Questions For Deck Creators

Lady Eclipse

Hello everyone!

I really enjoy reading the threads and I was curious about a few things since there are so many here who are creating decks/have created a deck.

#1. Where do you like to begin when you start a deck? Do you prefer to start with the Majors, Minors, Courts, or do you just go at random as the ideas come to you?

#2. What is the card or cards you had the most problems with creating and why?

#3. Which card or cards did you find to be the most trouble free when you created them?

#4. On average, how long does it take you to do one card?

#5. How long does it take you to complete your deck? (If you haven't yet completed one, what is your estimated time of completion?)


Joy to you,
Maralee
 

baba-prague

I'm busy right now as we have a card to complete today!

But I'll start with the last question because it's the easiest. The Tarot of Prague deck took around 4,000 hours in all. It was an exceptionally time-consuming deck because we had to find all the elements we were looking for, photograph them and then incorporate them. Oh - and this time mostly included writing the book but not entirely - but I have never sat down and worked out exactly how long the book took in addition.

We assumed our next deck would be quicker as we have learned so much. In fact, it will be, but not by very much.

The time it takes to do a deck is like any artwork - it varies hugely. It depends on so many things, the method used, the style, the technology you do or don't have available, your level of skill or speed (older designers tend to work quicker in my experience - just to do with learning how to manage the process I suppose). Luck! Lots of things come into play.
I assume a minimalist deck like the Stick Figure tarot is really quick to do (but who knows, I may be wrong?) on the other hand you see decks that are years in the making, although sometimes that is because people can't work on them full-time of course.

Okay, two more quick answers. Our easiest card was The Sun - it just came together comparatively simply. I had had my eye on the statue of The Sun that we used, for some time, so the image was probably taking shape in my head for ages. Our hardest card was the Knight of Swords. I won't go into the reasons why, as I've discussed them before. But we found that card very, very hard. However, the card that went through the most modifications was The Moon. We have at least eight other versions of it!

Nice questions - I'll try to answer the others, but I also eagerly look forward to hearing what everyone else has to say!
 

Astra

Um. The WorldTree Tarot has averaged about 15 hours a card, including about 7 or 8 major sets of revisions. Call it 1200 hours total. This doesn't include the printing process, which I'm now researching. Does the time spent figuring out how to get it in real deck form count? If so, add a few dozen hours here and there.

I started with the Fool, bounced around a couple of times, and decided I'd better try doing one suite straight through or I wasn't going to have anything cohesive. Figured cups was the first alphabetically, and went from there.

I'm curious, though, as to what your purpose is in asking these questions. I can pretty well assure you that if you're thinking of doing a deck, knowing what problems other people have run into with the artwork won't help, and may get in the way. "Problem" cards usually are specific to the individual, for any number of assorted reasons. Best try it without expectations, and if/when you run into a problem, back up and look at it.
 

Marie

Hi!

#1. Where do you like to begin when you start a deck? Do you prefer to start with the Majors, Minors, Courts, or do you just go at random as the ideas come to you?


When I first started mine I picked cards randomly and as they came to me. After a while I found it more productive to exert some discipline and do the cards in order starting with the major arcana. I jump around a little now but the plan is majors, minors, then court cards.



#2. What is the card or cards you had the most problems with creating and why?

The 6s. I still don't know why! Damn them. <g>

#3. Which card or cards did you find to be the most trouble free when you created them?

The court cards. Probably the Queen of Cups. She was effortless.

#4. On average, how long does it take you to do one card?

All together maybe a couple of months. I've tried several times to keep a log of time I work on a specific card but wasn't able to do it. There is the actual drawing and painting of the card. There is the research beforehand. There is all of the planning and thought processes. There is the experiencing. And there is the mundane material preparation like putting on gesso, cutting, scanning, etc. I think the actual painting is probably about 16-24 hours. Drawing, maybe 10.
I think if I already knew exactly what I was going to paint it would take about a week a card, for example, if I was making a Rider Waite clone. And providing I had the available time to work on it.

#5. How long does it take you to complete your deck? (If you haven't yet completed one, what is your estimated time of completion?)

I'm going on year 6 and am about 2/3 done.

Marie
 

HudsonGray

#1. Where do you like to begin when you start a deck?
I started with whatever cards jumped out at me first, some were those "I know what I'm going to do for THAT one!" things, others were a blend of several ideas, but I think mostly the majors were done first. Once I had half the deck done, I started to go back & do the missing ones sequentially, but a few still didn't get crossed off my list (I had a list in my art supplies box). I think the Fool & the World got finished first, but there were always multiple sketches being worked on so I didn't do it one at a time.

#2. What is the card or cards you had the most problems with creating and why?
10 of Pentacles, 6 of Pentacles, 7 of Cups, Page of Swords and the Hierophant. I have no idea why.

#3. Which card or cards did you find to be the most trouble free when you created them?
Trouble free art wise was 2 of Cups & 2 of Swords, even though they have a lot of detail to them. Trouble free idea wise the 5 of Swords and the Magician.

#4. On average, how long does it take you to do one card?
Ha! Took me an hour for the inking on the 7 of Pents, 20 minutes on the Hermit. The sketches were done in pencil, I'd draw & toss out most, saving the ones I liked. Then some were redrawn if they weren't already on art paper (I use scratch paper a lot) and the inking on a finished pencil sketch took between 20 minutes to 45 minutes. Mine were all black & white, so no color time involved. HOWEVER, after scanning in the cards on computer, I put in 35 hours doing copies & clean up, which seemed to take forever, but it was the only thing I kept a time log on. Dropping the images into the card border format took over an hour to do, total, and computer time on the Little White Book once the finished text was done took about 3 hours (an afternoon), since the word program wasn't compatable with the publisher program & had to be almost entirely retyped.

