I first announced my intention to create a Tarot deck back in April 2012. It was on a whim, although I had been playing with the idea to turn my own photography into Tarot images for years.
This is what you do, when you have been working with the Tarot for a while: you look at your life and your environment with Tarot eyes!
First, you start to associate your everyday experiences with specific cards. For example, last year was my Hanged Man year, I’ve been dealt some Tower moments in my life and made a momentous Lovers choice in the early 90s, which has led me to where I am today.
My drawing talents are very limited, but with the advance of photo-editing software and online resources it has never been easier to turn regular photos into magickal images.
If you are interested in creating your own Tarot (or oracle) deck, but you cannot draw or paint, then why not consider using your own photography instead.
Here are some tips and resources to get you started:
It’s perfectly fine to use the built-in camera of your smartphone, as long as it’s a minimum of 5 Mega Pixels. You can even use an easy-to-use photo app to edit and beautify your images.
If you use a separate camera, I can recommend the following web-based photo editing software:
Both websites offer many free features, but you can also subscribe to premium membership to access even more.
2. Theme of your Deck
The deck I’m creating reflects my personal life – experiences, interests, philosophy and spirituality.
Think about the theme and framework of your deck, and choose your images accordingly.
For example, for a deck reflecting your personal life, you could include snapshots of family members as court cards (or the people cards of the Major Arcana), you could use a photo of your local church/mosque/temple/synagogue as the Hierophant card, etc.
Next, you can add a specific atmosphere to the cards, such as a Gothic or whimsical feel by choosing the relevant location for your shot and/or adding effects with your photo-editor.
3. Getting Started
Set a realistic goal. Unless you are a prolific creator, focus on completing the Major Arcana first. This makes your project seem less overwhelming, and it is very achievable.
Choose the image for each card carefully, but don’t spend too much time on each image either. You can always adjust or change it later. I do the same! That’s the beauty of digital work.
Make sure you save all your images (originals and edited) not only on your computer but also separately on a memory stick or in cloud storage!
4. Sizing and Printing Your Images
When you start creating your images, make sure you size them correctly from the start, otherwise you will have to resize your images later. You can download Tarot card templates from Gamecrafter, where you can also have your deck printed, once it’s finished.
5. Designing Your Images
As you begin to use a photo-editor, you will learn to add effects and overlays to your images. The first images I created were only cropped, resized and the titles and quotes added (just like the Fool above), but by the time I reached the World, I have learned to fuse various photos into one image. It takes some experimenting, but you can do this too!
If you are thinking of using images found on the internet as overlays for your own photo, then you need to be careful about copyright.
For example, avoid using celebrity photos for your deck, if you want to publish and sell it (this doesn’t apply, if you print your deck as a one-off for strictly personal use only). Marilyn Monroe might be a great Queen of Cups, but her photos are still under copyright unless otherwise stated with individual images.
Use public domain images or stock images that you can buy or are offered free:
http://www.istockphoto.com/ (pay per image)
http://morguefile.com/ (free images)
Wikimedia Commons (public domain images)
7. Have Fun
Don’t put yourself under pressure by setting crazy deadlines. I don’t know when my deck will be complete, but my target of creating four cards a month is realistic for me. So, if all goes well, May 2014 is my big goal.
Enjoy the process of designing each card and find the right image. It has prompted me to visit new places just to capture a specific image. Creating my own Tarot deck has certainly made me go out there!
8. Turn Your Images into Posters and Art Prints
The completion of your deck might still be light years away, but that shouldn’t stop you from turning the ones already created into hard copies or even merchandise. Check out places like Photobox, where you can turn your creations into all sorts of goodies – from simple prints and greeting cards to canvas wall art.
The process of creating my own Tarot deck has been so enjoyable. I have gained confidence in creating artwork without the need to paint, and it has also been a kind of spiritual experience, because it has made me think about how the image of each card is reflected in my life.
With today’s technology, it has never been so easy to create your own Tarot deck. If you are inspired, go for it and make a start today.
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