WIP Progress Meter

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tarot Deck Progress Report and Giveaway!


As some of you know, I have been working on a tarot deck for Llewellyn, along with illustrator Elisabeth Alba. (Who rocks. Seriously.) And I am happy to say that I just finished my part of the project, which included coming up with the theme, descriptions for Elisabeth to work from, and writing the book that will go with the actual deck. BOOYAH! Of course, Elisabeth's part will take a lot longer, since she has to do 78 cards in multiple stages. So don't expect to see this deck any time before next year, late-ish. In the meanwhile, though, this seemed like a perfect time to give you an update on our progress, and a sneak peek into how the process works.

Plus, of course, a giveaway, to celebrate my finishing the book!

Addendum: Elisabeth posted a little something on her blog today too, with a link back here, plus a link to a video interview she did where she talked a lot about the tarot! (And said some nice things about me.) If you want to see what she's like, go check it out. One Fantastic Week Podcast


Progress for the Six of Swords by Deborah and Elisabeth

Deborah: Elisabeth and I have been hard at work on the tarot deck for Llewellyn – me writing the descriptions and book that goes along with the deck, and Elisabeth illustrating. We thought it would be fun to make some blog posts dedicated to the process, showing how I begin by writing a description, to Elisabeth's final painted result. It's taken us a while to get to writing this, because we've just been so busy working on the deck! We begin with the final painting for the Six of Swords.

6 of Swords

Elisabeth: The Six of Swords is one of my favorites from the Suit of Swords. I had taken some progress photos along the way, so we figured this was a good one to start with! I was first given a list of all the Sword cards and their descriptions. The description for this one was:
 Picture: A black-haired witch is getting ready to fly off on her broom, two hooded shapes perched on the broom in front of her. A blue backpack with silver swirls on it sits on her back with six swords sticking out of it, a small black cat is perched on top. The full moon shines overhead. She is making an arcane gesture to summon up the wind. The mood is urgent, and a little dark, but also hopeful.
Deborah: Here’s how I arrive at the picture descriptions, in case you were wondering (and of course you were). I have been reading tarot using the Rider-Waite deck for many years, and this deck is based on the 78 cards that are in that classic. So for each card, I would look at the original (as well as a few variations, including Barbara Moore’s fabulous Steampunk Tarot, to see how other people had done theirs). Then I’d consider how I usually interpret the cards when I do a reading, which often varies from the traditional definitions. After that, I’d consider how my interpretation would look in the retro witch style we were using, which includes lots of witches in black hats, with brooms, black cats, and some fairy tale elements. From that I would “visualize” the card, and then try my best to translate that vision into instructions for Elisabeth.

Elisabeth: After reading over the descriptions, I begin drawing small 'thumbnail' sketches to work out the composition with all the needed elements. I usually do them in pencil first.

Hard to believe that she gets from this to the finished product!--Deborah

Elisabeth: Then I scan then and put them in the card template on Photoshop and make a better, but still rough, sketch there. This is what I first show Deborah; the art director, Lynne Menturweck; and the acquisitions editor, Barbara Moore.


Deborah: Sometimes (usually, in fact) the sketch was perfect from the very first. Other times, there might be small details that didn’t match up with what I’d had in mind, and Elisabeth and I would email back and forth until we’d gotten the changes ironed out to both of our satisfaction. Thankfully, our visions for the deck line up very well, and we’ve never had a problem coming to an agreement on the best possible arrangement.

Elisabeth: If all is well in the sketch, I take photo reference! My husband Scott (he's also an illustrator) and I have accumulated a lot of costumes that are great for posing in, though the only costume part visible in this photo is the white skirt. For other cards, I've used tunics, leather armor, medieval leather belts, cloaks, and even a sharp battle-ready sword.
I love this part--Deborah

Then I work on the finished drawing, using the reference. Sometimes I draw the figures with pencil and scan them and place them in the sketch digitally. Other times I just draw them entirely digitally with my tablet. This one was drawn digitally. I also do a rough digital color version at this point, so I can figure out how I'd like to paint it.


I sent the drawing in for approval and everyone agreed that the figures in front of the witch were too blob-like (the color version above shows their unedited appearance), so I made a hand visible and the tips of their boots, which helped immensely.

I then print the drawing lightly on watercolor paper. I ink the drawing with a dip pen and black ink (Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star matte ink - super waterproof, strong black, flows nicely). Then I start painting! I paint with Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus watercolor inks. Very saturated colors, and I can get darker than I would with tube watercolor. They are a little harder to work with though because they are not reworkable. Once it's on the paper, you can't take it off. I also used gouache to get more opaque in the moon and stars.

Here it is, inked, paint started, next to the Ten of Swords which I was painting at the same time.


Base colors down... Note - the colors are off from the original because I was using my phone camera and didn't bother to color correct!


