Imperial Playing Cards. A behind-the-scenes look to the royal eggs design


There are some creators out there that have become a reference in the playing cards world due to their talent and art but also to their fine work. If you make the top ten list of those creators, one of the first five positions would be occupied by Randy Butterfield (Midnight Card Company), the creator of the amazing Ornate decks and other cool playing cards.



His last work is the IMPERIAL DECK, a fantastic design inspired on the Fabergé eggs of the XIX Century.

I already interviewed him about his work and inspiration for the Ornate decks, but in this case, I have talked to him about a more technical approach to the design.

Randy talked to me about this work not only to make more accessible the design process to card fans but also to make them notice how much effort there is behind a single card design. For the explanation, he has chosen the King of Spades Egg as it is one of his favorites. I have decided to make a direct transcription of his words to avoid any personal contamination of the technical explanation. I have also illustrated the process with the related images (click to enlarge) to make it easier to understand.



“For the King of Spades Egg I started off with a plain Egg Model that I started with for all of the Court Eggs, to keep the sizes consistent. Then I built a shape that had a Baroque look to it and something I could maneuver into position and looked good duplicated around a circular shape.



After the Top pieces were finished I went into the decorative pieces on the Egg Body. The design is similar to the Top ornaments, but with a few additional details and different shapes.



After modeling the Body ornament I positioned and rotated it along the Egg’s exterior.



Once I’m happy with the Model I bring it into the scene and fine-tune the Surfaces and Lighting and setup some Test Renders



The Test Renders will give me a good idea of how many different Renders will be needed to have complete control over each element during the Final Composite. When it’s ready to go, the Renders could take 2-3 nights of letting the computer do it’s work.

Once the Renders are all finished the rest of the work is in Photoshop. The King of Spades Egg had 5 different Renders to get the final look. The Hero Render is a good idea of how I think it should look and the Black, Gold and White Renders allow me to change the color and surface quality of any separate piece if needed. The Alpha Creation Render makes it easy to create Alpha Channels to separate the different areas. After adding a few dozen Layers to fine-tune the image, the Final Composite is the final result.



There are definitely differences between the Final Composite and Hero Render for each Egg in the IMPERIAL Deck. Sometimes the happy accidents come about from playing around in Photoshop and can’t be foreseen in the Modeling stages.”




The deck is available through Kickstarter and it is already funded. There will be two different editions, one black Bicycle branded and one red unbranded. Both will be produced by HOPC although only the unbranded deck will be sold through their website after the campaign. Therefore, the only way to have the Bicycle black deck will be during the campaign (or through the re-sellers at a higher price). So… go and RAISE YOUR PLEDGE before the end of the campaign!

Good luck!