Antique Engravings Playing Cards

I saw a free 22-card tarot online to download, but I wasn’t all that keen on the artwork, and the images were very low resolution; I would have had to redo the border and the text in a template in Photoshop and I thought “Well, if I’m going to do that I might as well make a playing card deck with some engravings I DO like.”

So I was fiddling around in the Quick Cards 2 software, which I haven’t used since last November, and decided to buy the program so that I could print properly and make changes across the board. The text abilities are really lame and I do most of the work in Photoshop before adding images, but it’s still faster than anything else. I don’t use the special cardstock they sell because it won’t go through my printer.

I have a great collection of Dover clip art that came with my Masterclips collection twelve years ago. I have some particular favourites so I nabbed the clip art and prepared images for each card. Because I don’t use the specialty cardstock I need a line to trim the cards so I use the border feature in Quick Cards 2, but it’s tied to the size of the picture so in order to keep the border on the outside line of the card for trimming, I have to get the image size correct in Photoshop first. I made a template when I last created a deck using clip art of Dutch Tile designs, so all I did was use that again.

Tweak, tweak, tweak. I got the deck designed and printed, sprayed with fixative, and trimmed. I will be making it a custom tuckbox eventually too. I’m working on a commission but I’ve bogged down on design possibilities and needed something different to get my mind off it. Sometimes that’s the best way to solve a creative problem – do something else for a time.


Ideally, I would like to print these cards on pale grey cardstock but I can’t find any so I used cream, which gives them an antique look. I had wanted grey paper so they would go better with the Synchro-Signs kit I just bought and am using on my card blog. I’m not sure if the light meter or the battery is dying in my digital camera, but I have trouble with colour and light and get a pink line around the edge that I have to crop out so these are not my best efforts in photography. The camera used to take beautiful pictures.

These playing cards are designed to be plain. After seeing so many mish-mashed collage decks with overstuffed borders and junky art styles bunged together, I prefer these. They are lovely, restful and crisp engravings, and that goes well with symbolism and intuition.

I love black and white decks of every kind, they are so attractive.


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3 Responses to Antique Engravings Playing Cards

  1. Pingback: Antique Engravings Necklace « JJ ColourArt

  2. jprooph says:

    I have been looking for this print for the past 2 to 3 hours now hoping there was a print I could print out of even purchase a deck. I know its a personal style and as person who is much into fashion, I simply fell in love with the style. I would be forever grateful if I could get a copy of the beautiful print or deck.

    Jesse L. Palomino

    • JJ ColourArt says:

      Hi Jesse,

      At the minute I only have my own copy and don’t have the ability to print the deck for others. The other problem is that to use this many pieces of clip art in a deck and publish it would require special permission from the publisher due to copyright concerns. Sorry.

      Dover publishes several collections of engravings like the ones I have used. The ones I used in this deck came in a clip art collection from twelve years ago before Dover started bundling their own engravings in clip art sets.

      If you do a search on under “Dover” you can find Dover collections to buy and perhaps make your own deck. The newer collections have the images on CD-ROM in high resolution. Some of the older collections are print-only so you’d have to scan them in yourself.

      I love fashion too! Dover also publishes some excellent fashion reproductions including paper dolls and CD-ROMS of illustrations of clothes by top fashion designers of the 20th century.

      Another excellent source for old engravings and patterns is Pepin Press who publish their Agile Rabbit Editions of CD-ROM clip art and they also have huge books of old engravings you can use as clip art. Architecture, objects, old fabrics, all kinds of things. So similarly, you can do a search at Amazon under “Pepin Press” and see what’s available from them.

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