Then once it's painted I scan it, color correct it, do any minor digital touch-ups, and send it off for approval! Card done! Whew! Once again, here's the final:


Here is the Rider-Waite version:
Quite a difference between the original and this one, but you can see where the idea came from--Deborah


Process comparison!


Here is the text that will go along with the card in the book, written by Deborah, along with the card again, so you can see how it will look:


“Anyplace but here.”
Sometimes you just have to get gone. Try not to take your troubles with you.

This witch isn’t going to spend one more minute where she is. She’s already on her way, with only a few necessities, because time is of the essence and sometimes it is better to get out with nothing than to hang on to things or people that are weighing you down. But she’s not traveling alone. It isn’t clear if she is helping her traveling companions or if they are helping her, but either way, they are in this together. An arcane gesture to summon the wind, and they’re off into an unknown future. All she knows is that anyplace will be better than whatever it is she’s leaving behind.

And now for the giveaway!!!! 

I bought a number of decks to look at when I was working on this, some of which I just used the book for, and some of which I never got around to using at all. None of the decks themselves have been opened. Here are three of them. The winner will get to choose which one he or she would like to have! (And I will probably give away the others in the future, so don't despair if you don't win this time.)

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. Tell me if you have ever used tarot cards either for fun or for serious fortune telling, or if you just like the pretty pictures. Are you looking forward to this deck? Planning to buy it when it comes out? Want more progress reports on other cards? Inquiring minds want to know.

This contest is open to everyone and will run until Friday 27th at noon EST. The lucky winner will have until the following Friday to contact me, and let me know where to send the prize. No purchase is necessary.

 

65 comments:

  1. I have 11 tarot/oracle decks and counting. I'm obsessed with them. My friend Wolf says I may need AA for them.

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  2. I too am hooked on tarot and oracle decks. I think I'm up to 15 now! :D I am excited for this deck to be finished and available though; the artwork is amazing.

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  3. I love tarot -- I love everything about tarot. The art, the feeling of the cards in my hands. The sound of shuffling. I use them for everything.

    I'm definitely looking forward to the release of this one! I hope you'll be telling us more about it.

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  4. I have several tarot decks. My Fenestra is my favorite. I have a few Oracle decks, the Amy Brown one is my favorite there because of the illustrations.
    I am looking very forward to this deck as you are one of my favorite Pagan authors and the illustrations I've seen are awesome! My hands want to shuffle the deck and get to reading already! So, yes I plan to buy and love seeing any of the progress on your side and the illustrators side also.

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  5. I am very excited about this deck and I really want it, well, YESTERDAY! I love tarot, and I read with a couple different decks, plus I have many many (did I mention many?) decks because I just love them for the art. This deck looks like it will become my go-to deck, I can't wait!!!

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    1. Yay! I love the idea of this deck being someone's go-to!

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  6. Im still learning the art of tarot. I have 2 decks that I enjoy working with. I love to see the different art work on different decks. I will definitely be buying this deck when it is released. I haven't had much luck with your giveaways but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one!

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    1. Here's hoping your luck is better this time! (And I have a bunch of giveaways coming up, so you'll have even more chances.)

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  7. I just recently picked up the Rider-Waite version. But i do have several other decks! These are my favorite tool. I am soo looking forward to the release and thank you guys for sharing the magick of the deck creation along the way with us! It makes the wait more bearable and the deck more meaningful when it does arrive!

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    1. It kind of makes the wait more bearable for me too :-)

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  8. I do use tarot - not sure if it's for "serious" fortunetelling - but there are times that I have had serious questions for it! I read for friends and myself.

    As for this deck, I have been watching the progress for quite some time now. The thing I am most looking forward to is that this seems like a real witch's deck.

    Now I mean no offense to the other witch decks out there. I have some of them, and like them. This one really seems to capture what witchery is to me, though - maybe on a more earthly level (if that makes sense). Or maybe it just really appeals to my type of witchery - which is basically kind of no nonsense - kind of a roll-your-sleeves up type of approach. No pretty clothes needed - just get down to business! :)

    Yes, this is on my "must buy" list. In fact, I have a feeling it will become my go-to deck. So far, each card I've seen resonates with me!

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    1. That's exactly what we're aiming at, since that is my kind of witchery too. So glad to see that you think we're succeeding!

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  9. I love tarot , but I only have one deck and really still learning . Looking forward to the new deck and would love to have updates
    Bonnie Schoening

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  10. I love tarot decks! I have a box full of all sorts of decks! I don't really know how to do a reading without having to look up each card as I go but I love flipping through the cards, admiring their art and their energy. And of course I'm looking forward to your deck!

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    1. You know I'm depending on you to do one of your great reviews, Rebecca!

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  11. I am buying this deck when it comes out. I've been looking for a new deck. Mine disappeared when we remodeled. Must be in the house somewhere but I haven't found whatever box they are hiding in. I've been looking at decks for awhile but haven't found one that "spoke" to me. This one does. It's going on my must have list.

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    1. Yay! Now I just have to figure out how to "sign" a deck :-)

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  12. I can't wait for this deck! I fell in love with it from the first time I read about it and the artwork is exquisite! One can never have too many tarot decks ;-)

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    1. I'm a little biased, but I think it is going to be amazing :-)

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  13. Wow the artwork is stunning, without straying from it meaning. I love beautiful artwork but also like to be able to read with a deck. Out next year gosh, progress reports with more images please.

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    1. One of my major goals with this deck was to make it truly usable. I love the look of many novelty decks, but there is no way I could use them to actually read. I hope this one will be both simple to use and beautiful.

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  14. I would love to find a deck to use. This one seems promising. I have a couple for the artwork. Always in the past, cards seen to "get in my way". But, I love the cards and feel I will find my deck one day.

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  15. I had my fortune read in the form of tarot cards last year, on a whim, and I loved it! I'd like to try it for myself and see what I can glean from the whole process. :)

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    1. The results can be pretty amazing, Maddy.

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  16. I had a Witches' fortune telling deck when I was young that we used to "play" with. I have two deck now; the Rider-Waite & another called "Tarot of a Moon Garden". I bought the last one not too long ago. I was looking to get another deck & fell in love with this one, mostly because of all the dragonflies on the cards. It's a beautiful deck.

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    1. Collette Palmer--you're the winner! Contact me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo or via Facebook, and tell me which deck you want and where you want me to send it!

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  17. Lilith cerridwyn (off of Deborah Blake's friend list - I don't have the other accounts.) I have a standard rider Waite deck that doesn't get used very often. I just don't get the depth and feel from them I think i should. I have The Witches Tarot which is fabulous and I use all the time. I live the pictures and I get better vibes off of them. It came with a detailed book, which has made it very easy for me to work with. I am excited to see another witch deck coming out with a complementing description book. The small leaflets don't do really nice decks justice.

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  18. I love tarot decks, especially cat ones. I also love Tarot Art Nouveau because I love the pastel colors. It reminds me of stained glass windows. I use tarot as inspiration for my characters and stories.

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    1. Lots of cats in this deck, Vonnie (they insisted)!

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  19. I have several tarot decks and each one of them are precious to me.They are like my friends who guide me in the right path. Personally, im drawn to witchy stuffs but there are very few witch themed decks out there that im drawn to and as soon as i saw your deck i felt so connected and im eagerly waiting to buy your deck! Congrats on completing the book.:) <3

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  20. I have the Rider Waite and a couple of other decks, but I am not very proficient. I continue to study and hope to get better :) This new deck of yours looks lovely and something I am interested in checking out.

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    1. Hopefully these will help you with your practice :-)

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  21. These cards are wonderful! I am a professional tarot reader and life coach. I see these as a fun tool and I can't wait until they're published! www.seastartarot.com

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  22. More progress updates please! Love this glimpse into the process, reminds me of the Steampunk tarot blog process, but more...which was my last must-have deck. This deck will join it and my long time main deck the Arthurian Legend. My BFF already gave me a lovely rich red silk scarf to wrap this deck in. Like the imagery, earthy practical tone and color palate. Nope, LOVE IT.

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    1. I am not a big steampunk person, but I love that deck. It is actually one of the ones I used to "model" this one on (in how it was done). And yay for the BFF and the red silk scarf!

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  23. I just bought my first deck and book. Am slowly trying to learn it. I love the art work on your deck and the "blurbs" look really helpful. It will be a beautiful deck to own.

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  24. I have had tarot cards read for me. I have my own deck but am still trying to learn how to really use them.

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    1. One of the women in my circle has been struggling to teach herself tarot for years, but finds the classic cards hard to learn with. I kept her in mind as I came up with this deck, trying to keep it simple and easy to learn.

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  25. Wow, am I ever excited about this news! I truly love all your witchy writings and am really looking forward to a witchy deck from you. The Tarot is a huge part of how I got into witchcraft in the first place, but I don't see many witch-themed decks that are just right for me. This one looks like it will be great!

    (And, of course, my black cat Tarot assistant always says black cats are necessary in any deck. The Queen of Wands is her favorite card.)

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    1. Yes, black cats are very important to decks. Magic the Cat Queen of the Universe says so :-)

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  26. Oh, goodness! I am also a complete Tarot-Addict! I've lost count of how many decks I actually have, but I do use most of them regularly (some more than others, of course). I've been reading Tarot for about 14 years; it is a passion of mine. This new deck looks absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait until it comes out.

    I love seeing so many others who love Tarot as much as I do. Good luck to everyone!!

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    1. I have to admit, I think they are going to be gorgeous!

