Every once in a while, "dream" projects come along that just get you excited to go to work every morning. I am not a Star Wars super-fan by any means, but I did paint a mural of cloud city on my wall when I was in high school. So yes the movies were a big part of my childhood. Through Mattson Creative, I had the opportunity to work with Theory11 to produce a deck of high-end Star Wars playing cards. Ty Mattson, the creative director, and reason I got to work on this in the first place, is also a life-long fan, and provided invaluable hands-on creative direction, ideation, sketches, etc at different points throughout the process. Between our own team, the crew at Theory11, Studio on Fire (who produced the cards), Lucasfilm, and even a few notes from JJ Abrams, we feel like we had some real expertise working together to create a fitting tribute worthy of the devoted Star Wars fan.

Though the cards were the same for each deck, we had a dark-side and a light-side version of the tuck boxes, each with different card-backs. The Dark Side tuck boxes were infused with Sith / Empire symbols and reference, while the Light Side tucks traded each symbol for the light-side equivalent. It would have been fun to have developed more characters and 2 different decks, but regardless of the brief, I don't think there would have been time to finish another set of characters!

Studio On Fire did an incredible job producing the tuck boxes, and the cards came out wonderfully as well. All in all, despite a quick turnaround before last Thanksgiving, this was an absolute pleasure to work on.

Client: Theory11 / Lucasfilm
Agency: Mattson Creative
Creative Director: Ty Mattson (Mattson Creative)
Design / Illustration: Russ Gray and Luke Bott; all Luke's work is credited and noted below)​​​​​​​
Project Completed: November 2019

—  T U C K   B O X E S  —

Sticker / seal designed by Luke Bott

S O M E   B E H I N D   T H E   S C E N E S

Likenesses were the single most difficult part of this project. Striking a balance between a consistent stylization of all the characters, and still having a recognizable likeness was a challenge. (Making a literal likeness would probably not have been quite so difficult). Not all the process is shown here of course, but several characters came very quickly; others took multiple failed attempts (Princess Leia for example; I tried old, young, different hair styles, angles, etc). The Luke Skywalker card was the first created, so we tried to model the cards after it as much as possible. In addition, we tried to keep the cards as similar to the Bicycle standards as possible.

We played around with a couple tuck box options, but in the end, the design came quite quickly. (Really, since the movie came out in December and we began the project around Halloween, we didn't have time to mess around).

My initial sketches and first drafts of tuck boxes. This part of the project actually came rather quickly.

Just a tiny handful of the many MANY drafts and sketches I ended up making of the characters. This was by far the hardest part of the project.

Just a couple examples of some of the many little bits of film reference in the cards.


Theory11 wanted this deck to read primarily as a luxury card deck, with a second-read as Star Wars. Essentially, a traditional card deck that just happens to be Star Wars.​​​​​​​ I knew virtually nothing about playing cards prior to this project, and don't claim to know much now, but it certainly helped build my understanding (and vocabulary).

We helped put together a list of possible characters to include in the court cards, but in the end final decisions were from the client. The character line-up for each deck is the same.

Note: Kylo has a scar on one side only ... (we had no idea why, we were just shown a very brief email from JJ Abrams asking for the change, with no explanation —  only a request to keep quiet until the movie came out.)

Luke Bott, who is part of the reason I even had the opportunity to work on this in the first place, designed the above 3 cards, as well as Darth Vader and all the Aces. (Above: Ace of Spades — Yoda lifting the X-wing; Boba Fett; Mon Mothma).

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