Project 4: Dealer’s Choice

In this final project you will pull together the things you have learned about designing systems of parametric, visual forms and letting metadata pulled from files drive the process. You will also begin to exploit the potential of code to aid in automating the mass-production of related images that differ in rule-based ways. This time, the specifics of what you create will be up to you—the only constraint is the form: a deck of cards.

Types of Decks

Though games are probably the first thing that come to mind when you think of cards, there are a variety of other types of information that are separated into separate pieces of cardstock and yet relate to one another using a shared visual system and suit-like categories. Here are some possibilities to start exploring:


Fortune Telling



Week 1

Choose a deck

You are welcome to select one of the decks listed above but I encourage you to dig for a while before settling on a selection. You can also choose to make cards for a system of items that aren’t typically represented in that way. For instance, the I Ching is a book and the hexagrams form its chapters. But the diffeent attributes of the hexagrams would allow for the creation of a unique card design for each individual as well as allowing for linkages between the other hexagrams that whose upper- or lower-halves it shares.

Similarly to the way you considered ‘collections’ for the Identity System project, think about other collections that you could represent as a set of cards.

The one hard constraint is that your cards must be numerous. Ensure there are at minimum 40 cards in your deck (though talk to me if you think you have a good idea that would require fewer).

Sketch the design system

You don’t need to draw the entire deck in this first week. Instead think about the systematic relationships:

Once you have identified these commonalities, draw as many cards as you need to (but probably a minimum of six of them) in order to illustrate how the different attributes are represented. Put all your sketches in a single document and label different elements of the cards to explain how the system works.

Itemize cards and their attributes

Create a spreadsheet representation containing every card in your deck. Express each card’s attributes in terms of unique strings, category names, numbers, or the names of custom image files you will eventually create. Your next step will be to write code that uses the rows of this spreadsheet to generate unique card designs for each, so think about what features of each card you would need to know in order to draw its visual forms.

This google sheet contains example representations of the standard 52-card deck, Uno, Hanafuda, Mille Bornes, Tarot, and I Ching that may be useful as a model for itemizing the cards in your deck.


Come to our next class meeting ready to discuss your selected deck, your sketches, and your itemized spreadsheet: