The evolution of playing cards in animated GIFs

Blackjack.org has created fascinating images of playing cards through the ages.

Blackjack.org Playing Cards - Suits gif

Many of us grew up playing card games in one form or another, so playing cards are a pretty nostalgic piece of many of our shared experiences

Playing cards are a staple of most households in the west, used for everything from drinking games and poker nights to a quite game of Solitaire; you'd be hard pressed to find someone who has never played some sort of card game.

The humble playing card has actually been around for hundreds of years, and the team at Blackjack.org have immortalised the evolution of them over the centuries in unique animated GIFs.

Their goal, says creative team member, Erin Hogg, was to to shed some light on just how much cards have evolved, how they have stayed true to their roots and hopefully, surprise readers with some new information about a major staple in our shared, global gaming culture.

The team asked: what do the designs on playing cards mean, and how have these cards changed over time?

Blackjack.org Playing Cards - ming dynasty

The very first card from the Ming Dynasty inspired designs since the 1400s

"The story of playing cards has a rich, vibrant history dating all the way back to ninth-century China," Hogg reveals. "To illustrate the long and exciting history of playing card design, we selected playing cards over the centuries and morphed their design changes over time into the GIFs you see in the project."

The site teaches people how to play the game, the best strategies to win, plus reviews and news about all things Blackjack. One thing their audience has in common is a passion for the world of gaming.

"As you can imagine, playing cards are at the core of this passion, so we wanted to shed light on the rich design history of the cards players handled so often and may have not even thought about.

Blackjack.org Playing Cards

Card suits aren't universal -- did you know Germany uses bells, acorns and leaves?

"We also wanted to teach those who maybe aren't huge card players themselves, but have an appreciation for design and history, about the exciting evolution of card design."

The team chose to implement GIFs in the project to tell the story of the design evolution of cards over time.

"Static images sometimes just don't do it justice if you wanted to compare design changes over time in a easily digestible way," says Hogg.

Blackjack.org Playing Cards - kings

King of Hearts seem to be stabbing themselves in the head -- these are known as "Suicide Kings"

"GIFs are a fantastic way to tell a story in a short amount of time, as well. In our project, we have centuries of cards displayed about 30 seconds (looking at the first one in the project).

The team felt that if they wanted to tell a story of the long history of cards, they'd have to do it in a way that is easily digestible, doesn't take a long time to devour and ultimately, looks interesting.

Check out the project page here and learn a thing or two about those elusive playing cards you so regularly glance at but never pay attention to!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Pattillo is a staff writer at Creative Bloq, where she creates content for the likes of Imagine FX, 3D World, net and Computer Arts magazines. When she is not writing about VFX and digital art, she freelances for Metal Hammer magazine, watches too many horror films and reads comic books. Sometimes she sculpts monsters and has been writing her own comic book for over ten years (it's still unfinished…).