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  27. I've only worked with Oracle cards but I want to further myself with Tarot Cards because I have really great intuition it seems when working with Divination tools.

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  28. never used them

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  29. OMG CAN'T WAIT for this set to be available! I keep poking at Tarot - I love it - but while I'm familiar with the images, meanings just refuse to stick in my mind, or come to me if I try to meditate on a card and let it speak to me on its own. Some kind of mental block I need to work past, I guess.

    And funny that THIS is the card you use to give us a glimpse in on things. Just last night, I was talking to my "sister" (too dear to even call her my "best friend") about how she REALLY REALLY needs to get out of the work place she's currently in. She lives in Northern CA, I'm in Southern, and we've talked for years about her moving down here. Long story short, "now" has never been quite the right time for some very good reason or other. But I was telling her, whether it's a different position up where she's living now, or a job down here, doesn't matter - she needs to /leave/ that office, get away from that boss. The text about the witch in the card not knowing or caring where she's going, just that she's leaving "here" especially struck me after that conversation. For a reason or two, part of me was questioning if I should be quite so strong or, as Sis is considering, telling her to go ahead and wait things out till the end of the year. But that card coming up was almost like I'd drawn it myself. Whatever she decides to do, I'm no longer feeling like I might have been off-base in my assertions.

    Buuuuut back on immediate topic - the card is AMAZING and I love the text, and just OMG SO EXCITE! <3

    (Also, my own life is quieting down a little, so this is me trying to come back out of lurker mode. @,@ )

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  30. I'm so excited about your deck! I know it's a while away, but these cars previews are gorgeous!!

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  31. Yes, I'm going to buy it. Ever since the first card you showed I knew it was for me. I have no physical cards. I have always used online tarot sites (because: lazy) and always marveled at how, if I focus on the matter I'm interested in as I click the button, the reading is relevant, but if I just make my mind blank as I click, it's random and meaningless. How can it do that without physical contact? But this deck is going to tempt me into the physical world.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. I don't know the answer to your question, exactly, but I do know that I have been able to do tarot readings for people via phone and email, which completely amazed me :-)

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  32. I have several decks. My absolute favorite is the Aquarian. I have my first deck that I ever touched (late 1970's), which is too fragile to shuffle. But it's like a best friend so it's always present :) I am anxiously waiting Madame Talbot's deck & yours! Once I see how you two have dealt with the Star, then I will know how soon I will buy the deck.

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  33. I've recently started reading tarot cards again after years away from it...this deck is exciting, fresh!. I'm eager to get my hands on these cards! Good luck to everyone! Thanks for the opportunity Deborah!

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  34. This is so cool, Deb! I love the behind-the-scenes look at how a new tarot deck is created. I have a small collection of decks, including a Hanson-Roberts (the one I'm most likely to use) and a sock monkey deck that as a knitter I absolutely *had* to have. I can't wait to be able to add this deck to the mix!

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    1. There's a SOCK MONKEY deck? *mind boggles*

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    2. It was actually created by a yarn shop in North Carolina! https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/purl-s-yarn-tarot

      The cards are smaller than I'd prefer for practical use, but I get a kick out of them anyway.

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  35. My hubby has a deck and I've looked through them and want to learn how to use them. Your deck looks amazing. Thank you for the chance. bobbischleining @ yahoo .com (No spaces)

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  36. I have 5 different decks at the moment. I like to collect ones that I am drawn to. I also use my decks for my own personal readings to either get a feel for things going on or on days like Samhain, New Year's Eve, a full moon, etc. The deck you're creating looks amazing and would love to own one.

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  37. I am definitely adding this deck to my collection for personal use. The artwork is amazing!

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  38. I have about 7 decks. I'm looking forward to this deck because I love your writing style and the artwork is lovely!

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  39. Hope I get under the wire! Love it!

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  40. Aw...poo! Time zone issues....LOL

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  41. Collette Palmer--you're the winner! Contact me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo or via Facebook, and tell me which deck you want and where you want me to send it!

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  42. Always been fascinated by the cards. When I couldn't even read them , I was noticing an emerging pattern. Now I'm learning ever card ,one at a time. I like doing one card readings alas a single card can say so much. J don't have a deck know so I'm using tarot apps

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  43. Always been fascinated by the cards. When I couldn't even read them , I was noticing an emerging pattern. Now I'm learning ever card ,one at a time. I like doing one card readings alas a single card can say so much. J don't have a deck know so I'm using tarot apps

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  44. I love your and Elisabeth's work on the Tarot card deck. I just wanted to let you know I've included reference to you and Elisabeth, as well as this post, in one of my blog posts on Ink & Stitches - "Drawing Hands and Feet": http://blog.jhwinter.com/drawing-hands-and-feet/

    I'd love for you to come and take a look!

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