#5. How long does it take you to complete your deck?
The first 30 cards were done in 4 1/2 weeks, then I hit artist block. Another bunch were done in May/June, then tackled again in August, and finished up in Sept. on the actual art. Computer time took another 2 weeks, then printing runs with the place we chose took 4 days before all the bugs were worked out of the CD, their machine, etc. They printed it within 5 days & called when they were done. Start to finish--Dec. 12, 2002 to Oct. 22, 2003. But there were months of artist block where I shelved it & went back with 'new' eyes.

The two last cards were the 10 and 8 of Pents. The cover card image had been done in June, and the back of the card illo was done in August.
 

Lady Eclipse

Hi baba,

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. I know exactly what you mean about a deck being so time consuming. My Lady Eclipse Tarot took me about a year just to draw the figures and to determine what I wanted to use for backgrounds, etc. I wasn't able to work on it full time as I had other more pressing obligations. The following year, I tinkered around with it some more, changing things that were not working, like the Alchemist being in black and white. He simply didn't look right. After that, I made two prototype decks, one which I laminated to use for readings and the other was the original that had been pasted together. In 2001, I scanned my original prototype deck into the computer to give it the look it has now. I finally finished it to my satisfaction early in 2002. Of course I would've been done maybe a few years earlier if I'd had the time but I originally designed the deck to do readings. I had no plans to market it until my clients kept asking me about it and urging me to publish it.

On this deck, I'd have to say the most difficult card was the Unknowable. It took awhile to get it the way I wanted it as I'd originally planned a completely different design. The back design was just as hard to get right. Like I told someone else, I must've changed it ten different times. The rest of the cards went about the same pace so I can't call one easier than another.

Now, I feel like I'm rambling so I'll stop. Thanks again for taking time out of your busy day to answer a few questions. :)

Joy to you,
Maralee
 

Lady Eclipse

Hi Astra,

Thank you for answering some of the questions. The reason I was asking is I'm simply curious as to how other people work on their decks. I already know how I work on mine. I also realize asking these questions was in no way going to help me as we all work in different mediums, have different work habits, etc. but I'd like to point out that I'm way beyond "thinking" about doing a deck. I've already completed two. The Lady Eclipse Tarot is a Majors only while the Soul Reflections Tarot is a full deck. I am nearly halfway through my third, the Catch a Falling Star Tarot, and have already started on the fourth, which I choose not to name here at this time. If you're interested in seeing three of my decks, here are the links:

The Lady Eclipse Tarot: http://www.geocities.com/ladyeclipseweb/

The Soul Reflections Tarot: http://www.geocities.com/soulreflectionstarot/Tarot1.html

The Catch a Falling Star Tarot: http://www.geocities.com/catchafallingstartarot/DeckInfo.html

Joy to you,
Maralee
 

Lady Eclipse

Hi Marie,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I think it's interesting to learn about other deck creators. I like to start with the majors too. I guess to me, it just makes more sense to work that way. I don't do them in order though, it's more of a random inspiration thing. Whatever I get inspired to do, that's what I work on.

It's funny that you mentioned the sixes, I don't know why, but they were the pain of the minors for me too! For some reason, it was a little harder to get a feel for them. I knew what I wanted to do but for some reason it took more effort to get the image out of my mind's eye and into reality. Yes, damn those sixes...LOL!

Wow! Six years (There's that number six again! LOL). You sound like me on my first one. I started it in 1995 and finally completed it in 2002. Maybe I should've created a journal back when I started the first deck. I'm not really sure how many hours I spent on each card but I suppose I didn't keep one since the deck was just something I was doing for me. I never really thought about it but it would've been interesting for me to compare notes with my other decks.

I'm starting to feel sick again (flu) so I'll have to stop. I promise to answer my own questions when I'm up to it. Thanks again so much for responding. :)

Joy to you,
Maralee
 

Astra

Lady Eclipse - sorry to seem as though I was putting you down. What I keep having to remember when I respond is that these threads aren't only read by people who are doing decks, but also by people who would like to, would sort of like to, etc.

It simply struck me that an answer as to a "problem" card could set up problems for some people. For me, the biggest mess was the Hierophant, until I took it completely out of the standard metaphor, since I've always hated the way it's normally presented.
 

MysticRose

Fractal deck

* Well my fractals are still in progress but I shall do my best to add my 2c also. :)

#1. Where do you like to begin when you start a deck? Do you prefer to start with the Majors, Minors, Courts, or do you just go at random as the ideas come to you?

* Right now I am going at Random. 4-5 Majors are done. I am not sure if I will keep one of them as a Major or use it for a minor.

#2. What is the card or cards you had the most problems with creating and why?

* Court cards so far.

#3. Which card or cards did you find to be the most trouble free when you created them?

* Aces and Majors. They just scream out at me what they are so they are very easy... again so far.

#4. On average, how long does it take you to do one card?

* 1 day to many moons. For example my death card was in front of me the whole time but I didn't recognize it as such until I went looking through my art for ideas for a death card... there she was just sitting there perfect as she was. I just needed to add the border and keywords. (When I make the arts I often save images if I like them and then go back through them later for review.)

#5. How long does it take you to complete your deck? (If you haven't yet completed one, what is your estimated time of completion?)

* I have no idea at this point. I am going slow and leisurely (about 1 hour per day) and have at least 15 completed cards. I started the beginning of December... I think... could have been end of November. I intend to submit 6 cards as samples here to Aeclectic in January 2004 so people can see them while I complete the rest of the deck. If I get lucky and a publisher shows interest, I shall certainly work more than one hour per day on them. ;-) I have not yet begun on the lwb.