So you want to learn how to make a magic trick?
It’s actually a lot easier than you might think!
Read on for my 4 step process in creating your very own trick.
Making a magic trick is a bit like playing guitar for me. Once you know how to play a few basic chords, there are hundreds of songs available to you!
With magic, once you understand a few key techniques, there are literally thousands of different tricks you could do!
So, what are those techniques? That’s exactly what I’m going to be outlining in this step by step guide.
Step 1: Get the equipment
Obviously there’s no use trying to make a magic trick without playing cards, so my first recommendation would be to either dig out some playing cards you have lying around or just buy some new ones.
Step 2: Learn the key moves
This step might take you a little longer than the previous ones, but that’s okay because it is actually the most important one!
I talked earlier about how putting together a magic trick was like putting together chords on a guitar.
Well right now you’re about to learn the chords!
Here are the 4 most important moves to learn, as well as information on where you can learn them.
Move 1: A card force
This is an AWESOME move. Basically, you trick a spectator into thinking they picked a random card, when in reality they picked exactly the card you wanted them to.
So for example, I might ask a member of my audience to come up and choose a ‘random card’. Once they do, I ‘read their mind’ and figure out what it was.
Of course, I didn’t read their mind at all but simply made them pick the card I wanted them to pick.
So how do you do this move?
Here’s a great video by awesome magician Chris Ramsay FULL of different ways of accomplishing a force. Check it out.
So, now you should hopefully understand WHAT a card force is and how to do one.
Move 2: Learn a card control
The second step is learning how to control the chosen card.
For a lot of tricks, you’re going to want to be able to bring the chosen card right to the top of the deck.
There’s a ton of different ways of accomplishing this, but the best way (for beginners) is with a double undercut.
I know that probably sounds really fancy, but it’s actually really easy. Essentially, the chosen card is brought to the top in what looks like a shuffling of the cards.
Here‘s a great resource for learning it!
What are the advantages of bringing the chosen card to the top of the deck?
The main reason magicians like having the card on top of the deck is because they have complete control over it. They know exactly where it is and they can do whatever they want with it at any point!
Let’s say I wanted to do the ‘card to pocket’ trick. I could either:
– Use a card force (as taught previously) to make the spectator pick a card that I had a duplicate of in my pocket,
– Control their card to the top of the deck and palm it off, placing it in my pocket with my hand.
Both are methods that are used daily around the world by real magicians! So you can see how already, with the moves you’ve learnt, you can start doing magic tricks.
Let’s cover a couple more important moves and then discuss how you can link them all together!
Move 3: A false shuffle
This move works GREAT with the others we’ve already discussed.
A false shuffle is basically what it sounds like- you make it look like you’re mixing up the deck when in reality you don’t actually shuffle a thing.
A false shuffle works really well with forces and controls.
For example, you might have the card you want to force in a specific location, but give the deck a false shuffle to convince your audience that the deck is mixed and the card they are choosing truly is random.
Or you might have controlled a spectator’s card to the top but don’t want them getting any suspicions about that! So you give the cards a false shuffle so they don’t catch on.
See what I mean?
A false shuffle is a great move to use in between the other techniques we’ve discussed.
How can you learn one?
Some of my favorite false shuffles can once again be found over at 52Kards. Check this very convincing one out here!
Don’t be intimidated by how fancy it looks, it really is very easy to learn and do!
Move 4: Double lift
This is a slightly more difficult move than some of the others that I’ve talked about, but it is definitely a very important one to learn if you really want to take your magic to the highest level!
A double lift is when you turn over two cards but make it look like one.
There are a few different ways to do this- just search YouTube for ‘double lift’ tutorials and they’ll be no shortage of videos to choose from.
The reason I’m not explicitly explaining how to do a double lift is simply because there is no best way! I do it one way, other magicians I know do it different ways. It just depends on what feels most natural to you, and the best way to figure that out is just to give different techniques a go.
I have to admit that the double lift is probably the trick that I have practiced the most, I remember as a 14-year-old sitting on a train riding to see my girlfriend while I constantly performed a double lift. (I thought people would notice me and be impressed… Which they weren’t… No-one said a thing.) So why did I spend so much time doing the trick? And why should you do the same?
