Harry Potter Playing Cards

In 2020, I was asked by Ty Mattson at Mattson Creative to design and illustrate a deck of playing cards based on the iconic Warner Brothers adaptations of the beloved Harry Potter series. I had not previously familiarized myself much with Harry Potter, but that changed over the next few months. 

It almost felt like being back in school again, I studied so much to learn about these characters, and the stories they are intertwined in. In addition, my children (who love the books and have read them multiple times) were the ideal consultants for the many little Easter eggs that were woven into every part of this project. I was grateful to be able to explore the style in which we depicted the characters, settling on this "etching" approach. We all wished we could have included more characters, or even had house-specific decks. But both proved impossible.

With such a big project, there were other hands that helped especially early on: Kortney Greer (more of a Harry Potter expert than me!) and Ty Mattson helped provide rough concept sketches for the tuck box and Ace of Spades respectively, in the early stages, upon which the final Ace and tuck were essentially based.

The Card Decks can be purchased here at Theory11.com.

Client: Theory11
Creative Director: Ty Mattson (Mattson Creative)
Illustrator / Designer: Russ Gray

-- Four Tuck Box Colors --

The collection featured four decks with different tuck colors and card backs, representing the four houses of Hogwarts. Each deck included the same cards (much as we would have loved to have done different courts for each house, this just proved to be an impossibility). Nonetheless, each of the houses is represented on the tuck box through iconography.

-- The Ace of Spades --

The Ace of Spades is perhaps the most packed with iconography and Easter eggs. From the sword of Gryffindor, to the Basilisk — from Scabbers and Crookshanks, to Hedwig and the Hippogriff — from the floating candles and the Hogwarts Express to Harry and Voldemort's dueling wands —every available bit of real-estate was used to add some detail from these beloved stories.

--  The Character Line-Up  --
Much as I would have loved to have included more characters, it was just not a possibility.
So together with Warner Brothers and Theory11, we settled on this core group of iconic characters.


Story Telling Elements

Each character card, ace, card back, and box panel is filled with little easter-eggs, just a few of which are shown below to give a little taste. My school-age kids, who have read the books many times, consulted quite a bit on this project. Many of the easter-eggs and nods to the film and books (all of which I presented and explained to the Harry Potter group at Warner Brothers) are thanks to their expertise.

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