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30 Days of Playing Card Art

Inspired by some playing card designs on Pinterest and a 100 day sketch challenge blog, I combined these ideas into this Playing Card Art Challenge.

  • Take an old deck of cards  ♣
  • Doodle, decoupage, do whatever to turn each of these cards into art  ♥
  • Share 1 per day for 30 days  ♠


See day 18 and beyond by clicking HERE.



Day 17/30 Seven Stained Glass Diamonds

1card 7D

This one was made with tissue paper, which was thin enough for the diamonds on the card to show through.  The three pale purple diamonds on the right side were created by using the purple tissue paper as a stamp.  That particular paper was so saturated with ink that it ran when wet.  I cut out the diamond shape, placed it on the card, then moistened it with a few drops of water that quickly spread out to the edges. I left it for twenty minutes or so, allowing the ink to bleed into the card, then removed the tissue paper, leaving the purple diamond ghosts behind.


Day 16/30 Dogwood Blossom Clubs


This was a simple-yet-elegant design, turning the clubs into dogwood flowers and using the actual clubs on the cards to give the flowers depth.  I thought the splash of color on a single flower was interesting, and balanced it with the tiny flower on the opposite side.


Day 15/30 Diamonds in the rough

5D Playing Card Art

I chose the 3 papers to complement the red and white of the playing card.  I’ve noticed that art papers with light accents seem to coordinate more naturally.  I tried to work the patterns together in such a way that the designs would flow, and the gold diamond on the red paper is a continuation of the red diamond on the card.


Day 14/30 Squiggle Paths

1card 4H

This one was a simple design.  I noticed the points of the hearts pointed inward, so using markers, I drew long lines to connect each point with its opposite.  The colors change to show the progression of the path.  I tried to fill as much space as possible and add as many creative twists and turns as I could.


Day 13/30 Organic Diamonds

1card 3Db

You might remember that punch I used on yesterday’s 2♠.  Well, I used the cutout shapes from that punch to create the flowers in this piece.  The vines were drawn by Sharpies.

3D wip1

I always love pen drawings when other people do them, but I was surprised how difficult it was to do my own. The hardest part was deciding how to start and drawing that first line.

3d wip


Day 12/30 Outside the box with a deuce

1card 2S

I noticed the hole punch was a perfect size and design to complement this space on the card and I used an art paper behind it for a stained glass look.  On its own, the 2♠ was a little boring, but it looked really interesting in this collage. The flower shape is also cut using a punch.

Unlike the other card I’ve made thus far, this one is designed “outside the box”.  It’s nice to explore the possibilities sometimes…


Day 11/30 Yay, it’s a face card…

1card 11SI really didn’t know if I was going to do any face cards. They have too many details already. My attempts thus far looked terrible. I wanted to do something like this, but didn’t know if I could pull it off. Well, this is where I was in the design process at quarter til 8 this evening:

JS wipThat is the original art paper’s cut edge lined up with the Jack. I liked it in theory, but I didn’t know if I could make it look like like the top and bottom were made to go together. Well, five hours later, I think I did a pretty nice.

The J♠ at the bottom right was originally done as a mock-up. I was planning to cut the corner off of the original card, but I wanted to see how it would look before cutting the card. Once I saw the hand-drawn version, I liked how it looked with the white line drawings in the art paper. It seemed to bring the elements together, and I was happy with the results.

However, I am going to taper off from my one-per-day original plan. The cards are getting a nice following, which motivates me to do crazy in-depth designs, but I’m running behind on new solitaire games and strategy articles, so I need a bit of catch-up time.


Day 10/30 Count the hearts

1card 10HsThis is what happens when you never throw things away.  I had this leftover art paper from a wedding I decorated last year.  That’s why there are perfect hearts cut out of it.  I can’t take credit for those.  You see that crooked little upside-down heart on the lower left?  I cut that one out with an X-Acto knife.  Mine doesn’t look as good as the laser cutter, lol.

I lined the paper up in such a way that all the hearts on the card were showing, even if you only see the tail or a subtle curve.  I then cut away more paper in big, sweeping, heart-shaped curves along the edges of the card.

If you try to count the shapes that seem like hearts or parts of hearts, how many hearts do you see?


Day 9/30 Flowers in a Basket

1card 9 SToday I thought I would incorporate some dried flowers into a card design.  I chose the two art papers to complement the pinks of the flowers.  9S wip2One paper has a simple chevron design that looks nebulous and colorful when cut into small strips. The other paper has little bits of white crosshatch in the pattern which reinforces the overall “woven” theme.

9S wip1I picked out a few of the more attractive flower sprigs, laid out a rough mock-up of the design, and then tried to figure out how to attach the interwoven papers to the card and to each other.

9S wip3After first dulling the tape by taping it to my shirt a couple times, it was un-sticky enough to hold the straight paper strips without damaging them.  This allowed me to get the placement just right and weave the curved pieces through. Then I glued the straight strips and most of the area on the curved, leaving some unglued.  You can see in the final image that I used those unglued areas to hold the flower stems.

9S photo s


Day 8/30 Negative Space

Playing Card Art 8D

I noticed there was an 8 in the negative space between the diamonds, so this design is meant to reveal the 8 without altering it. This uses caviar beads applied with glue.  The color was chosen to both blend with the diamonds and contrast with them.  If you look at the reds, it is easy to see them, but if you look at the white 8, the warm tones seem to blend together.

Playing Card Art DIY

I worked one section at a time, using Recollections caviar beads that I got from Michaels, Elmer’s Glue-All, and toothpicks.

Playing Card Art how to

The toothpick can be used to apply the glue and to spread it.  In order to achieve the gradient effect, I used heavier glue near the center, but I scraped away the excess glue around the outer area.  I use a shoebox lid as a workspace so as to hold the excess beads.  That way, I can easily pick them up and use them on the next section.

Playing Card Art DIY

A lot of the beads were individually placed with the toothpick.  You can use a toothpick as a stamp to drop a tiny dot of glue, moisten it and it works as a stylus to pick up one bead at a time.  The glue will stay movable for several minutes and it dries clear, so there is plenty of time to get the beads looking just right.


Day 7/30 Atlas

1card 7S

I thought this aqua paper would look good with the black and white card, but to help it match, I added the seaglass tones to the spades by sanding the card finish and using a marker over the whitened areas.  Sanding also helps the glue to stick.  This giant paper spade looked surprisingly good in the big, mostly empty space on the 7 card design, and the 7 slash marks suggest a completely alternate card face design.


Day 6/30 Facets

1card 6 D

Rays of sunlight shining through the facets of a diamond will create rainbow sparkles, often called “fire”. Maybe that’s why diamonds are red.

6D wip

I did a heavy sanding on the card face so as to lighten the diamonds, then filled in the missing red areas with different colored markers to get a stained glass look. I glued the squares cut from the dot art paper, then glued the yellow/orange strips over the top. I can always trim the excess off the strips later, but I might like it better this way.


Day 5/30 Valentine Retro Daydream

1card 5S2
If you were going to make a Valentine from a playing card, you’d choose a heart, right?  Obviously.  But then again…

I wanted to use these 3 warm tone polka dot papers together, and do something to demonstrate how the spade resembles the heart.  I have drawn a lot of card suits during my years of solitaire app design, so I spend way too much time thinking about their shapes. The sultry curves seem like a perfect counterpart to the lacy patterns, and the dots and colors evoke a certain 50s soda fountain cheer.



Day 4/30  String Chart of the Nine Hearts

Playing Card Art 9H

This was a fun project. I had the idea of working with string, then of doing a string chart (like you would see in a conspiracy theorist’s secret room) and then found these perfect art papers on sale at Michaels on Friday.  The 9♥ was perfect because there are 8 hearts around a center focal point. Postmarks, map bits and newspaper clippings make perfect sense in a string chart.

9H working 1s

And yet, I couldn’t resist putting my own thoughts into the design when I chose what text to clip. The center text, “This Life is Mine”, was chosen with the thought that the guy at the center of the string chart is usually the target of the investigation. But a completely different interpretation – this is my life and I am free to enjoy it – holds true throughout the piece.

9H working 2s

Once I arranged the clippings, I poked the holes, glued, and ran the strings through. The rhinestone beads and metallic thread give brilliant flashes that contrast against the vintage papers while reinforcing the reds and curves.

9H Playing Card Art


Day 3/30  Samurai Three
Playing Card Art 3H

I liked the way these art papers looked with the reds of the card, and I thought it was interesting to conceal most of the hearts so that only hints of the red would remain.  Similarly, the red-toned paper is sliced thin as a subtle accent.  The design has Japanese inspiration, though you may never notice it.  Samurai curves, chopped forms reminiscent of Asian vegetables, and the finished design resembles a 3 but also, vaguely, resembles a Japanese character.

Day 2/30  Rainbow Clubs

1wip 10C

I applied more pressure while sanding 10♣ which gave me the chance to do this color treatment on the clubs. At first, the clubs were colored in perfectly, but the colors didn’t show up as well. Then I went back over the clubs with sloppy edges, making them more vibrant and more genuinely hand drawn.

Playing Card Art 10C

The lesson learned from Day 1 is that Day 1 is hard!! Yes, the first step is always the hardest. That’s why it’s best to tackle it and move forward.

I liked this idea. I just kept putting it off. I didn’t know how to write a blog that gets longer every day. I am not very familiar with Twitter, and I’d never posted on Instagram before. I’m trying to tackle social media marketing, and this art project was supposed to help me do that. Or at least that was the plan.

It was frustrating, and I knew I was probably not doing everything perfectly, and that was also frustrating, but you know what? Tomorrow is another day.

And here it is.  Today.  Today I can work on an improvement. Like a hashtag, which was suggestion from a friend on Google+, just in case someone else felt inclined to do the same thing. So, today’s improvement, the hashtag #CardArtChallenge

Day 1/30  Diamond strings


Even a sharpie will rub right off of a playing card if you don’t take off the finish.  Online research recommended an eraser for baseball cards, but since I had none handy, I opted for the fine sandpaper option.  The light sanding I did here was too light, and my black lines smudged a bit. The smudges look okay with the sanded red areas. Gives it a “decay” theme.

I was originally planning to fill in the small areas with colors but in the end I chose to leave it this way to accentuate the careful placement of the lines.  Each diamond seems to be held in midair by fine black wires crisscrossing through space.

Playing Card Art 4D








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  1. Comment by JohannaPrinz on September 21, 2016 at 3:31 am

    wow finally lookedat all of them. I will look again and pick my favorites have to go to bed now

  2. Comment by Laura A. Ockel on September 26, 2016 at 5:28 am

    Thanks for visiting, Johanna! I have some great ideas in mind for this week!

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