The DOMINIC system was devised by Dominic O'Brien. It is not particularly unique but is an excellent system nonetheless. First of all we need to encode the digits 0-9 with a letter (we will start off with the first ten cards of each suit and then move on to picture cards at the end):
As you can see the numbers broadly coincide with the first ten letters of the alphabet except for 6 which phonetically has a strong 'S' sound, 9 which has a strong 'N' sound, and 0 which looks like 'O'.
We now need to denote the four suits:
We now pair up the letters. The numbers one to ten above correspond to the first ten cards of each suit (aces are '1' and tens are considered '0'). Thus each ace resolve to 'A', Tens resolve to 'O', the 2 of any suit resolves to 'B' and so on), and then append the appropriate suit letter to give the pair. A few examples will illustrate this:
Ace of Spades = 1S = AS
Ace of Hearts = 1H = AH
Two of Clubs = 2C = BC
Nine of Diamonds = 9D = ND
Ten of Spades = 0S = OS
Eight of Hearts = 8H = HH
Once you have pairs sorted for the first ten cards in each suit (remember we are not dealing with the picture cards just yet), you then have to think of a person with initials that match each two letter pairing, and an appropriate 'action'. Celebrities are perhaps the best source of characters along with fictional characters and family/friends. Again a few examples will illustrate this. I will give the card, the letter pair, the character and the action:
Ace of Spades = AS -> Arnold Schwarzenegger -> Lifting a barbell
Eight of Hearts=HH-> Hulk Hogan -> Ripping T-Shirt
Three of Clubs=CC -> Cindy Crawford -> my secret
The last example, as well as being O'Brien's joke which I have shamelessly purloined, illustrates a good point. When formulating a person to match the letter pairing it should be obvious. So for me, the initials CC quickly make me think of Cindy Crawford and Charlie Chaplin - so these are good candidates to represent the three of clubs. For the action, this should also be the first thing you think of when you hear that name. The more outrageous the action, the more likely you are to recall it. Sexual actions/fantasies are highly 'recallable' - hence I went for Cindy!
For the picture cards we change our approach somewhat. We only have three cards of each suit to remember and it is done on the basis of what the suits make you think of. Again to illustrate:
Clubs = Aggression/Violence
Hearts = Love
Spades = Agriculture
Diamonds = Wealth/Money
I then select a young person for the Jack, and an older man and woman for the King and Queen respectively. For each character you need to apply an action.
Here is a selection from my list:
Jack of Diamonds -> Jack White -> Playing guitar
Queen of Clubs - > Maggie Thatcher -> Swinging Handbag
King of Hearts -> Elvis -> Singing
King of Diamonds -> King Kong -> Beating Chest
The 'King of Diamonds' is a special case. I used to imagine Donald Trump (wealth), who used to own the Empire State Building. I imagined him climbing the Empire State building a'la King Kong and eventually King Kong just became a stronger image. In any such case where 'stronger' images form in this way, go for the stronger image.
Many characters will evolve over time - just go with it until they 'settle down'. It is important to embrace any exceptions. So if you great Uncle Bill was shot in the chest whilst playing cards, and the bullet penetrated the Five of Spades, then feel free to use Uncle Bill to represent this card if he is whom you think of whenever you think of this card.
Now you need to think of a journey....as detailed in part two.