"If I Had Only Known When I Started This Deck That ......"


I don't think I was clear in my post, I mean its going to be impossible to cram all the detail you want into a poker sized workspace :D

Yes - which is why I mentioned that NO ONE designs and creates a card the exact finished card size - unless you have a lot of 'one-hair brushes' lying around; almost everything is produced at a larger scale and reduced down. If you were to take an image of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling and scale it down to the back of a playing card there would be too much detail that would be lost.

When I had to re-scale my b/w drawings I was mostly adding height, so I was mostly moving image elements up or down; if someone was looking at something that was moved up, you have to adjust their gaze to look 'up'. Cramming a lot of details in makes you ask which details are the most important and what size they need to be. In the limited space of a Tarot card it might be better to have fewer but well-detailed images than a card full of a lot of stuff like a table at a flea market where too many things are vying for your attention at once.

Babalon Jones

LOL tarotbear, when I painted the Rosetta tarot, those were all card sized images. The brush probably had 3-8 hairs though, not 1! But it was a teeny tiny brush that's for sure!

What that taught me (besides not to try that again haha) was how to balance a composition for a small space. I think the problem with when artists work big and then shrink stuff down is that they put in details that won't look good shrunken or will get lost, or forget about how it will look when reduced. I had a hard time getting faces and bodies right with Rosetta though, it was just way harder to draw expressions and proportions right at that size. When a face is the size of a sunflower seed or a hand the size of an apple seed, it just gets crazy looking. I am finding that part much easier working at a slightly larger size.

For Tabula Mundi, I am working bigger than card size but less than 8x10. This is a good size because it isn't so big that stuff is lost in translation but big enough not to have to hunch over the image holding my breath every time I work. What I have noticed though is this - if a detail is smaller than a sesame seed, don't bother as when shrunk it will not be visible enough.


What I have noticed though is this - if a detail is smaller than a sesame seed, don't bother as when shrunk it will not be visible enough.

This is some of the best advice I've heard! ;)

For shits-and-giggles on some of my Major Arcana the women actually have fingernails - not that they'll ever show - but everyone should not have mozzarella cheese sticks for fingers ....


Actually, even though the detail blurs out when extremely reduced, one still can register that it's there.

Bert Monroy is my hero (Google knows him). He specializes in digital paintings. Actually his paintings are composed of both vector art from Illustrator and then the painted image itself which he does in Photoshop (he is one of the team which designed the brush engine for, I think it may have been Photoshop 7, but that may be inaccurate. He's still one of their development team members at Adobe). He works in enormous scale which is sometimes later reduced to a slightly less enormous scale (not always), and he contends that details like the fact that the lightbulbs of a painting of a lighted sign have *filaments* is something that the viewer will be at least somewhat aware of even at the reduced size.

Since my card images were originally intended as book illustrations they were sized to fit the virtual page, which was roughly 1176 x 1983 pixels at 300ppi, or slightly under 4 inches by 6 and 2/3 inches.

As I said back on page 1, I ended up needing to increase the y dimension of the design to fit the taller, narrower format. But extending the image wasn't a part of the resizing process. Resizing it came once I had the target resolution and new additional background layer worked out.

Resizing is another advantage of working digitally (which you'll end up doing before going to production in any case). In this case, MPC wants a 300ppi *minimum* resolution file for their Tarot template. They don't seem to state a *maximum* resolution, so you have a *lot* of leway.

In my own case; first I started with the MPC template which I could put on a layer by itself, then I made a background from a couple of layers, using layer styles for their effects, which fit the guides. I was working in a base 300ppi.

The actual card images I had already saved merged copies of which I intended to copy/paste into the template background and nudge into place.

Now, obviously if I had done that with the template file still at 300ppi the image as it came in would have been way too big, and I would have had to scale it, which would have lost data and left me with a lower-quality 300ppi file. Even if I had turned it into a smart object first I would have still ended up with a 300ppi file. I would have also needed to do the scaleing *every single time*.

Instead, I played around with the resolution of the document with the template in it by trial and error until I had it at the proper resolution for the 300ppi file I was pasting in to automatically resize to match the resolution of the target document (Photoshop has always done this) and fit the target space perfectly, just needing a nudge of a pixel or two to get it into position. (And it took nowhere near 78 tries to get it right.)

Since I was using layer styles, messing around with the resolution of the document didn't lose data since layer styles follow the resolution of the document very smoothly.

I ended up with 476ppi files which kept every pixel of resolution from the originals at the target size wanted by MPC.


:) I actually understood most of what you said! :)

It's kind of like in the 'old days' of movies when you knew a 'special effect' was coming because the film image got grainy or even changed color slightly when they shot a lizard in 35mm and then blew it up to be a dinosaur projected on a green or blue screen; the picture quality suffered.


Going nuts at moment - One of my images is 'mere pixels' out of alignment and my hands are not steady enough and MS PAINT not precise enough to move my image borders back to the 80-pixel safe zone (TGC only requires 75 pixels) I have around it. Considering I did the image last year I must not have caught it. It is still within the blue 'safe zone' - but just barely!

One of the other images resized itself to 960 x 1500 instead of 900 x 1500 - but when I moved the border back to the 900 mark the image stayed centered.

Those little PIA things that make your day! LOL!!! :bugeyed:


Hi Tarotbear,

Is there an "Enlarge Canvas" function in MS Paint? :)

When I switched to digital, one of the things I learned first was:
there's no need to precisely paste an image in the center of a template, just enlage the canvas to the size of the template, keeping your image centered.


I'll check, although I doubt it. :( MS PAINT is very limited.

*** ETA *** 'Help' on MS Paint says 'This Content is no longer available' - isn't that great? There is a 'Resize' and a 'Skew' function, but of course now there is no way of knowing if it will center an existing image if you change the size of the canvas ...

I did go back and position it as best I could (3 pixels out of alignment to the lower right corner) and re-draw a new outer border - which I always do in a different color to start. I 'erased' the black border that extended past it on two sides, then painstakingly went in to touch up the colors touching the new border. Then I changed the new border back to black. It is now aligned & centered ... and saved!


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>>*** ETA *** 'Help' on MS Paint says 'This Content is no longer available' - isn't that great? There is a 'Resize & Skew' function, but of course now there is no way of knowing if it will center an existing image if you change the size of the canvas ...<<

Sounds ominous. Resizing an image is not the same thing as resizing a canvas At All.

Hope it at least has more than one level of undo.


great question

This is a great question & I appreciate the advice.