don’t actually have to work…).

Choose a favorite shot of yours. Tell us why it’s a favorite.

Clockwork

Probably Clockwork, in part because it’s fun to see people’s initial reaction to it. When I personally show it to someone they often ask if it’s an optical illusion — it’s not, the helical gears really do mesh and connect in a working fashion. If someone were to construct it, moving any one of the gears would make the other two rotate like in the animation.

Tell us about your setup. What tools did you use to create the shot (e.g. hardware, software, pens, paper, blowtorch)?

I’m a PC user, always have been. I like selecting the specific hardware that suites the job, and tweaking/optimizing my computers to get the most out of them. I use a very wide range of software. On the engineering side, I use Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD, and SolidWorks. For 2D I use Inkscape, Illustrator, Gimp, and PaintShop Pro. Lately I create most non-precision 3D content in Blender, and render in Cycles. I also use KeyShot for some product rendering.

I actually have a couple of blowtorches. I love making things and working with metal. I also dabble in chemistry, so blowtorches come in handy.

Choose a favorite shot from another player. Tell us why you dig it.

image

This one’s practically impossible, but I can mention one that stuck with me: Game of thrones. Blood and fire, by Sasha Vinogradova. Really his entire implementation of the house seals from Game of Thrones — he outdid the originals, by a significant margin.

Find Moran at Dribbble and at www.rapidflux.com.

Weekly Replay

March 24, 2014

Good Work

  • image Erin Fuller worked on an animated spot for Jersey Mike’s Subs’ “Month of Giving.” During March, Jersey Mike’s facilitates donations at all of its locations, and offers incentives for customers to give. Last year, the effort raised $1.7 million for 86 charities around the United States.

Collaborative

Letters

  • image Ukraine blog post title by Drew Melton for an upcoming tribute to Ukraine design on The Dieline

Branded

  • image Raleigh, North Carolina, by Jimmie Blount
  • image Show Hacks web community by Roko Kerovec, who shared a little process. “Keywords: hand, circuits, show. Hidden letter ‘S’ in the thumb/index finger.”

Get Schooled

  • image Sean McCabe's LearnLettering.com site launches today. Sean drew the type anatomy piece Typography for one of the introductory courses.
  • image Also launching today, Chris Spooner's tutorial on how to create topographic map style contour lines in Illustrator.

Getting Personal

Side Project

  • image Consumed by the urge to play Wipeout but lacking the actual game, Mathew Lucas turned to making team ship GIFs.

Launched

  • image Meng To's Design + Code. “Learn iOS design and Xcode. Build a news reader app from Sketch to the App Store.”
  • image Starbucks 3.0 by Jesse Herlitz

Process

User Friendly

We Like Science!

Where’s Dribbble? Dresden, Germany!

Teams

Coaches’ Picks

Since Last Week

  1. D2
  2. Anemometer screen
  3. image

We launched new menu navigation, hung out with Kerem Suer and his dog Lola, and offered a peek at our new Gameplan notebook.

  1. Cheeers To Dribbble
  2. Shots!
  3. Dribbble @ Adobe XD • Poster

Plus we got sweet treats from the kind and generous team at Focus Lab, and Adobe XD made a cool video of last fall’s Adobe XD + Dribbble meetup. Phew. Busy week.

Meetups

  • Oslo, NorwayRetro Dribbbleriet
    Dribbbleriet, Thursday, March 27, 6 p.m., Mesh, Tordenskioldsgate 3. RSVP.
  • London, UK
    Share Design Tricks, Monday, March 31, 7 p.m., The Railway Tavern, 15 Liverpool Street. RSVP.
  • Rotterdamn, The Netherlands
    Thursday, April 3, 8 p.m., Brooklyn, Havermarkt 21 4811 WG Breda Centrum. RSVP.
  • Madrid, Spain
    Saturday, April 5, 6 p.m., Location TBD. RSVP.
  • Dublin, Ireland
    Celebrate the triumphant return of Tady, man of steel. Tuesday, April 8, 6:30 p.m., Against the Grain, 11 Wexford Street. RSVP.

Have a shot you’d like considered for Replay? Send the link to susanna@dribbble.com.

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