Well, it just has so MANY uses! I mean let’s take the most famous routine in magic- the ambitious card.
Something I do a lot just to confuse people while we play card games is I take a card (doing the double lift) flash it at them and then ‘place’ it in the center of the deck. Next, I click my hands and BOOM just like that, the card jumps right back to the top.
Another person that you might have heard of also makes good use of the double lift: DAVID BLAINE. If you’ve ever seen the trick where he makes a card travel magically through somebody’s hand and back into his own, then you’ve seen the double lift at work.
In my opinion, these are the 4 most important sleight of hand techniques to learn, but here are some honorable mentions.
Color changes: visually change the color of a card. Creates a great WOW moment.
Vanishes: make a card…disappear. Looks cool, but not many practical applications for it.
Flourishes: Do cool stuff with cards. Not really that useful, but definitely makes you look good.
So, now that we have our moves, we’re ready to learn how to put them together into a magic trick of your creation!
Step 3: Putting the pieces together
You’re ready to make your own trick; you have everything you need to know mastered. But how do you actually go about figuring a trick out?
Here’s a little formula that might help you if you’re stuck for ideas.
Take the 4 moves you’ve just learnt, and write each one on a slip of paper. Now turn the papers over and give them a good mix around.
WITHOUT LOOKING, lay them out in a row of 4.
You should now have a random order of moves.
Let’s say it goes:
– false shuffle
– card control
– double lift
You would have to figure out how you could chain these individuals sleights together.
What I came up with was as follows:
You show your audience a regular deck of playing cards and to prove that it’s mixed, give it a good shuffle. You’ve just done the first move, the false shuffle. You actually have a card on top of the deck that you want to force (your second move.)
You invite someone to come pick a card, and force the card. In this case, we’ll say it’s the King of Spades.
You put the King of Spades in the middle of the deck and ‘mix it up’; in reality you are doing your third move and controlling the card right back to the top of the deck.
Once you’ve finished mixing it, you say ‘and now, I’m going to make your card, the King of Spades, jump right to the top of the deck!’
You do a double lift, so that they think you messed up. The card you turn over is NOT the King of Spades but actually the one beneath it.
You say ‘I must have forgotten to say the magic words! Abracadabra’. Now you turn over the top card for real and this time it IS the King of Spades, even though your audience will be sure they just saw a different card on top of the deck (thanks to your clever double lift.)
You may be wondering, why bother forcing the King? The answer is that you actually had a SECOND King of Spades in your pocket all along.
Now you put the King of Spades back in the deck and say ‘I’m going to do it again! Watch.’
You turn over the top card, but it isn’t the King of Spades.
Instead of trying again, you reach into your pocket and say ‘I’m sorry, it got a bit carried away! Instead of jumping to the top of the deck, it jumped all the way to my pocket.’
You pull out the duplicate King of Spades and the audience goes crazy!
So that is a trick I just came up with on the spur of the moment simply by combining the techniques we’ve discussed. Now you try the same, no matter what order the moves are for you, think of a way you could link them together to create a great trick.
Once you’ve got one, move on to the final step.
Step 4: Practice and perform
You’ve just made your trick, and now you’re raring to go out and show it off, but that is a bad idea.
You should definitely spend more time practicing first, until you can do the moves in your sleep. Once you get to that point, you’re ready.
To truly get your magic trick to the highest possible level, you just need to get out there and perform it!
As you get some experience performing it you’ll start to realize which parts work best, which bits need some improvement, and where you can add to your trick in general.
You could also try filming yourself doing your trick, that will give you a good idea of what looks best and what angles certain moves should be performed at.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you don’t think your trick is too great to begin with, it just takes practice and practice.
Once you have this trick polished, you could consider adding little elements to it here and there. For example, learn how to make a card float and incorporate this into your routine!
If you have any questions about your magic routine, feel free to get in touch using the contact form at the bottom of the page, or alternatively leave a comment below. If you’re interested in learning more magic, check out some of my other how to do magic guides!
If you have any additional feedback or other general comments, please do go ahead and let me know in the comment section!
And don’t forget to share this post with others if you enjoyed. Good luck! I hope you learnt everything you wanted to know on how to make a magic trick!