Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Steampunk Tarot Cards are ready to go ...

Since my cards are on their way to the organizer of the Steampunk Tarot project, I think it's safe to reveal them. I worked simultaneously on both the Page of Gears (gears replacing pentacles/coins in this deck) and the Seven of Daggers. Whenever I got stuck on some design quibble for one (or the paint needed to dry), I shifted over to the other card to keep things moving. Just as I finished my cards, the organizer asked me if I'd like to take on another one to cover for someone who had to drop out, so I took on Strength as well.

I enjoy the process of creating these cards. I like to do a fair bit of research before I start because many of the participants actually use them for readings, so it's important to get the perfect blend of maintaining some connection with Tarot decks past, while keeping in touch with the theme of the deck. The first thing I did is find as many different visual references as possible from previous decks and look for A) things I have half a chance of being able to draw and B) things that can be tweaked to fit the current Steampunk theme. Part of the project included writing the text for the card, so a lot of reading on past Tarot decks is useful too ~ again because people will be using our cards for more than artistic appreciation.

My cards are a blend of: A) images I CAN draw, B) textures I can create, C) printed papers, D) clipart and E) stamped images. For instance the backgrounds on all three cards were created using background photos or printed paper .... on the Strength card the city seen through the porthole is a photo of old Budapest ... for the Seven of Daggers I printed the text and clipart lanterns straight onto an old map ... on the Page of Gears the background is a skymap of the Milky Way.

One of the fun 'hidden' things on each card for me is some paper I made when I was playing with layered paint. I'm a big chicken when it comes to layering paint. I almost always hate what I make ~ and this time was no exception. I painted a couple of sheets of cardstock with gesso and then layered on black paint, red paint, more gesso, more paint, splodging with sponges ... uh oh ... seriously ugly paper and I chucked it aside ... till I started this project. While scrounging around my piles of papers for something I realized my Ugly Paper had Great Texture, it was just the Wrong Colour. I took out my Caran D'Ache crayons and had a go at it ... and hey ... this has potential.

On the Strength card, the texture became the perfect 'hammered' metal for the wall and floor of the dirigible she's riding in. On the Seven of Daggers, I divided the walkway into bricks and accented the brick edges ... et voila ... a stone floor. For the Page of Gears, I redrew the Page (remember my drawing from my last post?) onto the textured page, and then Caran D'Ache'd the coat red, the pants blue, the hat and boots brown. I could never get the face light enough so I gesso'd over those sections and added skin colour. I guess the moral of the story is: save the ugly stuff, you'll never know when it'll be just what you're looking for.

I can hardly wait to see the rest of the cards in this deck. This is the first project I've been involved in where we've done the WHOLE deck ~ a rare treat, and a theme I really like, too.